This Sunday night in Chicago, Illinois, World Wrestling Entertainment presents Money in the Bank on WWE Network. It’s one of my favorite pay-per-views of the year thanks to the two ladder matches that are always exciting, and the unpredictability factor that exists this year certainly also helps.
I’m interested to see how WWE structures the card. I think the women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match may go on first or at least in the first hour, while the men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match will go on last. I’m not sure if AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Title will be the main event due to how much WWE is advertising Ronda Rousey’s match. Prior to every PPV, WWE sends out emails promoting the shows and Rousey’s match is pushed the most. It’s also all over WWE’s Facebook and Youtube pages. If I had to guess right now, I’d pick Rousey’s match as the main event, especially if she ends up winning.
Here’s the full lineup:
** Raw Women’s Championship: Nia Jax (c) vs. Ronda Rousey
** WWE Championship Last Man Standing: AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
** Men’s Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match: Braun Strowman (Raw), Kevin Owens (Raw), Finn Balor (Raw), Bobby Roode (Raw), The Miz (Smackdown), Rusev (Smackdown), Samoa Joe (Smackdown), One member of The New Day (Smackdown)
** Women’s Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match: Ember Moon (Raw), Alexa Bliss (Raw), Natalya (Raw), Sasha Banks (Raw), Charlotte Flair (Smackdown), Becky Lynch (Smackdown), Lana (Smackdown), Naomi (Smackdown)
** Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Elias
** Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass
** Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal
** Smackdown Women’s Championship: Carmella (c) vs. Asuka
** Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn
** Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan) (c) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (Kickoff Show)
If there is one more match, it will be Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt vs. Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas for the Raw Tag Team Titles, but that match is not official yet. Here are ten predictions for the event.
10. The Bludgeon Brothers will retain their titles against Gallows and Anderson
There isn’t much of a build for The Bludgeon Brothers vs. Gallows and Anderson. The Gallows and Anderson team won a match to get a title shot. They haven’t done much else to make anybody care about this match.
The Bludgeon Brothers usually have short matches that are done in five minutes or less, but this might be a case where it goes closer than ten minutes. Since it’s on the Kickoff Show, there’s no reason to have a three-minute match. There is plenty of time to go a bit longer. In the end, it should be a victory for Harper and Rowan.
9. Bobby Lashley will beat Sami Zayn in dominant fashion
The build for the Lashley vs. Zayn match has been bad. I don’t think it’s bad because of Zayn’s performance, but mainly thanks to the old saying about taking chicken shit and trying to make chicken salad. Zayn’s doing the best he can with the material he’s given, but the material has been so bad that it’s not helping either guy.
I think Lashley should have been booked as more of a serious competitor that was angry about the things Zayn said to him. Instead, Lashley smiled a lot at Zayn’s hijinks. This past week on Raw, Zayn hit Lashley with a cheap Helluva Kick, which should lead to a more intense Lashley in their match. I think Lashley will win in under ten minutes.
8. Carmella will beat Asuka thanks to the help of an old friend
Carmella is the surprising Smackdown Women’s Champion after winning the title from Charlotte Flair shortly after WrestleMania. That happened after Charlotte ended Asuka’s two plus year undefeated streak. Asuka was given this title match even though she hasn’t been booked that well on the Smackdown brand.
Carmella is portrayed is as the annoying, over confident champion that thinks she’s better than the fans think she is. Asuka is more a silent killer type where she hits harder than the other girls and can make anybody tap out to the Asuka Lock. This past week on Smackdown, Asuka made Carmella tap out to the Asuka Lock in a 10-woman tag team main event.
My prediction for this match is Carmella winning the title due to the return of an old friend, James Ellsworth. You may recall that at last year’s Money in the Bank, Ellsworth helped Carmella win that match, then she had to do it again without him, and in November 2017, he was released. There was a report out within the last week from PWInsider that Ellsworth is coming back. Ellsworth also canceled a booking he had for this weekend, so that report of Ellsworth returning looks to be true.
It looks like Carmella’s reign will continue. I don’t mind it because she’s entertaining in the role. There are also plenty of women for her feud with on Smackdown since they have Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch there along with Asuka. It could be Asuka that takes the title from her, but maybe that moment is saved for SummerSlam in August. For now, I’m going with Carmella.
7. The fans in Chicago will reject Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal
The real reason Roman Reigns is facing Jinder Mahal is because WWE feels like Mahal is not going to be cheered by the fans since he’s a true heel, so maybe the fans will support Reigns. I doubt it, though. The storyline reason this match is happening is due to Mahal costing Reigns his Money in the Bank qualifying match, so Reigns wants revenge.
Reigns should win this match easily and if he were to lose it, I’d be very surprised. With that said, the interesting part of this match is how the vocal Chicago crowd reacts to it. I fully expect them to boo Reigns from the moment he enters the arena while continuing to boo him during the match. They don’t like him. They don’t want him in a face role. Watching present day WWE is difficult because of how reluctant WWE’s creative team is to turn him into a more proper heel.
This feud is just something to keep Reigns busy until he gets yet another Universal Title match against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam…if that’s the plan. Who knows anymore? Plans change all the time.
6. Big Cass will get his win back against Daniel Bryan
This is not a match result that I want, but it’s what I expect. Bryan beat Cass in their last PPV at the underwhelming Backlash pay-per-view event last month. This feels like the second match in a trio of matches. I can see something happen where Cass is frustrated that he can’t beat Bryan, so he does something cheap to get the win. Maybe there’s a ref bump or Cass exposes the turnbuckle to try to win. That would set up a third match at Extreme Rules next month.
I can understand why WWE booked this feud to try to elevate Cass as a singles wrestler that WWE wants to push. After all, he’s seven feet tall (and you can’t teach that), but Cass must be better than he was in their last month. I know he’s coming off a torn ACL that put him on the shelf for eight months, but all I’m saying is that if you can’t have a good match with one of the best in the world like Daniel Bryan, then it will be difficult to look great against a lesser opponent.
Bryan will likely feud with The Miz or Samoa Joe going into SummerSlam. That’s what I’m looking forward to. This is more of a boring feud that doesn’t excite me much at all.
5. Seth Rollins will continue his reign as the Intercontinental Champion
This match is like Bryan vs. Cass except there’s a title involved. Rollins is the established guy that is one of the best wrestlers in the world, while Elias is somebody that WWE has high hopes for. Elias is still “new” on the main roster because he hasn’t done anything memorable in terms of feuds.
Elias is one of those guys that is entertaining due to this singing before the match, but when the bell rings, it’s hard for me to get excited. I know he’s the heel and he’s not supposed to wrestle an exciting style, but he just bores me once the in-ring action starts. He does basic stuff with the clotheslines all the time, he goes to rest holds way too much, and his spinning neckbreaker finisher is fine, but it’s not that impressive because I can remember others doing that move decades ago.
Rollins is probably my pick for WWE’s best wrestler in the first half of 2018. As much as I am enjoying him as Intercontinental Champion, I really think he should be the next Universal Champion. The crowds love Rollins, so why not have him be the guy that beats Lesnar? That’s what I would do. Rollins or Strowman for sure, rather than Reigns.
I think it’s possible that Elias is the guy to beat Rollins for this title because it would help Elias a lot, but I don’t think it will be at Money in the Bank. Maybe it will happen if there’s a rematch at Extreme Rules in a month or on an episode of Raw.
4. Natalya will win the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Two weeks ago, I wrote an in-depth column here at The Comeback with some thoughts on the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match. In that column, I went with Natalya as my pick to win because I think she’s got an easy storyline with Ronda Rousey.
Since then, WWE has done a storyline with Natalya where she had a match with Nia Jax and injured her right knee. She’s fine. It was all a work. Last week on Raw, Natalya had her left knee taped up. The question is, was that intentional as part of this storyline or is it just WWE deciding to have Natalya sell the left injury rather than her right leg? Who knows? I just figured it would be worth pointing out.
There’s a lot of talented women in this match, so it’s tough to call. I think you might see something where Becky Lynch is very close to winning only for her best friend Charlotte Flair to knock her down. That could lead to one of them turning heel. It might be time for Charlotte to do it since Becky is more of a natural face, while Charlotte is better as a heel. I don’t think the other Smackdown women – Naomi and Lana – have a chance to win.
Another name to consider for the win is Alexa Bliss just because it fits her character to be a cheap heel walking around with the contract ready cash in. I also like Ember Moon a lot, but I feel like WWE might wait to push her to that next level. Sasha Banks is a wildcard that could certainly do it.
This pick is far from a lock. I’m just hoping for a good match, which I think they can do. The concern is that it’s tough to do a match with eight people sometimes, so it needs to be planned out well.
3. Samoa Joe is going to become Mr. Money in the Bank
I wrote a breakdown of the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match over two weeks ago here at The Comeback. It was tough to decide in terms of who is going to win, but I settled in with Samoa Joe as my winner. My second choice would be The Miz because I’m leaning towards a Smackdown guy winning since I have a Raw woman winning.
The reason I’m going with Joe is because he came so close to becoming Universal Champion on Raw and I think WWE knows he is one of the best true heels they have. They didn’t move him to Smackdown to become just another guy on that show. They did it so he can become a heel WWE Champion that can have feuds with guys like AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy or a returning Randy Orton. Those same names also apply to The Miz since they are all on Smackdown.
It would be a nice story if one member of The New Day were to win, but I don’t believe WWE is going to go that route. Smackdown’s other name in the match is Rusev, who would benefit from being Mr. Money in the Bank as much as anybody. I just feel like Joe is a better choice.
Braun Strowman, Kevin Owens, and Finn Balor are all solid choices on the Raw side. Strowman wins nearly every match he’s in, so of course he’s a favorite to win. Owens would be entertaining as a heel carrying around that briefcase. Balor winning would help him get back to the Universal Title he had to give up two years ago due to injury. Raw’s fourth name Bobby Roode is here to fill out the match, and he doesn’t really have a shot to win.
The Joe choice makes the most sense to me. If I had to rank the others I’d go Miz, then Owens and Strowman. I don’t believe in the other four guys as much.
2. AJ Styles will beat Shinsuke Nakamura, but he will not leave with the WWE Championship thanks to Samoa Joe
I am preparing to be disappointed by Styles and Nakamura not being the main event again. It should be, but the Rousey factor is in play here. That doesn’t lessen my excitement for this match because I think Styles vs. Nakamura will be a great match.
What I didn’t like in the build to this match is they had Nakamura beat Styles clean on Smackdown a few weeks ago to allow Nakamura to pick the stipulation for this match. The story going into this match should have been that Nakamura was unable to beat Styles, yet they had Nakamura win and now that storyline is out the window. I would have done something like Beat The Clock or even a tag team match where Nakamura pinned a partner of Styles.
The decision to have Nakamura beat Styles on Smackdown also makes me lean towards Styles retaining the title. I have enjoyed Nakamura’s heel run and I think he should have won the title at Backlash, but since WWE failed to pull the trigger on that, it made me think Styles is going to retain here.
I expect them to have an outstanding match in the 20-25 minute range. After the match is over, an exhausted Styles will have his hand raised only for Samoa Joe’s music to hit with the Money in the Bank contract in his hands. Styles has this “oh shit” kind of look on his face, Joe walks down to the ring, beats Styles senseless, makes him tap out to the Coquina Clutch, and Joe is the new WWE Champion. I think it would work well while also setting up a Joe vs. Styles feud for the WWE Title for the next two or three PPVs. That’s fine with me.
1. Ronda Rousey will win the Raw Women’s Title in under five minutes
I’m going with this match as the main event. It’s not what I would do, but WWE is paying Ronda Rousey a lot of money and are likely going to have a lot of media covering the event just because Rousey is getting a title shot. Remember at the Royal Rumble when Rousey made her “surprising” debut and ESPN cameras were there to cover it along with ESPN reporter Ramona Shelbourne? That’s because WWE knows that Rousey can get them more mainstream coverage, especially with no Brock Lesnar or John Cena on this show.
There are people reading this that are probably sick of Rousey already. I get that, but give her credit for working hard and embracing her new career. Rousey has yet to have a singles match in WWE, so this is a first for her. Rousey’s first match was the tag team match win at WrestleMania, which was an impressive performance from Rousey. She also worked some tag team matches at live events in May, but this is her first singles match and only her second match on television. Rousey is a legitimate wrestling fan that is working hard to improve all the time. Some of her promos are awkward. Listen to the crowd reaction, though. People like it.
They have had about one month to prepare for this match, so Rousey and Jax have likely practiced it at the Performance Center in Orlando. Rousey was in a Mandy Rose workout video at the WWE PC earlier this week, so she’s been there most of the week.
I’m going with a Rousey win in under five minutes. I think if they go ten minutes or close to that it would be a mistake. The match should be Jax on offense for most of it, Rousey traps her in the armbar, Jax taps out, and Rousey celebrates as the Raw Women’s Champion to end the show. I also think WWE made a mistake by having Jax tap out to Rousey on the last Raw prior to this event. Why do it on TV and not save it for this event? I would have saved it unless they have another plan.
It’s certainly possible that Rousey will lose, but I don’t think so. Jax is a boring champion that doesn’t need the title. Rousey is expected to be on the cover of the WWE ’19 video game announced on Monday and in July, Rousey’s going into the UFC Hall of Fame. When she goes in, she’ll have the WWE Raw Women’s Title in her possession too. That’s why WWE rushed doing this match.
I think that Rousey/Natalya story will likely see Natalya turn heel leading to a potential match at SummerSlam, but I think Money in the Bank ends with Rousey celebrating.
It’s a solid card from top to bottom. I think if it was structured a bit differently with Rollins, Bryan and Reigns facing better opponents then the undercard would be better. However, this show is mostly about the two ladder matches as well as the booking of Jax/Rousey and Styles/Nakamura. I’m optimistic that it will be an entertaining show.
You can watch WWE Money in the Bank on Sunday, June 17th at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on WWE Network. There’s also a one-hour Money in the Bank Kickoff show starting at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT as well. If you miss it live, you can watch it on demand at your own convenience. I’ll be back on Monday for a review of the event.