How Money In The Bank made Carmella: A year on from one of WWE’s most controversial matches

Fans and superstars were left angry and confused last year after the first women's Money in the Bank ladder match was won by a man

Controversy reigned supreme last year, when the first-ever women’s Money In the Bank ladder match was won… by a man.

So intense was the anguish around James Ellsworth’s “victory” in the history-making all-female battle for the briefcase that the entire match had to be redone on an episode of SmackDown.

How to book WWE Money In The Bank

To recap: James Ellsworth pushed over a ladder just as Becky Lynch was about to grab the case – contract and all – and instead he climbed it and threw the prize to Carmella.

Although the controversy was eventually “put right” on that SmackDown episode (on which Carmella repeated her win in an only slightly more legitimate style), there was plenty of criticism for the original finish, with many fans feeling it had deprived the women of a major moment.

Others saw such an action, the selfish self-promotion of a heel wrestler for their own benefit at the expense of their fellow professionals – and their legacy – as the perfect villainous act.

Whatever the view on it, the angle did, however, successfully achieve two things.

Carmella and Ellsworth consistently showed no remorse for their actions

First, the company created the thing they always want – the buzz of conversation. It was the talking point in WWE around the event and the deliberate staining of the “women’s evolution” legacy got precisely the frenzied response for which it was designed.

In a sense, it was a refreshing contrast to the false spirit of sisterhood-type angles where the entire locker room links arms in the ring to celebrate the latest company initiative.

It also took Carmella to a new level. Ellsworth was only ever going to be a bit-part player in pursuit of the wider objective, which was to promote the Princess of Staten Island to the top tier of female talent. There can be no doubt that has been a success.

She excelled with the briefcase, teasing several cash-ins, and it gave her a long-term storyline which has continued right up until today. Her character development and heel microphone work has been outstanding and she has become a must-watch personality whenever she appears on television. Mella is money.

She goes into Money In The Bank not as a ladder match contender but as women’s champion and somebody who, she is never afraid to remind people, has beaten Charlotte Flair twice.

Carmella may not leave the event with the title; she faces Asuka, who could do with a little energy re-injecting into her character following the loss of her undefeated streak at WrestleMania but the unexpected should always be expected in WWE.

Flair and Lynch poignantly stared down the Japanese star on this week’s episode of SmackDown. Foreshadowing? Perhaps.

Regardless of that, there can be no doubt that last year’s women’s ladder match at Money In The Bank was everything the match concept has always been intended to be. Historically important and entertainingly controversial. Hopefully this year’s match lives up to those high standards.


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