The WWE SmackDown women’s division is set to receive the rarest of opportunities—a chance to revise and revamp history.
Billed as momentous and historic, the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match instead became a controversial lightning rod. The image of James Ellsworth unhooking the briefcase and dumping it into his main squeeze Carmella’s lap irked much of the audience. A seminal moment in women’s wrestling became all about a little weasel of a man.
The backlash to Sunday’s pay-per-view bout may have inspired a rewrite.
On the June 27 edition of SmackDown, WWE will give itself a Money in the Bank mulligan. The blue brand’s general manager, Daniel Bryan, decided to strip Carmella of her victory on Tuesday’s show and book another ladder match with the coveted briefcase up for grabs.
To know how best to handle this rematch, WWE has to dig in and understand why so many hated how things went the first time around.
For one, the match must go on longer. Carmella’s win came too quickly, the climax hitting before the action had a chance to reach a true apex.
The second-shortest Money in the Bank ladder match ever wrapped up at 13 minutes and 14 seconds. That’s less than half the time the men got that night, per the Internet Wrestling Database.
WWE should clear out plenty of space on the next SmackDown and let these women go wild for 20-plus minutes.
There will be chances to create electricity, more room to insert big moments. While Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and the rest of the field put forth great effort in Sunday’s match, the end result was not the usual human demolition derby we see in these matches.
Flair dove from off the top rope onto Tamina and Natalya.
Each one of these women is set on MAKING HISTORY in the first-ever Women’s #MITB #LadderMatch! @MsCharlotteWWE @NatByNature @TaminaSnuka https://t.co/RULQkC4kx0
In the sequel, she needs to moonsault from the high rungs of a massive ladder. Natalya needs to powerbomb someone through a ladder. More steel needs to be bent; more bruises need to paint the flesh of these warriors.
These contests are built around breathtaking moments, and there weren’t quite enough of them in the first go-round.
The ending must be more definitive, too. Many criticized the poor optics of a man essentially winning a women’s match, but beyond that, the execution was off.
The climax felt unfinished. There was too much uncertainty floating around when Carmella clutched the briefcase.
Ellsworth’s involvement befuddled the referees. So the match ended with a huddle of refs unsure of what to do. They bickered. They wavered.
It’s almost never a good idea to end a match with the spotlight on the officials. That doesn’t make for classic moments. And while some have praised the finish, a vocal portion of the fanbase hated it.
Brandon Howard of Fightful pointed out how different things felt at the close of that match as opposed to how Monday’s Raw ended:
Brandon Howard @BrandonThurston
If you want to know what good heat is, watch the end of RAW. If you want to know what bad heat is, watch the end of the women’s MITB.
There should be no ambiguity this next time.
And rather than have Ellsworth claim the pivotal moment in the rematch, he should contribute in a far different way. Carmella’s crony is supposed to be banned from ringside, but those rulings often don’t hold water in wrestling. He should run out near the end of the match and look to be taking down the briefcase all over again.
But instead, Flair or Lynch or perhaps the entirety of the field other than Carmella, should push him off the ladder and send him crashing through a table.
After knocking @BeckyLynchWWE off the ladder, WHAT is @realellsworth thinking?! #MITB https://t.co/zHTLYnyi50
The same winner should emerge on SmackDown, though.
Carmella killed it in her celebratory promo on Tuesday night. She looked more than ready to thrive in that spot. And her win, even as clumsily executed as it was, was set to launch her to stardom.
Miami Herald columnist Scott Fishman talked about the need to let Carmella keep her heel heat:
Scott Fishman @smFISHMAN
As excited I am for another women’s #MITB can be only one first. Damage already done. Should’ve let Carmella benefit from heat. #WWE #SDLive
Carmella should still cheat but get the glory without Ellsworth.
Let her snap Flair’s ankle by snapping two sides of a ladder against her leg. Have her handcuff Lynch to a turnbuckle. She needs to look more like a mastermind and less like a lucky dog.
WWE can then move forward with the same villain at the center of the story but with a more satisfying journey to her coronation.