With WWE Money in the Bank in the history books, it’s always interesting to take a look at past briefcase winners. Perusing the list, one man will stand out as the wrestler who could have benefitted the most from the win, but unfortunate circumstances precluded him from fully realizing that potential.
At WrestleMania 23, the most-watched WrestleMania of all time, Mr. Kennedy (Ken Anderson) obtained the Money in the Bank briefcase and looked to be on the fast track to becoming a world champion. He declared his intention to cash in at WrestleMania 24, which at the time seemed like a very smart move, giving him a year to climb to main-event status. Sadly, an injury prevented him from achieving this feat, and soon after, Kennedy was gone from WWE.
“It was a decision made by them,” Ken Anderson explains in a phone interview. “At first, being fired from any place is a punch in the stomach, but eventually when you get over that initial wave of the rejection and 'What am I going to do now?'... I'm happy the way that things worked out because it led me to where I am at today. I'm happy where I am today, in my personal life and in my professional life. As far as the circumstances, I mean there are all kinds of conspiracies. The only people that really know what really happened are the big guys, the owners, and the guys that pull the trigger on situations.”
Whenever a big-name WWE talent parts ways with the company, wrestling fans immediately think of whether or not that star will make his/her way to TNA. Not Anderson.
“It took a while [to decide to go to TNA]. It was not one of those things that I couldn't wait till my 90 days was up so I could jump over. It was like nine months, almost a year, where it was talked about a little bit. At that point, I was kinda not done with the business but nice to step back and take some time off and re-evalute and figure out what I wanted to do. ...
"I always wanted to do something in the entertainment industry, if it was acting or something in show business. When I found wrestling I was like, 'This has got everything that I like.' It's got showmanship, it's highly athletic and highly competitive. We are a scripted television show, however it is a very competitive business and it's one of the most competitive things I've done in my life and I have played competitive sports before. It is just as competitive as legitimate sports. People just don’t understand that -- people don’t ever get a chance to. We don’t peel the curtain that far back to let you in. It is an extremely competitive environment.”
Anderson is a two-time TNA champion, currently competing in the company’s “Bound for Glory” series to try and obtain another title shot. Anderson says winning titles is just as important to him today as it was earlier in his career.
“[Winning a title] is the ultimate goal," he said. "Ultimately, we want to entertain our fans and want people to be sitting every 18 inches. You want people to say, 'Yay' when they're supposed to say 'Yay' and you want them to say, 'Boo' when you want them to say 'Boo.' But, with that being said, you know, there is something to be said about pulling the championship for a major wrestling company. ... There are thousands and thousands and thousands of wrestlers that have come through those doors and have never had the opportunity to hold that title. For the company to say, 'You're our guy' is a huge carrot on an end of the stick.”
TNA has recently been enjoying praise and positive reviews from several wrestling fans that had previously given up on the brand. Anderson is noticing that trend as well.
“I really like where the product is going," he said. "We don’t sit around and talk and pat ourselves on the back. ... We are our biggest critics. You have a lot less criticism floating around in the locker. [The wrestlers] are happier now, they're happier with what they're doing, they're happier with their story line. Nothing is scripted like it used to be. The thing that drives me nuts is when someone hands you a script and says, 'Be yourself and say this right here' -- exactly the way that I have written [it].”
TNA will bring its product to Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen on Friday with a 7:30 p.m. bell time. Tickets are on sale at www.ironbirdsbaseball.com or by phone at 410-297-9292. Scheduled to appear along with Mr. Anderson are Sting, Jeff Hardy, Bobby Roode, AJ Styles, Rob Van Dam and more.
To listen to the full 30-minute interview with Mr. Anderson, including interesting conversations about how he discovered wrestling in his 20s, how that was a hurdle to overcome while breaking into wrestling, the freedom he enjoys in his TNA promos, how scripts have changed recently in TNA and much more, click here.
Mr. Anderson on soccer vs. football and TNA's "Basebrawl" at Ripken Stadium.
Mr. Anderson on his career, the 'Bound for Glory' series and TNA fans.
Mr. Anderson on TNA's growing reputation, acting against the script and the Viacom/Direct TV spat.