Man, it’s great to see wrestling in front of large crowds again. It doesn’t matter what companies you like and dislike… seeing matches in front of full crowds again is something that was sorely missed.
This weekend’s Money In The Bank event is the first WWE pay-per-view on THE COCK in the post-Thunderdome era. Early indications are that there will be a shade under 10,000 people in attendance for the show. The number is smaller than the 17,946 and 18,501 totals for WrestleMania 37, but this show is going to be sold out. That should automatically boost every bit of action we’re seeing, taking average matches and making them good, while taking good matches and making them very good, and so on.
While not a part of the “Big Four” events on WWE’s calendar, it can be argued that Money In The Bank is the fifth biggest show the company will put on all year. It sets up two major storylines for potentially an entire year, which is something none of the other shows can say. With this year’s edition of MITB coming to us this weekend, I wanted to take this time to look at the card and not only make some predictions, but talk about some “fantasy booking” on top of that. As I always do with these types of columns, I’ll be giving my match predictions, but also talking about the results that the world would see if I were the one responsible for booking everything. Sometimes those two things match up, but other times, they’re about as far apart as possible.
Now that the explanations are out of the way, let’s get on with things, shall we?
AJ Styles & Omos vs The Viking Raiders – Raw Tag Team Title Match
When the pairing of Styles and Omos first began, I was intrigued. You knew Styles was more than good enough to handle the majority of the work in their matches, but the question was whether or not Omos could get over as a monster in the ring. Omos has been booked to look nearly unstoppable to this point, so that part is working very well. Styles continues to be Styles in the ring, even at the age of 44, so that’s also working well. Right now, my issue is simply the level of competition. As good as The Viking Raiders are, there’s not a lot of reason to believe they’re on the level of a first-ballot Hall Of Famer and the biggest monster in the company right now. However, there I was, watching Ivar pin Styles in less than four minutes on Raw this week. WWE backed themselves into a corner by using the same tired formulaic writing that they always use. They always have their tag champs lose in feuds, whether it happens in non-title matches or in singles matches. You damn sure aren’t going to have Omos pinned in a random episode of Raw, so that means Styles has to be the one to suffer. I hate it.
Again, even with as good as Erik and Ivar are, I don’t see this match ending well for them. The match will probably follow the same style (no pun intended) as every tag match the champs have had. AJ will be in the ring for 98% of it, while Omos will be the game-changer when he gets involved, and that helps them pick up the win. The champs retain, and the focus will be on getting them some more challengers. Preferably that aren’t The New Day.
What Will Happen: AJ Styles & Omos Win
What Should Happen: AJ Styles & Omos Win
Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair – Raw Women’s Title Match
On June 7th, 2020, Charlotte lost the NXT Women’s Title to Io Shirai in a Triple Threat that also involved Rhea Ripley. That was the last time she had a singles title of any kind. On the day of Money In The Bank, that will mark 406 days since she lost said NXT Women’s Title. That is, by leaps and bounds, the longest she has gone between singles title reigns in WWE, going back over seven years now. I guess that’s a “duh” moment, considering she’s won 12 singles titles in that span, but it’s still crazy to think about. It’s only a matter of time before she is the Raw or Smackdown Women’s Champion again, but does it happen here?
If Ripley loses the title here, her reign ends at 98 days. That’s a perfectly respectable reign, especially for her first on the main roster. The reign has been a bit of a mixed bag for me. She started off feuding with Asuka, and their matches just didn’t click for a lot of people. They weren’t necessarily bad matches, but Rhea and Asuka simply didn’t have the in-ring chemistry that a lot of other pairings have. From there, she has moved on to having much better matches with Charlotte, but that “LOL CHARLOTTE WINS” cloud has been hanging over each match they’ve had. People are just counting down the days until Charlotte defeats Rhea, ending her momentum once again, just like she did at WrestleMania 36. Throw in some weird, weird writing that makes people not know if Rhea is a face or a heel, and you have yourself a bit of a mess.
Honestly, it’s REALLY difficult to pick against Charlotte here. If she doesn’t come out as the new champion, it would be her fifth consecutive singles title match that she failed to take home the gold. That would tie for the longest such streak in her career. I think she’s going to get the win here.
What should happen is that Rhea Ripley finally gets a true chance to sink or swim on the main roster in front of live fans. She had a ton of momentum when she won the NXT Women’s Title, and then COVID showed up, followed by a loss to Charlotte in front of zero fans. A second chance, this time as a full-time member of the Raw roster, happened in front of virtual fans. Now that WWE is back on the road, Rhea deserves a chance to, as I said, sink or swim in front of real, honest-to-goodness people. If the crowds don’t take to her the way they should, then yes, take the title off of her, perhaps at SummerSlam. Until then, though, I’d at least give her the opportunity to be a star.
What Will Happen: Charlotte Flair Wins (New Champion)
What Should Happen: Rhea Ripley Wins
Asuka vs Naomi vs Alexa Bliss vs Nikki Cross vs Zelina Vega vs Liv Morgan vs Natalya vs ??? – Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match
When I first started writing this entry, there were two open spots in the match. Initially, I predicted that Sasha Banks was going to be one the women added to the lineup. She’s being advertised for this week’s episode of Smackdown, and I figured adding her could make for a good last-minute “hook” to get more people interested in the match, even though it’s more likely that Sasha would be returning to go after the Smackdown Women’s Title directly.
The other entrant wasn’t going to be as easy to figure out. I talked about the piss poor depth of the Smackdown roster, especially in the women’s division. If you added Sasha to the match, that left only eight possibilities on who the final entrant could be, and I made what I thought were pretty solid cases on why six of them should be removed from consideration almost immediately. It took me down to Toni Storm and Sonya Deville as my final options, and I even had to make the cases on why they didn’t make sense for the match, either. In the end, I basically flipped a coin and chose Sonya Deville. It even made sense in the storyline, as she’s been all about adding people to the match without them having to “earn” a spot.
Then, I show up on Florence Pugh’s internet today and see that one of my eliminated options, Natalya, has been added to the match. Of course. I should’ve known better. I’ve said this before, but WWE has a weird obsession with having their Women’s Tag Team Title scene blend in with their Raw and/or Smackdown Women’s Title scenes. It would be easy to leave Natalya out of this match. You know… she’s one-half of the Women’s Tag Team Champions, so she might be a little busy. No, we must keep tradition going, though.
Then, when I start to write some more, the rumor mill kicks into full effect saying that Sonya Deville is set to return to the ring very soon. Well, that locked up the final entrant for me. It has to be Deville now, right? It keeps the trend going with her adding people to the match without having them compete for it. More importantly, it’s also something a heel authority figure would do. It fits her character.
It’s hard to fully predict the outcome with the mystery entrant still out there. If, for some reason, Sasha Banks is in the match, wouldn’t she instantly become the favorite to win? Sasha not being in the match opens things up a lot. Asuka is always receiving some sort of push, even if it isn’t done right. Alexa Bliss has superpowers, so she could probably just stare at the briefcase and have it magically appear in her hands. Every so often, WWE decides to push Natalya as a threat, so they could always do it again here. I’ve seen some speculation that part of the reason Zelina Vega returned to the company is because of promised pushes. Naomi, Liv Morgan, and Nikki Cross are all fan favorites that people are dying to see get pushed. Before Sonya Deville had to take her personal leave from wrestling, she was improving at a rapid pace and looked like she could be in line for a move up the card, so that could always continue here.
On one hand, I want to think this might be Nikki’s time. No matter how she obtained those victories, she has wins over Charlotte Flair, Rhea Ripley, Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Alexa Bliss, Naomi, and Asuka in the last two months. You don’t put something like that together for someone you’re not going to push. She’s going to be one of the more over women in the company with live crowds, too. Nikki deserves the chance to finally show what she can really and truly do on the main roster, after all this time.
That probably won’t matter, though. Not here, at least. If Sonya Deville is in the match, I have to think she’s going to pick up the win. Not only that, but I think her feud with Liv Morgan will really kick into high gear here. Something along the lines of Sonya tipping a ladder over right when Liv is about to grab the briefcase, sending Liv crashing through a table. You know… that old chestnut.
What Will Happen: Sonya Deville Wins
What Should Happen: Nikki Cross Wins
Ricochet vs John Morrison vs Riddle vs Drew McIntyre vs Kevin Owens vs Big E vs Seth Rollins vs Shinsuke Nakamura – Men’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match
On paper, this has Match Of The Year Contender written all over it. Just an absolutely fantastic lineup of competitors.
If you’re looking for the early betting favorite, Drew McIntyre would be your guy. In a way, it makes sense. He’s the biggest star of anybody in the match right now. It also seems like something WWE would do. With the “Drew can’t challenge Bobby Lashley as long as Lashley is WWE Champion” stipulation still in place, that would leave some questions here. If Drew wins, does that mean he’s Smackdown bound? Does WWE forget about the stipulation altogether? I’ve even seen some people speculate that Drew could help someone beat Lashley, only to then turn heel on them by destroying them after the match and cashing in on them. Can you imagine if Kofi Kingston defeats Bobby Lashley to win the WWE Title, only to lose it to a newly-heel McIntyre moments later?
If you’re looking to MAKE someone in this match, Ricochet would be your guy. He is a one-time United States Champion and a one-time NXT North American Champion, but most of his WWE tenure seems like wasted potential. It’s the type of story that Money In The Bank has been all about telling in the past.
If you’re looking to relive, and potentially rewrite, history, Seth Rollins would be your guy. Something about Roman Reigns being in the main event spot and Seth Rollins waiting in the wings with a Money In The Bank briefcase seems awfully familiar.
If you’re looking for some potential multi-layered storytelling, Riddle would be your guy. You have the potential for Randy Orton returning and helping Riddle win, with Orton making a deal that he’ll help Riddle win it all in return for the first shot after he’s the champion. There’s also the easier, but also lazier, story of Orton getting angry/jealous that he wasn’t in the match, especially since Riddle’s distraction is what kept him from the match to begin with.
If you’re looking for someone who could reinvent themselves, John Morrison would be your guy. He has been completely wasted since returning to WWE, focusing far more on a corny comedy act than actual in-ring work. I’m not saying he’s the second-coming of Lou Thesz as a worker, but he’s got main event potential, and WWE would rather focus on him making “drip” puns 50 times in a promo and not being able to hatch plans with The Miz correctly. A win here would hopefully steer him back in the right direction, but I wouldn’t count on it.
If you’re looking for someone who is a major fan favorite, but it might be too-little-too-late for him to be a main event player in WWE, Shinsuke Nakamura would be your guy. Look, I’m as big a Nakamura fan as you’re going to find, but I don’t think I’m wrong there. Putting a crown on him and having Rick Boogs play him to the ring isn’t exactly looking like WWE takes him seriously as a top guy. With that said, him winning Money In The Bank would be intriguing, mainly because he hasn’t had a chance to feud with Roman Reigns yet.
If you’re looking for a dangerous threat to Roman Reigns and the Universal Title, but this might be the only way they could actually beat Reigns at this point, Kevin Owens would be your guy. As I said, Owens is always a very dangerous competitor, but we’re not all that far removed from him losing to Reigns three times in a six-week span. Owens failed to take the Universal Title home at TLC in the namesake match, then less than a week later in a Steel Cage Match on Smackdown, and then again a month later in a Last Man Standing Match at the Royal Rumble. Having the Money In The Bank briefcase might be just what Owens needs to remain a thorn in the side of Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman, any of the Usos, Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala, Tai Tuivasa, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Peter Tuiasosopo, Kobra of the Boo-Yaa Tribe, or anybody else that might be involved in this story at some point.
If you’re looking for the overwhelming sentimental favorite, Big E would be your guy. Fans have been waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for WWE to finally pull the trigger on making Big E a main eventer. There has been a couple times when it looked like it could happen, but it never did. Now, here we are, with another fantastic opportunity. Nobody in this match is going to get a bigger crowd pop for cashing in his title shot than E would. That’s not a knock on any of the other competitors. It simply says how popular E is with the WWE Universe. I’ve laid this particular scenario out in previous columns, but it can be tweaked a bit for the Money In The Bank setting… if Big E goes to cash in on Reigns, you’d think that Jimmy and Jey Uso would be there to try and prevent it from happening, right? Hmm… does Big E happen to have two “brothers” of his own that could come out and take care of the Uso interference, leaving E and Reigns alone? He sure does. Can you imagine how big the pop would be when Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods run to the ring and take The Usos out to clear a path for E?
I want Big E to win. Many of you want Big E to win. Will Big E win? This is actually one of the harder Money In The Bank matches in recent history to predict, as strong cases can be made for almost everyone involved. Forced to make my prediction, I don’t think I’m going to get what I want here. I think Drew McIntyre picks up the win, and then gets moved to Smackdown in the upcoming WWE Draft. Hell, he might not even need to wait that long. He could always cash in on the same night if Reigns vs Edge is the main event. There’s also the heavily rumored Reigns vs John Cena match at SummerSlam, which would be a helluva spotlight for Drew to run with.
What Will Happen: Drew McIntyre Wins
What Should Happen: Big E Wins
Bobby Lashley vs Kofi Kingston – WWE Title Match
Poor, poor Kofi. KofiMania seems like such a long time ago. Once he dropped the WWE Title to Brock Lesnar on October 4th, 2019, he went right back to simply being a tag team guy. Then, when he finally makes his way back to a WWE Title match, nobody is buying him as a legitimate threat to win.
Unfortunately, you have to count me in with that group of people. I love Kofi, but this just isn’t his time. Lashley has earned this. He should be viewed as nearly unstoppable, especially if WWE ever wants to have Brock Lesnar show up to face him.
I’d really like to see Kofi as a main event singles guy again, while Xavier Woods works as a midcard singles guy, but maybe that will have to be delayed a bit more.
What Will Happen: Bobby Lashley Wins
What Should Happen: Bobby Lashley Wins
Roman Reigns vs Edge – Universal Title Match
All the puzzle pieces that have been coming together pretty much tell us the result of this one. As I mentioned earlier, the rumor is that we’re going to be getting Roman Reigns vs John Cena at SummerSlam. Well, let’s say Edge wins the title at Money In The Bank. What about the current Reigns character says that he’ll just shrug that off and move on to a match with Cena at the next event on THE COCK in five weeks? Unless, of course, Edge wins the title at Money In The Bank, only to lose it back to Reigns on a random episode of Smackdown before SummerSlam, which is a little strange.
This is going to be yet another war in a long line of them for Reigns, but… and this is no shot at Edge… we’re clearly building to bigger things for the champion right now. The aforementioned Reigns vs Cena match, a potential WrestleMania showdown between Reigns and The Rock, making a megastar in one night by having Reigns lose to either the Money In The Bank winner or the Royal Rumble winner… they’re all still in play. Sorry, folks, but the lengthy Universal Title reign (322 days on the day of the event) continues.
As for a possible Money In The Bank cash-in, I don’t think it happens here. Depending on who wins the MITB match, I do think it could be teased here, though. Kevin Owens, continuing to be the gnat that Reigns can’t get rid of, could come out after the match just to give Reigns something to think about. Seth Rollins could come out and make it look like he’s going to cash-in, getting people’s hopes up, only to attack Edge and further set their SummerSlam match up. I also think a cash-in tease from Drew McIntyre would be a great way for the show to go off the air. That’s about it, though.
What Will Happen: Roman Reigns Wins
What Should Happen: Roman Reigns Wins
Your turn, ReaderLand. Give me your predictions for Money In The Bank. Hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind in regards to this very, very important show.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Malakai Black: The man most recently known as Aleister Black already went viral with a very well-done vignette introducing the world to a new alter ego known as Malakai Black. Then, he really made a splash by debuting for AEW the same day, also under the Malakai Black moniker. It appears that he’s going to be involved in a feud with Cody Rhodes right off the bat. Make all the jokes you want there, but it guarantees a huge spotlight on Black and his every move.
- Ricochet vs John Morrison: Hey, they finally had a match with an actual finish! More great work from these two, with another match featuring the type of athleticism that it seems like only these two can deliver. It was a good sell for what they can get done in this weekend’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match.
- The Young Bucks vs Eddie Kingston & Penta El Zero Miedo: Another good match between these two teams. The Bucks continue their top notch work as heels, and their AEW Tag Team Title reign continues on.
- Ember Moon vs Dakota Kai: A very well worked match between two of the top women in NXT. Honestly, I don’t think Dakota gets the credit she deserves for the work she’s been putting in. A ton of the focus with her act is on Raquel Gonzalez, and rightfully so, but I don’t want her to get lost in the shuffle. At some point, and perhaps soon, we’ll end up getting Raquel vs Dakota, and that’s when she’ll really get her chance.
- Cesaro vs Seth Rollins: While it wasn’t their best match together, it was still incredibly entertaining. These two could have a good match in their sleep at this point.
- New Champions Crowned In Ring Of Honor: Bandido defeated Rush to become the new RoH World Champion. Homicide and Chris Dickinson defeated Jonathan Gresham and Rhett Titus to become the new RoH Tag Team Champions. Dragon Lee defeated Tony Deppen to become the new RoH Television Champion. If I had more room in the rankings, I would’ve liked to list them all individually, but there’s a lot to talk about this week. Congratulations to the new champions as we move into another era in Ring Of Honor.
- Shotzi & Nox: First things first, none of this made any sense. One, Shotzi Blackheart and Tegan Nox were perfectly good names that didn’t need to be shortened. Next, I know that these two have teamed up in the past, but Shotzi just spent the last few months teaming with Ember Moon, and then… a partner switch? Also, Tegan JUST returned to NXT to get revenge on Candice LeRae, and then gets moved to Smackdown before we even get a match between them? Finally, we couldn’t get them to pick up a win or two before beating the Women’s Tag Team Champions? WWE’s obsession with having their champions lose non-title matches continues. With alllll that said, congratulations to both women, who will be plying their craft in front of more eyeballs every week.
- Karrion Kross vs Johnny Gargano: NXT followed their formula for Kross matches, letting a world-class opponent handle a good chunk of the work, while letting Kross have his power bursts. Hate it if you want to, and a lot of you definitely want to, but it’s the best thing for the champion right now. I really thought we were going to get a title change here, sending Kross to Raw or Smackdown in the aftermath, but I was obviously wrong. The post-match happenings here were very interesting, potentially setting up Kross’ match at the next Takeover event. Speaking of those post-match happenings…
- Karrion Kross vs Samoa Joe?: Are you okay with seeing Kross defend the NXT Title against Joe at the inevitable Takeover event that happens during SummerSlam week? I sure am.
- Toni Storm: In the same episode of Smackdown that gave us Shotzi and Nox making their presence known, we also got an announcement that Toni Storm is on her way to Friday nights, too. That’s a pretty big hit to the NXT women’s division, losing three names in one shot. It works, though. NXT is still plenty deep there, and now, Smackdown’s depth isn’t quite as paper thin as it was a week ago. Don’t be surprised if Storm is competing for the Smackdown Women’s Title sooner than later.
This Week’s Playlist: “Sobrio” by Maluma… “De Museo” by Bad Bunny… “Yonaguni” by Bad Bunny… “Just For Me” by SAINt JHN & SZA… “My Guy” by Leon Bridges… “Astronaut In The Ocean” by Masked Wolf… “In The Court Of The Dragon” by Trivium… “BR4INFCK” by From Fall To Spring… “Blame It On You” by Jason Aldean… “You Should Probably Leave” by Chris Stapleton… “Hold On To Me” by Lauren Daigle… “Symphony” by Switch & Dillon Chase… “Known” by Tauren Wells… “Love TKO” by Teddy Pendergrass… “Casanova” by Levert… “Don’t Disturb This Groove” by The System… “If It Isn’t Love” by New Edition… “Cutie Pie” by One Way… “Rock Steady” by The Whispers… “Back Stabbers” by The O’Jays