1. Ms. Money in the Bank
The Money in the Bank briefcase dangles above the ring. A covey of woman battle at a ladder underneath the prize, WWE glory awaiting the warrior who can fight through that fray.
That will not remain a fantasy scenario for long.
WWE will insert its women into a Money in the Bank ladder match. The ongoing women’s revolution will make it so.
It appears, however, that this history-making moment will have to wait until at least next year.
As the early hype for the Money in the Bank pay-per-view started to build, Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet reported WWE was planning to book the women in the ladder match that gives that event its name.
On Tuesday night, WWE seemed to be heading in a different direction. SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon set up a Fatal 5-Way Elimination match next Tuesday to determine the Superstar who will face Naomi at Money in the Bank.
Unless there’s some sort of no-contest that night, Money in the Bank history will be put on hold.
It’s on its way, though. The WWE women’s division has already made major headway in the fight for spotlight. In the past few years, we’ve seen women wrestle in Iron Man matches for the first time. Alexa Bliss clashed with Becky Lynch in a steel cage. Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair main evented a PPV.
The folks at the Shoulders Up podcast pointed out how implausible the idea of women tangling in the Hell in a Cell seemed a year ago:
Shoulders Up @Shoulders_Up
Remember this time last year when the idea of the women in MITB or HIAC matches felt like a possible but impossible dream
Banks and Flair did just that last October. The talk of women being too soft for that kind of match was wiped away by their trailblazing. Like with so many stages of this revolution in women’s wrestling, the women were awarded unprecedented opportunities and ran with them.
The next step will be to crown the first Ms. Money in the Bank.
The men have been able to create drama through that wild ladder match since 2005. They have utilized the inherent drama of the Money in the Bank concept with a total of 17 cash-ins.
It’s time for the women to tell that kind of story, for Carmella to come careening down the entrance ramp to pounce on an injured Naomi or for Banks to break her friend Bayley’s heart with a well-timed use of the contract-filled briefcase.
There will be ample interest in seeing women take on this match for the first time.
Whether it happens in June, next year or 2019, the first all-female Money in the Bank ladder match is coming. The women’s revolution’s momentum will take it there, scratching another item off the “never been done before” list.
2. A Fresh Start for The Drifter?
Elias Samson doesn’t exactly have a championship pedigree.
When The Drifter debuted on Monday’s Raw, he earned a rare win by beating beat Dean Ambrose via disqualification. At NXT, Samson didn’t come out on top often.
Per CageMatch.net, Samson was on a three-match losing streak before moving to the main roster and was 2-8 in his previous 10 bouts. His two biggest wins for WWE’s third brand were against Bull Dempsey and Steve Cutler.
Even a Bo Dallas-level record on the main roster would be an improvement over what he’s used to.
3. Throwback Video of the Week: Randy Savage
May 20 marked the sixth year since Randy Savage’s passing. Upon being reminded of that melancholic memory, it’s only natural for fans to start reflecting on his career.
In celebration of The Macho Man, let’s flash back to Memphis in 1985, when Savage bloodied a photographer:
Now, that’s how you issue a beatdown. It looked like he was going to tear the poor guy’s hair from his scalp.
Savage’s Memphis days aren’t talked about enough when discussing his Hall of Fame career. His feuds with Jerry Lawler and The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express showed off how compelling of a villain he could be.
Those are among the memories fans should be savoring of Savage. Between those, his WCW days and WWE championship runs, there are plenty great ones to choose from.
4. The Feud of the Year is Underway
Heartache and hatred will fuel what promises to be WWE’s best rivalry in 2017.
Tommaso Ciampa kickstarted that story when he attacked his tag team partner and in-ring brother Johnny Gargano after the duo failed to win at NXT TakeOver: Chicago. As defeat weighed on Gargano that night, Ciampa hurled him into an LED board and smashed him through a table.
NO ONE saw this coming at the end of #NXTTakeOver: Chicago…
@JohnnyGargano @ProjectCiampa https://t.co/JwOnlHRfiD
And with that, a friend-turned-foe feud began.
The closeness of their relationship, their startling breakup and their chemistry with each other will make Gargano vs. Ciampa special. Their clash at last year’s Cruiswerweight Classic was a glimpse of what these two can do with their hands around their throats.
5. Koko WatchOut Returns
CM Punk isn’t the only one who knows how to deliver a pipebomb promo.
The Rock hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend and reprised his role as Koko WatchOut. He cut into Bobby Moynihan’s Trashyard Mutt character the most personal of insults:
Too bad WatchOut can’t wander into the fictional Southpaw Regional Wrestling realm. Seeing him go back and forth with Big Bartholomew would be spectacular.
6. YouTube Putting a Chokehold on Wrestling
A drastic change in policy has been hurting the wrestling industry. In April, YouTube chose to label pro wrestling content “non-advertiser friendly,” severely limiting the money companies can bring in.
The shift hit What Culture Pro Wrestling hard. As Adam Blampied explained in a recent clip, WCPW has had to cancel its weekly Loaded shows due to a decrease in ad revenue:
YouTube’s blanket policy (which WWE is exempt from) is moronic. Certainly, there are controversial and unseemly videos within the wrestling world, but going this Draconian route will stamp out the lifeblood of many a small wrestling company.
We will see plenty more situations like WCPW’s unless YouTube reverses course.
7. The Era of Asuka
For 417 days and counting, Asuka has been NXT’s undisputed queen. Her NXT women’s title run is the longest in the company’s history.
In an era with so many hot-potato title changes, Asuka’s reign is especially significant.
The amount of new champions that have been crowned since Asuka won her title on April 1, 2016, makes it clear just how dominant WWE has booked her to be.
Per WWE.com, the Raw Women’s Championship has changed hands nine times in that span. The WWE Championship has seen eight new champs, and the United States Championship has turned over six times.
And while Asuka has gone undefeated (save one Battle Royal defeat) since her NXT debut in Oct. 2015, the mighty Charlotte Flair has lost 34 times. per CageMatch.net.
8. A Pete Dunne Collection
Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate tore down the house at NXT TakeOver: Chicago. The United Kingdom Championship bout was a stellar blend of a technical wrestling display and a dogfight, one that may well win Match of the Year.
This was no fluke for the new UK champ; Dunne has been thriving well before his coronation.
For those unfamiliar with his pre-WWE work, these clashes are well worth watching:
(Note: Some videos contain brief NSFW language.)
The Bruiserweight’s list of greatest hits is sure to grow. The WWE UK division is awash with talent, and the British independent scene is booming. Dunne will have no shortage of chances to create more classics moving forward.
9. Letting Rowan Roam
The spotlight needs to stay pointed at Erick Rowan. WWE has a chance to develop one of its most intriguing characters and to rejuvenate a mid-carder’s middling career.
The former member of The Wyatt Family has long been an afterthought, but new, compelling elements of his shtick are emerging of late.
He’s taken to carrying around a bag of masks. He talks to these masks, has shown signs of having multiple personalities and is seemingly mentally unraveling right in front of us.
Rowan is no top-notch performer. He’s not a headliner in the making, even in an era where Jinder Mahal is the WWE champion. Still, he can be a valuable part of the SmackDown brand if WWE explores his odd persona more.
10. Samoa Joe on Manchester
After the bombing in Manchester, England, at an Ariana Grande concert on Monday night, much of the wrestling community spoke out and offered their thoughts and prayers. The tragedy has clearly touched many, including Samoa Joe.
Joe tweeted a poignant response to the chilling situation:
Samoa Joe @SamoaJoe
May the evil of a few never break the love of the many. My heart goes out to Manchester and all affected by this tragedy. https://t.co/MmzdNqRRjp
That’s the kind of message we need to hear right now. Leave it to a man who makes a living from a violent sport to remind us of the importance of love.