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James Ellsworth winning Money in the Bank for Carmella creates heat, just maybe not the right kind

Monday’s Rude Awakening looks at Carmella’s assisted win, Money in the Bank fallout, and a strange SummerSlam rumor.

We publish a whole lot of content here at Cageside Seats. We’re also [looks around and whispers so the bosses can’t hear] not the only place producing wrestling content on the internet. So, as a service to you on the weekdays, we’ll be producing a wrestling newsletter, "Rude Awakening." Well, it will be a newsletter eventually: for now, it’ll just be part of your experience here at Cageside, collecting the news, recaps, and social moments from the greater wrestling universe daily so you won’t fall behind, with a newsletter format to come.

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Carmella won the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match. The problem, is, she didn’t win it by herself — James Ellsworth physically climbed the ladder, retrieved it for her, and tossed it down to his friend who is a girl without being ordered to by her. Now, in theory, this could work: they’re heels, you’re supposed to hate Ellsworth, and Carmella being totally okay with taking the easy way out and letting a man do the work for her is a reason to boo her.

The problem is that, unless you’re too young to realize it, you’re aware a writing team made this decision. And that’s where much of the heel heat for this win is going to go instead of to the performers themselves.

WWE probably should have stopped at Ellsworth pushing the ladder with Becky Lynch on it over and let Carmella go from there so we had the image of her pulling the case down ingrained in both our memories and available for whatever WWE Network look at the past special they make down the road. Instead, we had this propped up as a historic moment for women, and then had a man determine the outcome by himself. That’s not pulling the rug out from under the audience so much as rolling them up in the rug and then kicking the rug down a steep cliff.

Maybe you aren’t bothered by it at all. Or maybe you know it’s a tone-deaf, idiotic decision, but you’re also willing to wait it out since it sure seems like every woman in WWE is going to take burns mutilating Ellsworth for what he’s done, and it’s clear that the angle WWE wants to push here is that it is wrong for a man to have won this for Carmella, and we should be mad, and that someday, he will get what he deserves for this transgression. The thing is, those aren’t the only two options.

This is a move that could backfire and cost WWE viewers, and that’s not something they should be intentionally setting out to do. Especially not when women are dying for a reason to not only watch WWE, but believe that they’ll deliver a product where they’re as fairly represented as the men. They don’t get the time the men do, they only recently get the stories and matches men do, and in this instance, they weren’t even allowed to finish the match themselves. It shouldn’t be a surprise if some viewers bail on watching because WWE hasn’t built up long-term trust with them to do things right in the end — it’s on WWE to inspire that trust in their viewers, not for fans to inherently have it within them.

Me? I’m in that second camp, those who know it was dumb but are curious to see where WWE goes with it given the kayfabe reactions of their authority figures and women from both shows. I’m just some dude with plenty of representation in WWE, both historic and present-day, though. Take a moment today to think about how this finish might feel for those who lack that luxury.

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