WWE Money In The Bank 2017 Results: Baron Corbin Has Arrived And 5 Things We Learned
Headline: WWE Money In The Bank 2017 Results: Baron Corbin Has Arrived And 5 Things We Learned
Author: Blake Oestriecher, Contributor
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2017 05:00:00 -0400
Hours Ago: 18
WWE Money in the Bank 2017 was highlighted by Jinder Mahal defeating Randy Orton, Baron Corbin winning the MITB briefcase and Carmella doing the same to cap off one on SmackDown’s most important pay-per-views of the year.
The blue brand, which has seen its ratings increase by 9% over the course of the last year, has trended in the opposite direction over the last couple of months, with the show hitting a 2017 ratings low on multiple occasions during that span, including a new low just this week. SmackDown’s quality certainly hasn’t been bad, but it hasn’t been quite at the level it was at last year when it was widely praised as a consistently fantastic show.
Money in the Bank, however, seemed to be a solid step in the right direction, with SmackDown moving full steam ahead with its youth movement by giving marquee wins to Mahal, Corbin and Carmella. Unfortunately, the show also highlighted some of the biggest issues currently plaguing the blue brand.
Here are five things we learned from Money in the Bank.
Randy Orton Badly Needs A Character Change
The current version of Randy Orton, whatever it is exactly, seems to be going through the motions.
Orton, though he’s around more than the average part-timer, reportedly has a friendly contract that allows him to miss some house shows. Thus, you would think that would make “The Viper” extra motivated to perform at a high level when he is around, but perhaps because he desperately wants to turn heel , Orton simply isn’t clicking at all as of late.
That was incredibly evident at Money in the Bank during Orton’s mediocre match against Jinder Mahal, which continued to show that he needs some sort of character change. At the very least, a new gimmick (perhaps one where he targets former indy stars, who he has some beef with) for Orton should be considered, but ideally, he will turn heel because he’s much better in that role anyway.
As one of WWE’s highest paid stars, Orton clearly brings a lot of value to WWE as a do-it-all performer who can work heel or babyface when motivated. But with his loss to Mahal at Money in the Bank and SmackDown having a number of babyface stars, including Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles and John Cena, now could be the perfect time to execute that much needed character change for Orton.
AJ Styles Deserves Better
Since turning babyface after WrestleMania 33, AJ Styles has gotten lost in the shuffle a bit, which is disappointing given all the success he had in 2016.
Last year, Styles became WWE’s most popular new star and a strong merchandise mover (perhaps as high as No. 3 in that category) due to a combination of stellar in-ring performances and high-profile feuds with the likes of Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and John Cena. But “The Phenomenal One” has been on the backburner over the last couple of months as WWE has moved full steam ahead with the pushes of other stars like Nakamura and Mahal.
Styles had an underwhelming feud with Kevin Owens in which he didn’t win the US title, and then, he fell short once again at Money in the Bank. With John Cena’s upcoming return on July 4th it won’t be any easier for Styles to stand out from the pack, which makes you wonder exactly what he’ll be doing as we head into SummerSlam.
There are reports that Styles could take on Nakamura for the WWE title in a WrestleMania 34 main event, which means he could be in a headlining role at a show that could potentially set WWE’s all-time live gate record. But with the pushes of Mahal, Baron Corbin and others, Styles seems to be struggling to stand out.
And that’s a shame.
Jinder Mahal Vs. John Cena Is A Safe Bet For SummerSlam
According to Sportskeeda, “John Cena is currently penciled in to face Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship at this year’s Summerslam.”
Cena’s SmackDown return and planned feud with Mahal is likely a direct result of SmackDown’s struggling ratings, which have plummeted since WrestleMania 33 in the absence of Cena. According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, SmackDown’s attendance and TV ratings are both expected to rebound when Cena returns, which is why he is apparently planned for a SummerSlam feud with Mahal.
The most recent betting odds indicate that Cena will be the one to dethrone Mahal and win the WWE Championship, but with reports indicating that Cena could be on both brands going forward (likely in an effort to help both show attract more TV and WWE Network viewers), maybe Cena won’t beat Mahal for the WWE Championship after all.
Either way, Mahal’s successful WWE title defense against Orton indicates that he’s one step closer to facing Cena in a SummerSlam main event, which would undoubtedly be the biggest match of his career.
Carmella Is In Line For A Massive Push, As Is The Entire Women’s Division
Likely due to reports that WWE officials, including Triple H, have high hopes for Carmella, “The Princess of Staten Island” emerged as an early favorite to win the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank match, and as it turns out, the odds were right as she won the briefcase via a major assist from James Ellsworth.
Now, it looks like Carmella, much like Alexa Bliss last year, is being positioned for a major push as the top female heel on SmackDown. Given that arguably the three most talented women on the blue brand (Charlotte, Naomi and Becky Lynch) are babyfaces, Carmella is indeed in a prime position to be the No. 1 heel in the show’s women’s division, especially now that she is Mrs. Money in the Bank.
Carmella, who, based on search data, is surprisingly popular despite being a heel, has made tremendous strides as a performer since being called up last year, and with SmackDown known as “The Land of Opportunity,” it certainly makes sense that WWE would want to push her and see if she either succeeds or fizzles out.
WWE seems to be taking a very progressive approach with the women’s division in general, too.
Shortly after Carmella’s historic win, Maria Kanellis made her triumphant return along with real-life husband Mike Bennett, who surprisingly went by the name of Mike Kanellis. Yes, you read that right. Perhaps in an effort to attract more female viewers, WWE is moving forward with a gimmick in which Mike took his wife’s last name, which will present SmackDown with a challenging and intriguing storyline that seems like a perfect fit for a very progressive audience in 2017.
Combine that with every other woman on the roster being featured in a major storyline and the controversy surrounding James Ellsworth helping Carmella win the briefcase, and it’s clear WWE is making strides toward SmackDown focusing heavily on the women’s division, which is a bold attempt to increase viewership but one that could ultimately end up working.
Baron Corbin Is Being Primed For A Main Event Run
Baron Corbin, the longtime Money in the Bank betting favorite, indeed capture the coveted briefcase and likely cemented himself as a future WWE Champion in the process.
“The Lone Wolf” is completely unproven as a main eventer in WWE, but the company’s current business model allows it to take chances on new talents at the top of the card. According to the Wrestling Observer (h/t WrestleZone), WWE has pushed Mahal as a PPV main eventer despite his previous status as a lower card worker because the WWE Network only costs $10 a month while traditional PPVs previously cost $60 per show.
The logic is that WWE fans will be more accepting of an unproven talent working a main event given the much lower price tag. That same logic can be applied to Corbin, who has yet to solidify himself as a main eventer but has all the potential in the world to become one.
WWE seems to have recognized that and rewarded Corbin with a MITB win in hopes that he will be more successful than Braun Strowman and become the top heel on the blue brand. Now, it’s time to see if Corbin will live up to the lofty expectations WWE officials have of him.
As “Mr. Money in the Bank,” Corbin is in the on-deck circle on SmackDown and could provide the show with another top heel that it could certainly use.
Blake Oestriecher is an elementary school teacher by day and a sports writer by night. He’s a contributor to the Forbes @SportsMoneyBlog, where he focuses on the WWE, NBA and NFL. You can follow him on Twitter @BOestriecher.