The road to SummerSlam continues Sunday, as WWE presents the annual Money in the Bank event in St. Louis. The show will be a SmackDown Live exclusive this year, which is a bit disappointing, but a good chance for the stars of Tuesday nights to highlight a “special” PPV.
Even more than Raw’s latest show, Extreme Rules, MiTB will give the WWE Universe a good idea of how things will go on SmackDown as we move through the summer. At the time of this writing, every match on the card has great significance. That alone makes it must-see programming.
WWE Money in the Bank Preview and Predictions
Kickoff Show – There are no official matches announced for the pre-show, but that will almost certainly change in the days before the event. It might be difficult for WWE to put on a legitimate match in the kickoff show, as virtually every notable performer on the SmackDown roster is involved in the main show. We’ll probably see something like Breezango vs. The Colons. These two tag teams have been on the edges of the main event scene, and one of them is a likely foe for the team that leaves MiTB with the tag titles. It would be more fun if WWE included an “escape the programming limbo of Curtis Axel’s Basement” match between American Alpha and the mysteriously missing Tye Dillinger and either Luke Harper or Erick Rowan. (Raw isn’t the only show where talented performers go missing.)
Naomi vs. Lana (Smackdown Women’s Championship)– Lana’s first official singles match in WWE will be for the women’s title. I’d say that there’s no chance she wins the belt here, but I said that about Jinder Mahal and look what happened. I think the winner of the women’s MiTB match (more on that later) will have a lot to say about the outcome here. On a side note – Lana’s husband, Rusev, recently delivered an ultimatum to SD Commissioner Shane McMahon, stating that he wouldn’t report to the blue brand until he received a title match at MiTB. Instead, we get Lana. Maybe Shane thought that Rusev meant that someone in his family deserved a shot at the title. What Should Happen: Naomi should go over in relatively easy fashion. Lana hasn’t wrestled a match in WWE, and it would be insane to discredit the SmackDown Women’s Champion that way. What Will Probably Happen: I truly think Naomi wins this. Lana can keep getting opportunities that she doesn’t deserve as part of her storyline. If Lana wins this, expect the winner of the women’s MiTB match to cash in. Putting the belt on Lana would undo much of the work that WWE has accomplished with the Women’s Evolution over the past couple of years.
The Usos vs. The New Day (Smackdown Tag Team Championship) – With the sudden resurgence of several tag teams on the SD roster, this match is more significant than it has been for a while. Both teams are credible champions, and New Day has been a welcome addition to the Tuesday night lineup. What Should Happen: The Usos should retain here, probably via the use of some skullduggery. This keeps New Day in the mix, and opens the door for Breezango and other face teams like American Alpha. What Will Probably Happen: The Universe loves New Day, and I suspect that the Power of Positivity may win out Sunday, thus relegating American Alpha and other face teams to the 3MB zone.
Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal (WWE Championship) – While I still don’t like Mahal as champion, WWE has done a good job of highlighting his strength, which is his intensity. Orton laid out the champ with an RKO (OUTTA NOWHERE) on Tuesday, and the event is in his home town of St. Louis. This virtually guarantees that Jinder will retain the title. (Insert yawning sound here.) What Should Happen: Mahal should retain here, but not without help from his minions. That opens the door for some great feuds with a returning (Free Agent?) John Cena, AJ Styles, Sami Zayn and/or Shinsuke Nakamura. What Will Probably Happen: We’re not done seeing Mahal in main events. I think WWE will save the inevitable title change for the big stage at SummerSlam, where Mahal will either drop the belt to one of the babyfaces, or will retain the title, only to have the MiTB winner cash in on him.
Dolph Ziggler vs. AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (Men’s Money in the Bank match) – To me, this comes down to two guys. Ziggler is here for his credibility. Zayn is here for his ability to bump. Owens’ “New Face of America” gimmick is already over, so he doesn’t need the briefcase. Styles is going to feud with any heel champion WWE crowns. The only two logical choices are Corbin and Nakamura. What Should Happen: Don’t get me wrong, I love Baron Corbin. He’ll wear gold before the year is out, but this has to go to Shinsuke. Nakamura is crazy over with the fan base right now, and giving him the briefcase will only make him more popular. With ratings in the tank, WWE needs another Cena. Nakamura can be that guy. What Will Probably Happen: Assuming WWE is booking with a plan in mind, this gets easy. If Mahal retains, Nakamura gets the briefcase. If Orton wins, Corbin takes the contract.
Becky Lynch vs. Carmella vs. Natalya vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Tamina Snuka (Women’s Money in the Bank match) – There’s only really one legitimate outcome here. What Should Happen: Charlotte should take the briefcase. She’s the biggest star in the division, and can play either babyface or heel. JBL made a great observation on SD this week when he said, “Imagine a Flair with the briefcase.” I agree. What Will Probably Happen: I think this is Charlotte’s to win. The only question is how long she’ll hold onto the case. If Lana takes the title, expect the Queen to cash in Sunday. A better outcome would be for Naomi to retain, and for Charlotte to do a long, slow tease into a heel turn at SummerSlam.
Before I go, I have to ask a question. Why is John Cena a free agent? I think it’s a bad move by WWE. One can only assume that Cena’s new status is a way to get him on both shows for as long as he’s back in the fold. I understand that ratings are down, and Cena moves the needle, but this smacks of desperation. It could also put the brand split in jeopardy. The brands need to remain distinct. Thus, Cena could wrestle on both brands, but never win a title. They need to stipulate that if he wins a belt, he goes to the show where that belt lives.