On the surface, it might look like WWE buried Austin Theory. In reality, his failed Money In The Bank cash-in opens up more doors than it closes.
Austin Theory’s failed Money In The Bank cash-in has the WWE Universe thinking he’s been buried. While that’s true in the immediate sense, it’s also what makes the most sense for him and the company moving forward. In a way, the November 7 episode of Monday Night Raw undid one of Vince McMahon’s last (and most egregious) mistakes. The 25-year-old should have never held the briefcase in the first place. His winning it was an attempt at a gotcha’ moment from a booker who was, by the end of his time in WWE, remarkably out of touch with what the fans wanted to see.
Unfortunately, a failed cash-in attempt was the only way Theory’s run with the briefcase would ever end. There’s no universe where McMahon would have put him over on Roman Reigns, and Triple H was wise not to shoehorn Theory into the main event picture when he’s not quite ready for it. The Game’s desire to rebuild the United States and Intercontinental Championships quickly made it clear that Austin winning one of those was also unlikely. There was only one way out: for Theory to try—and fail—to win one of WWE’s major titles. Now that the Money In The Bank mistake has been rectified, one of professional wrestling’s most promising blue-chippers can begin to rebuild his character. And, believe it or not, the climb back to the top of the mountain could end up making him a face in the process.
Theory Can Now Begin To Shift His Character In WWE
Once McMahon retired, the gimmick of being his chosen protégé went out the window. That angle worked wonderfully when WWE fans knew that Vince was just on the other side of the curtain, pulling the strings to get his guy opportunities he didn’t earn. With him out of the picture, though, Theory’s entire on-screen character took a massive hit. Now that he doesn’t have the Money In The Bank briefcase, WWE is free to take him in a different direction. Given his age and retaliative lack of experience, character shifts were bound to happen. Theory wasn’t going to be walking around with his cell phone taking selfies of fallen opponents in 10 years. It just wouldn’t make sense.
He now has an opportunity to grow as a performer, and there’s a ton of drawing power in The Chase. Former champions such as Mick Foley and Bryan Danielson have spoken about how the wind can leave the sails of a push once a title is finally won. The money is in the climb back toward the top. In redemption. Theory is in a unique position where audiences know that he was McMahon’s hand-picked heir to the John Cena mantle. With Vince out of the picture, Theory has to make it work independently. All great champions have fallen to the back of the line at some point. Cena himself failed to cash in at one point, as did The Miz. Both of them are doing just fine.
There’s value in a comeback angle of sorts here, and without the Money In The Bank briefcase, the pressure of being a future World Champion is gone. Now Theory can begin to find himself on screen, and perhaps he’ll even come off as a more humble man. WWE fans are going to be able to watch him grow into a WWE Champion before their very eyes, and that journey should be a fun one. But it absolutely had to start with Theory bottoming out via a failed cash-in attempt. He’s not buried. Theory is just getting a soft reset that was needed following McMahon’s abrupt retirement in July.
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