Coming out of last year’s illogical car wreck, the bar for this year’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view was substantially lower than it should have been given the structure’s history. Luckily, by the end of the night Reigns continued his evolution into a mainstay under the watchful eye of Heyman and his influence, Sasha Banks assumed the throne of Smackdown’s women’s division and while the remainder of the card was decent and served the larger product as well it you’d expect, it was all prelude to Randy Orton equaling HHH’s mark upon being coronated as a world champion for the 14th time. Unlike his trademarks though, it was hardly a surprise nor did it come out of nowhere.
That isn’t a knock on Orton and Drew McIntyre’s work this year either, because alongside the Banks-Bayley feud and Reigns’ late-Summer reemergence, they have been the pillars of WWE TV for the majority of the year as their stories evolved. With Orton specifically, despite mostly being on the periphery of the WWE title picture since 2017, him winning at some point before year’s end was a foregone conclusion. That’s for one simple reason: in spite of McIntyre’s solid run as champion this year, Orton’s feud with Edge is very much incomplete.
In terms of the exact timeline however, that’s a little less clear with Edge reportedly recovering slower from his triceps injury than expected. The average recovery is 4-6 months with someone regaining their full range of motion by a year. If you’ll remember, during the last part of his WWE tenure Jon Moxley suffered a triceps injury in late 2017 that kept him sidelined approximately 8-9 months. In his case he wasn’t really back wrestling in the ring until the build toward that year’s Hell in a Cell PPV. Altogether we’re looking at about 10 months from the point of injury to his string of return matches. You’ll also have to keep in mind Mox’s age, as there’s a 12 year age difference and obviously as you age you don’t heal as well or as quickly.
Further, if we take that as a baseline for Edge if we generously scaled the recovery time to 10 months that still puts him in line for a Wrestlemania return, and it only seems fitting, logical and worthwhile to pick up the Orton feud where it left off.
The feud itself need not steal a Rumble win to set it up, because the story writes itself with Edge easily being able to blame Orton for stealing his career and putting him on the shelf. Ergo, Edge challenges for the title and he doesn’t even need to wrestle before the show, much less put his body at risk in a Rumble. He and Orton can sell the match without physicality. This all hinges on what the plans are for the Universal Title mind you, so who truly knows with this company. At the same time, an Edge Rumble win can’t really be ruled out either.
So much can happen between now and WrestleMania, yet, regardless of whatever idea is put in place for Roman Reigns, story wise it shrinks compared to the raw emotion of Edge taking one more kick at the can while vying for the WWE title one last time, win or lose.
Psychologically Orton and Edge are two of the best storytellers across the rosters, and to complete Edge’s story, even if it’s his last match, is a story worth telling. It’s one that needs to be told. The build toward Wrestlemania 37 begins now, and while it seems post-Raw that Orton isn’t done with McIntyre, the Fiend is seemingly interjecting himself into Orton’s path and he has a date with Reigns at Survivor Series, the table is already set for Orton to defend the WWE title at WrestleMania against Edge. Provided Edge can healthily return in time. It’s the match that needs to happen, and adding the WWE title to the scenario makes the most sense.
Money in the Bank is Dead
In addition to Orton reclaiming the WWE title, the long-running squabble between Otis and the Miz finally came to a head at Hell in a Cell 2020 with Otis’ ex-partner Tucker costing him the Money in the Bank contract to complete his heel turn, handing Miz the contract in the process.
Otis should have never been given the contract victory because it’s fairly clear there was never any decided plan for him booking-wise jumping from the point he won. And if this was the charted path forward in an effort to shake up the gimmick, there had to have been a better idea on the table than this convoluted scenario where Otis wins because he’s Vince’s toy of the week, Tucker gets jealous and Miz ends up with the contract in what has been a largely underwhelming storyline.
Say what you will about Orton, for example, but everything he’s been involved in this year has been great; above all it has made sense. It most importantly didn’t waste our time like this angle has. Unfortunately now with Miz holding the contract the WWE title picture’s triangle of Orton, Wyatt and McIntyre just became a square. It’s doubtful Miz will be interjected into Reigns’ storyline with a title shot attempt. Reigns is doing well right now and it’s clear his story is going somewhere, so it just wouldn’t make much sense to suddenly slot Miz into a failed attempt. So a 3-pronged title picture with the Miz-Spectre lurking is what we’re left with, just to make the scene more convoluted.
Originally when the briefcase was introduced there was an air of shock, awe and overarching surprise when someone cashed in. Often dread as well. If you were watching back then, who could forget Edge cashing in on Cena to win? Equally so, Orton cashing in on Bryan. In both respects, and many others over the last 15 years, it has worked its magic. But the magic has depleted, this year is evidence of that at least on the men’s side of the ladder.
The intrigue has just evaporated because it wasn’t taken seriously in being given to Otis, if there was never a plan for him to cash in. Now if everything lines up, can we expect Orton and a returning Edge to clash at WrestleMania for the title with Edge recapturing the championship only to lose it to Miz moments later? That’s a course you can chart, but do we give them credit for planning something like that 6 months in advance? Likely not, when they seemingly couldn’t even handle passing off a briefcase to someone.
The gimmick needs to be rehabbed, otherwise what’s the point anymore? If you’re not going to use it to push new talent seriously, if you’re just going to use it to recycle Brock Lesnar into feuds while he uses the case as a boombox (like anyone remembers what that is past a point), or build the next Punk-type star, then what’s the point any more?
Where the women’s contract still functions in the spirit of the original, the men’s cash-ins have been largely wasted the last several years (Brock, Otis, Braun, Corbin, etc.). Logically, if 50% of the time the result is building toward nothing or it can’t even translate into passably interesting television, then WWE needs to rethink the concept and revamp it going forward; as it stands, all roads counterintuitively lead to telegraphed conclusions.