Dating all the way back to CM Punk’s victory over John Cena in 2011, WWE’s Money in the Bank pay per view generally provides the company with a spark that can last weeks or even months, depending on who not only leaves the event as champion, but who walks out with the coveted briefcase, as well.
WWE needed the Money in the Bank to provide that spark in 2019 more than ever. A ratings slide post-WrestleMania 35 saw Raw do all-time record low viewership numbers. In response, WWE created the Wild Card rule that allows Raw and Smackdown superstars to appear on the competing brand’s programs.
Thankfully for WWE and its fans, Money in the Bank delivered, as it usually does. After floundering for much of the past two years, Bayley’s character was rehabilitated in one night, as she not only won the women’s briefcase, but she cashed it in on Charlotte later in the evening to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a crowd-pleasing moment.
The men’s Money in the Bank match was a spectacular, if not brutal (see Finn Balor taking a chokeslam on the edge of the ladder) contest. At the end, it appeared as if Ali may pull off the upset victory, until Brock Lesnar’s theme thundered in the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
Lesnar – a late substitute for the injured Sami Zayn – quickly dispatched of Ali, climbed the ladder, and won the briefcase.
Lesnar is polarizing among fans, but there’s no doubt that there is interest in his character. A Paul Heyman promo to open Monday’s Raw, along with a tease of a cash-in at the end of the program, led to Raw scoring 2.6 million viewers, its best showing since the shakeup episode on April 15 and around 500,000 more viewers than the low-point in early May.
However, this specter of a Lesnar cash-in may not loom over WWE for long. Heyman teased that Lesnar will make his decision next week, and with WWE Champion Kofi Kingston tied up with the returning Dolph Ziggler for the Super ShowDown event in Saudi Arabia next month, it appears that we will get a WrestleMania rematch of Lesnar against Universal Champion Seth Rollins in Jeddah.
If the cash-in is used for that rematch, it begs the question as to whether Lesnar winning the briefcase was a waste. Surely, Lesnar could have been granted a championship rematch for the show without having to use the briefcase to get it.
The Money in the Bank chase is generally one of WWE’s more compelling storylines in any given year, but now both briefcases could be history by early June, meaning it will almost be a year until they are in play again.
Love him or hate him, Lesnar’s presence usually makes WWE a more exciting place, but given the follow up, adding Mr. Money in the Bank to the Beast Incarnate’s resume may not have been the wisest decision, even if it worked on that night.