The seventh annual WWE Money in the Bank event takes place this Sunday night (June 19) in Las Vegas. It’s headlined by two WrestleMania-level main events, as Roman Reigns defends the WWE Title against former WWE Champion Seth Rollins. Also, the legendary John Cena returns after a lengthy absence to face rising star AJ Styles for the first time ever.
Those two big matches are huge just because of the names involved, but also because of the lengthy absences of both Rollins and Cena. Rollins hasn’t had a televised match since he tore his right ACL/MCL/meniscus last November. But he has wrestled at live events in the last few weeks and reports are he looks as good as ever.
Cena hasn’t had a televised match since he underwent shoulder surgery in early January. In typical Cena fashion, he returned quicker than doctors expected. Unlike Rollins, Cena has yet to return to working live event matches. Is he going to be in the best shape of his career on Sunday? It’s possible. At this point, we shouldn’t doubt Cena because he’s shown he can come back very strong from injuries and perform at a high level.
In addition to those two singles matches, the third biggest match on the show is also very important as Dean Ambrose, Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Sami Zayn and Alberto Del Rio take part in the annual Money in the Bank ladder match.
Let’s take a closer look at those three huge matches and then wrap it up with the rest of the card later. Please note that all images come from WWE.com.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
This was a match that was supposed to headline Survivor Series last year with rumors out there that Reigns was going to take the title from Rollins. That didn’t happen because of the Rollins injury, so here we are with the roles reversed. Will Rollins leave with the gold? I doubt it.
Rollins is a great performer who is arguably the best all-around talent in WWE. I just think WWE really wants to legitimize Reigns with a lengthy title reign that lasts until at least SummerSlam or longer than that. Taking the title off Reigns at this point would do more harm than good, so it would be a surprise if they did it.
The one thing that may cause WWE to think about putting the title on Rollins is that ratings are down, attendance isn’t very strong and apparently Roman’s merchandise sales are just average too. If all of these business indicators are telling them that Roman isn’t a huge money maker for WWE, perhaps it is time to take the title off him. Then again, Vince McMahon can be stubborn and really wants Roman as the next Cena, so it may be hard to convince him to change things up.
My prediction is that Reigns retains the title, possibly in clean fashion. However, it wouldn’t shock me if this match saw the return of Triple H, who has been off WWE TV (the main roster anyway) since WrestleMania. They could do something where Hunter costs Rollins the match as a way to turn Rollins face and sets up a Triple H vs. Rollins match at SummerSlam. Why would he go after Rollins? Because Rollins was the one he picked to be the guy and then he got hurt. It wouldn’t be about helping Roman. It’s more about Hunter being mad at Seth. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but I just think it would be a good spot to bring back Triple H.
It should be an outstanding match as most of Rollins’ matches are and Reigns has certainly shown he’s capable of great matches on PPV this year. In the end, the champ will leave with his title. The Pick: Roman Reigns
AJ Styles vs. John Cena
It’s been billed as a dream match 15 years in the making, which is a smart way of promoting the match. Even though WWE won’t mention that AJ Styles was “the man” in TNA Wrestling for 12 years, a lot of fans know it and Cena’s done a good job of putting him over as a threat.
While Styles has been very impressive in his first five months in WWE, it’s been disappointing to see that he lost at WrestleMania to Chris Jericho and then in back-to-back PPV main events at Payback and Extreme Rules to Roman Reigns. You can talk about how great a guy is all the time, but if he’s new to the company and lost three straight major PPV matches, that’s not a good way to build a guy up.
Considering that recent PPV history of Styles, what makes the most sense to me is a win for Styles. They really need quality heels in WWE right now. He fits that label as well as anybody they have. It doesn’t have to be clean. If it’s cheap, that would actually be a welcome sight because it keeps the story going while also showing that Styles is a devious heel.
The problem with picking a Styles win is his opponent. It’s John Cena. He really doesn’t lose that often, especially clean. Last year, he lost clean to both Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio – and both times, it was a shock. Maybe WWE feels like the 39-year-old Cena should be losing a bit more because he is getting older, but it’s hard to imagine the company booking him to lose that often.
Styles should win because he’s going to be a top heel on Raw or Smackdown, depending on what show he is on come July 19 when the brand extension begins. Cena may be on the same show, which would allow them to continue to feud. I’d even put one of the two World Titles (assuming there are two) on Styles because it would help establish him as a top guy.
I think the match will be awesome and I’m really looking forward to the Vegas crowd getting into a lot. Whether you like him or hate him, Cena typically has some of the best reactions in WWE, in terms of crowd noise.
Going into the match, it states that Styles’ friends Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson are not allowed at ringside. Just because it says that doesn’t mean it’ll happen. Heels tend to cheat. That’s why they are the bad guys. Styles winning makes the most sense. Clean? Probably not, but the end result is what matters. The Pick: AJ Styles
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn vs. Alberto Del Rio
This is one of my favorite matches of the year because of the possibilities that exist in terms of who might win the match. This year’s field has been built up well because it’s a mix of six upper midcarders, including two former World Champions, and four guys that definitely have World Champion potential. Let’s break it down in terms of least likely winner to most likely.
Alberto Del Rio – WWE wants you to think Del Rio is back at a World Title level. Is he really? No. He adds credibility and name value to the match since he’s the only one involved that has won Money the Bank while also cashing in successfully. It would be a shock if he won, though.
Chris Jericho – Give WWE credit for telling the story of Jericho coming up with the briefcase idea in the first place 11 years ago (that is true) and how he’s done almost everything in WWE except win this match. Some people might think he’ll win because of that reason. At 45 years old, Jericho’s at a point where he’s there to put over the younger talent rather than win the big matches.
Sami Zayn – Even though he’s one of my favorite performers in WWE, Zayn still needs to be built up more in order for fans to believe in him as a top guy. His in-ring performances are great, but being the underdog isn’t enough. A character needs more than that. Then again, maybe WWE thinks that if he wins this, it’ll get him over the hump. I just think it’s more likely that he wins the Intercontinental Title from The Miz in a couple of months, rather than win this briefcase.
Cesaro – Now we get to the point where three guys stand out as having the best chance. It would do wonders for Cesaro’s career to give him the briefcase. He’s been in WWE for four years. Two years ago, he became really popular and they seem to have figured out a character for him with his James Bond/Jason Statham-like attire. In the ring, he’s as good as anybody in the company. Winning Money in the Bank is definitely possible for him, but he is only my third choice.
Dean Ambrose – Ambrose is the only member of The Shield trio that hasn’t been a World Champion. On Raw, he teased the idea of winning the briefcase and then cashing it in on either Reigns or Rollins so that he can leave with the title. Another possibility which a lot of fans are thinking about is that Ambrose could hold the briefcase all the way until WrestleMania, have Reigns or Rollins win the Royal Rumble (while the other is the champion) and then they can do the Shield triple threat match there.
The thing with Ambrose is he’s already main-evented many PPVs, came close to winning the title before and would probably be better off winning the title in a legit match rather than a cash-in.
Kevin Owens – Owens is the best pick to win, my favorite guy in the match and the one that I believe will win. He’s on the brink of greatness as a loudmouth heel who talks a lot of smack, and usually backs it up with his performance in the ring. Sure, he may not be a muscular guy that looks like a typical wrestler. But in terms of talent, he’s one of the best all-around performers in the company. Reward him for his great work. Elevate him to that next level. He deserves it as much as anybody.
In all my years of writing about wrestling on the internet (that’s going back 15 years), I’ve always believed in the theory about guys looking strong on TV and losing on PPV, while people that lose or get beat up on TV tend to win on PPVs. This week’s Smackdown main event with these six guys ended with Owens taking the pin from Ambrose. Ambrose also beat Jericho on Raw. Ambrose is the one that is going in with all the momentum because WWE wants you to think it will be him. I’ll go against that based on what they usually do. The Pick: Kevin Owens
Could WWE do something where they announce a seventh man in the match because that was originally the plan for it? Yeah, they could. Bray Wyatt is due back any time from a calf injury, so they could have him in the match and have him win. Randy Orton is another possibility. Maybe even Neville. I’m not going to predict any of those things officially, but it’s worth mentioning.
That prediction was difficult. It’s far from a sure thing, which is how I like it. I’m intrigued by what WWE will book for this match. I don’t think the winner will cash in on Sunday night, but if they did it wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Predictions For the Rest of WWE Money in the Bank
There are eight advertised matches for Money in the Bank, including the three already discussed. Here’s a look at the five other matches set to take place on Sunday.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin (Kickoff Match)
This is the feud that apparently will never end. It’s their third straight Kickoff Match too. Corbin’s the rising star that WWE hopes can become a main event player, so it makes sense for him to win. Having a feud run this long without a story has hurt both guys. The Pick: Baron Corbin
Sheamus vs. Apollo Crews (Kickoff Match)
It’s another example of a veteran guy (Sheamus) feuding with a new guy (Crews) to try to elevate him. It can go either way because Sheamus is a credible heel that needs wins at this point in his career. I’m going with Crews winning with some sort of counter move that leads to Sheamus kicking out right after the fall or attacking post-match. It’s not the end of this rivalry. The Pick: Apollo Crews
United States Title: Rusev vs. Titus O’Neil
They have built this up by having O’Neil stand up to the heel bully Rusev, who has shown a propensity for beating people up after he defeats them in a match. I just don’t think O’Neil has enough momentum. He hasn’t been wrestling on TV much at all in the last month. Will the crowd care? Probably not. Rusev should retain easily. The Pick: Rusev
Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Natalya & Becky Lynch
Any time a champion is in a tag match (like Women’s Champion Charlotte in this match), that usually means their team is losing. It could lead to Natalya or Becky getting another title shot or perhaps there’s some heel attack post-match, Paige makes the save and Paige ends up being the next title feud for Charlotte. Paige pinned Charlotte clean on Raw, so it would make sense. I’d rather see Sasha Banks get back into the mix more than anybody else here. The Pick: Natalya & Becky Lynch
Fatal 4 Way for the Tag Team Titles: The New Day vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. The Vaudevillains vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
For this match, two guys are in the ring, everybody else is on the apron, and it’s the first pinfall or submission gets the win.
Is it time for a title change? I’m a huge fan of The New Day and think they have done an excellent job as Tag Team Champions for the past 10 months, but I think Gallows & Anderson should win some gold to help legitimize them as a top team. By doing it in this match, they can have Gallows & Anderson get the pin on one of the four non-New Day guys and then that can lead to New Day getting title rematches against the new heel champions. It’s possible that New Day retains. I just feel like it’s the right time to change things up. The Pick: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Money in the Bank should be an excellent wrestling show. It’s probably going to be the best WWE PPV so far this year, just because of how great the top three matches are. Everything else on the show is pretty average, but if those three matches get a lot of time, they are going to be special.
Unfortunately for WWE, Money in the Bank will go head-to-head with Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Since most of the NBA Finals games have been getting around 20 million viewers, it’s going to hurt WWE’s audience. The good thing is that if you have WWE Network, then you can watch Money in the Bank on demand at any time you want (that’s my plan), but it’s still bad for WWE hoping for a big live audience on Sunday night.
You can watch WWE Money in the Bank live on WWE Network this Sunday, June 19 starting at 7 p.m. ET with the Kickoff Show and 8 p.m. ET with the three-hour live event. I’ll be back on Monday with a review of the show.