Money in the Bank will go down in history for a lot of things. First, those seconds before the men’s ladder match where WWE’s mid-summer event turned into a slideshow presentation. Peacock got some of its feathers plucked and had more in common with a pigeon than its vibrant namesake. And then, duh, John Cena pressing pause on peacemaking and furious driving to anger Roman Reigns.
Another big story —pun very much intended— was Big E looking just as huge as his name implies while holding that Money in the Bank briefcase in his hands while the crowd lost their collective minds.
For longtime devotees —here’s looking at you, Stella— it was a moment of vindication. For the few nonbelievers? Clarity or conversion that E is more than just a member of one of the greatest tag teams of all time.
But without that Fort Worth, Texas crowd, the most critical night in E’s career ends with a period instead of an exclamation point. The ThunderDome made WWE even more for an audience of one than before the dark times. With butts back in seats, Vince McMahon gets to see what truly works and what doesn’t. If that Texas crowd is consistent with fans across the country, then Big E is not only a main event staple but a permanent fixture in any championship picture.
No one reading this needs a history lesson about the importance of a crowd in wrestling. That said, it bears emphasizing the consequences of a reaction when creating new stars that can carry a wrestling company. It’s how Darby Allin goes from an indie darling to main event spots on national television and teaming up with one of the biggest names in the history of the game. As a member of the New Day, Big E always received several rounds of applause. I mean, the man greeted packed arenas every night and told them to clap. But Money in the Bank felt different.
The audience reaction expresses what they believe in and what they don’t. John Cena vs. Roman Reigns? Oh, they believe in that a whole lot. Rhea Ripley? Unfortunately, the jury is still out on that one, although it’s clear WWE did her no favors during her feud with Charlotte Flair. And Big E, as the champion of WWE’s World or its Universe, is something they firmly believe in.
Money in the Bank winners aren’t always people the crowd accepts as ready for the big time. At its core, the briefcase is more of a storytelling device than a coronation. For someone like Edge, it served as a stepping stone to the next level. On the other hand, Brock Lesnar clearly didn’t need the briefcase but created a different tale with it in his possession. When it comes to the former, the way Edge cashed in and what he did with the belt afterward informed his character and made fans believe this guy famous for tag team wrestling was a legitimate champion.
Obviously, those moves from more than a decade ago still pay dividends in 2021. That said, the audience is already there with the man formerly known as Big E. Langston.
E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! E! #MITB @WWEBigE pic.twitter.com/gdkMs23Bhk— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) July 19, 2021
During a successful Intercontinental Championship run and a very dope feud with Apollo Crews, E showed he’s more than just the powerhouse who throws pancakes. Defending that belt made him aggressive, relentless and showcased his ability to hold an audience in the palm of his hands on the microphone. E positioned himself as a more than credible solo act capable of holding it down without his boys in tow.
That’s not an easy feat for any group member since it requires flexing a different set of muscles. For some, the tag team or toiling in the mid-card is their ceiling in WWE. For every Shawn Michaels, there’s a Billy Gunn. That’s not a diss to the former Ass Man, but something just didn’t connect between him and the crowd when WWE crowned him as the next big thing in 1999. Ultimately, they didn’t believe in him.
We never got enough of Billy’s character to make us care, unlike E, who we know so much about over a decade. We know his struggles. We bask in his successes and identify wholeheartedly with his authenticity. Big E is one if, if not the realest around, in a business where “keeping it real” matters. When he climbed those turnbuckles holding the briefcase high while shouting at the top of his lungs and the crowd chanted his name, it felt like a championship celebration. In their eyes, he’s already the man. And in a world with two dominating heel champions in Bobby Lashley and Roman Reigns, having a “good guy” to believe is a bit of a cleanser.
Fans don’t just believe he’s a credible champion; they are absolutely positive the Powerhouse of Positivity can beat either one of those two guys, and they’re dying to see it, just as much as he is.