The MITB idea was introduced at WM 21 back in 2005. This concept pinned eight superstars against each other, each with the opportunity to climb a ladder and retrieve a briefcase; inside that briefcase would be a contract that guarantees a number one contendership to challenge the champion of their choice. It has been a staple in WM tradition since 2005 and has continued...until now.
The last prestigious MITB match was held at WM 26, with Jack Swagger becoming the winner, only to cash it in five days later for a four month WHC title run. Currently, the WWE has run rampant with their genius idea of gimmick PPVs. On paper, these ideas seem innovative and exciting. Within the scope of this article, I will break down the good and the bad that may come from such a concept as well as the questioning the reasons behind creating this concept to begin with. Let us start on a positive note...
Although gimmicky, this concept will help push the up and coming midcard talent, giving young talent a chance to main event in their pursuit for a championship match. This keeps the theme of pushing future stars within the WWE relevent. We all saw Jack Swagger break the glass ceiling from midcard talent to main event star immediately after he cashed in his MITB briefcase to win the WHC. Many young superstars including John Morrison, Dolph Ziggler and Cody Rhodes, looking to break through to the main event have the ability to do so upon retrieving the briefcase. And even if the young susperstar fails at his attempt at cashing in the briefcase (there has only been one failed attempt with Ken Kennedy) I feel that they will put on one hell of a match and look great in defeat.
It keeps title picture fresh. For the longest time, we saw the same big dogs trolling around the main event picture PPV after PPV. Even though they put butts in the seats and entertain the crowd with great in ring work, the title picture became stale very quickly. With problems arising once again of a stale title picture, especially on Raw, perhaps a new face can surface to challenge for John Cen.... I mean, Sheamus's WWE Title.
This PPV can also help the creative staff structure new and (hopefully) compelling storylines with the new faces in the title picture. The veteran vs the up and comer or the bully vs the boy with the dream could make for some entertaining programs. Think about it. Even though WWE is scripted, there have been many emotional and memorable first time title wins in the past, some that come to mind are HBK's, Benoit's and Eddie Guerrero's first title run. WWE, more than anything, needs that kind of story once again to create some buzz within the title picture.
With the price of PPVs these days averaging to about $44.99, a WHC, WWE Title and two MITB matches give more bang for the consumer buck. Its obvious that WWE management is looking to entice more buys for their PPVs especially after the dreadful numbers they have been drawing as of late. With the crazy spots and unpredictable nature of who might get that next shot at the title, PPV buys may fortunately increase for the WWE
With all that may go well for this MITB PPV I still feel that less is more. Especially if WWE decides to keep the MITB match at WM, there may be too many MITB winners; this poses an immediate problem. Even with the discontinuation of the event at WM, it still has the event lose its prestige of it being an inter-promotional event: the best of SM vs the best of Raw to get a shot at the title. Now that we will have eight competitors for each brand, this creates for some predictability in the match. As much tenure as he has, with Mark Henry in a MITB, we all know he will not go on to win. He will just be used as filler. Back when the MITB match was inter-promotional, eight, or at least seven for that matter, of the most deserving superstars were gunning for a title shot, for many it was to be their first. Now it seems as if the picture as become overpopulated, with just two to three obvious choices to grab the briefcase and challenge for a shot in the future.
The gimmick of MITB was a once a year shot at elevating your position in the company while creating a personal “Wrestlemania Moment” for the winner on the grandest stage of them all. Giving the MITB its own PPV takes away from that tradition. Given this concept catches on and is used on an annual basis, two MITB matches every year may seem excessive. This concept may also overshadow other matches booked for the card which in the same manner may seem irrelevant given the theme of the PPV. Lets face it, fans may only pay the price of the PPV or to fill arenas to see the two matches on the card. It is very possible for them to sit on their hands for the rest of the PPV. The PPV is centered and created for the two big number one contendership matches; other matches will just fall by the wayside of fail to pop in the midst of gimmick dominance. Although this may highlight just how bad the Divas division is given they have a match at the PPV....hmmmm....anyways...
Breaking from the tradition of an inter-promotional match also restricts WWE superstars to challenge for their brands title rather than giving them a choice. This, I feel, limits a chance at quite a few dream matches that many WWE fans would love to see; for me personally, I'd enjoy CM Punk vs John Cena or Evan Borne vs Rey Mysterio. Now, we'll have to wait for the annual WWE Draft for the WWE superstars to reshuffle and hope for fantasy matchups per brand.
Ok... so here come the questions....
Why put such a prestigious opportunity into its own PPV? Is the WWE blind to see that by creating such gimmick PPVs, they are destroying the rarity of the event? The name in itself will fail to create an awe type buzz if fans see it twice a year.
Didn't PPV themes used to mean something, from Vengence to Unforgiven? This also helped the ease of promoting all matches on the card to have some relevance on a storyline standpoint. However, with the popularity of the MITB match type, other storylines and programs are in fear of being buried.
With the underlying theme of MITB, who cares about other matches? As I mentioned before, with the other matches and storylines buried, and the excitement of one MITB match in the books, fans will be all out of excitement for “normal wraslin'” matches.
How many innovative spots can be done in a MITB match that is seen twice a year? How long can the excitement of “holy s***” moments last? With fans being exposed to the concept twice a year, the excitement will begin to die down. There will be a feeling of, “seen it before, what else is new?” with these matches, further handcuffing WWE with providing excitement and entertainment to their fans at the PPV. Also with other matches paling in comparison to the big match feel of a MITB match losing its edge, the PPV in general will be in jeopardy.
Why break from WM tradition so soon? Either a desperate ploy to up the buys for PPVs or to increase revenue, either excuse, in my opinion, is not worth taking away from a match that once had such an important feel to it. Fans used to hang on every move and every big spot, especially down the wire with few superstars in the final showdown on the ladder, with their fingertips on an opportunity of a lifetime. Now, WM may have already lost what was once one of the most creative matches to date, only to be dragged down in value due to adding it to the pile of “innovative and amazing” PPVs.
Until next time....
So what do you think Bleachers? What is your opinion of the MITB PPV concept?