Liv Morgan and Theory: Why They Were The Right Choices For WWE Money In The Bank Winners
We are nearly three weeks removed from WWE Money in the Bank 2022 and less than two weeks away from SummerSlam 2022 and one of the hot topics in the business today is the Money in the Bank winners for the men and women.
The Money in the Bank briefcase has been hit and miss the last few years. Carmella has really been the only good winner of the Women’s briefcase because she is the only woman to hold the briefcase for more than 24 hours. She was a good heel at the time and capitalized after more than 250 days to become Smackdown Women’s Champion.
When looking at the men, you’d probably have to go back to Dean Ambrose (aka Jon Moxley) in 2016. Sure, he cashed it in the same night but it is probably the last time they executed the cash in and the follow up correctly. Look at the winners since 2016. Baron Corbin failed miserably to cash-in in 2017. Braun Strowman failed at his cash-in in 2018. Brock Lesnar successfully cashed-in in 2019, but he won the briefcase without even wrestling in the match. Poor Otis lost his briefcase before he could even cash in in 2020 and Big E had a great moment in 2021, but WWE inexplicably failed in the follow up.
That brings us to 2022. One of the biggest knocks against WWE in recent years has been their inability in some respects to create new and younger stars. There is a lot of merit to that. I mean, you have talent in NXT like Roxanne Perez, Cora Jade, Carmelo Hayes, Solo Sikoa, Grayson Waller and of course Bron Breakker who are no doubt the future, but they are still in NXT right now. Then, on the main roster you have guys like Theory and Liv Morgan, who are both polarizing in different ways. If you want to build toward the future, Money in the Bank did about as good of a job as you could do in building to that future.
Liv Morgan is not necessarily a “new” talent. Gionna Daddio signed with WWE and was sent to NXT where she was packaged as Liv Morgan in 2014. At the time, she was only 20 years old. Based on how long the women are going now, she still has a decade left at least if she wants to keep wrestling. You would find it difficult to find anybody on the WWE roster, man or woman, who has worked harder to become a star over the last several years than Liv Morgan. She is universally loved by people backstage and the fans in the arenas. You’ll never hear anybody say a bad word about her. She has sort of that Daniel Bryan effect where the fans latch on to her because they know she’s good, but they also know she was not necessarily the chosen one among WWE management. It’s the underdog nature of her character that gets people behind her.
Morgan is only 28, and the work she has put in this year alone makes her worthy of the spot she’s in. She holds singles match pinfall victories over Rhea Ripley, Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, and Ronda Rousey. All of that is just in the last few months. She has improved in the ring by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and you could see it in her work. The confidence she’s displayed has been noticeable. The fans really wanted Liv to win Money in the Bank last year. The story was there with Sonya Deville repeatedly trying to keep her out of the match. Unfortunately, Nikki A.S.H. won the briefcase and cashed it in on Charlotte Flair the next night on Raw to become Raw Women’s Champion. Her reign lasted just 32 days before losing it back to Charlotte Flair at SummerSlam. That’s what I’m afraid might happen here. Granted, Morgan is ten times more over than Nikki A.S.H. was. However, one thing I have noticed is she has yet to receive the side plates to her Smackdown Women’s Championship. Now, I know she said on Twitter a couple of weeks ago that she saw her side plates, but the fact is she hasn’t received them yet so that is a cause for concern with her rematch with Ronda Rousey coming up at Summerslam on July 30. It could mean nothing, but I can’t be confident in her having a decent reign until she gets those side plates.
It’s an interesting time for the women’s division. Nobody knows what is going on with Sasha Banks and Naomi. Charlotte Flair is on a hiatus. WWE has let go of so many women over the last few years. Bianca Belair has established herself as the next Superstar of that women’s division. Nobody knows how long Ronda Rousey is going to stick around this time. This is the perfect time to build and establish new women superstars and Liv Morgan is perfect for that build. Of course, she cashed in the same night to continue the trend of women not keeping the briefcase for more than 24 hours. However, based on the progress she made this year and the support she’s received, I don’t think there was a better time to give her this win.
Money in the Bank 2022 was a star-making night for Liv Morgan. I just hope WWE doesn’t screw it up at SummerSlam.
Theory seems to be the more controversial of the two Money in the Bank winners, but I have a feeling it’s not because of his work. Austin White signed with WWE on August 15th, 2019 and reported to the Performance Center. Theory had been on WWE’s radar before that due to their relationship with Evolve. Theory cut his teeth on the Independent circuit, which should endear him more to the internet wrestling community. He is only 24 years old which makes him a prime candidate for WWE’s youth movement. During his run in NXT as a member of The Way, he showed he is capable of portraying different personalities as a character. His in-ring work is pretty damn good. His mic work needs a little work, but that has a lot to do with the material they give him. Some of it just isn’t good.
Theory won the United States Title from Finn Balor on the April 18th edition of Monday Night Raw and held the title for 74 days before dropping it to Bobby Lashley at Money in the Bank. Think about the talent Theory has been in the ring with just in 2022. The list of superstars includes then-WWE Champion Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Cody Rhodes, and Bobby Lashley, just to name a few.
So why did his winning receive such backlash? Well, for one, probably because he wasn’t originally supposed to be in the match. When you look at the field in that match, who really NEEDED that win? Seth Rollins? No. He’s a former Money in the Bank winner and multiple-time World Champion. Riddle? No. He’s already received a title shot and main evented several shows already. Sheamus? Former Money in the Bank winner and multiple-time World Champion. Drew McIntyre? Arguably the biggest star in the match and multiple-time World Champion. Sami Zayn? With all due respect, he’s in his late 30s and he is doing his best work right now without the briefcase. Amos? No. To be honest, I don’t think he will ever be ready. Madcap Moss? Now you might have an argument there but let’s be honest here. His biggest win was against Happy Corbin and even though he is a future main event player, he hasn’t racked up enough wins to put him there yet.
If we are to use the briefcase to build stars, much like the Royal Rumble was designed to do, then Theory was the perfect choice. The reasons it wasn’t a popular choice boil down to two things. Number one, The Speaking Out Movement. Theory was one of the names implicated in the movement but nothing ever came of it. I’m all for getting justice but at some point, you have to have some kind of evidence. I don’t know whether he did or didn’t. All I know is guys like Velveteen Dream, Marty Scrurll, Joey Ryan and Jimmy Havoc are likely never going to have another job in a big-time company again and rightfully so. You can’t sit there and say WWE ignored the allegations because as soon as they came to light, Theory was taken off Raw and sent back down to NXT. You also can’t claim it’s because of his star status because Theory in 2020 was not getting the push that Theory in 2022 is getting. He was getting thrown from faction to faction between Andrade and Seth Rollins before being shipped back to NXT. They also fired several wrestlers implicated in the Speaking Out Movement, including Velveteen Dream, who was pegged as a future star within the company. These allegations also follow Riddle but most people seem to not bring those up as much when Riddle gets his push. Why is that?
That brings me to reason number two and what I think is the real reason people are rebelling against the idea. Theory is a Vince McMahon project. Look at some of the recent talents the fans have rallied around. Names like Kofi Kingston, Big E, Liv Morgan, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk come to mind. Even back in the Attitude Era with the likes of Mick Foley and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. You want to know what all of those stars have in common? They all made themselves stars despite not really being Vince McMahon’s first “choice.” That’s why the fans gravitated towards them.
Now look at guys like Theory, Roman Reigns, John Cena, Triple H and Rocky Maivia. You want to know what they all have in common? They were all handpicked by Vince as the next superstar and the fans crapped on all of them. It took The Rock and Roman turning heel and Triple H and John Cena becoming part-time superstars for most of the fans to realize just how good they were. Theory checks off every single box you want in a superstar. He has the look, he can talk, he can wrestle. Yet, he gets crapped on because he has the dreaded label of being Vince’s “chosen one” and that’s unfortunate. Has Vince missed the mark on some guys? Hell yeah. Wrestlers like Jinder Mahal, Mabel, and Mason Ryan come to mind. Yet, when you look at guys like Triple H, The Rock, John Cena, and Roman Reigns, what do they all have in common? They’re all future Hall of Famers and WWE Legends. Could Theory be there one day? Of course. Could he also flop like Mason Ryan and Jinder Mahal? Certainly. I think we should wait and see first instead of writing him off at 24 years old. He could absolutely fail at cashing in that briefcase, especially if Roman Reigns is still the champion. However, WWE is going all in on this guy and I think we should at least give the guy a chance before calling him a failure.
WWE is starting to build for the future. That’s what we’ve all been asking for for years and yet NXT 2.0 got crapped on before it even got started and so has Theory. We can’t just say we want them to build new stars and then say “Oh wait but not him.” Theory is an indy guy, which is what the internet wrestling community gravitates to. Liv Morgan is a tried and true WWE product. The two most popular women in the division right now are Liv Morgan and Bianca Belair – two women who spent all of their wrestling careers in the WWE system. The guy who gets the most hate online at the moment is Theory, who started in the independents. See where I’m going with this? Maybe the problem isn’t WWE gearing more towards homegrown over independent talent. Maybe the problem is the fan’s obsession with rebelling against everything that Vince endorses instead of just appreciating whether a talent can actually work regardless of who pegged him as a future star.
Thanks for reading. Check out my TJRWrestling writing archive here. I’m on Twitter @GiftedMoney talking about wrestling among other things, so feel free to message me on there with any thoughts or comments. Until next time.