Welcome to the third edition of Four on Four. We’ve chosen four of the most entertaining and intelligent wrestling fans on Twitter and decided to peer into their minds four questions at a time. This week, we have a Money In The Bank theme! Now let’s meet the panel:
Deathlock: Librarian. Dean Ambrose addict. Flow chart master.
Be sure to follow Deathlock on Twitter.
1. Who will win this year’s MITB ladder matches and when/how will they cash in?
Well, if you want my extremely detailed predictions for Money in the Bank, you can always check out my combined editorial with Josh Isenberg on Wrestlezone.com (cheap plug), but the simple answers is… Dean Ambrose and Daniel Bryan should win. Does that mean they will? Probably not. But Bryan is the hottest commodity in wrestling right now, and they’d be foolish not to take advantage of that. Ambrose, in my eyes, may not be ready for a world title push just yet, but neither was John Cena at the start of his feud with Layfield.
I’ve heard the argument that neither man “needs” the briefcase; neither did CM Punk or Edge, and that’s the point. Money in the Bank doesn’t work as an experimental concept (see: Jack Swagger, Alberto del Rio), and should be given to those who have proven they can do great things with it.
If I’m booking, Bryan cashes in at SummerSlam the honest way – because he has to prove to Kane and everyone that he can do it – and faces John Cena. Ambrose needs to wait a little longer, continue to develop as a singles star within The Shield, and break out with a huge win at SummerSlam as well. If anything is possible, give him a rematch against The Undertaker, and let him win.
Daniel Bryan will win the Red briefcase, because I am a stereotypical Internet wrestling dweeb who picks these things with my heart rather than my brain. Besides, it’s not like it’s a sporting contest. The only thing harder than trying to prognosticate a legit sport is trying to forecast what a bunch of carnies are going to do with their brass ring.
Anyway, I see Bryan holding onto the briefcase, cashing it in by scheduling a match at the main event of Survivor Series, and winning because that’s what he do. I got Wade Barrett winning the Blue briefcase, and he’ll try to cash in the same night. The only difference is, he’ll trip over his shoelaces and end up getting pinned by Kofi Kingston.
We’ve seen Daniel Bryan taking out superstar after superstar in an effort to prove he isn’t the weak link of his non-existent tag team, and this will be no different. If he can fight off the mighty and cohesive Shield on his own, just imagine how capable he’ll be against the returning (rusty?) Rob Van Dam, the not-really-best-in-the-world-because-that’s-Daniel-Bryan CM Punk, the crafty veteran (old guy) Christian, the real weak link Kane, the… um, Sheamus, I guess, and that guy he’s beaten several times lately, Randy Orton — all of whom are just out for themselves in this match, and are underestimating him.
Unfortunately it may be a while before we see DBry cash in his briefcase and claim his rightful place as WWE Champion, as he’ll probably treasure his new accomplishment like a security blanket of non-weakest-linkness for several months — too many to predict.
In the Ambrose ladder match full of amazing talent and also Dean Ambrose who is our next Ric Flair, our next Steve Austin, our first Dean Ambrose, and the future greatest wrestler of his generation — he won’t win it. The Shield doesn’t have enough hands to hold three belts AND a briefcase AND do their Fist Bump of Justice, and there’s no one on the roster suited to briefcase-holding duty who could join them.
This match will be great, with stunning displays of strength by Cesaro, bits of vicious insanity by Ambrose, antics by Sandow & Rhodes, Wade Barrett doing Wade Barrett things and shouting BOOM for no reason, and some scary risk taking by Fandango, but I think Jack Swagger will come out on top in an effort to re-do the run he missed by being a jackass earlier this year. Personally, I hope he sets a time and place to cash in and has another excellent match with Del Rio.
I spent most of 2011 randomly Tweeting “SHEAMUS“. Many people were confused. I’m going to have to go with CM Punk though. It may make his character a little more exciting if he had the “will he, won’t he” gimmick of carrying around the MITB briefcase for awhile. Although on the other hand, it may be good for Sheamus to win and use the briefcase to turn heel. But I’ll stick with CM Punk.
(On a side note, my affinity for Sheamus has waned considerable since his face turn. I’d like him to become a monster heel, similar to the awesome monster heel turn from Mark “Best in the World” Henry.)
The other MITB is a bit harder to predict, but I’m going to go with Wade Barrett. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly three years since he was the leader of original Nexus. He really hasn’t done that much since. I always thought he had a lot of talent and maybe it’s time for his long-awaited championship run. God help us if Fandango wins the briefcase, because he is horrible. Disco Inferno should do a run in and beat him senseless for stealing his gimmick.
2. What is your favorite ladder match in wrestling history?
Maybe not as much of a popular or mainstream choice, but I’m going to go with a relatively recent contest, and pick the Ring of Honor Ladder War between Kevin Steen and El Generico at Final Battle 2012. I remember when Steen defended his title – I think it was against Michael Elgin, who’s another of my favorites – and afterwards he was given a package with Generico’s mask inside. Steen played up that moment so well, and that’s really why I like him more than just about any other talent wrestling on the indy scene. The match itself was phenomenal, but I think the rivalry between those two is just so special, it kind of had to be.
You have to love that Shield match at TLC last year too. And of course, the epic Team Extreme and Dudley Boys matches. Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon still holds up to this day. I just recently saw that ladder match between the Young Bucks and Bad Influence over in TNA, and loved it. Could have been a five star match, if not for the damn Impact Zone. I just love ladder matches; the next one I see is probably my new favorite.
There are a few that I go back and forth on, but while WWE seems to have the most memorable ones, my favorite is the ladder match between Gran Akuma and Icarus at Chikarasaurus Rex in 2012. The match had everything – a story, taut drama, sensible outside interference, and maybe the best heel in all of wrestling, Icarus. Plus, the ladder got an audible chant. The ladder! Any event where an inanimate object gets over is fine by me.
I don’t need to tell you that this is a ridiculous and cruel question, but I’m going to tell you anyway. I made a flow chart to determine the answer scientifically:
Got to go with Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon. I know — it’s a clichéd response. I’m sure the other three are going to pick more obscure selections. But I have fond memories of watching WM10 as a pre-teen — even the horrible “brawl” between Roddy Piper and Goldust was entertaining to me. Michaels-Ramon did a great deal toward making that card memorable. It was kind of the pre-cursor to more “edgy/hardcore” matches for the WWF.
In perhaps a showcase to how strong that card was, I don’t even think the ladder match was best match that night. That would go to Bret Hart vs Owen Hart.
3. Two years later, what is the main significance of the CM Punk MITB 2011 title win?
Money in the Bank. Chicago, IL. July 17, 2011. I was there, one of the 14,815 native Chicagoans screaming their faces off. God, that whole weekend was so surreal. I remember, I was at an anime convention in the same location the day before, and there were “CM Punk!” and “YES!” chants in the hotel lobbies, in the elevators and out into the streets; quite strange for a non-wrestling event. That whole night was THE quintessential moment for Punk, for his fans, and really if I allow myself a bit of hyperbole, a whole new era and generation of WWE.
So you’re asking me, two years out, what’s the significance of that title win? Go back and listen to that crowd – there’s your significance. That shoot promo put him on the map, but Money in the Bank showed the fans, showed Vince McMahon, and the world that CM Punk was, not just another main event player in WWE, but someone truly irreplaceable.
Aside from CM Punk getting to be ‘The Man’ in WWE, I think the biggest significance was a sea change in WWE philosophy, or at least an apparent one. Rather than exclusively pushing the “McMahon special” – i.e. roided-up stiffs who may or may not know how to walk and chew gum at the same time let alone wrestle – guys like Punk, Bryan, and Dean Ambrose were getting chances to run with the ball.
Additionally, “old” guys who usually don’t get to have a day in the sun like Mark Henry and Kane got chances to be part of the major narrative rather than just as seat-filler feuds for dudes like Randy Orton. The atmosphere hasn’t completely changed, but we’re getting there.
It’s been a new era in which white men can sit down on TV and whine to millions of people worldwide about not getting what they believe they’re entitled to. Interminable self-serving droning about ice cream bars, indie wrestlers, and the internets is the new Triple H Opens Raw With a 20 Minute Promo. How did we let it get this way? Can Punk go back to being better than us because he’s straight edge and not because he’s delusional?
While a lot of focus was understandably on CM Punk, the bigger significance is how respectable John Cena became to people like me. Like many smarks, I was a Cena-hater before MITB 2011. I thought he was corny and I hated how always won AGAINST ALL ODDS. And I suppose I just like to root against mega-babyfaces, because it’s fun.
But the Punk-Cena run-up was spectacular, because there was a genuine uncertainty of who would prevail. Punk did a masterful job, but Cena held up his end of the bargain. Somebody had to be on the mat embroiled in pain while Punk dropped his now-legendary “pipe bomb.” And then the fact that the match was so good gave me an extra dose of respect for Cena, who showcased that he could actually deliver in a widely-hyped event.
(Another side note: I was at Wrestlemania 13 when Hart and Austin had their now-classic encounter. I’ll never forget how my section was cheering like crazy for Stone Cold, who was still at the time an unlikeable heel. Isn’t it funny how the Allstate Arena/Rosemont Horizon can change history?)
4. If you won a ridiculous amount of money, what would be your first outlandish purchase?
I think about this question, probably too much. I used to think maybe I’d buy TNA Wrestling. You know, every fanboy and “smark” out there wants to run WWE, or be a creative writer, but I’m actually extremely passionate about creative writing and the television industry. After having a few years to sit and think about what I’d do if I was a billionaire, I think I’d move near London. I’d buy a nice little house in the country, and a 2013 Bentley Continental – you know, because a guy has to get around.
But my first truly ridiculous purchase? I’d write a blank check and make it my goal to jump-start the professional wrestling industry in the UK, and to an extent throughout Western Europe.I mean, don’t get me wrong there’s some great wrestlers there and some fun promotions, but there’s a reason the UK fans are still watching WWE and TNA on a weekly basis. A lot of US workers don’t want to go to the UK, because of family mostly, and because there’s not as much money as the US indy circuit, or say, Japan and Mexico right now. I would change that. I’d be the Robert Carter or the Vince McMahon of Western Europe.
Well, there would be exotic food and massive wrestling tape purchases, but those aren’t outlandish. I would probably end up bankrolling my own Broadway musical based on the Terry Tate: Office Linebacker commercial. I think Terry is a misunderstood soul, and my script would work on giving him a backstory and cathartic character arc resolution. Of course, I wouldn’t skimp on the bone-crunching business casual hits either.
TNA. I’d do every single thing in my power to become a real competitor for WWE, not because I long for the Monday Night Wars or the Attitude Era, but because I long for good old fashioned capitalist competition and for the incredible (incredible!) wealth of talent in worldwide to be showcased more regularly to a huge audience, with more money behind them, and in more situations where they can excel.
Some independent promotions do a great job now, but there are too many fantastic wrestlers at this point in history for there not to be at least two huge wrestling companies just stuffed with talent. Buying TNA and leveraging existing resources (but getting the horrible “TNA” part out of the name) might just be the fastest way to do that. Or I’d just buy Brad Maddox clothes that fit.
A golden XBOX. I’ve told my wife for years that I want to buy a XBOX, mainly so I can play Rock Band on it (a band I collaborated with in 2007 has two downloadable songs in the game). If I won a ridiculous amount of money, I could finally stop talking about it.
There you have it. We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of 4 on 4. 4 ON 4 with WRESTLERS will return this week on Thursday night. Be on the look out for it!
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