6 Better Alternatives to Austin Theory’s Money in the Bank Cash-in Failure


Austin Theory’s failed Money in the Bank cash-in attempt is a baffling decision for many reasons, and not one that you can blame on the previous regime.

Triple H inherited some awful messes that Vince McMahon had left for him. And now, it seems he’s creating his own.

For those who missed what happened, Theory downgraded his own contract to attempt to win a midcard title, simultaneously wasted his cash-in on an open challenge, and managed to come up short, too.

He failed spectacularly across the board. Not only does he look terrible coming out of this, the Money in the Bank concept as a whole took a hit, too.

As I’m trying to wrap my mind around why WWE decided to willingly neuter one of its best gimmicks and most promising up and coming stars of the future, I can’t help but to think of all the other ways this could have gone down much better.

Indulge me as I toss out just six of the different ideas swimming around in my mind of better alternatives to what just happened last night on Raw.

1. Lose the Cash-in Attempt Against Roman Reigns

Let’s say for argument’s sake that in Triple H’s mind, there was absolutely no way Theory could have gotten out of that briefcase without losing. Roman Reigns is the definitive sole possessor of both world titles and the company has no plans to take the belts off him any time soon, so it was “inevitable” that Theory would lose, and Triple H might not have even given him the briefcase to begin with, if he had had any say in it when picking months ago.

That’s giving some slack, but I’ll go with it, just to make this even more obvious in how easy the alternative is: just have him lose to Roman, then!

The narrative you’ve been building for years is that The Tribal Chief is unstoppable. You show it in every possible way you can. Add this to the list of ways he proves he’s teflon.

Theory’s attempt that got ruined by Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam wouldn’t have been great, but it would still have been a less painful end than this, for example. Theory would have been losing to THE guy who has a handful of backup to interfere.

Maybe that would have positioned Theory as more of a babyface, but if that’s the biggest concern WWE had and wanted to avoid, they just dug themselves a 6 foot grave to bury him in during their attempt to avoid an ant hill.

2. The Match Could Have Ended in More Controversy

You had it right there. Mustafa Ali wanted to answer the open challenge. Bobby Lashley came out and beat down Seth Rollins and just sort of walked off before coming back, for some reason. And earlier in the night, Theory talked down to Shelton Benjamin and beat him.

Beating Benjamin doesn’t offset Theory’s loss by ANY means, if that’s what WWE thought they were doing. Nobody is going to think “well, he lost his cash-in, but he beat that veteran who he pointed out always loses and we haven’t seen on anything but Main Event for a while, so that balances out.” But if you had at had Benjamin and Lashley in some cohesion to work together to screw Theory out of this, he could chalk it all up to b.s. that he lost. Benjamin and Lashley are former teammates, after all.

Or, it could have ended in a draw, no-contest, double disqualification or anything you want to call it, with any number of these guys getting involved. Theory could have technically made his cash-in attempt official, only for the match to end with him not winning the title, but not losing the match, either. It would give him an out.

But nope. Theory not only lost by pinfall, he lost to a guy who had gotten beaten up before the match even started. Rollins was so out of it that Theory should have been easily able to pick him off and score a quick victory. Instead, Rollins fought back, overcame the odds, and beat him. And if you say “but Lashley attacked Theory and that weakened him”, that just means Theory and Rollins were closer to even at that point, then, and he still lost. It isn’t a good enough excuse.

3. Theory Could Have Actually Won the United States Championship

Here’s a thought. Maybe he could have just won the title? That certainly wouldn’t have been a worse option for him.

Contrary to some who are upset about the idea of the cash-in happening on a midcard title, I’m actually not opposed to it. I’ve long said I think MITB should be open to all championships. That makes it even less predictable. You can tell some good stories with that, too, like if someone like Sheamus were to win and go after the Intercontinental Championship since it is the one title he’s missing on the Grand Slam tour.

Had Theory won the United States Championship, the complaints would have been more about how he only won the midcard title and not the world title. Now, we’re dealing with a situation where he’s one of the few cash-in losers, but even worse because it’s not as though he lost his cash-in to the world champion.

Maybe the talking point would have even worked in reverse to boost the credibility of the United States title, rather than downgrade the cash-in. “Theory had his pick of titles and he still went for that one. That must be pretty valuable.”

Then, we’d have Theory with that belt—something for him to defend against guys like Johnny Gargano who aren’t going to beat Reigns within the next 5 months anyway—instead of having the belt on Rollins, who doesn’t need a belt to have a featured match on any card.

4. Someone Could Have Taken the Briefcase Off Theory

Don’t want the briefcase in Theory’s possession? Have someone take it off him. You did it before with Mr. Kennedy and Otis. It can happen again.

Imagine if Theory had been such a danger to The Head of the Table’s title reign that Reigns enlisted Sami Zayn to eliminate that blindspot by beating him for the briefcase.

Zayn would have every reason to do it. Reigns praises him for removing a serious menace and butters him up. “Thank you for taking that looming threat off the table. I know the briefcase is safe with you, because you would NEVER think about cashing in on me when we’re such good buds, right?”

Meanwhile, Zayn would play into that for his own ego strokes, but know full well that he has this ticking time bomb that he can use as a bargaining chip any time he wants. Jey Uso is getting too mouthy about Zayn not being welcome? “I mean, hey, if you guys want to boot me out of The Bloodline, that’s okay. But I wouldn’t have any reason not to cash in then, wouldn’t I? Just saying.”

That tension would be such a killer undercurrent, and when the time came, Zayn could cash in and lose because he’s the underdog who could get screwed by the rest of The Bloodline.

5. Theory Could Have Ran Out of Time

Clearly, WWE doesn’t think Theory is ready for the world title and got antsy to take the briefcase off him. Why they felt they needed to have him cash in now and couldn’t just wait is beyond me. There were still months left.

Maybe WWE wants to have another MITB ladder match at WrestleMania, rather than to give Theory his full year until its own pay-per-view, as that event might no longer be a thing. I don’t think that’s a good idea, but that’s a different argument.

Even if that’s the case, you still have the rest of November, December, January, February and March before you get to Mania.

Imagine Theory saying he has all the time in the world, just to get a notice from Adam Pearce or Triple H that MITB is returning at Mania this year and he’s now got a few less months than he thought.

Panic mode sets in. Theory tries to cash in numerous times, but it never feels right. He’s running out of time.

Then, come WrestleMania night 1, he’s left with an ultimatum. The women’s briefcase match is happening. Tomorrow night is the men’s. If you don’t cash in by the end of night 1, you forfeit the briefcase.

And that happens. He’s run out of time. Waiting to pick the best opportunity led to it expiring for the first time ever.

As compensation, he’s entered into the night 2 ladder match and has to re-win the briefcase, but fails (assuming WWE wants to give it to someone else).

There’s your built-in feud. Theory against that other guy. He’s jealous and angry and thinks he should have that briefcase still because he “never lost it.”

6. What Happened to that NXT Championship Tease?

Hell, if you don’t even like any of those ideas, why not just have had Theory be the guy to beat Bron Breakker like you teased?

Breakker is in a position where a cash-in would protect him, like they want. Losing to Theory in a straight-up match wouldn’t even look bad, let alone a swoop-in attempt like that.

If you think Theory isn’t ready for the main roster main event scene, put him in the main event of NXT. It’s the youth movement developmental brand where you can make this 25-year-old the top star and watch him grow even more.

Who else is going to beat Breakker? Von Wagner isn’t ready for that. Carmelo Hayes and Grayson Waller are probably better suited already to move up to the main roster than to stick around in NXT. Apollo Crews being the next champion does less overall growth than for Theory to be in that spot.

I’m really perplexed at WWE’s goal here and thinking that this was a shortsighted attempt to give some extra boosts to Rollins in spite of Theory, who must have fallen out of favor. This is no way to build for the future.

What do you think of this situation? Is Theory doomed? How can he bounce back? What would you have done differently? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

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