Sunday, July 15th will feature the WWE’s third annual Money in the Bank pay per view and the tenth match since its inception in 2005 at Wrestlemania. It works like this: a bunch of guys have a ladder match for a briefcase containing a contract for a title shot at any time, and the any time part here is key, since the briefcase is usually cashed in after a champion has been badly beaten, allowing for an easy title win. The best part is that the match traditionally features younger, more athletic stars, leading to an eventual title win for a fresh face.
Unfortunately, that whole fresh face part I mentioned earlier has been pushed to the side this year, and that’s a huge problem. While the Smackdown-specific match will feature incredibly athletic and talented younger stars like Tyson Kidd, Dolph Ziggler, and Cody Rhodes, the Raw-specific one is going to be a four-way match between Big Show, Kane, John Cena, and Chris Jericho. All of these wrestlers have already won the world title, multiple times in the case of Cena and Jericho, all of them other than Cena are over 40, and between them, have more than 70 years of combined experience as at least semi-famous wrestlers. So basically the Smackdown match will be business as usual and fun to watch, while the Raw match is going to be at best merely average and will end with someone who fans recognize and like but has more value as a nostalgia act taking a career changing opportunity from a younger guy. This would be like if the guy who directed The Amazing Spider-man decided that, instead of casting that British guy with the Twilight hair who at the very least made an effort to step in and truly become Peter Parker for a new generation of fans, he was just going to make the movie star Ben Affleck since people have heard of him and he’s not an embarrassingly bad actor.
As for the title matches, they’re both going to be a mixed bag. Daniel Bryan and CM Punk worked together regularly for half a decade on the indie scene and have been great at everything they’ve done in the WWE. The only problem with the feud is that the outcome of the match might be decided by special guest referee and crazy chick (the character, not the wrestler portraying her) AJ Lee. AJ’s whole storyline – she was Bryan’s girlfriend/lackey who he dumped after losing the World Heavyweight Championship, after which she snapped and possibly remained in love with him and/or fell in love with Punk and Kane at the same time and now is out for revenge after Punk wouldn’t marry her and Bryan insincerely proposed and holy crap wrasslin really is a soap opera – is cool and entertaining, but it also lowers the value of the World Title when it can change hands based on the whims of someone who isn’t even competing for it. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if the World Title isn’t meaningful, it sucks a ton of the drama out of wrestling. Still, it should be a good match, and Punk, Bryan, and to a lesser extent AJ are all talented enough to make any storyline entertaining, so it’ll be worth watching and might be the match of the night.
The World Heavyweight Title match between Sheamus and Del Rio lacks the gimmickry of the World Title match, but it also lacks the spark that Bryan and Punk provide. While Del Rio and Sheamus aren’t bad per se, they’re also not great, and their feud is pretty unmemorable. The good guy smiles and does the right thing, the bad guy sneers and is a coward, and no one really cares all that much what’s going on. Still, worse guys have had title matches, so it should be ok in the same way, even if only in the same way that a Panthers vs Bills game is.
So what else is there to look forward to on Sunday? Possibly nothing major – a squash match here, a tag team battle there – but there could also be some awesomeness. The Money in the Bank contract holder gets a title shot any time, both world titles are being defended by guys who have held them for a really long time … well, you do the math.