Over the last several months, we’ve been treated to several solid feuds in the women’s division on SmackDown Live, as well as a seemingly endless string of first-ever type matches — including the women’s Royal Rumble and the women’s Elimination Chamber.
Before those two matches — both of which held Championship implications — we had the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match, which took place back in June of 2017. The winner of that bout, of course, was Carmella by way of James Ellsworth interference.
And since winning the coveted briefcase, Carmella has wrestled on television and network specials in one-on-one matches all of six times. By our calculations, the MITB winner has spent just over 30 minutes wrestling by herself on WWE television over the last nine months.
All the while hanging onto that Money in the Bank briefcase.
There’s absolutely no denying that WWE has treated Carmella as an afterthought as the women’s revolution has rolled on. She’s been a background player almost 100 percent of the time since she won the golden case, and has even watched a few other performers pass her on the proverbial depth chart.
But make so mistake about it: this has all been by design.
The WWE wants you to sleep on Carmella and her cash-in attempt. They don’t want you to take her seriously as a title threat. They’ve even gone so far as to have her botch multiple cash-ins over the last several weeks, to further establish the perception that Miss Money in the Bank won’t ever pin the likes of Charlotte Flair or Asuka.
As more and more time wears on, it looks more and more like an upset waiting to happen. Remember, WWE generated a ton of heat for Carmella by having her and Ellsworth “ruin” the first-ever women’s MITB match. Which worked wonderfully, at the time. That heat has dissipated since last summer, but it’s still a key component of what you actually think about whenever you see Carmella.
When we see Baron Corbin, we don’t think about him as a former Money in the Bank winner. We aren’t even thinking about his failed cash-in attempt or the backstage politics that were rumored to be the driving force behind that booking choice. No, we’re thinking about the Lone Wolf and whatever he’s actually doing at that moment.
Having held the case isn’t a defining characteristic of characters. But still actively holding onto that contract is another matter entirely. Whenever we see Carmella, we see the briefcase too, and her not cashing in yet has become a central part of who she is on television.
Now imagine this scene: it’s WrestleMania 34, and Flair and Asuka have just finished tearing the house down. They’re both gassed, having beaten each other to a pulp during the course of the physical affair. There’s a mutual respect between the two women as they slowly regain their senses, and the crowd in New Orleans swells with appreciation.
Then Carmella’s music hits. She pops up from underneath the ring, rolls the winner up from behind with a small package, and wins the blue brand’s women’s title.
You’d hate that if it happened, and for good reason. But it’d fit right in with Carmella’s schtick, which is to ruin everything. It’d be a perfect continuation of what she did to earn the briefcase in the first place, while also setting Flair up to head to possibly head to Monday Night Raw during the superstar shakeup.
Then we’d be left with a Carmella/Asuka feud, and everyone would be aching to see the former actually step into the ring with the latter. Fans would be itching to see Carmella lose the title she essentially stole, and that, in an essence, would make her a good heel.
Is she the best wrestler on the roster? Far from it, but she’s also had nine months to work on her in-ring skills while still holding onto the briefcase. Carmella’s character is perfectly fine for a heel; over the top, obnoxious and weaselly.
The WWE wants you to not take her seriously. It’ll generate that much more heat when she finally cashes in successfully and scurries away with the title.