MITB Spotlight 2017 Pt2: Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match

The Money in the Bank briefcase has launched the careers of many a WWE superstar over the years into the stratosphere. It bridged the gap between upper mid-carder and main eventer, and led to greats like Edge, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan winning their first World Championships in WWE. Not every briefcase holder has been a success (Jack Swagger, Damien Sandow), and even two little known wrestlers called Randy Orton and John Cena have won Money in the Bank matches, but since they’re little more than footnotes in history we’ll move on quickly from them. Regardless of the blemishes on the record though, holding the MitB briefcase is a sign that WWE higher ups have faith in you to deliver big as and when required. Tonight, we find out who the latest man to write their name in the history books will be.

This will be the same format as the preview of the women’s match I posted earlier, where I look at how to make each individual the star of the match, and then assess their chances of winning and being able to call themselves Mr Money in the Bank for the foreseeable future. Without further adieu…

Dolph Ziggler

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How can he be the star of the match?

I’ve started this time round with I think the most challenging. We expect great athleticism from Dolph, but in terms of the title picture on SmackDown he really is nowhere to be seen. I think the best way to make people sit up and take notice is just to be incredibly vicious with weapons. See if he can break a chair over someone’s back, that sort of thing. It’s going to be tough though, because we already saw him do something similar when he turned heel. He can be the VIP of the match just by being everywhere, taking huge bumps left, right and centre, but I’m not sure that will be enough to elevate him afterwards. He will need to do something really crazy for that to work. I’m not sure his star can rise much purely off of this one match, it really needs to be a concerted effort for Dolph.

Will he actually win?

I said it for my write up of the women’s match – I’m not ruling anyone out completely. If Jinder Mahal can become WWE Champion then anyone can walk out with a briefcase. But I’m leaning towards a solid “no” for Dolph here tonight. I think he’s here as someone who can carry a match with his work rate, not that it should be needed on this occasion, and as a previous winner that will only add to the credibility of the match for the eventual winner. His cash-in in 2013 was one of the greatest ever, but this is not his year to win it for the second time.

 

Sami Zayn

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How can he be the star of the match?

The Underdog from the Undergound can be the star of the match by tapping into that underdog mentality to the extreme. He is the one that needs to get beaten down, but against all odds keep getting back up and gets closer and closer to the briefcase each time. He will undoubtedly tap into his history with Kevin Owens in some brutal spot, and he will have Baron Corbin gunning for him for large chunks too, so just having that target on his back gives him a good starting point. If Sami goes through a ladder on the outside, or takes a giant fall, and ends up crawling with all his might into an empty ring with a ladder set up in the perfect spot, there won’t be a person in the arena who won’t be cheering for him.

Will he actually win?

I don’t think this is his year either. I wouldn’t have guessed it would be Daniel Bryan’s year in 2011 though, and it would be a similar pick. I’m thinking that regardless of who wins the briefcase in this match, the story surrounding the title chase will culminate sometime around Wrestlemania. In Sami’s case, that would be one hell of an underdog story, but I don’t see it happening. He would do well with it, don’t get me wrong, maybe even defending it as essentially an extra title for the blue brand, but if I’m right and the briefcase is gonna be a factor around Mania season it’s difficult to see where Sami fits in right now. I’d love to see it, but I don’t think it’ll happen.

 

Baron Corbin

Baron Corbin Andre

How can he be the star of the match?

Destruction. Violent destruction, pure and simple. If there’s going to be any spot where someone goes through something in this match, it should be at Corbin’s hands. He should throw people off ladders, probably even fighting off Zayn and Styles as slightly smaller guys at the same time, and it should take three or four – if not all five – of his opponents to finally incapacitate him, if he ever is taken out of the match for a final time. The tip of the iceberg would be for him to take out each and every single one of his opponents in devastating fashion, and then calmly climb up the ladder, knowing his work is done, and unhooking the briefcase while a scene of chaotic destruction lies around him as the stands there dominant surveying the mayhem he has caused.

Will he actually win?

He wouldn’t be my pick, but Corbin has a serious shout here. There has been talk going back a few months that Corbin is going to be WWE Champion in the next year, so the Money in the Bank briefcase is a way of keeping that as a possibility without having to pull the trigger on him any time soon. His push had originally been rumoured for SummerSlam, but with WWE deciding not to hinder Jinder anymore, that has presumably been pushed back a bit. That could mean Wrestlemania is Corbin’s time to strap gold around his waist. Ever since the brand split last July, Corbin has been positioned as a upper mid-card guy – he has gone toe-to-toe with the likes of AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and John Cena and impressed since then. I think there is a very real chance that this will be Corbin’s night.

 

Shinsuke Nakamura

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How can he be the star of the match?

This almost feels like a cheat answer, because I’m going to say by having a normal match. There is still an aura around Shinsuke, just an inbuilt notion that he is a top guy even though he’s relatively new to SmackDown, that means I don’t think he has to do anything crazy to stand out here. They could quite easily go down that booking route that he’s the best guy in the match, he can beat any one of the others in a singles match, and it’s only numbers that will delay or stop him from winning. He can be the star by being himself, and on a bigger platform with a louder crowd his natural charisma will shine through all the more. He is probably going to be the most popular guy in the match regardless of what happens, so most of his job is done already. Let him have his entrance last, have the crowd singing along as the match begins, and the scene will be set perfectly for him.

Will he actually win?

Maybe. Shinsuke should absolutely be a world champion within a year, but I’m not convinced Money in the Bank is the route WWE will go down for him. I think there’s just such a strong feeling with me that he doesn’t need it – and it’s not like there’s an obvious storyline set up for him already down the road that necessitates Nak to hold the briefcase, or that would be best suited to Nak winning the briefcase. But we also saw last year how much they pushed how strong AJ Styles’ debut year in WWE was, and they could go down a similar route by having Nak winning the briefcase and then becoming WWE Champion in a matter of months after debuting on the main roster. Though looking further ahead, it might make more sense for Nakamura to actually lose the championship to a surprise cash-in rather than taking advantage himself just because he is so popular.

 

Kevin Owens

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How can he be the star of the match?

By outsmarting everyone. By doing a bit of everything – I’m fully expecting a crazy table or ladder spot with KO and Zayn for some reason, by denying the crowd favourites like Nakamura at every turn, and also by never being too far away from glory himself. But what sets KO apart from most other heels on the roster is his apparent intelligence, and I’m not just talking about his smart mouth. Granted, I’m not exactly sure how this translated to a multi-man ladder match, but I’m sure Owens can think of something. Maybe he pays homage to the triangle ladder match at Wrestlemania 2000 and finds a way of putting a platform on top of a couple of ladders to make it more stable at the top? That could also lead to some pretty exciting moments if someone, like at Wrestlemania 2000, gets thrown off said platform. For years now it has been KO’s creativity that has seen him through matches like these, and I would expect nothing less from him tonight.

Will he actually win?

He was an accomplished Universal Champion who was only forced out of the picture because of Goldberg and Brock Lesnar, so I’d say he’s in with a good shout. He’d be my personal pick to win if it was who I wanted to win, because it fits his character better than anyone else, he is more than capable of delivering at a main event level and it means if he lost the US Title he wouldn’t lose much momentum because he could just turn his sights to a cash-in instead. He certainly has the credibility to win tonight, and become Mr Money in the Bank, but I’m not sure if his current spot on the card helps or hurts his chances tonight. WWE might think someone else needs the boost a bit more and KO can only bring credibility to the mid-card title, thereby helping that. In short, I’m not sure exactly what the chances are of Owens winning, but he’d be a damn good option if they went down that route.

 

AJ Styles

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How can he be the star of the match?

For some reason I see AJ Styles more than Sami Zayn in the role of high flyer for this ladder match. Maybe it’s the 450 splashes he has already pulled off in his time in WWE, but I can easily imagine him doing one onto a ladder tonight. He will be springboard-ing all over the place, and as such he will be the first one you will think of for the highlight reel when all is said and done. Also similarly to Nakamura, he is already so popular he probably doesn’t need to do too much to walk out of tonight as the star of the match. And actually, now that I mention the two together again, maybe all either of them need to do to be the stars of the match is tease AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura. The PPV crowd should be smart enough to know their history and go nuts at the mere thought of seeing it in WWE.

Will he actually win?

I think he definitely can, and if absolutely pushed to make a prediction I’d plump with AJ. He doesn’t need it necessarily, and it’s not like the briefcase is a natural fit for his character in the same way it would have been for The Miz, but it would be a reward of sorts for the work he did building the SmackDown brand after the draft last year, and in general when he was the undoubted MVP of WWE in 2016. Again, the briefcase could be a reminder that he’s at that level, and will be back at that level soon, while he’s off distracted by some other foe like Rusev. And know how I mentioned that tease between AJ and Nakamura? Who wouldn’t love to see AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 34? If that’s going to happen, and the Money in the Bank briefcase is the chosen device to get them there, it’s a better fit for me for AJ to be the one holding the briefcase.

And there you have it. I think this is the most open Money in the Bank Ladder Match in years, possibly ever. I really struggle to make a prediction, with the only name I feel really confident ruling out being Dolph Ziggler. So of course now he’s going to go and win. Which would be great too. Because that’s the other thing about this match – I really don’t mind who wins. On paper, there’s not a bad option. Booked right, any of them are more than capable of being a good world champion after a run with the briefcase. So bring it on! We’re at one of the most exciting and unpredictable events of the year, and we’re going to come out of it with one of the best storytelling devices WWE has. Hopefully it’s time to get excited about WWE again, and tonight is the catalyst for it.

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