MITB 2018 Spotlight: Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match

I love the Money In The Bank concept. It adds a storytelling element like nothing WWE had before it. It was originally designed to be that final push for superstars to get over the line to main event level. It was a way of elevating people. It was a way of putting guys who had been at the top of the mid-card for years the opportunity to finally break through. And of course, once the gimmick got established, it could be used in other ways.

It was a featured part of Wrestlemania for years, and eventually it evolved to the point of getting it’s own PPV, and having two contracts. Last year WWE took that a step further by having the first ever women’s Money In The Bank ladder match, and then just over a week later, the second. Now we’re here, just over 24 hours away from Money In The Bank with the strongest line up on paper yet.

It has evolved yet again this year, with the number of competitors rising from six to eight, and also with the match becoming dual-branded. Since I started writing about wrestling, I’ve gone through the MITB competitors every year. So let’s get to the 2018 edition, starting with the women’s line up.

 

Sasha Banks

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Sasha Banks has racked up an impressive list of firsts in her time under the WWE umbrella. She was in the first iron woman match, the first women’s hell in a cell match, the first women’s matches to main event both a WWE PPV and NXT TakeOver, and she was the first ever entrant into the women’s Royal Rumble. But being on the Raw brand, she missed out on being in the first women’s Money In The Bank match last year. With the arrivals of Ronda Rousey and Ember Moon on Monday nights, and the face turn and championship reign of Nia Jax, Sasha has been pushed way down the pecking order.

Something is missing from The Boss. A heel turn may help that. But getting back in the title picture may also do the trick. And the MITB contract is an immediate opportunity to put her back in that conversation. With Banks’ track record, she is always going to be in with a chance in these situations, because she has instant credibility whenever you want to throw her into a top position. Banks is likely to be the workhorse of the match, all over the shop and involved in spots with everybody. But I think her role will be to be the nearly-woman that never quite gets there.

Chances of winning: Possible

 

Naomi

Naomi

Look, Naomi is good, but I was surprised that she got the escape spot at the Royal Rumble, and I was surprised that she won the battle royal at Wrestlemania. It’s not that I don’t think she deserves the spots, it’s just that this year there’s been so little follow up that those moments have seemed… forgettable. She seems to be very clearly the fourth face on Tuesday nights, and without the backing of the NXT fans that Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Asuka have, unless something radical happens that’s not going to change.

Because of that, I don’t feel like she’s a threat to win. I could be wrong, because as I said before, she has been put in spots to stand out before. She even won the title at Wrestlemania last year. But as far as this field goes, I have Naomi right near the back of it.

Chances of winning: Unlikely

 

Lana

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Granted I lost track of Raw and SmackDown for a while there, but why? Just… why? Like… why?

Chances of winning: (Surely?) None

 

Natalya

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A year ago Natalya was exactly who this match would have been created for. She was a long tenured superstar who was always seen as being good, but for whatever reason never got her opportunity. But then she finally got her run as SmackDown Women’s Champion last year that was arguably well overdue.

Since moving to Raw in the Wrestlemania aftermath, she became a de facto face by virtue of her history training with Ronda Rousey. And that has meant she has been one of the more prominent characters on the show. More than that, with Rousey being in a title match tomorrow night it has given Natalya a really obvious storyline with the contract. It makes Natalya a red hot pick to scale the ladder, with the only thing stopping her is that it’s not really a necessary prop to go into that story. But it is the best way to protect all parties.

Chances of winning: the favourite.

 

Becky Lynch

Becky Lynch

If last year I might have said that Natalya was the kind of superstar MITB was designed for, Becky Lynch comes the closest this year. It’s already been two years since Lynch was Women’s Champion, back when she was riding the crest of the SmackDown post-draft wave. Her line on this week’s SmackDown about being sick of saying “I was”, and being ready to say “I am” again summed it up perfectly. She has never lost that much popularity, but first Alexa Bliss, then Charlotte, and now Asuka has taken over her mantle.

For me, Lynch is probably the person who could benefit most from a win here. She is the one with the biggest up-side who is most likely to get lost in the shuffle. She would be a reliable champion, able to work with pretty much anyone. At the very worst Lynch is a solid option, but potentially she can be much more than that.

Chances of winning: Possible

 

Alexa Bliss

Alexa Bliss

Bliss is in danger of getting lost in the shuffle on Raw. Having been champion for so long across both brands, I get that she needs to take a step out of the title picture for a while. But she needs to be kept relevant, and at the moment looks like she could become a victim of WWE’s perennial lack of ability to create secondary and tertiary storylines for anything other than it’s main event scene. On a show as long and with as much filler as Raw, that’s really unforgivable.

But at the same time, Bliss has an advantage over everybody else in this match. Her character fits the archetypal cash-in more than anybody else, and that will keep her in with a shout regardless of who else is in the mix. Having a contract in her possession would also keep her in the spotlight without having her directly chase the title. And really, with her gimmick, she should be in no rush at all to get involved when the title scene currently involved Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey.

 

Charlotte

Charlotte

I can echo some of my other sentiments here with Charlotte. She is proven as the leader of the division, she’s a safe bet, her resume means you can throw her in the mix at any time with credibility. But because she was champion as recently as two months ago, there is also a sense that Charlotte doesn’t need this win as much as the others do.

There are some story points that I quite like with a Charlotte win though. I would find a poetry in Charlotte trying to cash in against Carmella, who won the title so recently by cashing in on Charlotte. And obviously there would be the threat of another loss to Charlotte hanging over Asuka should she become champion tomorrow night. That paranoia could lead to some development for the Empress of Tomorrow. All that being said, while there would be some cool off-shoots to a Charlotte win, I’m not really expecting to see it.

Chances of winning: Unlikely

 

Ember Moon

Ember Moon

Ember Moon is the person that I think has the most to gain from this match. She is the most recent addition to the main roster out of these eight women, and while the Eclipse will always be spectacular, it feels like the right stage for Moon to have a show stealing performance. An Eclipse off a ladder anyone?

Because she’s so new, to an extent it seems to early to be talking about Moon as a title contender. That’s why MITB is perfect for her. It would be a sign of faith from WWE that she is a big deal, that she is going to be a star, but an acknowledgement that right now is not her time. 2019 should be Ember Moon’s year in terms of main roster gold,  and carrying the contract around for the forseeable future should safeguard that.

Chances of winning: Dark horse

WWE Battleground 2017 Spotlight: Women’s Fatal-5-Way

Without even noticing, I’ve already passed the one year mark of PPV Spotlights. I started doing them last summer, and I just happened to be going through some of my articles and noticed what match I’d written about for last year’s Battleground – Natalya vs Becky Lynch. I thought it might be apt to revisit that article somewhat for the 2017 edition of my Battleground Spotlight. So here we are with Battleground 2017 tonight, and instead of writing about two women, I’m writing about five.

SmackDown in particular have made a habit of this. In every PPV this year that has featured a women’s match from the blue brand, there at least five female superstars from Tuesday nights on the show – often in multi-women matches. At the Royal Rumble there was a 6-women tag on the pre-show, at Elimination Chamber there were three separate singles matches, at Wrestlemania there was a championship 6-pack challenge, at Backlash there was another 6-women tag match and Money in the Bank was fairly self-explanatory. Continue reading WWE Battleground 2017 Spotlight: Women’s Fatal-5-Way

Random Thoughts

I haven’t posted anything for a while, because in a few ways I haven’t really found WWE TV all that exciting recently. But, having watched Payback and this week’s Raw, there were a few sticking points that came to mind. None of them were really big enough to dedicate entire articles to, so I’ve put them all together here.

 

The Cyclical World Of Rusev

 Rusev and Lana
So I’ve been keeping an eye on the Rusev-Lana split for a while now, and to be honest I find it quite amusing. I’ve said for a long time that the Rusev character just doesn’t interest me because we’ve seen it so many times before, and what do they do? Rehash another storyline from 1998. Again it’s been done several times, but 1998 immediately springs to mind because I’ve been watching old Raws  on the WWE Network, and the exact same thing was done with Marc Mero and Sable. Rusev was mistreating Lana, and sending her to the back to get heat, just like Mero did in 98. It was scarily similar until Raw this week, where Lana appeared to align herself with Dolph Ziggler. But don’t be surprised if it ends up being a ruse, and Lana double crosses Ziggler to reunite with Rusev in a month or two.
Ryback is as popular as ever… for some reason
 Ryback
Ryback has confused me for a while now. In the time since he turned face again, he has never done anything particularly impressive, he has never been hugely heroic. But he keeps getting big pops. They tried to humanise him a while back, which to me didn’t work brilliantly and seemed quite awkward. But the fans love him. Even at shows where he doesn’t get the biggest reaction, there are always “Feed Me More” chants when he goes for the meat hook clothesline. It’s obviously a good thing for everyone involved, I’m just a bit mystified as to where his popularity has come from. Nobody really cared about him as a heel, so the turn shouldn’t have been and wasn’t a big deal. He was treated like a big deal heading into Survivor Series last year, with both Cena and The Authority clamouring for him to join their teams, but again since then he’s been an afterthought. It’s all very strange.
Ambrose v Rollins
 Ambrose Rollins
YES. These two have a habit on putting on great matches, and with good reason – they are two of the best performers in the WWE, they have good chemistry, and their backstory is extensive and personal. I love that they’re going back to these two for the WWE Championship match at Elimination Chamber. It should be a great match with a lot of time, with or without a stipulation.
NXT stars vs Cena
 Owens Cena
I believe it was my last article here that spoke about the cyclical world of wrestling, talking about how Cena debuted in an open challenge, and about how it was an easy avenue for NXT stars to make an impact. Have to say, I called it. Since I wrote that article, we have seen Sami Zayn produce a show stealing performance in Canada, and this week Kevin Owens debuted, attacking Cena and setting up a match for Elimination Chamber. The U.S. Title Open Challenge is quickly becoming my favourite segment of Raw, because I can’t wait to see who turns up next. Who’s next to appear? Finn Bàlor, Tyler Breeze, possibly Baron Corbin. The latter is far and away the most unlikely, but you never know.
The Tag division is becoming the best thing on TV
 Cesaro-Kidd
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say this, but after watching Payback the tag team division is once again right up there with the best thing on TV. There was a while (when you had The Shield, The Rhodes Brothers returning, The Usos and Rowan & Harper) where the tag division was the highlight week in week out, and it’s getting there again. The New Day have become interesting in something that may have been unlikely a few weeks ago, Cesaro & Kidd deliver every time, Sandow and Axel are providing entertainment, The Lucha Dragons are really impressive flying about the ring. And, well, Los Matadores, The Prime Time Players and The Ascension are there. There’s suddenly a depth to the division again, which is always a sign of potential strength.
The future Shield reunion is money
 Shield-Reunion
Arguably the most memorable moment from Payback was the brief Shield reunion. The fact that WWE put those three guys in a position to do it, as well as the crowd’s reaction to it, only serves to confirm reports that came about in the immediate aftermath of the breakup of The Shield. WWE wants to get the three of them together again at some point. They know that it’s money. They know it’s a natural story. And most importantly, they know that the crowd will love it. Maybe it happens soon, maybe it doesn’t. But it is clearly a case of when, not if, and it will be a moment to remember when it does happen.
Bryan injured again
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It’s one of the sad stories of 2015. Daniel Bryan is once again injured, and this time we don’t know if he will ever return. He has barely been back for 6 months, and his surrender of the Intercontinental Championship came a year after he was officially stripped of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Fans clamoured for him to win the Royal Rumble in January, and turned on Roman Reigns when Bryan was eliminated early on. Bryan then went on to win the IC belt at Wrestlemania, but it wasn’t long before he was down and out again. I love Bryan’s work, but unfortunately I have to say he kind of proves the doubters right. There were reports that people behind the scenes thought he was too injury prone, and couldn’t hold up to being the top dog. With the way things have turned out, you have to say WWE made the right decision not to put him right back at the top on his return, much as I hate to say it.
King Barrett
King Barrett
Wade Barrett AKA Bad News Barrett now has another moniker to add to his collection: King Barrett. He’s a good fit for King Of The Ring – he’s a cocky heel who can really play up being king, plus there’s the link to the actual British Monarchy. More to the point though, it’s a sign that there is still a lot of belief in Barrett. Twice before you would have said he was the favourite to win a Money In The Bank briefcase, but he got injured at the worst possible times. I have said for a while that this guy can be a world champion – as have many others – and now, even having lost the Intercontinental Championship, he definitely seems to be on a path back to the top.
Money In The Bank
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Looking ahead a bit, the next non-Network exclusive PPV is Money In The Bank. I have written a lot in previous years about how Money In The Bank is my favourite time of year, and as always I will have an article up rating each competitor’s chances in the match. I read an opinion somewhere that MITB had replaced Survivor Series as the 4th biggest PPV on the calendar, and I think that’s fair. It’s usually one of the best events of the year, and there is now far more excitement over the briefcase than Survivor Series. There will be huge expectations of the winner, as we all know how Seth Rollins turned out. Who’s my pick? Not a clue. I have a few possibilities in mind, but they are all dependent on other things that could change between now and then. If I had to guess at this stage, my very early pick would be Roman Reigns.
I’ll leave it there. One last thing though: The Stone Cold Podcast on the WWE Network on June 1st will be a must see/listen – because the guest is Paul Heyman. I’ve listened to Heyman on a few other podcasts before (including Austin), and the man is the best example of genius I can think of. Even if you don’t subscribe, go out of your way to find this show, it will be worth it 100%.

WWE Extreme Rules 2014 predictions

So here we go again for another year. After Andrew’s league win last year I’m determined to get some revenge this time out. I’m not bitter but just remember that I missed a PPV last year so that’s why he won!!!

Anyway……. To business. After a literally unbelievable Wrestlemania season, we start the road again at Extreme Rules. From my memory of this event, it’s usually a good show with a lot of the rivalries from Mania continuing on and new stories starting out. With that in mind, I’m thinking it could be a great spectacle. We have some good story progressions here with The Shield and Evolution plus Cena and the Wyatt’s. Both these matches should be great if they are given the time and of course the highlight of the night will undoubtedly be LANA!! XD

Anyway, let’s get this show on the road. Here are our predictions. Continue reading WWE Extreme Rules 2014 predictions