In this day and age you can’t just “predict” a PPV anymore, you have to to account for the capricious whims of WWE’s septuagenarian, sleep-deprived egomaniac owner. You can’t just “preview” a PPV…you have to preview how things should go, in a reasonable and sane world, and then add “so of course…” and explain what Vince McMahon will probably do instead.
Consider this your SO OF COURSE preview of WWE GUARANTEED FUTURE CHAMPION JOBS FOR MONTHS BEFORE SUDDENLY WINNING!
Last time on SO OF COURSE WWE held it’s annual April PPV “Extreme Rules.” The May show was highlighted by AJ Styles wowing the world with a stellar performance in a match with uber-protected babyface Roman Reigns. He lost, naturally, but looked good doing it at least. What does this show feature? Take a wild guess.
Now we come to what has become WWE’s biggest “B” PPV of the year: Money in the Bank. The show has been hit (Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins) and miss (Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus) when it comes to actual briefcase-winners, but the overall shows have a pretty solid track record of providing great ladder matches surrounded by what is usually a hot title contest. This year’s edition features six matches, three of which are the big money draws and the other three…are not.
Let’s break it down:
NEW DAY vs VAUDEVILLAINS vs ANDERSON & GALLOWS vs ENZO & CASS
WWE has been in a holding pattern, it seems, since WrestleMania ended. Even though the show (Raw I mean, cause no one watches Smackdown) has been much more consistently good since Mania than it has been in ages, and even though some big changes have been made/announced (Shane becoming a semi-regular character and the upcoming Brand Split for examples), there is this overall feeling that the booking is just playing the stalling game. There are some very clear matchups the company clearly wants to exploit (Sasha vs Charlotte, Shield Triple Threat, New Day vs Enzo/Cass) but they don’t want to waste them on B-shows; they want to save them for SummerSlam. But instead of slow-burning these feuds for months, WWE is just spinning its wheels for three months before racing through the money-feud for thirty days before SummerSlam (after which, they will rematch the money match until Survivor Series). As a result, we end up with month after month of shows featuring matches like this, with four teams going balls to the wall for ten minutes in a match that you will forget all about ten minutes after its over. The money feud is Enzo and Cass vs New Day, but let’s give WWE some credit: #1: No Usos. #2: The Vaudevillains have continued to stay over despite everyone and their brother predicting an Ascension-like sudden death for them.
What should happen here? Nothing controversial. In the end the champs need to retain, whether that’s via a pinfall or a disqualification. There’s no reason for New Day not to walk out as the champs. There’s too much money to be made on a big title-change, and even doing something (stupid) like having the New Day drop the titles and regain them in time to lose them properly at SummerSlam would be a waste of their now-historic reign. Also stupid would be having the New Day drop the titles here to the Vaudevillains or Anderson/Gallows in order to give Enzo and Cass a proper heel team to feud with and defeat. Sometimes the biggest matchup features two babyfaces and you just have to roll with it. This is one of those times.
SO OF COURSE…
RUSEV vs TITUS O’NEIL
Last seen playing playing tickle-fight with Mr. McMahon as Raw was going off the air…the Raw that featured the retirement of the beloved (and money-making) Daniel Bryan, Titus O’Neil returns from suspension and is placed immediately in a midcard title match. Bygones, I guess.
Rusev meanwhile, after a solid year of wandering in the wilderness, has returned to his roots. He was a hot superstar, with great charisma, personality, workrate and it-factor and despite being portrayed as “tha foreign guy” ala Kozlov, Sheik and many others, he managed to rise above the stereotypes to be a great, well-rounded (and entertaining) villain. The peak of his career was his victory over Cena in February of last year. Then he went and lost to Cena like ten times in a row or something. After that he meandered around a feud with Dolph Ziggler and then joined up with the League of Goobers before finally winning back the US title. It doesn’t even matter if they never properly explained how and why he got back with Lana. They’re back and everything is back to normal.
SO OF COURSE…
CHARLOTTE & DANA BROOKE vs BECKY LYNCH & NATALYA
Hey remember when everyone was all excited because it seemed like the
Divas women’s division was finally going to be treated with respect in WWE? Becky, Carlotte and Sasha debuted last year, made a statement and put everyone on notice. Charlotte then won the title, because she had the most distinctive look: Becky is gorgeous but generic-looking (other than her bright hair), and Sasha is gorgeous but generic-looking (other than her bright hair) and diminutive. Charlotte (with her bright hair) is built like a giant among the women, and the fact that she’s the daughter of Ric Flair should have made it obvious from day one that she’d be the first to get “the push.” But she was always the weakest of the three. Becky’s the most versatile in the ring and Sasha is the best character. All Charlotte has is the best look. This is WWE: What did you expect them to care about?
Charlotte has been given her big reign, she’s been the one to retire the old Divas title and carry the first WWE Women’s Title (other than that other WWE Women’s title). She’s gotten storyline progression (going from needing her dad to…needing Dana Brooke) and the signature win (at WrestleMania and then against Natalya…and then Natalya again). And now she’s taking on…Natalya again.
So yeah, the women’s division still sucks but it doesn’t suck the way it used to (with 5 minute nothing-matches ending in rollups and storylines that have no rhyme or reason at all). Now the women’s divison sucks the same way the men’s division sucks: The wrong person is champ, the beloved underdog is used only so he/she can lose to the wrong champ and the one everyone really wants is MIA. That’s progress right? That’s equality, at least.
This isn’t even a title match so the outcome matters very little. At some point Sasha Banks is going to swoop in from the sky like a beautiful Batman and save the day, but until then I guess we’re stuck watching Charlotte beat Natalya down and beat Becky Lynch up.
SO OF COURSE…
MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH
The first of the three top matches for the show is the match with the biggest implications. No one expects Rollins to beat Reigns, but even if he did it wouldn’t last more than a month or two before Reigns regained “his” title. No one should expect AJ Styles to beat John Cena, but if he did you certainly should expect to see the opposite result occur multiple times between now and Thanksgiving. But whoever wins Money in the Bank becomes a theoretically-important character for the next year or so. Other than a couple of rare exceptions (Cena and Sandow) the briefcase holder is basically guaranteed a title win. Winning the ladder match is a sign from Vince McMahon to the fans that the winner is someone to pay attention to for the next several months…while they bury him in multiple meaningless feuds which he loses in order to make his cash-in “unexpected.”
Of the SIX competitors involved in the match there are two probable winners, two possible winners, and two unlikely winners.
UNLIKELY: ALBERTO DEL RIO
WHY HE MIGHT WIN: Because freaking Del Rio is costing them a lot of money and even though he’s a black hole of fan interest and excitement they just keep pushing and pushing him. He’s probably got the worst accolade-to-popularity disparity ever: (40 man) Royal Rumble winner, Money in the Bank winner, WWE champ, World Heavyweight Champ, US champ, WrestleMania title matches (as both champ and challenger), high profile feuds with top talents. He’s been pushed like a super-duper-star but he just can’t get over to save his life. So yeah, I can totally buy Vince letting him win MITB again. And him sucking, again.
WHY HE WONT WIN: Because of all the stuff I just typed, plus the words “…but maybe Vince won’t do that this time…I dunno, he doesn’t always do the wrong thing…”
UNLIKELY: CHRIS JERICHO
WHY HE MIGHT WIN: Because you have to admit, it would be a really cool and fresh dynamic to the MITB concept, to have the winner take the briefcase and then leave (since Jericho is part-time). You’d never know when he was coming back and when he did it might be to cash-in.
WHY HE WONT WIN: Because Vince doesn’t like giving Jericho nice things. He should have won the 2012 Royal Rumble. He should have had been given better than Fandango in 2013. There’s a whole laundry list of things that could be said with regards to his first full-time run between 1999-2005. Again, the idea of a part-time MITB-winner is interesting, but it would require giving Jericho another feather in his cap, and those days seem to be over.
WHY HE MIGHT WIN: Because Cesaro is the most criminally-underused talent on the roster, even now with him getting a modest mid-card push. He would fit the mold of previous MITB winners who were darlings of the hardcore fanbase that no one thought would win and who went on to do great things (CM Punk, Daniel Bryan…Miz). He’s one of those guys who is eventually going to get a main-event run, kill with it, and then cause everyone to say “why didn’t you do this sooner!?”
WHY HE WONT WIN: Because you should never hope for happy things in WWE. Cesaro should already be a main-event talent, and there’s no use predicting it to happen before it happens because it won’t happen until everyone has given up hope of it happening.
POSSIBLE: SAMI ZAYN
WHY HE MIGHT WIN: He’s an even better “Daniel Bryan, MITB winner” than Cesaro. He’s a frequent match-loser, great in the ring, has an unteachable connection with the audience, lots of natural charisma. He’s wonderful…
WHY HE WONT WIN: Because Vince doesn’t like giving the fans nice things. Daniel Bryan won MITB in the era when there were two briefcases. Right now there’s only one and who knows how they will handle that when the brand split kicks in next month. Next year they will probably have a MITB briefcase for both brands and so next year Zayn seems like a shoe-in. This time it just seems like there’s a different plan in mind.
PROBABLE: KEVIN OWENS
WHY HE MIGHT WIN: Because he’s the best heel on the roster but really only works when he has a “prize” to be smuggy about. Seeing Kevin Owens parade around Raw (or Smackdown) with the briefcase would be wonderful, whether the champ is a heel or face. He could really sell the “ultimate opportunity” aspect of it better than anyone since Edge.
WHY HE WONT WIN: He certainly could, but as previously mentioned, it seems like WWE has a different plan in mind for the briefcase this year…
PROBABLE: DEAN AMBROSE
WHY HE MIGHT WIN: Because WWE wants to go with a Shield Triple Threat at SummerSlam (when WrestleMania 33 seems like the better time for it). Dean wins, cashes in either suddenly on a victorious Seth, or in a pre-announced way like RVD did back in 2006. Either way we’d end up with one of the biggest matches WWE has in its arsenal, certainly out of those featuring all full-time performers.
WHY HE WONT WIN: Nah, he’ll win.
SO OF COURSE…
JOHN CENA vs AJ STYLES
Hey remember that time Bray Wyatt was hot as fire and entered a feud with John Cena? Actually forget that. Remember that time Rusev was hot as fire and oh wait I already mentioned that one. Oh what about Kevin Owens? Did you know he beat John Cena in his first match on the main roster? Did you also know he took on Cena two more times in consecutive PPVs and that those outcomes were mildly less-successful for him?
Well looky what we have here!
Prediction: AJ Styles beats Cena, Cena then says “it doesn’t count unless you can beat me again” and then they rematch next month and Cena wins, and then Cena acts all “I beat you, you beat me, I win the feud” and commentary agrees. They re-rematch just for kicks and giggles and Cena wins again and then before you know it, Styles is carrying the Smackdown midcard. Yay.
Parallel Universe prediction:
Bullet Club interferes, Cena fights them off, AJ Styles almost wins, then Cena really wins, then the Club turns on Styles and sides with Balor. Cena moves on after only one month feuding with Styles and enters a Smackdown World Title (name pending) feud with, lets say Kevin Owens. Styles and Balor feud until Survivor Series.
What’s really going to happen:
Bullet Club interferes, Cena fights them off, AJ Styles almost wins, then Cena really wins. Then next month we do it again except that time the interference works and Styles wins. Then at SummerSlam Cena wins clean. No one gets nice things.
SO OF COURSE…
ROMAN REIGNS vs SETH ROLLINS
As already mentioned: There are really two possibilities here as I imagine it:
Either Rollins wins via shenanigans, Ambrose cashes in and we do the triple threat at SummerSlam.
Reigns wins, Rollins loses but continues the feud (which makes no sense, but that’s WWE booking for you), Ambrose announces a cash-in and we do the triple threat at SummerSlam.
In option one, Rollins wins and we get a one-on-one rematch at Battleground next month, and that’s when Ambrose cashes in, setting up SummerSlam thirty days later. There’s lots of potential in that match and having it be the last main-event before brand-specific PPVs come back (in September) would send a big signal that WWE has more than enough full-time talent to carry two brands.
SO OF COURSE…
Oh well, there’s always NXT.
Here’s to Sunday!