Six titles and two briefcases are on the line this Sunday — who ya got?
Money in the Bank started as a spectacle reserved for WrestleMania, but it became such a staple concept in WWE that it eventually got its own pay-per-view event — one that is now considered a “Big Five” show on par with the likes of Royal Rumble and SummerSlam. Indeed, the Money in the Bank ladder match can make or break careers, and many competitors languishing in the mid-card have had their careers surge to the top of the mountain with a fateful win at this very event.
There’s much more to Money in the Bank than just Money in the Bank, too: in addition to two briefcases, six championships will be on the line, including the WWE Championship. The richest prize in sports entertainment has been contested at the Money in the Bank event in some of the most classic matchups of all time, and this Sunday’s main event has all the makings of another instant classic.
Bludgeon Brothers (c) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships (Pre-Show)
Harper and Rowan have put the SmackDown tag team division notice since arriving on the scene with a new look (and some new hardware). It’s up to the Good Brothers to take down the monsters after Gallows and Anderson pulled off an upset victory against the Usos to become the #1 contenders. Will the Bludgeon Brothers’ reign of terror continue, or will the outcome of this match be too sweet?
Brian: The Good Brothers are making waves on Smackdown Live and Abs Anderson is looking, to quote Booker T, “Goot!” Even with a bit of banter over social media, this match will be one of the least publicized. I want to see Gallows and Anderson pick up the belts, but I’m not sure the BB’s are ready to lose them just yet. I think shenanigans in this one lead to a BB win but a continuation of the feud.
Winners: The Bludgeon Brothers
Patrick: Unfortunately, Gallows & Anderson’s gimmick of calling everyone nerds is a bit of projection, as they are some of the biggest jabronis on the tag team roster right now. They deserve more, but they aren’t getting it. They’re just fodder for the Bludgeon Brothers here.
Winners: Bludgeon Brothers
JJ: It’s a shame to see Gallows and Anderson in the spot they’re in, about to be fed to the Bludgeon Brothers. We knew WWE was quite eager to get them on the roster, but since the pair have arrived from NJPW, it’s never felt like WWE had any real idea of how to use them properly. The faction of Gallows, Anderson and either AJ, Finn or both as the leader seems like it would write itself. I’m hopeful that a loss for these two and a loss for AJ at MitB will lead to just that.
Winners: Bludgeon Brothers
Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn
Bobby Lashley’s stalling vertical suplex gave Sami Zayn an unshakable bout of vertigo, causing him to miss the Greatest Royal Rumble event, and injured his hand for good measure. In retaliation, Zayn has put Lashley’s reputation through the ringer, hiring actors to play his beloved sisters and accusing him of stolen valor. Can he continue this charade and get one over on The Dominator once more, or will Bobby Lashley deliver some much deserved justice?
Brian: Can I swap out Lashley and Daniel Bryan? Cass vs Lashley in a 3 minute BS big man match to hide both mens’ flaws and give Sami and Bryan 15 to shine. I hate that this is where Sami is stuck right now.
Winner: Lashley. I’m not happy, but I’m also not stupid.
Patrick: Sami is trying his best to make chicken salad out of chicken shit here, but Gordon Ramsay himself couldn’t make a palatable meal with the ingredients given here. Sami’s been funny, but that’s not helping the feud feel any less haphazard or pointless. This is about as pro wrestling 101 as you can get: Sami’s been antagonizing the beefed up war hero for weeks, and at Money in the Bank, he’ll get his comeuppance.
Winner: Bobby Lashley and his sisters
JJ: You don’t insult a man’s family and you sure as hell don’t insult the United States military! There’s about to be a reckoning and all the mounties in Canada won’t be able to save Sami Zayn from the red, white and blue tomahawk missile that Bobby Lashley is about to drop on him. But seriously, Sami is the only reason this feud has been remotely entertaining. I hope that the front office sees what they have with him. If you can make Bobby Lashley entertaining, you’re something special.
Winner: Lashley and America
Daniel Bryan vs. Big Cass
Since his return, Daniel Bryan has been targeted by Big Cass, who also returned from injury the same day and felt Bryan unjustly got all of his spotlight. Bryan’s been dealing with bullies like Cass all his life, who think that just because he’s small he isn’t worthy of the spot he’s in. Bryan has been racking up wins with a new devastating heel hook maneuver that promises to ground even the tallest foes — is Big Cass its next victim?
Brian: Why? Why, with all the potential for using Daniel Bryan to get actual talented wrestlers over, are we stuck with him and Big Cass? He’s the worst of every other big man they have. I’d rather have Corbin in this match with his old haircut. Unless this is going to stretch until SummerSlam, Bryan goes over with the heel hook.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Patrick: I’m still trying to look at the bright side here and just be happy that Daniel Bryan is wrestling regularly, but this feud stinks. Big Cass stinks. The writing stinks. And I have a feeling the finish of this match is gonna stink, because my 50/50 booking sense is tingling.
Winner: Big Cass
JJ: Big Cass is bad at wrestling. That’s all there is to it. Without Enzo as his mouthpiece he’s a big man that’s awful on the mic and has at best mediocre in-ring skills. This guy doesn’t belong in WWE, let alone on the main roster feuding with one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. I’ll be happy when he’s gone in six months and this is a distant memory.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal
Jinder Mahal, ever starving for the spotlight and a spot at the top of the card, went after the biggest dog in the yard — the Big Dog himself — when he cost Roman Reigns a spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match. This obviously didn’t sit well with Reigns, who feels like he’s been getting screwed by everybody under the sun lately, including WWE management. He looks to take his frustrations out on a confident Modern Day Maharaja this Sunday.
Brian: I don’t care. I like Roman, but I see little value in this feud for him and I just plain don’t enjoy watching Mahal’s matches. I give it six minutes before Singh interferes, Superman Punch, Spear.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Patrick: I like to think Vince McMahon was shown promo packages for Omega vs. Okada from Dominion and thought, “we’ll one-up that with..THE BIG DOG VS. THE MODERN DAY MAHARAJA, DAMMIT!” This match will suck — Roman’s not a bad wrestler by any stretch, but sadly Jinder is, and the crowd has not accepted either in the roles they’ve been thrusted, despite WWE’s relentless efforts.
Winner: Roman Reigns
JJ: I want to like Jinder, I really do. He left WWE, worked his ass off to improve himself and came back to become a world champion. It’s a great story. Unfortunately he’s a snooze fest on the mic, in the ring, and the fans just can’t get behind someone that bores them. Roman on the other hand is a great wrestler, but this whole “I’ll succeed despite the company” schtick isn’t helping him. He’s been the golden boy since he got to the main roster, let’s stop pretending otherwise.
Winner: WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! THE BIG DOG!!!
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Elias for the Intercontinental Championship
Seth Freakin’ Rollins has been on the roll of his career as of late — that is, of course, until he ate a savage guitar shot to the back, sending him careening off the announce table a couple weeks ago on Raw. In retaliation, Rollins curb stomped Elias’s prized possession: a custom guitar supposedly given to him by John Mayer (who is, according to Jonathan Coachman, a hip hop legend). Will Seth be able to burn it down, or will Elias force him to drift away?
Brian: At this point, can we agree that Elias is the biggest success story to come out of the WWE Performance Center? I know we’ve got more on the way and Elias hasn’t quite broken into the big time, but a championship match against one of the top wrestlers in WWE, Seth Rollins? This has been a fun feud, especially with Seth being ridiculously over with the crowd and Elias’ heckling of the crowd being received so well. I don’t see the former Drifter winning here, but look to this to be a dark horse MOTN.
Winner: Seth Freakin’ Rollins
Patrick: I’ve been looking for Elias to climb to the next level for a while now. His schtick is great and always gets a reaction, but at some point you need to evolve beyond the “this town sucks” promos. Seth Rollins is the perfect dance partner to make that happen — hopefully with someone finally getting the better of Elias, he grows as a competitor. It’s not his time for the title yet, but this should be a good one.
Winner: Seth Rollins
JJ: I’m ready to walk with Elias. I admittedly HATED this guy when he started and it wasn’t because of his heel work. Man I was SO wrong about him. He’s utterly fantastic as a promo, owns his character and kills it with every crowd they put in front of him. The look and in-ring work a solid. Seth Rollins is essentially the bar for greatness in this company and Elias has done a killer job showing he can be the heel big stars in this company need. I think it’s time for Elias to take the next step and show the world what he can do with a strap on his shoulder.
Winner: Elias and John Mayer
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Ember Moon vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Lana vs. Naomi vs. Sasha Banks
The first-ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match was shrouded in controversy as James Ellsworth climbed the briefcase for his friend-who’s-a-girl Carmella and dropped it down into the waiting arms of the Princess of Staten Island. This year, Carmella’s atop the division as SmackDown Women’s Champion, and will no doubt be looking on at this match with great interest.
Brian: Logically, just about anyone in this field has a viable shot at the contract and could use the boost. While I’d immediately dismiss Lana, last year Carmella won, so who the hell knows? Going back to my comments from above, I prefer a new champ/redemption story here. I think this match makes a correction from last year and from WrestleMania by seeing Becky Abs herself climbing the ladder and winning the contract to cash in on Carmella.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Patrick: This one’s almost as difficult to predict as the men’s ladder match. My bias toward my favorite Boss says Sasha should win, turn heel and revitalize her floundering career, but the same case could be made for Becky (probably sans heel turn). The briefcase does naturally lend itself better to heels, but weirdly Alexa is the only true heel in this matchup and she doesn’t need to be anywhere near the title scene for a long while. So maybe a return of the Legit Boss is in order.
Winner: Sasha Banks
JJ: This is a tricky one. I could easily see Lana getting knocked down early, hiding somewhere and then sneaking in to grab in the briefcase. If James Ellsworth got it last year, nothing is out of the realm of possibility. But then we’d have another heel with the belt and one with no real wrestling skill. I think it’s time for a likeable face to take the reigns and I can’t think of anyone more genuine and likeable than Becky Lynch. It feels like she’s due for a return to the spotlight and her career could certainly use the boost.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match — Braun Strowman vs. Finn Balor vs. The Miz vs. Rusev vs. Bobby Roode vs. Kevin Owens vs. Samoa Joe vs. a member of the New Day
Every competitor in one of the more stacked Money in the Bank ladder matches in recent memory will be looking to cement their spot in the fast lane to the WWE or Universal Championship, with varying levels of experience — some, such as Rusev and Bobby Roode, will be entering the match for the first time, while Kofi Kingston (if he is chosen by his New Day brethren) has an astonishing six MITB ladder matches under his belt (though, he’s won zero, so what does that really say about his odds?). The Miz is the only member of the match who has previously won a Money in the Bank ladder match, and will be gunning for a repeat this Sunday.
Brian: Only two people in this match actually need the briefcase to earn themselves a title shot: Roode and the member of the New Day (I’m just going to say Kofi). The rest are main or near-main event stars who can get there the old fashioned way. This is one of three things, I believe: 1) a way to get someone his first WWE/Universal Championship reign, 2) a redemption story for a babyface who has been struggling to reach that brass ring, or 3) an excuse for a heel to cheat his way to another reign. I prefer the first, especially when it would be a babyface earning the shot. For my money, Rusev has the strongest shot, popularity-wise, but I’m pulling for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for ya boi, Kofi Kingston to finally win the WWE Championship from Shinsuke Nakamura.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Patrick: This is one of the most difficult matches to predict I’ve come across in a long time. Legitimately any guy in this match could win the briefcase and I’d be happy with the exception of Bobby Roode, and I could even be convinced of him with the right booking. It’s easy to discount Braun, as he is the guy who needs it the least. The Miz has been the MVP of WWE for a couple years now and absolutely deserves his time to shine. His 2010 cash-in is one of the better cash-ins in WWE history, so a repeat could be just as (sigh) awesome. Owens seems like the guy most tailor made for the briefcase, and the potential shenanigans with false cash-ins make me want to see it in a bad way. However, I think by far the most interesting scenario is someone from the New Day walking away with it — the briefcase under Freebird rules would be such a breath of fresh air. So I agree with Brian, sort of — I think it’s going to be Big E in the match rather than Kofi.
Winner: Big E
JJ: This is probably the hardest match to predict the outcome of. The only person I wouldn’t be happy with winning the briefcase is Bobby Rhoode and that’s only if they keep him as a face. I’ve always felt bad for Finn getting injured in the match where he won his first title, so it’d be nice to see him get another run and cash in as the demon. Samoa Joe is one of the most underrated workers in the company and hell wrestling in general, the guy has risen to the top of every promotion he’s ever been in, except WWE. I’d love to see that change. Kevin Owens with the briefcase is months of great entertainment, but I think I’d like to see someone who’s never had a run get the belt. No member of New Day has ever won the title and I could easily see either Big E or Kofi with the belt. It’d also be awesome to see them Freebirding the briefcase. But at the end of the day I think Kofi Kingston deserves the belt, he’d make a great champ and with the New Day at his side it’d be an amazing run.
Winner: Kofi Kingston
Carmella (c) vs. Asuka for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
Carmella shocked the world when she finally cashed in her Money in the Bank briefcase on a fallen Charlotte to dethrone the Queen and become the SmackDown Women’s Champion. The event where she earned her ability to cash in is here again, but this time she’s queen bee. She faces off against a hungry Asuka, one of the most dominant women WWE has ever seen. It’ll take a miracle for Carmella to come out of this one with the title, but she always seems to have an ace up her sleeve.
Brian: There is no reason that Asuka shouldn’t win this match, but I’ve been watching WWE long enough to know that this is the perfect time for some patented Vincent Kennedy McMahon bullshit. Asuka should not be pinned clean. Asuka should only tap when it is impossible for her to continue. Carmella has no place even being in the same ring as Asuka. I imagine this means that Carmella will win clean or something else ridiculous.
Winner: Carmella, God help me
Patrick: To quote Luke Skywalker, “this is not going to go the way you think!” Like Brian said, Asuka is the clearly superior competitor here, but oftentimes in WWE that’s just as strong a case for why someone won’t win. It won’t be pretty, and it definitely won’t be clean, but the finish of this match may be… (i)iconic.
Winner: Carmella with help by the IIconics
JJ: Carmella stands no chance against Asuka in a fair fight. Don’t get me wrong, she’s great at what she does, but she just isn’t in Asuka’s league. So what’s the princess of Staten Island to do? Fight dirty of course. There’s a rumor that’s been making the rounds that Mr. James Ellsworth will be returning at MitB and what better way for him to win his way back into the love of his life’s graces than by helping her secure her title?
Winner: Carmella, with the former mack-daddy of Smackdown, James Ellsworth!
Nia Jax (c) vs. Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women’s Championship
Nia Jax is truly not like most girls: most people wouldn’t hand-pick the Baddest Woman on the Planet as their opponent in a title match, but Jax did just that at the NBC Up-Front event, where Jax and Rousey were both representing WWE. Since then, Jax has made it clear she wants to show the world the future UFC Hall of Famer is out of her element here in WWE.
Brian: This is Ronda’s second match in WWE. She absolutely cannot lose in any way that doesn’t involve shenanigans. It is much more likely that this match leads into a cash-in of the Ms. Money briefcase than a Rousey loss. I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do with a larger, more experienced opponent, despite Nia Jax’s youth in the company.
Patrick: I’ve been extremely bullish on Ronda Rousey, since the start, and she blew me away with her match at WrestleMania. However, for some reason, I just don’t see her walking away with the title just yet. I also don’t have terribly high hopes for this one — it’s Ronda’s first televised singles match, and it’s against an opponent who is still pretty green and known to make mistakes. Natalya has been inserted into this rivalry too often and too featured heavily to not factor into the outcome. So I’ll go with Ronda losing through some kind of Nattie-induced shenanigans.
Winner: Nia Jax
JJ: I hate this entire angle more than I hate Big Cass feuding with Daniel Bryan. Yeah. Ronda Rousey went from an incredible WrestleMania match to one of the most poorly produced feuds I’ve seen in a long time. Nia Jax doesn’t know who her character is supposed to be and apparently neither does the front office. The writing is terrible. The segments are pointless and why? WHY? Why would you pair Ronda with Natty and expect that to help her get over?
Winner: Probably Ronda? I really don’t care as long as this is over with after MitB
AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship (Last Man Standing)
What started as a battle for respect back in January when Shinsuke Nakamura won the Royal Rumble in January devolved into a bitter rivalry, as Nakamura showed his true colors as a sore loser following his WrestleMania loss. Since then, he’s taken the cheap way out again and again, but still hasn’t been able to clinch a championship victory. He gets one more shot against the Phenomenal WWE Champion this Sunday, and anything goes — this one won’t be decided until there’s only one man left standing.
Brian: With the matches being put on halfway around the world between both a North American and a Japanese wrestler considered two of the best in the world, mixed in with the half-dozen or so matches since Wrestlemania that have ended in “controversy,” what is left to hope for in this match? God, that’s depressing. Styles and Nakamura are going to be technically fantastic no matter what they do and no matter what the plan for them is. At this point, however, Nakamura must win the WWE Championship. He will be the first Japanese wrestler since Antonio Inoki had a short, dark reign in 1979 (a reign unrecognized by WWE since it happened on a house show and was back around Bob Backlund’s waist in less than a week) to hold the WWE Championship. Nak has really stepped up his game since turning heel and I hope that we can get a all-out brawl going here that lights up the Chicago crowd. Here’s hoping.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Patrick: I’m looking forward to this one. While their WrestleMania matchup was weirdly disappointing, each match in the series has been more and more promising, and Nakamura’s heel turn has been the best new character direction in 2018 for WWE. AJ’s had the title for a solid seven months now — I think it’s time for the Nakamura era to finally begin.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
JJ: This is the match that I have the highest hopes more and also the match that consequently makes me the most nervous. It still surprises me a bit when I think about how terrible AJ and Nakamura’s Wrestlemania match was. I expected it to be the best match on the card and instead it was the biggest let down of the night. Since WrestleMania their matches and promo work have steadily been improving. I think Nakamura surprised everyone with how good of a heel he can be and after all his low blows and DQs it’s finally time to settle things. At this point AJ has nothing to prove, while Nakamura has everything to prove. He needs to win and he needs to look great while doing it. I can’t think of a single match he’s had since his debut with Sami Zayn that even came close to the quality. I wanna know who you are.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura