Money in the Bank, one of the most exciting WWE PPVs of the year, is almost upon us again. This year, however, there are a couple twists: first of all, it’s exclusive to the Smackdown Live brand–Raw Superstars will not be able to compete for the briefcase. And though they haven’t explicitly said so, it certainly seems as though the winner will only be able to challenge for the WWE Championship, instead of getting their choice of world champion like in the original brand split.
Despite Raw‘s absence, there will be two Money in the Bank ladder matches this year, as for the first time ever there will be one for a contract to compete for the Women’s Championship. That’s right, we’ll be crowning the first ever Miss Money in the Bank this year, out of a field of five: Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Tamina, Becky Lynch and Carmella.
Who’ll be walking away with the coveted briefcase? It’s anybody’s guess, but let’s look at the facts:
Charlotte may be head and shoulders the best on the Smackdown Live roster, or the WWE roster in general for that matter, but in the case of the Money in the Bank ladder match, that works against her. Cash-ins are usually built on the element of surprise, as the impromptu nature of cash-ins allow even weaker competitors to wait until the moment is just right to realize their moment of glory. The Queen doesn’t need a briefcase to make a statement–she makes one every time she’s in the ring, and it’s just a matter of time before she gets another title shot the old fashioned way.
Still though, for every shocking Jack Swagger or Mr. Kennedy briefcase victory, there’s a John Cena or a Randy Orton. It’s entirely possible they give Charlotte another accolade in the first ever Miss Money in the Bank.
Look, there’s no doubting Natalya’s skill as a wrestler, but in her decade with WWE, she has never quite connected with the crowd the way a Hart should. In an era bursting with talent and more waiting for the call-up down in NXT, she also feels more and more like a relic of the past.
It’s not impossible that they’d have her win, as a sort of thank you for her service. First ever Miss Money in the Bank is an accolade they will be talking about for years to come, so they may want to give it to a veteran both as a token of their appreciation and because they know she’ll never publicly embarrass the company. If they want the briefcase to propel a fledgling Superstar to new heights, however, there are far better uses.
See Natalya’s section, but remove the part about being an accomplished wrestler. It seems like Tamina is in this match, and on the roster at all, just because she’s physically imposing and Nia Jax is on Raw. WWE loves their big man archetype, and that extends to big women archetypes as well. Expect the classic “two babyfaces gang up on the big woman to chop her down” spots, but don’t expect her to walk away with the briefcase.
And since I don’t have any other reason or opportunity to point this out, I’ll just say it now: the fact that Tamina’s theme song is literally a person chanting “Ta! Mi! Na!” over and over makes me laugh every time.
Though one of the more talented female members of the roster, and certainly one of the more popular with the crowd, Becky Lynch has seemingly been typecast as the plucky underdog of Smackdown Live as a counterpart to Raw‘s Bayley. Underdogs make great briefcase holders, though–look at Daniel Bryan’s run with the contract in 2011. Don’t be at all surprised to see the Irish Lass Kicker find a way to the top of the ladder to come away with the contract for a feel-good moment and a good story.
The Princess of Staten Island may not be the most talented women in this match between the ropes, but she has a few things going for her that may mean she walks away with the briefcase: A) She’s a heel, and bad guys are the most common alignment to cash in on a prone champion, and B) she has James Ellsworth by her side, which could help create some memorable almost-cash-ins and other shenanigans with the briefcase.
Carmella would also be a surprise to most, and that surprise is an easy way to give heat to a heel who desperately needs it. Though there are safer picks in the match, Carmella is a fresh Superstar who would benefit greatly from the credibility that winning the first women’s Money in the Bank ladder match would provide, and as such, she’s actually my pick to win the match.