The next WWE pay-per-view event is Money in the Bank presented by the Smackdown Live brand and it takes place this Sunday night in St. Louis. The three main matches are the men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match, the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match and Jinder Mahal defending the WWE Title against Randy Orton in Randy’s hometown.
There are only five advertised matches heading into the show. Could they add more? Yeah. They should. On the one hand, it makes the card look incomplete. On the other hand, most people watching this show are watching for the matches already announced, so WWE likely doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Normally a PPV lineup is going to have six or seven matches, plus another one on the Kickoff Show. Sometimes, they announce additions on a Friday afternoon or even as late as Sunday afternoon before the show begins.
I’m a big fan of the Money in the Bank match concept. I think it’s the best match creation WWE has done in the last 20 years (even better than Hell in a Cell and Elimination Chamber) because there’s a lot of excitement that surrounds it. I’m glad that they also finally decided to “make history” by doing the first women’s Money in the Bank match. The men’s match is going to be a classic and I think the women will do well too.
Here’s a closer look at the men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match, which is the main event in my eyes, even though it may not go on last. The six men in the match are US Champion Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler and Sami Zayn.
The match was announced on the May 23 edition of Smackdown Live. Since then, the six men in the match have faced off in singles and tag matches every week. It got a little repetitive with the three faces (Styles, Nakamura & Zayn) dominating for the past four weeks. Here’s how those matches have looked for each guy.
** Shinsuke Nakamura has looked the strongest of all with three tag match wins and a singles win over Kevin Owens. Nakamura also ended the last Smackdown by getting his hand on the briefcase to end the show.
** Sami Zayn is also on a roll since he beat Baron Corbin in a quick match (he also beat him at Backlash on May 21) and has two tag match wins, including the victory over Corbin in this past week’s six-man tag main event.
** AJ Styles won two tag matches, beat Dolph Ziggler clean in a singles match and also lost to Ziggler as well.
** Dolph Ziggler lost two tag matches, beat Styles on May 30 and lost to Styles the week later.
** Kevin Owens, who is the United States Champion, lost three tag matches and a singles match against Shinsuke Nakamura. Owens was pinned three times by Nakamura, which could suggest a future feud for them.
** Baron Corbin lost a singles match to Zayn in quick fashion and lost two tag matches. On June 6, Corbin wasn’t in a match, but he looked strong to end the night after cheap attacks on Zayn and Nakamura.
Normally, I don’t go into wins and losses that in-depth because in the grand scheme of things, it means nothing on a scripted television show. But I did it for a reason. The reason is that WWE wants you to think Nakamura has the most momentum. That typically means he has no chance of winning, but it worked out for Samoa Joe going into Extreme Rules because he won two TV matches before his big PPV win. WWE has gone away from the “win on TV, lose on PPV” theory a lot this year.
I pointed out the results because I don’t recall a Money in the Bank build where the heels were booked to be so weak (aside from Corbin looking strong two weeks ago) heading into one of these matches.
I think the fans will want Nakamura and Styles to win the most, so they should have the loudest reactions. Zayn will have a lot of support too, but the other two guys are on another level from him now. Zayn will probably do the best job of having a slow climb where the crowd really gets behind him to win, only to be let down when he fails to come through.
On the heel side, Corbin is the only one who should be universally hated. Fans don’t really want to cheer him because he lacks that cool factor. There’s nothing compelling about him. Owens should get some cheers because he’s an internet favorite that is one of the best all-around performers in the company. Ziggler’s an internet favorite too, although he has lost momentum that he had a few years ago.
I have high expectations here. I’ve said for the last month that this could be the best Money in the Bank match ever because of the talent involved. I think Styles and Owens are the top wrestlers in WWE. Styles is absolutely the best and I fully expect him to do something special in this match. It’s his first Money in the Bank match. He won’t disappoint us.
Nakamura, Zayn and Ziggler are all above-average workers that will shine with the spotlight on them. Zayn and Styles are the guys most likely to “wow” us in the match.
Corbin is not at the level of the other five guys in terms of being a great worker, but he’s better than average. Corbin is at his best working with smaller guys who will bump their asses off to make him look great. Everybody else in the match will be happy to sell for his power moves. Corbin is getting better all the time too. He will do well.
Based on Nakamura pinning Owens three times in the last month, I think it’s very possible that they have a US Title feud. It would be a way to possibly put a midcard title on Nakamura before moving him up to that main event level later this year or early next year.
Styles could go into a feud with Baron Corbin with the idea that working with Styles will make Corbin better. If Styles were to lose the feud, it would be a huge win for Corbin, who really needs a breakout feud. I also think Styles vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Title is a possibility at some point soon, while Corbin could be matched up with Randy Orton as well.
That would leave Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler. They haven’t wrestled that much in the past, so it would be a good feud between two guys who seem to always be stuck in the midcard. Might as well put them together.
I don’t think any of those feuds are guarantees to happen. I just think they all make sense right now and sometimes that’s enough.
It’s a tough match to predict and I have a choice that is probably the most popular one among fans. I’m going with Baron Corbin. The losing streak gimmick is a big reason why, but it’s also because he fits the mold of the guy that WWE likes to push. He’s tall, he’s new on the main roster (only been there for just over one year) and the company likely sees him as a main eventer for the next five years. Corbin also makes sense as a guy who hasn’t been a WWE World Champion before, so that helps his case as well.
AJ Styles is my second choice to win. His first WWE Title run was as a heel. If he gets the briefcase and cashes in at some point in the next few months, then he would do so as a face. Seeing Styles as a face WWE Champion would be cool. The argument against that is he doesn’t need it, since he’s already been a top guy. That theory doesn’t work because they have put it on former World Champions like John Cena, Randy Orton and Sheamus in recent years.
I think Sami Zayn would be the best choice to win because he’s an incredible all-around performer that could break out as a main eventer if he wins this. However, I don’t think WWE’s management team thinks of Zayn as highly as I do. If he gets to that main event level, it might take a few years for him.
Shinsuke Nakamura is undefeated on the main roster. It’s easy to see why WWE might pick him because they want him to look strong. I don’t think a loss here would hurt him, though. It’s not like he would be pinned or forced to submit. It’s just a case of him coming up short. If he did win, then I’d have no problem with that either. Great performer who hopefully is a main eventer by next year.
Kevin Owens would do an excellent job of being an annoying heel holding the briefcase. I think his case is hurt a bit because he’s already the US Champion and he’s been Universal Champion. When WWE looks at him, they might see him as somebody that’s been at the top already. They could choose to go in another direction for that reason.
Ziggler has the least chance of the six. I think he’s just there to help put on a great match as somebody that has the most experience in Money in the Bank.
I would be happy with any of the six men winning. Corbin is not the guy that I want to win. Corbin is who I think Vince McMahon and his creative team wants. In Corbin, they see a 6-foot-6 guy with a lot of potential who just needs that extra nudge to get to that next level. We have seen the Money in the Bank briefcase do wonders for guys in the past and in theory, it should really help Corbin.
I don’t think the Money in the Bank winner will cash in later in the show. We saw it last year with Ambrose. I doubt WWE goes that route again.
Prediction: Baron Corbin wins
Here’s the rest of the lineup for Money in the Bank.
WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton
My excitement level for this is low. I think WWE has done a poor job in building up the rematch. Instead of Randy Orton being mad that Mahal and the Singh Brothers cheated him out of the WWE Title at Backlash (there was plenty of interference in that match), Orton barely said anything about wanting to get the WWE Title back. He just kept talking about his family (to make him more likable?) and on this week’s Smackdown he dropped Mahal with a RKO out of nowhere, which was a good angle. That was only one out of four weeks where I was impressed by what they did to build up the rematch.
This will be Mahal’s first televised WWE Title defense. The only match he’s had on TV since he won the title was a boring match against Mojo Rawley. I want Mahal to succeed and I want him to impress me, but I haven’t really seen it. With that said, I think WWE is going to keep the title on him for at least a few months so that he can feud with John Cena or AJ Styles. What does putting the title back on Orton accomplish? Not much.
The show takes place in Orton’s hometown of St. Louis (WWE has reminded us of that repeatedly) and Randy’s dad Bob Orton Jr., plus other legends, are likely to be there. It wouldn’t shock me if Mahal does something to Bob like a shove to the face or something like that leading to Randy getting disqualified or maybe the ref getting involved in something leading to Mahal using a belt shot on Randy to win. I would be very surprised if this had a clean finish. I’ll go Mahal winning cheap as a heel champion should.
Prediction: Jinder Mahal retains the WWE Title by cheating
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Tamina vs. Carmella
I’m happy for the women in the match and for WWE evolving to the point they trust their women performers to have a match like this. There is some concern because women are smaller than guys and watching them fall eight feet off a ladder could be tough to watch. They need to be smart about things. You can’t have 120-pound Carmella taking some huge bump and risking injury just because she watched a 250-pound guy do the same bump a few years ago.
It will be hard for them to top the guys, so I hope this match goes on before the men’s ladder match. It should also take place before the Women’s Title match, just to open the possibility that the winner may cash in later in the show.
I want Natalya to win, but I think WWE is going another route. I think they are going with Charlotte Flair because they want her to make history similar to her winning the first-ever women’s Hell in a Cell match. What I would do is have Natalya win the Women’s Title from Naomi at some point in the near-future and have Charlotte cash in the briefcase on Natalya so that they could have the best match possible when Charlotte does the cash in.
Prediction: Charlotte Flair wins
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos vs. The New Day
I wish the build up to this match was better. Instead of just announcing The New Day getting a title shot like WWE did, they should have won a match or two before getting this match. I’m surprised it was just handed to them since the creative team (especially on Smackdown) has been better at making people earn title shots.
I’m going with The Usos cheating to find a way to win. Why do a title change? There are three face teams out there for The Usos to feud with if you count The New Day, Breezango and American Alpha (remember them?). I think the booking of Breezango has been so good in the last two months that it will mean a lot more if they broke through to win the titles at SummerSlam. New Day is going to be fine without gold for a while. Keep it on The Usos in what should be a great match.
Prediction: The Usos retain their titles
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Naomi vs. Lana
There’s a lot of curiosity about this match because a lot of us have no idea what Lana can do in a singles match. The last match I saw her in was on the WrestleMania 32 Kickoff Show in a tag match over one year ago where she didn’t do much. Since then, she has been training a lot more at the WWE Performance Center while also wrestling at smaller NXT live events. I assume she’s good enough to have a decent match or else why would WWE put her out there in a PPV match? It’s a lot of pressure on Lana and I hope she succeeds.
The fact that it’s a Women’s Title match is a bit disconcerting since Lana has done nothing to earn it, aside from costing Naomi a tag match, but the angle made sense. Naomi asked Shane McMahon to make it at title match with Shane telling her he didn’t think that Lana deserved it. Naomi said she didn’t care, so Shane made the match. Throw in the fact that Jinder Mahal just won the WWE Title last month after not being much of a contender before and the “land of opportunity” WWE always says about Smackdown has some credibility.
I think it’s very possible that Lana wins the title, perhaps even thanks to the return of her husband Rusev, but I’m going with Naomi. I want her to drop the title to Natalya in the near-future because that’s the better move.
Prediction: Naomi retains her title
I’m not predicting either Money in the Bank winner to cash in on this show, but if one of them were to do it, I think the women’s winner is more likely.
I’m a big fan of the Money in the Bank match concept as I mentioned earlier, so I’m excited for the men’s ladder match more than anything. The women’s match interests me just to see how good they can do in that setting. The Usos vs. New Day could be awesome if they get a lot of time although there isn’t much of a story there. Mahal vs. Orton may surprise us by being better than we think, but it’s hard to be excited about anything Mahal does.
This should be a good event with a couple of potentially great matches and likely no stinkers because every match should get a decent amount of time except maybe Naomi vs. Lana. A lot of it depends on what is added as well.
You can watch WWE Money in the Bank this Sunday on WWE Network at 8 p.m. ET with a Kickoff Show starting at 7 p.m. ET as well. I’ll be back on Monday with a review of the show.