The Money in the Bank ladder match is one of the most exciting matches in World Wrestling Entertainment. This year’s event takes place at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois on Sunday, June 17 with a start time of 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT and an expected run time of about four hours. This year’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view will feature both a men’s Ladder Match with eight competitors and a women’s Ladder Match with eight competitors. Each match will have four participants from Raw and four from Smackdown.

The winner of Money in the Bank (or MITB for short) must climb a ladder to retrieve a briefcase that has a contract inside of it. The contract gives the winner the right to “cash in” that contract on the champion of their brand (Raw has the Universal Title and Smackdown has the WWE Title) at any time within the next year. It’s not known if a Smackdown guy can challenge for the Universal Title or if a Raw guy can challenge for the WWE Title, but in WWE, they make the rules up as they go anyway, so at this point who knows? It might be allowed. They don’t really follow their own rules on stuff like this.

I’m a huge fan of the Money in the Bank match. Two years ago here on The Comeback, I ranked every Money in the Bank cash-in in WWE history. So many of them are memorable because of how well they are booked. I think from a booking standpoint, it’s one of the best things WWE has created in the last twenty years.

Some Money in the Bank winners have been guys that were midcard wrestlers that needed that extra boost to get to that next level to become a main event player. Edge, the first Money in the Bank winner in 2005, was in the midcard for years, won Money in the Bank and nearly a year later become WWE Champion for the first time. CM Punk is another guy that really benefited from Money in the Bank. Guys like John Cena and Randy Orton were Money in the Bank winners even though they were multiple time World Champions, so it shows it can be anyone. Last year’s winner Baron Corbin was an obvious choice that could use Money in the Bank to get to that next level, but for whatever reason, WWE felt like he wasn’t ready to be a top guy and he failed during his cash-in attempt. Corbin has fallen so far down the ladder that he is not even in this year’s Money in the Bank match.

Here’s a look at this year’s men’s Money in the Bank ladder match, and my ranking of the eight competitors in order from least likely winner to most likely winner.

8. One Member of The New Day – Big E, Kofi Kingston or Xavier Woods (Smackdown)

It’s not known which member of The New Day it will be in the match, but the belief is that it is going to be Big E just based on rumors. Plus, Big E faced Miz in a singles match two weeks ago and Big E pinned Miz in a tag team match this week, so WWE is clearly trying to feature Big E more.

Why He Should Win: It would be a cool story to have a member of The New Day have a breakout moment by winning Money in the Bank. The group has been a cohesive unit for the past four years and that’s longer than a lot of groups in wrestling, so fans are likely wondering when the split might happen. I’m all for keeping them together even if one of them, like Big E, breaks out on his own. The crowd would love it if Big E were to win.

Why He Shouldn’t Win: Big E (or Kofi or Xavier) is just a tag team wrestler in the eyes of the fans, so it doesn’t make sense to put him over when there are seven other singles wrestlers that could benefit from Money in the Bank more. There are better options.

Summary: I don’t think it’s going to happen due to Big E being a tag team wrestler, but it would be a huge upset if it did.

7. Bobby Roode (Raw)

Why He Should Win: Roode was just moved to Raw from Smackdown last month, so putting the Money in the Bank briefcase in his hands would make him look like a bigger star in the eyes of the fans. Roode was the US Champion on Smackdown and he was NXT Champion in NXT. A Money in the Bank win could elevate him since he is “new” on the main roster from last year.

Why He Shouldn’t Win: The crowd likes him for the most part, but I feel like he’s been miscast as a face on the main roster. Roode was a heel in NXT and it was always the more natural role for him in his TNA/Impact Wrestling days as well. When you’re not over at a certain level, it’s bad to try to force it by having a guy win Money in the Bank.

Summary: I don’t think he’s popular enough right now to warrant putting the briefcase on him. The crowds don’t see him as a big deal.

The next six guys are tough to order because I really think any of them could legitimately win and I would be happy for any of them. That means it’s going to be a good match since it’s tough to predict the winner.

6. Finn Balor (Raw)

Why He Should Win: Balor was the first Universal Champion in August 2016, which showed that WWE believed in him a lot. Balor gave up the title the next day due to a shoulder injury, missed about eight months after shoulder surgery and for the past year, he’s been fighting to get back to that level. In the past two weeks, Balor lost to Braun Strowman and nearly beat him this past week, although he got beat up for most of the match. I don’t think it has helped him look like a threat. The good thing about Money in the Bank is all he has to do is climb a ladder to win and he doesn’t have to beat a guy like Strowman by pinning him. Another reason why he should win is the people really like the guy. Isn’t wrestling about making people happy? The fans would love to see Balor win.

Why He Shouldn’t Win: There are some other names that could use it more that haven’t been to that level of holding a major title. Plus, WWE management may have lost faith in him because he was rumored to wrestle Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble and then it got changed to a triple threat with Braun Strowman and (yawn) Kane. Balor was pushed to the side as if he didn’t matter.

Summary: I like Balor a lot and think a win for him would surprise a lot of people because of the inconsistent way he has been booked. I just don’t think management likes him more than some of the other guys in this match.

5. The Miz (Smackdown)

Why He Should Win: For the past two years, The Miz has been focused on making the Intercontinental Title relevant. He has grown as a performer by becoming the best talker in WWE (as a wrestler at least, because I think Paul Heyman might be better overall) and the quality of his matches have improved. Miz has been kept out of the Universal and WWE Title picture. However, if he were to win Money in the Bank it would remind people that this is a guy that should be in the main event picture.

Why He Shouldn’t Win: The main reason why I’m against Miz winning again is that he already won it before. That was in 2010, which feels like a lifetime ago now, but that was the point in his career where he was the midcarder that needed that boost to main event shows. Right now, Miz is a guy that could be slotted in as the number one contender to the WWE Title at any time. If AJ Styles retains the WWE Title against Shinsuke Nakamura and he needs an opponent, The Miz or Samoa Joe are clearly next in line. That’s another reason why Miz shouldn’t win this.

Summary: I think Miz adds credibility to this year’s MITB match because he’s a former winner. He can do promos bragging about how he knows how to win, he knows how to cash in, and he knows how to be WWE Champion. The fans may hate him, but he makes a good point when he says that. With that said, since he’s won MITB before, I’m reluctant to pick him as the winner.

4. Kevin Owens (Raw)

Why He Should Win: Owens is arguably the top heel on Raw. Money in the Bank has always been more fun when a heel was holding it because they can be booked as a cheap wrestler that cashes in on the most opportune time. Most of the best cash-ins in WWE history were done by heels. The most recent one was done by a heel Carmella on champion Charlotte after Charlotte was beaten up. That’s the best formula. Plus, you know if Owens were to win it, he would cut the most entertaining promos while carrying the briefcase around. Owens would make for a very entertaining “Mr. Money in the Bank” if he wins this match.

Why He Shouldn’t Win: Owens has already been Universal Champion before with a reign that lasted 188 days from late August 2016 to early March 2017. Since he has already held that title before, it would be easy to book him as a credible threat to the title without having him win Money in the Bank. Does he really need it to get to the next level again? I don’t think so. Owens will probably be Universal Champion again and he won’t necessarily need Money in the Bank to get there.

Summary: There’s a chance Owens might do it because he got into the match in a cheap way after losing his first MITB qualifier and then getting in due to an assist from Stephanie McMahon. I would have no problem if KO was the winner since he’s my favorite guy in the match.

3. Rusev (Smackdown)

Why He Should Win: There’s no question that it would be a “Happy Rusev Day” if the Bulgarian Brute were to win Money in the Bank. Rusev is on a bit of a roll since he qualified for the match by beating a top guy in Daniel Bryan. It was a clean win too. I think WWE realizes he has the chance to be on another level because of the “Rusev Day” chants from the crowd. The weird thing is those chants have been going on for about five months and WWE still books him like a heel even though I thought they would turn him face way back at the Royal Rumble in January. Rusev has been successful as a US Champion in the past, but he hasn’t been able to break through. Winning Money in the Bank could help him become a bigger star.

Why He Shouldn’t Win: There are other names in the match with bigger names, so I think WWE can look at him as this foreign heel that they don’t want to book as a face and maybe they believe he is not worthy. Yes, Rusev has feuded with the likes of John Cena and Roman Reigns, but he was used to put those guys over a lot. There’s a certain level where some guys are at in WWE, and some of them stay at that level for most of their career. Perhaps WWE management thinks of Rusev that way. I don’t think of him like that, but it’s their call after all, not ours.

Summary: Rusev is another guy in this match that I really like and if he were to win, I would be genuinely happy for him. I think he deserves it. I also believe the crowd wants him to win, so it would be a memorable moment to see him win the match with so many other big names involved.

2. Braun Strowman (Raw)

Why He Should Win: Strowman is the heavy favorite in the match, so that’s the biggest reason why he should win. Strowman is booked stronger than anybody in WWE other than Brock Lesnar. The only times he’s lost clean are when he faced Brock Lesnar at No Mercy last year and at various times to Roman Reigns in the past. At other times, he only loses if he’s in a tag team match where his partner gets pinned (like Finn Balor a few weeks ago) or if he’s in multi-man match where another guy gets pinned (Royal Rumble 2018 and SummerSlam 2017 are two examples). Strowman also won the Greatest Royal Rumble event last month, which shows how management believes in him as a top guy. Fans are ready for him to be “The Guy” on Raw as the Universal Champion, so winning Money in the Bank would help him get there.

Why He Shouldn’t Win: It would be too obvious. I like Strowman as much as the next guy, but he is the obvious choice and if you book the obvious choice to win all the time it gets boring. There’s also a belief among a lot of WWE fans that Strowman doesn’t “need” it to be “Mr. Monster in the Bank” as he put it on Raw. If Strowman was named the number one contender to the Universal Championship and if he beat Brock Lesnar for the title, fans would buy it. It’s not like he needs a briefcase to be able to cash in. Just give him the title shot because he earned it from winning the Greatest Royal Rumble and winning nearly every match he is in. Strowman can also lose a match like this without getting pinned, so that’s a good reason to pick somebody else. It won’t hurt Strowman if he fails to get the job done.

Summary: There’s a strong possibility that Strowman is going to win because any time he’s in a match he’s going to be the favorite. I think he’s going to be Universal Champion at some point in the next year and I don’t think he should win because I’d rather see him do it in a regular singles match for the title. As a face, it’s not as interesting to see him cash in Money in the Bank. He may be my pick in a few weeks, but for right now I have somebody else in mind.

1. Samoa Joe (Smackdown)

Why He Should Win: Joe was pushed well on the Raw brand as a contender to the Universal Title with Brock Lesnar last year and he wrestled Roman Reigns a lot of times too. Since he moved to Smackdown, he has been booked strong with a big win this past week to qualify for Money in the Bank. I enjoy his promos a lot as a straight-shooting heel that speaks with a lot of confidence. In the ring, he can back up his tough talk by kicking ass and making people tap out, like he did to Daniel Bryan on Smackdown. I think putting the Money in the Bank briefcase on the 20-year veteran would legitimize him as a top guy in WWE. He’s the only heel in the match that hasn’t held a major title in WWE since Owens and Miz have done it before. I guess Rusev counts, but he is cheered more than most heels. Joe is a scary type of heel that would get a huge reaction if he were to cash in and leave with the WWE Title.

Why He Shouldn’t Win: Joe has already contended for Raw’s Universal Championship on multiple occasions, so I think fans see him as a credible challenger that may not need Money in the Bank in order to get a WWE Title match. Like I said with Miz earlier, Joe could be next in line for a WWE Title shot if AJ Styles remains as the WWE Champion. Another reason is because Strowman is in the match and any time Strowman is in a match, it’s tough for somebody else to win.

Summary: I just think Joe is the best option in the match. Money in the Bank is better when a heel holds it and Joe is a pure heel that has no interest in sucking up to the fans by being a cool heel. Joe is an old school, badass heel in every way possible, which is why I have enjoyed watching him for so long. Plus, Joe should be WWE Champion in his career because he spent so much time elsewhere as one of the best wrestlers alive that wasn’t in WWE. Whether it’s AJ Styles or somebody else, it would be a cool moment to see Joe carrying that WWE Title on his shoulder.

I can also see a scenario at Money in the Bank where Joe wins the contract early in the show. In the main event, Styles can somehow survive against Shinsuke Nakamura in a Last Man Standing match to retain the WWE Title. That’s when Joe walks out with the briefcase, cashes in successfully, and leaves as WWE Champion to end the show. That would be a memorable moment that would elevate Joe to that next level. It may not happen like that because Dean Ambrose did something similar to Seth Rollins two years ago, but I think it would work well with Joe too.

Samoa Joe is my Money in the Bank winner for now. Will he be my pick when I preview the match a few days before June 17? Probably, but I could always change my mind. It depends on the booking between now and then.

Final Thoughts

I think the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match is going to be outstanding with six viable choices as the winner. If I could replace anybody in the match it would be Bobby Roode. I would put Drew McIntyre in his spot and I’d have McIntyre win the match because I truly believe he can be a main event player for years to come. Other than that, I like the lineup a lot.

I’ll be back later in the week with a breakdown of the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match.

About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He joined The Comeback/Awful Announcing team in 2015. Follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at mrjohncanton@gmail.com with any comments or questions. He's written for UPROXX, WhatCulture, Bleacher Report, Layfield Report, Rajah and many other places. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at TJRWrestling.net. Cheap pop!