Liam Hoofe looks at who could win this year’s Money in the Bank briefcase…
Since its debut in 2005, the Money in the Bank ladder match has gone on to become one of the biggest events on the WWE calendar. It’s topped only perhaps by the Royal Rumble as a way of elevating talent – only two men who have won the briefcase have not gone on to win the world title in their subsequent title matches.
When a superstar is given the case it is a huge indication that the company sees that star as a main event talent and fans will be waiting with eager anticipation to see who is going to be crowned the new ‘Mr Money in the Bank.’
This year’s event which takes place on June 18th will be the first since the draft split and will be a SmackDown-exclusive event. Whether or not that will continue over the coming years or whether it will alternate remains to be seen. Right now though, SmackDown have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to picking a potential winner, as this year’s line up shows. Let’s take a look at each of the six contenders and see what their chances are of becoming Mr Money in the Bank 2017.
Analysing Dolph Ziggler’s position on the current roster is not as easy as it first seems. While many will cry that his best days are behind him, it seems more so that he has settled into a role in the upper mid card which he will only rise above when the time is right.
He is one of the most consistent workers on the roster, but the days of a world title push and peak fan reaction are long behind him. That being said, he is a reliable old hand that the company will no doubt call upon when either a) they need someone to fill a gap in the main event (SummerSlam 2016) or b) when they need to help push someone up the card (Backlash 2017). Effectively he has taken the role that Kane occupied for many years.
Because of this, the company know that they could easily force him into a title feud, as they did last summer. Right now, the SmackDown roster is fairly low on the heel side of things – especially with Kevin Owens currently holding the United States title – and he has just put one of a great match with Shinsuke Nakamura at Backlash.
Giving Ziggler the briefcase would help him fill that void on the roster until Owens is done with the US title. However, it seems highly unlikely the company would give him the briefcase, especially with so many other superstars waiting in the wings for a potential main event push.
Sami Zayn has become WWE’s perpetual loser over the last 12 months. Basically every single feud the former NXT champ has been put in, he has come out on the losing end. Regardless of this, though, he still gets a fairly decent pop wherever he goes and his everyman charm has helped him stay in high regard with the WWE universe, that and the fact he’s incredible in the ring.
Zayn winning the briefcase would be the perfect way to pull the trigger on him and give the audience another Daniel Bryan style underdog to root for. While fans would be overjoyed to see Zayn walk away with the briefcase next month, WWE management don’t see too keen on him breaking through that glass ceiling just yet. Though, his recent PPV victory over Baron Corbin, and subsequent victory on SmackDown could be an indication that they are gearing up for something.
AJ makes this list for obvious reasons. The man can do nothing wrong right now and it is only a matter of time before he finds himself with the WWE title back around his waist once again.
He is currently embroiled in a feud with Kevin Owens, which will probably go on for a fair few months, but adding the Money in the Bank briefcase to that scenario would certainly not be a bad thing.
Kevin Owens’ run with the Universal title was not great. Was that his fault? I don’t think so. The Prize Fighter was booked very weakly through his title run and was often made to feel like a second tier star on his home brand, Raw.
Things have changed for Owens since – for starters, he is now on SmackDown Live, where there is much more room for a talent like Owens to express themselves. Secondly, he has reverted back to his old character, a no-nonsense heel who will crush anyone who gets in his way, as opposed to the comedy act he was on Raw.
The Money in the Bank briefcase could be just what Owens needs to put himself back on top of the perch.
So at the time of writing there is only six entrants into the Money in the Bank ladder match – and historically the bout has had between 6 and 8 entrants – meaning we could still get more added to the bout in the coming weeks.
Rusev’s current storyline is kinda odd – he said that he wanted a title match at Money in the Bank a few weeks ago, but has not been seen on TV since.
If the Bulgarian Brute is added to this match, then you can definitely expect him to be one of the favourites.
From a storyline point of view it really wouldn’t make much sense for him to just be giving a title shot, instead what would work is if Daniel Bryan and Shane told Rusev that, just like everybody else, he has to earn his match with the champ.
If they decide to go down this route then there is a very reasonable chance that the former US champion walks away with the briefcase this year.
Shinsuke Nakamura is destined for great things in the WWE, there’s no doubt about that. The King of Strong Style has won gold wherever he has been and has a reputation for being one of the finest performers on the planet.
The WWE seem pretty intent on pushing Naks to the highest heights as well – the company pretty much based a whole PPV around him a little over a month after he made his debut.
The issue with Nakamura winning here is that carrying around the briefcase doesn’t particularly feel as though it would fit his character, or the arc they will likely want to build for him. He is destined for great things regardless of whether he wins it or not, and the case is normally saved for someone who needs that extra little push. The case is also better off in the hands of a heel, as the constant threat of a sneaky cash-in really helps get the superstar who holds the case over.
At the time of writing, my money would definitely be on Baron Corbin walking around with the briefcase this year.
While the big man has yet to get particularly close to the WWE title scene, it is clear he is being primed for the main event and if rumours from earlier in the year are to be believed, then that is almost definitely going to be the case.
The Lone Wolf has grown from strength to strength on the card since his debut and his recent work with the likes of Dean Ambrose and Sami Zayn has shown us that he can roll with some of the company’s bigger stars.
His character would also fit the opportunist type that is often needed to carry around the briefcase – it isn’t difficult to envision him stalking around the outside of the ring whenever the champion wrestles, waiting for his chance to strike.
The company seem fairly high on Corbin right now, and with a lack of main event heels on the SmackDown roster, elevating the Lone Wolf to that status would seem like the logical decision.
Who do you think will be crowned Mr Money in the Bank 2017? Let us know in the comments below, and let Liam know on Twitter, here- @liamhoofe