The biggest story to leave Monday Night Raw was not John Cena‘s farewell, or Randy Orton successful title defense against Wade Barrett after being assaulted by The Nexus, it was The Miz cashing in his Money in the Bank contract to become the new WWE Champion.
The night started out with Wade Barrett being granted a championship rematch against Randy Orton for the evening’s main-event, followed by a series of qualifying matches for next week’s 3-hour Raw King of the Ring Tournament. The Miz was scheduled to compete against Ezekiel Jackson for a spot in KOTR, but was instead replaced by his protégé Alex Riley. The reason given: Miz was suffering from anxiety.
The broadcast team of Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and, the newest member, C.M. Punk did a great job selling the anxiety angle because who would want to face the 300-plus-pound Ezekiel Jackson? But Miz wasn’t contemplating KOTR, but his future.
During the months leading to Money in the Bank pay-per-view, The Miz never looked better. He was a United States champion, a Unified Tag Team champion, and then became Mr. Money in the Bank. The Miz’s future role as a main-event player was in the works. He would indeed become the WWE Champion but the questions of when and how were yet to be answered.
However, the months leading to the WWE Championship, The Miz’s status of future headliner was quickly slipping away. Losing his first U.S. title to Bret Hart, his second U.S. title to Daniel Bryan, his Unified Tag Team belts to The Hart Dynasty, failing to lead Team Raw to victory at Bragging Rights, The Miz was in trouble and he needed to cash-in sooner rather than later.
Sure, The Miz cashed in on an injured and exhausted Randy Orton, but to have a guaranteed world championship match at any time has been the key advantage of obtaining the Money in the Bank contract. So if the champion at the time is vulnerable, it’s considered fair game. Yet out of all the opportunistic cash-ins, The Miz’s match against Randy Orton was the most suspenseful because there had been talk about Miz’s contract perhaps being the first unsuccessful cash-in. But The Miz killed the talk by countering an RKO into the Skull Crushing Finale for the 1-2-3.
Final Thoughts: Not sure how smart it was to cash-in Money in the Bank so far away from WrestleMania. The likelihood of Miz headlining WrestleMania as the WWE Champion is slim to none. The road to WrestleMania does not officially begin until January 30, the date for Royal Rumble. So The Miz will have to worry about the high-risk stipulations of TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, the Royal Rumble, the Elimination Chamber, and not to mention The Nexus will be in hot pursuit. Then, if he’s lucky, he can headline WrestleMania.
Not a fan of the Skull Crushing Finale, because he does not have a believable full Nelson lock on his opponents. Seems more like a move that would suit Chris Masters best. Miz’s Reality Check was more believable as a finisher because of its fluid simplicity.
The concept of Money in the Bank has never been appealing, because it degrades the prestige of the world championships by crowning paper champions rather than actual champions. Edge, first-ever Mr. MITB, held the WWE championship for twenty-one days. Rob Van Dam held it for twenty-two days. C.M. Punk held the World Heavyweight title for sixty-nine days, and Jack Swagger held it for eighty-two days. Kane currently wearing the World Heavyweight title won via his MITB contract has proven to be the exception. Yet, it should be noted that Kane went through his paper champion phase when accidentally winning the WWE Championship against Steve Austin at the King of the Ring in 1998.