By Ryan K Boman, Editor in Chief
“Alright Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
— Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) in Sunset Boulevard
Lights! Camera! … Action?
Stamford, Connecticut, is an estimated 2828 miles from Hollywood, California, but you never would’ve known it by watching Money in the Bank this past Sunday night. As WWE is forced to find new and exciting ways to do business amidst a global pandemic, they may have finally outdone themselves. For better, or worse.
Out of necessity, the promotion continues to dabble in the world of motion picture-style matches. These heavily edited and slickly produced mini-movies have allowed the ‘E’ to go batshit crazy with creativity.
And boy, did they ever… filming both the Firefly and Boneyard matches for WrestleMania last month with all the artistry and brutality of A Clockwork Orange.
In the case of MITB, the signature showdown – one that sets the tone of the main event picture for several months – was given the ‘star treatment’. Stages were set, the lights were lit, and the clapperboard was working overtime.
For the first time ever, the titular ‘Money in the Bank’ matches themselves would culminate in a fight from the bottom floor to the top of Titan Tower. The winners would be the the ones who could survive a bombastic battle from the lobby to the ladder. And it would all be captured in stunning technicolor!
It was a pair of contests that would combine all the elements of brutal combat, ridiculous humor, macabre plunges to almost certain death, and most of all? The massive, indelible thumbprint of WWE’s creative team.
The final production turned out to be part Die Hard and part Cannonball Run. With scenes like Brother Love coming out of the shitter, to Vince himself making a hilarious cameo, there was no holding back the giggles in this otherwise, ‘hard-as-balls’ action comedy.
From silly food fights to the world’s slowest elevator, we had a chance to see the stars of The Universe take each other on in the most high stakes game of Double Dare ever.
It was like an onslaught to the senses, because there was so much there to digest. This thing had it all: big stunts, inside jokes, and blasts from the past.
For God’s sake, it even had its own musical score! Did they bring in Danny Elfman or something?
At one point, the women even ran through the cafeteria – in a moment that sorta resembled a Benny Hill chase scene. Poor Dana Brooke, whose tireless work ethic and dedication to the company led some to believe that she might be getting an actual push eventually. It was all for naught, however, as she was made to look like a slapstick comedian through this entire match-up. From stupidly grabbing the wrong briefcase in Stephanie McMahon’s office to falling flat on her ass, she put on a performance that would have made Curly Howard proud.
As I watched this smorgasbord of styles all clashing together (pun intended), all I could envision was how much Vince McMahon must have been beside himself with joy. The negative circumstances surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak notwithstanding, the Chairman has long wanted to turn pro wrestling in to Hollywood fare anyway. And now – ironically – because of an epidemic, he’s been handed a License to Kill.
Through all the madness, I could just picture Vince somewhere when the filming was taking place… wearing a beret, holding an oversized megaphone, and being lifted around the set on one of those crane-operated director’s chairs. Just being whisked around, flying from shot to shot, and yelling something like, “CUT! Now that’s good shit!”
The finale of both battles almost seems like an afterthought, given all the tomfoolery involved. But, just for the record: Asuka went all Jackie Chan on everyone to win the Women’s briefcase.
Meanwhile, in the Men’s version of this jumbled-up journey, the unlikely Otis captured the macguffin… becoming the most successful simpleton in sports since The Waterboy.
However, the results aren’t necessarily what most people will remember about this year’s event.
Regardless of whether you love or hate the match, the one thing you can give credit to is the originality of the concept. They say necessity is the mother of all invention, and WWE certainly got inventive with this one.
(However, to be fair, Howard the Duck was ALSO a pretty original concept… and we all know how that turned out. Some things even Tinseltown can’t fix.)
Simply put: If you’re a pure wrestling fan, then this was never a ‘true wrestling match’ to begin with. And if you were just watching it solely for the entertainment side of things? Then, the outcomes never mattered to you anyway… just the gags.
So, I can’t really give the MITB a rating in terms of being a match, because I don’t really consider it to be one. I look at it in much the same way I did Total Non-Stop Deletion a few years ago. It was more like a funny film about fighting, rather than anything you could try and view as a logical ‘contest’.
And, in terms of grading it as a movie? It certainly doesn’t deserve an Oscar, but I wouldn’t give it a Razzie, either. For the most part, it made me laugh. And, there were enough moments that entertained me, that I wouldn’t go back to the ticket window and ask for my money back.
That’s it for this week. Until next time? I’ll see you… At the Movies.