Thursday, September 28, 2017

Straight to the Top: Money in the Bank Anthology

Several years ago WWE started releasing a few home videos compiling the most notorious gimmick matches in pro wrestling history. In 2013 they released a compilation I will be covering today, Straight to the Top: Money in the Bank Anthology (trailer). It consists of every MitB match through 2013; that is 14 matches of insane ladder spots! For newer fans of wrestling unfamiliar with the MitB match, it is a ladder match that usually happens once a year (originally debuting at Wrestlemania in 2005 before shifting over to its own self-titled PPV in 2010) featuring anywhere from 5-10 wrestlers vying to grab a briefcase off the top of the ladder to win. Inside the almighty briefcase is a contract guaranteeing a world title shot to be cashed in at anytime of the winner’s choosing within the next calendar year.

A majority of the MitB winners were mid-card talent who successfully cashed in and became world champions. Winning MitB almost certainly guaranteed a world title reign and a transition from the mid-card to the main event. Every match in here features a nonstop dazzling array of flips and dives and wrestlers getting creative with the ladders for all kinds of spots. Instead of breaking down each match individually, I will instead opt to highlight several things that popped out to me all these years later and other random factoids worth pointing out.

-The Miz is the host of Straight to the Top. He chimes in every couple of matches detailing changes to the MitB match over the years and recapping how some previous winners cashed in their title shot. Miz does not phone this in and is legitimately good in his hosting scenes and he paints a good picture setting up matches and recapping the success of past winners, including hyping himself up a lot after his 2010 MitB win. For those that may have forgot, that cash-in lead to my all-time favorite fan shot of ‘MizGirllooking pissed after Miz cashed in and won the WWE Title from Randy Orton.

-The first few matches in this collection are before WWE went HD in 2008 and are presented with ladder graphics on the side to help smooth off the resolution to its native format. Those are also mostly the matches that Jim Ross calls before Michael Cole took over. I miss Jim Ross. Cole is a pretty good replacement for the most part, except there are a couple matches where Cole was in the middle of his villain ‘Cole Miner’ run where he is more annoying. Luckily Cole dialed back his villain character on PPV so it is not all that bad, and is nowhere as insufferable as Booker T on commentary. When Booker T first started announcing in 2011, he was atrocious and his co-announcers rip on him nonstop throughout. Now in 2017 Booker T is…..still awful on commentary. Why did Booker T have to replace David Otunga on commentary this year!?! Otunga is far superior than Booker on commentary.

-It is worth noting that the first MitB contest in 2005 does have Chris Benoit in it. I think this is only the third or fourth Benoit match I have seen since the 2007 tragedy. It is hard to explain how that feels since WWE has not featured him in most home video releases since the double murder/suicide. WWE does make some edits around him in the 2005 match by removing his entrance and all lines of commentary pertaining to Benoit which makes for some awkward lulls whenever Benoit is on the offensive. I have no problem with WWE doing this and part of me is surprised they included this match in its entirety when they could have just done a quick highlights package instead and danced around Benoit’s involvement in the match. I can only ponder how befuddled newer fans not familiar with Benoit must feel watching this match and wondering who that unnamed wrestler is and why the announcers suddenly get quiet when he is on the attack.

-Shelton Benjamin is the highlight of the first batch of MitB matches. He is in five of the first six and in each one he usually has one or two surprising moments of ingenuity with the ladder that I have seen no one try to repeat since. Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne take over for Shelton for creative ladder spots in the second half of Straight to the Top. Kofi’s spots are a little goofier and do not usually pan out as well, but are still entertaining regardless. Reliving these matches again make me really miss Evan Bourne and I wish he was not as careless when it came to the PED tests he failed back-to-back that lead to his early WWE exit. I was stunned to see throughout this set that Rey Mysterio was only involved in just one MitB match in his lengthy WWE run.

-Kane is in a majority of the MitB matches in this anthology. He usually has one standout moment in a match where he does his vintage top rope clothesline or some other monstrous spot before the other competitors team up and incapacitate him for the rest of the match. I felt happy for Kane however when his lucked change in 2010 when he finally gets revenge and singlehandedly incapacitates each opponent with a destructive move before grabbing the briefcase for his MitB victory. I prefer how I originally worded this in my notes as ‘KANE KILLS EVERYONE TO GRAB BRIEFCASE.’

-Speaking of other unlikely big men to be in the MitB match, my favorite big man, Mark Henry is in a couple and I will give him a shoutout for a couple memorable spots, like teasing going off the top rope in 2009 before he gets tripped up and just dangles on top of the turnbuckle. In 2010 Henry has an awesome moment where he parts two ladders like how Moses parted the Red Sea….seriously. Believe it or not, Big Show participated in two MitB matches, and both times saw the inclusion of the super-ladder custom built for Big Show and capable of holding one ton of weight. Just watching Big Show attempt to get that beast of a ladder in the ring is an entertaining feat of itself and the wrestlers capitalize on taking advantage of that unique ladder.

-With so many ladder spots occurring in each match, there are going to naturally be a few botches transpiring here and there. I am never a fan of the ‘You ****ed up’ chants that happen when moves go awry because wrestlers can potentially injure themselves badly on a botch and it is incredibly disrespectful to the talent. The exception to this however is a comical botch where the danger level is low-to-nonexistent. There is the ultimate comical botch to the finish of the 2012 MitB match that John Cena won when John accidentally broke off the latch with his super-strength before he was suppose to win the match and he had to suddenly feign victory excitement before going back to bashing Big Show on the head with the briefcase.

-Probably the most vicious-looking spot of the collection is Sheamus powerbombing poor SinCara through a ladder, which lead to him getting the EMT-removal-treatment.

-The two hours of BluRay exclusives for Straight to the Top are probably the best exclusives of all other WWE BluRays. They feature all MitB cash-ins in their entirety. That is 12 matches all together, but of those 12, only two of them are main-event caliber match-ups. That is because only Rob Van Dam and John Cena are the only two MitB winners to announce their cash-in ahead of time so their bout was featured as a marquee main event match. All 10 other winners cashed in after the incumbent champion was in a vulnerable state after a grueling match or after getting ambushed unexpectedly by other wrestlers and made relatively quick work of the weakened champion. Watching the first cash-in again brought back memories of getting goosebumps because I did not know how the first ever cash-in would play out and it was so surprising because Edge waited 10 months to use it on a prone John Cena. Reliving RVD’s cash-in at One Night Stand 2006 was also special because it was in front of a raucous ECW-centric crowd at the Manhattan Center who ripped into John Cena with no remorse throughout the entire match. A few of the cash-ins I completely forgot about because a lot of them went down so similarly.

-I know fans that look forward to the MitB match each year more than the Royal Rumble match. Reliving all these matches again was a riot and there is rarely a dull moment in any of them. There are some stronger MitB matches than others, but nearly every match has several OMG moments. The only downside to this set is that it is now outdated by a few years and does not feature the last few MitB matches, but I guess that is what the WWE Network is for nowadays. If you want a vast majority of the MitB bouts on a nice BluRay set and not have to worry about digging through them individually on the WWE Network archives, then Straight to the Top: Money in the Bank Anthology is the way to go.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Clash of Champions
Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 3
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes Yes Yes
DDP: Positively Living
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
ECW Unreleased: Vol 1
ECW Unreleased: Vol 2
ECW Unreleased: Vol 3
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
OMG Vol 3: Top 50 Incidents in ECW History
Owen: Hart of Gold
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
RoH Supercard of Honor IX
RoH Supercard of Honor X
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Sting: Into the Light
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
TNA Lockdown 2005-2014
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
True Giants
Ultimate Fan Pack: Roman Reigns
Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
Wrestlemania 31
Wrestlemania 32
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
Wrestling Road Diaries Three: Funny Equals Money
Wrestlings Greatest Factions
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2016
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2016
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2017

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