The Money in the Bank (MITB) ladder match has served as a launching pad for numerous superstars to ascend from mid-card status to the main event scene.
Some of those stars have reached the peak and held strong (see: Edge) and others have floundered following their capture of the coveted briefcase (see: Jack Swagger).
In an odd twist, the RAW MITB match this year is open only to former WWE Champions. Rather than try to create new stars, the plan is to use the match as a vehicle to reinsert an existing main event talent back into the title picture.
On paper, all signs point to a John Cena vs. CM Punk rematch at SummerSlam to co-headline a card that will feature Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar.
The RAW MITB match currently consists of former champions Big Show, Chris Jericho, Kane, and the aforementioned Cena. Ideally, another pair of superstars would be added to the match both for the sake of entertainment -- seriously, can you imagine a ladder match with just these four? -- and for the sake of continuity, as most MITB matches have been six-man contests.
In following the stipulation that all competitors in this match must be former WWE Champions, I’ve taken a quick look at all of the previous WWE Champions in history who are not already in the match.
The list, courtesy of WWE.com, includes:
Alberto Del Rio
Rob Van Dam
Andre the Giant
The Iron Sheik
Superstar Billy Graham
That’s 37 different men who have held the WWE Championship, excluding the four men already announced for the match.
Obviously, we can quickly deduce that a number of these former champions will not be in the match based on the fact that they are either suspended, injured, deceased, retired, or under contract to another organization.
I’m not going to rule out anyone who has a match elsewhere on the card as that has never stopped anyone from returning later in the show for another match. With that in mind, I’m adding CM Punk to the list as he could, in theory, lose the strap to Daniel Bryan and come back out to win MITB later in the night.
As such, here is a quick look at the list and everyone’s current status:
CM Punk – Current Champion, Booked Elsewhere on the Card
Alberto Del Rio - Booked Elsewhere on the Card
Rey Mysterio – Available
The Miz – Available
Randy Orton – Currently Suspended for a Wellness Violation
Sheamus – Current World Heavyweight Champion, Booked Elsewhere on the Card
Batista – Retired
Triple H – Available
Jeff Hardy – Currently Under Contract to TNA
Edge – Retired
Rob Van Dam – Currently Under Contract to TNA
JBL – Retired
Eddie Guerrero – Deceased
Brock Lesnar – Available
Kurt Angle – Currently Under Contract to TNA
The Rock – Available
Hulk Hogan – Currently Under Contract to TNA
Undertaker – Available
Steve Austin – Retired
Vince McMahon – Available
Mick Foley – Retired
Shawn Michaels – Retired
Bret Hart – Retired
Sid – Retired
Bob Backlund – Retired
Kevin Nash – Available
Yokozuna – Deceased
Ric Flair – In a Contract Dispute w/ TNA
Randy Savage – Deceased
Ultimate Warrior – Retired
Andre the Giant – Deceased
The Iron Sheik – Retired
Superstar Billy Graham – Retired
Bruno Sammartino – Retired
Stan Stasiak – Deceased
Pedro Morales – Retired
Ivan Koloff – Retired
Buddy Rogers – Deceased
Needless to say, this shrinks the list considerably for potential entrants as we drop down to just eleven potentials:
Alberto Del Rio
This includes the current WWE Champion, the current world heavyweight champion and the current number one contender for the world heavyweight title, all of whom will be in action at MITB in singles matches.
Realistically, we can assume that Vince McMahon, Kevin Nash, Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and Triple H will have nothing to do with this match-up. If we go ahead and count out, for the sake of simplicity, the three superstars who are already booked for the show, that leaves us with three potential entrants:
It was previously posted here on Cageside Seats that Rey Mysterio is reportedly not returning until July 23 and Raw’s historic 1,000th episode. This despite the fact that his ability to take bumps and pull off high-flying maneuvers could make this match decidedly more watchable than the current arrangement allows.
That leaves us with The Miz and his idol -- and Geno’s dark horse favorite -- The Rock as the only two potential entrants.
The Miz makes plenty of sense as he can take some good bumps and would add a level of athleticism to this match that is currently lacking. Unfortunately, he’s been off television for a month or so filming the latest WWE Studios flop and was buried on TV prior to his departure.
The Rock would certainly spice things up, but I can’t imagine the WWE would use The Rock in this situation and not promote the hell out of it to increase buyrates. Given that Money in the Bank is just a couple of weeks away, this seems too farfetched to be a possibility. I have no doubt that if and when WWE uses The Rock in a match again, they’ll be cramming his appearance down our throats for months on end; rather than make it a spur of the moment decision.
At the end of the day, you’re left with a lot of dead ends for potential additions to this match and the current story on WWE.com makes it sound very much like they may be willing to leave it as a four-way contest.
The current configuration consists of two aging behemoths in Kane and the Big Show, a powerhouse with little ladder match experience in John Cena, and Chris Jericho, who figures to be the spot monkey and workhorse of this bout.
On paper it doesn’t sound like it will be a classic, but these are four superstars who have proven they can go above and beyond when called upon to do so.
Let’s hear it in the comments, Cagesiders: are you cool with a four-way match between these veterans or would you rather see some more former champions added to the mix?