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31 Days of Wrestling (12/15/17): The First (And Second) Women's Money in the Bank


Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2017 produced for us.

2017 was a year of many firsts, especially over in the territory of women's wrestling. You've got your first-ever women's tournament on the Network, the first-ever WWE women's match in the UAE, and while last year held the first-ever women's Hell in a Cell match, the SmackDown brand was not to be outdone by holding the first-ever women's Money in the Bank ladder match.

Like a tag team championship for the division, it's one of those things that seem really obvious when you think about it—women have been busting their asses ever since the revolution began, so why shouldn't they have some of the plot devices the men have? If we've already gotten cages and cells (and eventually, hopefully, a women's Royal Rumble) then there's absolutely no reason a woman shouldn't be carrying a briefcase, ready to strike at a moment's notice. Not only was it a long time coming, but it's also a great way to freshen up the Money in the Bank gimmick.


So SmackDown got to work and put Tamina, Natalya, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and eventual (and current) Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella (with then-pet James Ellsworth) in the historic inaugural women's MITB match. As expected, everyone brought it to the legendary dance, but its finish will always be what the match is going to be remembered for.

Yes, for those of you who remember, James Ellsworth—a man among a sea of women—was the first person to grab the briefcase in the first-ever women's Money in the Bank match. A man. Among women. It's one of those things that make sense on paper, because it furthered Carmella's heel status, but it wasn't a good ending to such a groundbreaking bout. Maybe if it were the third or fourth it would've still been passable, but not the very first. Not at all.

In fact, the backlash against the finish was so bad (that's a can of worms we won't open here anymore) that SmackDown was forced to hold it again two weeks later, only for Carmella to win it a second time.



That night, WWE learned a very important lesson in troll booking vis-a-vis progressiveness, in which it would eventually do much better by way of the Mae Young Classic. Fortunately for them, there are a lot of other unexplored match types for the women to do, even if they're behind from the rest of the world. There's still a host of firsts and big moments. It's not the end.

*****

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