Let’s talk about…..Ambrose/Rollins
Did the right guy win?
In the interest of full disclosure, I admit to briefly falling asleep during Sunday’s Money in the Bank event. In my own defense, I offer the following: it was only for about 4 minutes, and it was during the Rusev/Big E match, so I feel as though no further explanation is necessary.
When looking later at the picture of my sleeping form posted by my friend Erik on Facebook (Caption: “What should I draw on his face, guys?” To him I say, “Bullet dodged, motherf- I mean, classy response to your juvenile humor to keep this column above that sort of nonsense.”), I wondered if in my own mind, I had already seen what I needed to see at that point in the PPV. An excellent tag match to open the show, decent action from the ladies, and a ladder match that was clearly (and correctly in my assessment) not going to be topped in the main event.
Let’s posit a relatively non-bold theory here – Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins are currently engaging in the single best feud in the world of North American professional wrestling at this moment in time. And the beauty of the feud is that it is some of the most basic motivation that exists in professional wrestling history. There is no love triangle, there is no mysterious Authority (Although their involvement is there, we’ll get to that in a moment), there is no making a point to the ‘Universe’; there’s just pure, unadulterated hatred, the kind borne simply from “You betrayed me and mine, prepare to die.”
Professional wrestling, as a whole, needs so little to motivate a feud between two wrestlers. When I was a kid, I remember Ventura talking to Vince in character about how the wrestler who won got a larger share of the purse; that type of motivation to rip a guy’s head off made complete sense to me then, and still does. The main goal of a personal feud, however, needed more than just money; it needed a sense that one of the parties had been WRONGED, and he was going to do something about it no matter what the cost. Ambrose and Rollins have been more than up to this task, as you have one man who betrayed two others for what amounts to ‘money’ in a sense, while the other demands blood from the treacherous sellout. As we see Roman Reigns pushed into the main event ahead of what I personally believe his development has allowed (his skills as a ‘heavy’ are justifiably praised in tag matches; still, I remain unconvinced that he has the skills in transition wrestling and storytelling to be ready for the next level as a single, but I digress; whatever I believe, WWE is going to make us find out.), Rollins and Ambrose are truly telling a story that justifies the very real treason someone who spent the last two years with a brother-in-arms must feel when that brother turned.
So why, oh why, do I feel as though the wrong person won on Sunday?
Let’s examine problem number one – the Money in the Bank briefcase is not a title, per se. Normally, it would certainly make a great deal of sense to put a midlevel title, the IC or the US, on the heel wrestler and allow the face wrestler to go on the chase. Certainly everyone who posts here understands this; the money is in the chase for the babyface, so allowing him to chase a wrestler not just for revenge, but to have something to take from the other wrestler as a symbolic measure of that revenge. What concerns me is that Rollins has basically ‘won’ the feud in many ways already – since he possesses the briefcase already, and is not forced to defend it, Ambrose cannot take away what has already been won. In other words, it’s difficult for Ambrose to get revenge on Rollins when it isn’t possible for him to take away the benefit that Rollins turned for in the first place. No matter how much he beats up Rollins, Rollins got what he wanted.
(This is why I believe that one of the ways to create dramatic tension with the briefcase is to force it’s defense on each monthly PPV; it would increase the stalking of the champion if the briefcase holder wasn’t given a basically free pass, as they may cash it in early in fear of losing it, etc. Storyline possibilities would be much stronger if the briefcase was treated in a similar manner to a title.)
Problem number 2 – “So what,” you may ask, “Ambrose will keep ruining the cash-ins, and that’s more than enough as a measure of revenge.”
But I find this flawed, and here’s why – The Authority is going to eventually ruin it. And they’re going to do so by doing exactly what their characters are supposed to do. Either Kane, or someone similar, is going to stick their nose into protecting Rollins in some way (slightly evident on Monday’s Raw), and by proxy, become involved in the feud as a featured player. And this feud does not require a 3rd or 4th party being a part of it to work. In fact, I think that it will be a detriment to it. And that’s not a slam on HHH or anything like that – The Authority has a vested interest in keeping that briefcase in their stable, so to speak, and would look foolish if they just let Rollins cash it in at the wrong time, or lose it to Ambrose, whatever you can come up with.
And in relation to the point, Ambrose ruining the cash-ins only works if, at some point, he actually ruins a cash-in. If he keeps ruining attempted cash-ins, it still ends up with Rollins having the briefcase, still making him the overall victor of the feud. Now, I have no problem with the heel going over in a feud, but I think that him going over from start to finish with regard to the macguffin is not good for the dramatic tension that this particular feud has. Rollins has no reason to continue to fight Ambrose at this point! He already won the match and has what he wants. His main reasoning, near as I can tell, for turning on the Shield is that he made a better deal, not because he hates Ambrose; he has no motivation to continue this.
Consider the following:
Ambrose wins Money in the Bank. Is the storyline better?
Well, let’s examine it from as little bias as is possible. If Ambrose wins the case, even with the Kane interference, he becomes, as Scott put it in the rant, the “the babyfacest babyface ever”, but he also maintains a brief period of advantage over Rollins in the feud. Ambrose winning the case allows the storyline to take a few different twists, depending on which way the Fed wants to go with it, to wit:
–HHH is embarrassed and angry, and orders Rollins to take Ambrose out. He forces Rollins to prove himself as worthy of his position with The Authority. He could even, in this scenario, tell Rollins that he meant what he said before the match – Rollins is on his own. In short, you create more dramatic possibility for Rollins’ character, as he now has to prove himself to HHH along with getting back the briefcase.
–Ambrose can be forced, in a scenario similar to the one I mentioned above, to defend the briefcase at Battleground. There, you can go a few different ways. You can have Rollins win the briefcase in a no-DQ style match, in which both wrestlers brutalize each other to the point of death, allowing for both wrestlers shining and getting Rollins over further when he somehow wins. You can have Rollins win the briefcase from Ambrose with tons of help from the Authority, keeping the feud going, continuing his establishment as a corporate toady, and increasing babyface sympathy for Ambrose at seeing him cheated out of the briefcase he overcame the odds to win. You can keep the briefcase with Ambrose, using some sort of gimmick match that allows both wrestlers to keep their heat, and Ambrose is probably the best guy to hold the case anyway, mostly due to his unpredictable character.
Now, most of my scenarios end up with Rollins having the briefcase anyway. However, what I aim to do is give the feud some balance – give the babyface the hope necessary to get him over. Rollins has no actual motivation to defend the briefcase, but Ambrose being forced to do so created much richer storyline potential, because NOW Rollins would have a legitimate, non-business related reason to hate Ambrose and want to see him dead; Ambrose took what was his, what he sacrificed the Shield for, and he wants it back.
He sold his soul for that case, and it belongs to HIM.
Regardless, these are excellent professional wrestlers as part of the most compelling storyline in wrestling today. And in the end, I think that the right guy ended up with the briefcase.
I just think the wrong guy won the match.