Two weeks ago, I debuted an all-new column entitled WWE Flashback Friday. In this series of articles, I analyze past storylines that were altered by actual events and what would have happened if things had gone as planned.
Since this past Sunday marked the fourth annual Money in the Bank pay-per-view, I thought it would only be appropriate to discuss an angle that had to do with the opportunistic briefcase. This also ties in perfectly to Randy Orton's reported injury, which was sustained at the latest set of SmackDown tapings.
For those unaware, Orton was reportedly injured during a match with World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio during tonight's episode of SmackDown. WWE.com stated that he suffered a cervical strain and cervical neuropraxia.
Regardless, Orton has gone on record and tweeted that he's perfectly fine. Additional reports from those in attendance have indicated that The Viper didn't appear to be injured while working the night's dark six-man tag team match.
Thankfully for Orton, it doesn't appear as if he will have to drop the shot at the WWE Championship he earned by winning the All-Stars Money in the Bank Ladder match. Not everyone who has held the briefcase, however, has been as fortunate.
After scoring various victories over notable names such as Batista and Undertaker, Mr. Kennedy came close to reaching the proverbial brass ring in early 2007. He was set to be a top star in WWE and had both the in-ring and mic skills to pull it off.
He was named a participant in the Money in the Bank Ladder match at WrestleMania 23, and subsequently outlasted seven other men to win the contest. Upon capturing the briefcase, Kennedy proclaimed that he would be cashing in his world title shot the following year at WrestleMania 24, which was unprecedented.
Of course, plans changed shortly thereafter when Undertaker was working hurt in a program with Batista. Undertaker was World Heavyweight Championship at the time and officials were brainstorming a way to get the title off of him without having him drop it back to Batista immediately.
That's where Mr. Kennedy came in.
Since he was Mr. Money in the Bank, Kennedy had the ability to cash in his world title shot at any time and any place of his choosing. This was the perfect opportunity to pull the trigger on the Green Bay loudmouth and launch him into super stardom.
Mere days before the angle could be done, it was revealed that Kennedy had been injured and it appeared to be "significant". WWE wasted no time in taking the briefcase off of him, as he dropped his world title shot to Edge on the May 7 edition of Raw.
Ironically enough, WWE jumped to conclusions when they really should have waited it out, as it was later revealed Kennedy's injury wasn't nearly as serious as originally expected. Edge went on to become World Heavyweight Championship by cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase the next night at the SmackDown tapings, but was forced to drop the strap to injury two months later.
If WWE hadn't misdiagnosed Kennedy's injury, it would have forever changed the direction of the blue brand. Kennedy would have been able to become World Heavyweight Champion and solidify himself as a main event player.
It's also possible that Kennedy could have avoided his ultimate 2009 release if he had at least one run with the prestigious prize and proved to management that he could hang with WWE's top-tier Superstars.
Despite not having the opportunity to reign as World Heavyweight Champion in 2007, the future was bright for Kennedy upon his return to Raw in the spring of 2009. He was sidelined with an injury in August 2008 and was making his highly anticipated comeback to the flagship show after a near nine month layoff.
Kennedy made his long awaited return on the May 25 edition of Raw, interrupting then-WWE Champion Randy Orton and warning him that he would soon be taking his title. They crossed paths in the night's five-on-five main event tag team match, where Kennedy's team emerged victorious over Orton's tandem.
During the course of the contest, however, Kennedy back-dropped Orton on his bad shoulder. To make matters worse, The Legend Killer nailed Kennedy with an RKO, forcing the former United States Champion to land awkwardly on his wrist.
Four days later, WWE announced via their official website that Kennedy had officially been released from his contract. It was later reported that Kennedy's departure was due to the fact that he was too injury prone, and that he came close to putting Orton on the shelf as well.
I strongly believe that summer's huge feud could have been Orton vs. Kennedy for the WWE Championship. I'm also pretty positive it would have ended with Kennedy capturing his first WWE title.
That being said, Orton would have never rekindled his rivalry with John Cena that fall, meaning The Legacy would have crumbled sooner than expected. Kennedy would have been the face for Raw for the remainder of the year as WWE Champion, meaning he would have never jumped ship to Impact Wrestling and become a two-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
Sure, Kennedy's numerous injuries prevented his pushes from progressing in 2007 and 2009, respectively, but WWE dropped the ball on him way too quickly. If they kept him around and didn't prematurely fire him, there's a likely chance he could have been a valuable asset to the company.
What if WWE misdiagnosed Orton's injury and stripped him of the Money in the Bank briefcase the way they did to Mr. Kennedy? If they hadn't, would it have been considered a double standard?
Of course, we'll never know what would have happened to Kennedy had he not been injured, but it's still interesting to think about. He's currently under contract to TNA where he is the vice president of the Aces and Eights faction.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on Mr. Kennedy's various pushes over the years and what would have come of them had everything gone as planned. Also, include any potential topics you would like to see analyzed in upcoming editions of WWE Flashback Friday.
Read every archived edition of WWE Flashback Friday here.