The John Report: WWE Money in the Bank 2017 Preview

John: Welcome to the TJRWrestling WWE Money in the Bank preview featuring the Smackdown brand. The show takes place this Sunday, June 18 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

I used to complain about how PPVs were so close to eachother since this one is two weeks after Extreme Rules, but with WWE Network being so cheap it really doesn’t bother me. Plus, it gives us more stuff to talk about, so that’s a positive.

As of Friday morning, there were only five matches announced for the show, which is quite low. A sixth match that is set to take place during the Kickoff Show was added on Friday afternoon as well.

Joining me for the preview are Kurt Zamora, Matthew J. Douglas and Mike Holland. Here’s Mike with some thoughts.

Mike: Hey, it’s Money in the Bank time! WWE continues their unending streak of rollercoaster events, this time bucking wrestling tradition in a most overdue way by having both a men’s and women’s ladder match. The men’s match might just be the most loaded MITB match for quite a while, and I fully expect the women’s side to deliver as they attempt to overshadow their male counterparts with their piece of history. (And, rest assured, they have the guns in that match to do it.) MITB 2017 will also feature three title matches, which frankly pale in comparison to the excitement of the two showpieces. This, after all, is the new reality: a big match or two for dinner, surrounded by several appetizers that range from those delicious pigs in blankets to the ever-so-alarming Swedish meatballs in the goo. And, yeah, I’m totally going to eat both and then complain of indigestion. One big upside: Two different briefcase winners mean two chances to invigorate some oddly stale title chases on the blue brand.

(Note: All graphics are from The banner up top is courtesy of our friend Melo Man.)

Hype Bros (Zack Ryder & Mojo Rawley) vs. The Colons (Primo & Epico)

Kurt: I’d like to thank our fearless leader John Canton for letting me talk about the greatness of Zack Ryder at the last minute. ZACK RYDER IS BACK BABY!!! This will be the greatest kickoff match ever. Either The Hype Bros win and prove they still have a title shot coming their way, or they’ve lost their mojo (yeah I went there) and Ryder starts his heel turn. Either way, I’m happy. I say let them get a title shot first though before doing the turn.

Prediction: The Hype Bros

John: This should be a win for the Hype Bros since they are back after Ryder missed six months with a serious knee injury. I think in the next few months they might have Ryder turn heel when they don’t manage to win the Tag Team Titles. Just a guess there. No need to do it yet.

Winners: The Hype Bros

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Naomi vs. Lana

Kurt: The great thing about Smackdown is they don’t let loose ends lie, they tie them up. I’m sure Lana was always the plan for Naomi, but when the Women’s MITB match was announced, Lana immediately went to Twitter and asked for a spot in the match as she wanted to be a part of history. The fans took to it and there it was the next Smackdown episode, Lana was in the ring with all the women and got a GIGANTIC reaction. She doesn’t get a spot in the match after all, which draws a negative reaction, but just moments later she has a title match instead. I love how that played out and just speaks to the much better writing on the Blue Brand.

I wouldn’t have given the title back to Naomi at Mania, and ever since she really has gotten lost in the pack even as champ. So, I would give the belt to the woman who has all the momentum and see where she can go with it. I fully expect Lana to surprise us with her in ring ability as her finisher on this week’s episode may have previewed for us.

Prediction: New Smackdown Women’s Champion, Lana

Mike: Oh boy. Everything that’s great about the women’s ladder match later is exactly what’s horrid about this tepid opener, featuring a champion with good upside that’s seen her momentum stall like a broken glow stick at a rave and a challenger who barely appeared on Smackdown for the last couple of months aside from weird cheesecake promos. (Not that I’m complaining, mind you…cheesecake is delicious.) I’m pulling for things to work out for Naomi. I give her full credit for sticking with a character she believes in and some of the fun elements of her entrance are exactly what isn’t working for Bayley of late.

That said, it’s hard to imagine she’s not a placeholder champion. Lana is going for some odd Eva Marie/Emmalina split personality of WWE failed gimmicks past, and she’s not seasoned enough in the ring to displace the current champ without making her look really bad. Rusev’s involvement is always a possibility, as he’s been cleared to resume active duty, but it’s hard to squeeze him into a one-on-one of this nature.

Putting the title on Lana out of nowhere would be a classic WWE mistake. I’m deathly afraid of it. It makes me matchka.

Winner (and STILL Smackdown Women’s Champion): Naomi

Matthew: I’m not expecting too much from this match, although, logically there is reason for all of the ladies involved in the first ever Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match to want Lana to come out with the title. She’d be the easiest person to cash in on in almost any situation, and that would be an interesting week to week narrative. A weak Champion, fearful that Ms. Money In The Bank is going to make short work of her and take her newly won title away.

That’s really what this match boils down to: in ring content or story content. Naomi is far and away the better in ring performer of the two and with her as Champion, we can continue to have solid matches involving the women of Smackdown for that title. On the other hand with Lana you get more narrative opportunities. A weak Champion living in fear. Rusev returning and helping her to retain her championship/defend against Ms. MITB (just imagine a call back to their early days with Rusev exclaiming “Lana, CRUSH!”). That could be fun and incredibly funny TV. I know where my heart is at, and it’s unfortunate, because I do love me some Naomi.

Winner and New Smackdown Women’s Champion: Lana (because that story needs to be played out on TV)

John: The great thing about Smackdown being the “land of opportunity” (a phrase they say all the time) is that when somebody like Lana gets a Women’s Title match despite not wrestling a singles match on television, people are okay with it. That’s because the story made sense with Lana feeling embarrassed by Naomi laughing at her and then Lana got revenge by tripping Naomi during a tag match. Naomi, the champion, asked for a match, Shane McMahon said no because Lana didn’t deserve it and Naomi said she didn’t care because she wanted. Shane only made the match because Naomi wanted it. See what I mean about how a story makes sense? It’s easy to follow that. On Raw, it’s just not the same especially with their women’s division.

Putting the title on Lana would be an interesting story, but I’m not going to predict. I think Naomi retaining makes more sense while they can use this match to try to convince the fans that Lana is a serious threat to the title. If she looks bad and the match is remembered for being terrible then that doesn’t help either woman. That’s okay because somebody will be looming with the Money in the Bank briefcase as well.

Winner: Naomi

Smackdown Tag Team Titles: The Usos vs. The New Day

Kurt: It’s amazing how a few weeks off and a different coat of paint by switching brands has made The New Day feel fresh again. It also helps that their first program on the new brand is with my vote thus far for Most Improved Wrestler(s) in 2017. The Usos are on fire right now. Much in the vain of The Miz and Bray Wyatt at his peak, they make you listen to them when they speak. I don’t know if they felt limited with their face paint gimmick and this is something they’ve wanted to do for a long time because they are confident in what they’re doing and it comes across.

Both factors for these teams really makes this a tough match to predict. Obviously both teams have a case to win. However, when both teams are as entertaining as these are, I would tend to keep the titles on the champs for now and see if you can stretch this feud out into SummerSlam and have the big title change there.

Prediction: The Usos retain

Mike: It was supposed to feel like a really big deal when The New Day switched rosters. They dictated a lot of ring promo time on Monday nights, and they held the belts longer than anyone in the history of professional wrestling* (*according to Encyclopedia McMahonica, the only reference tome that matters, pal!). Though TND had to weather an unfortunate injury to Kofi Kingston and a mini-Xavier Woods scandal, it feels much more like a Worn-In Day at this point. Same silly promos, same irritating noisemaking, and same desire to simply show up expecting a reaction. Yawn.

The opposite can be said of the reigning Usos, who have clearly reinvigorated their careers by mastering the art of character in a promo. “Twin” brother acts are always a bit treacherous, and things can get all Beverly Brothers real quick if you’re not careful. How many twin teams have you even cared to tell apart? I rest my case. Brothers Uso have dumped their Total-Divas-Fact-Of-The-Week background shell to their betterment, and have made excellent heel champs.

This may not be the time or space, but where else can I say it? Where the hell is American Alpha? Hate to take time away from ice cream discussion.

Winners (and STILL Smackdown Tag Team Champions): The Usos

Matthew: I am really pleased that The New Day is back, as they are a sorely missed source of fun in my week. Their entrance this week was delightful, and their antics, whether or not they are complete hits or misses are appreciated because I get the sense that they’re trying to come up with stuff that’s fun and fresh.

I also really enjoy this match up with The Usos, as the difference in the two tag team’s ideologies and general dispositions are night and day. The Usos have been pretty serious and very aggressive in recent weeks and The New Day are light hearted and fun. This style contrast could lead to something fun.

I wish that the WWE had let The New Day return to help Kofi try to capture the WWE Title for the first time instead of immediately getting a tag team title shot, but I get why they can’t be quite that creative and shake things up.

Winners and New Smackdown Tag Team Champions: New Day (because I don’t choose against New Day)

John: Both teams have a lot of credibility as the best teams in WWE this decade. However, there isn’t much of a story other than New Day being named number one contenders leading to this match. I enjoy the heel Usos promos a lot. I hope they stay heel for years because it’s really freshened up their act. New Day winning the gold doesn’t do much for me because of the lack of quality heel teams on Smackdown. With The Usos as champs, there are more opponents for them to face like New Day, American Alpha, Breezango and maybe even The Hype Bros as well. Give them 20 minutes and it will be one of the better tag matches of the year. If they get less than that then that’s okay too because they’re too good not to do well.

I hope that Breezango are the team that beat The Usos for the titles in a few months. I can see it being New Day because WWE loves their act (I do too), but it would be a nice story to see Breeze and Fandango getting over the hump to win some gold.

Winners: The Usos

Money in the Bank Women’s Ladder Match: Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Tamina

Kurt: I’m equally as nervous about this match as I am excited. First off, kudos to these women. It takes a lot of courage to step up to the plate to be the first to attempt a match of this magnitude with the type of stigma it has behind it. Clearly from their in-ring work since the match was announced (and even the week it was when Charlotte powerbombed Nattie through the table) these ladies are clearly motivated and want to steal the show. However… can they live up to the hype? That’s where my nervousness kicks in.

When I was recently on the TJRWrestling Podcast with John and Rey, we all discussed the very real fear that these women, Charlotte specifically, are going to try something so insane to prove they deserved this opportunity. Jeff Hardy does a Swanton off the ladder, what’s going to stop Charlotte from trying her moonsault off the ladder? Thoughts like that just make me nervous. If I was them, I would limit the bumps with the ladder and make the match more about the climb. I’d hate for someone to catch a ladder to the face and get busted open or anything along those lines. I’m sure they’re going all out and more power to them for it. I just hope everyone comes out safely and they accomplish their goal of stealing the show. I hope the crowd gives them their full support as well. They all deserve it.

As for the winner, I’d like to see Carmella win just because I think her act with Ellsworth is entertaining and it would also be funny to see Ellsworth have to carry the briefcase for her. However, my prediction is going to be Natalya. She has worked so hard to get the women’s division to this point. You know she’s wanted an opportunity like this for the longest time and the fact she’s always been a company woman and has done so much, it would be nice and a good tip of the cap to her career efforts for her to get the win here. Plus, she’s coming into her own as a heel now and I think the briefcase would really help continue that.

Prediction: Natalya

Mike: I really adore everything about this match except for two things, so naturally I’ll lead with those. Firstly, this match took way too long to get done. Secondly, Tamina. That will be the last time I discuss either of those issues in this preview. Now let’s get to the good stuff.

This match is intriguing to me for a couple reasons, the largest being that anyone could conceivably make a case for getting to win the briefcase. The early lines seem to favor Carmella of all people, but it makes sense given WWE’s oddball fascination with getting the comic heel Ellsworth character over. He could factor into a cheat finish to help his girl win, and they could get some decent mileage out of that gag. Then continue to kill it for about six months too long. Possible, but not my pick.

Natalya is a hell of a hand and deserves better. She’s like the women’s division version of Sami Zayn. Always a trendy pick to throw out there and never actually the person who comes down with the prize. Becky Lynch would be a great choice, and she’s gotten short shrift from the start on the blue brand. She brings it big time, and though her plucky interviews have stalled a bit, she had a hell of a roll earlier on with improvement on the microphone.

As for Charlotte, say what you will but she will undoubtedly steal this match with an amazing move or two. You cannot argue that she has made every effort to perform the type of awe-inspiring offense that folks like Jeff Hardy and Seth Rollins get appropriate credit for. She’s had a weird role since the draft, and is not a natural face character at all. One would think that could facilitate a heel turn, and I could see Charlotte very easily screwing somebody over and producing Raw Charlotte 2.0.

In my heart of hearts, I like the sound of that better than treading well-worn turf. It’s probably not going to happen, but I’d do a controversial finish between Charlotte and Becky. Becky comes down with the case, gets her congratulations, and blasts Naomi into next week when she least expects it to steal the gold that’s eluded her as a fan fave. You know you want to see it.

Winner: Becky Lynch

Matthew: My only hope for this match is that they don’t get too ambitious. I have all the faith in the world that they can put on a great match without going to crazy or trying anything too dangerous or complicated. The truth is that nobody in this match has ever been involved in a ladder match before. So as good as most of the ladies are, this is simply uncharted territory that they have to be careful venturing in to.

I expect Natalya to be a great asset in this match, basically directing from the ring and making sure things go as smoothly as they can. Becky will have her moments and I’m expecting her to do her part to keep the energy up throughout the match. Charlotte is very much likely to jump off of a ladder at some point. Tamina might as well.

As far as a winner pick, it’s tough. Four of the five ladies involved could win the title and be great as the first Ms. MITB. I’d say the briefcase is better in the hands of a heel, so super babyface Becky is probably not the one to get it. Carmella could bling the case up, but as far as being a real threat with the case, I’m not sure I can buy that. I really think it comes down to Charlotte vs. Natalya.

Winner and First Ms. Money In The Bank: Charlotte Flair (because they love her and would love for her to be the first Ms. MITB)

John: I think the match was set up well and I like the unpredictability that surrounds this match. It really could go five ways although if I had to pick somebody that is least likely to win then I’d go with Tamina. She’s the oldest women’s wrestler in the company and giving her the win just doesn’t do well for the company’s future.

The other heels in the match are Carmella and Natalya. Some people may say Carmella is a favorite because she pinned Naomi twice in the last couple of months. I think Carmella’s heel act is interesting with James Ellsworth by her side, but she’s the worst in-ring performer in this group. I would avoid putting the briefcase on her. Natalya would be my pick if this was the only MITB match. However, I’m going with a heel in the men’s MITB match, so picking two heels to win seems off especially when I pick a heel in another big match on the show as well.

Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair are both good choices. Lynch was the first Smackdown Women’s Champion last fall. In the last few months she hasn’t had much to do, though. It feels like she’s fallen behind Charlotte and Naomi on the face said, so putting the briefcase on here would be random.

Charlotte Flair is the “chosen one” so to speak among WWE’s women’s wrestlers. They could have built up her face turn a little bit better, but if you listen to the crowd they have bought into her in that role. I think the next step in making her a bigger star as a face is to have her win this match. Listen to WWE’s ladies as they say the phrase “making history” all the time. She’s the one that will continue to do it in this match by becoming the first Miss Money in the Bank.

I’d like to see Natalya become the next SD Women’s Champion by beating Naomi for the title within the next month and then Charlotte can cash in at some point down the road. She could do the noble thing as a face by calling out Natalya at SummerSlam or some other event. There’s nothing wrong with that.

I’m going with Charlotte Flair winning because I think she is the woman they want to build the division around. She won the first Hell in a Cell match and now she she’s going to win the first Money in the Bank match too. When making this prediction, I should note that I have changed my mind on this prediction numerous times in the last few weeks.

Winner: Charlotte Flair

Money in the Bank Men’s Ladder Match: AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Kurt: I went back and looked at every MITB match that WWE has done and for my money, this is the most loaded and talented group of wrestlers in a MITB match ever. The only one that I think you could make an argument for is the original at WM21 (Edge, Jericho, Christian, Benoit, Kane, Benjamin for those that don’t know/remember).

There is so much potential for greatness with these six men. The best part about this match is that there is no clear-cut favorite. Everyone has a case to win and everyone if they were to win, I don’t think anyone would complain.

I eliminate Owens and Nakamura from winning because I don’t think they would give Owens the US Title and the briefcase. That’s a lot for one person. Also, Nakamura was the one to close this week’s Smackdown on top of the ladder and holding the briefcase so that seems like a dead giveaway he’s not winning.

This may be an unpopular comment, but I hope this goes on before the WWE Title match. Only because I think whether Orton or Mahal wins, it gives you a glimpse that if Orton wins, a heel will win MITB. If Mahal wins, a babyface will. I know that you can carry the briefcase for a year and that might be a shortsighted opinion on my part, but I just really like the fact that this match is totally unpredictable and I would like to keep it that way.

My prediction has to go with my second favorite entity going in WWE right now (Hey, Zack Ryder is back baby!!) and that would be one Baron Corbin. I would argue that he needs a big win more than anyone in this match. I think a guy with his size, his attitude and personality, would be really cool to see carry around the briefcase for a while and tease cashing it in.

Prediction: Baron Corbin

Mike: There can’t be any doubt that all eyes will be on this match, can there? It’s absolutely loaded with top-level talent, and everyone in it is both capable of executing some sick ladder offense and has some valid reason why they could actually walk out with the title shot. That’s dramatic, that’s exciting, and that’s good television. Pity there’s not much of it to be found elsewhere on this card.

We’ll dispense with the easy stuff right away: Dolph Ziggler has no shot in his current state to win this match, and has already unfortunately had his time in the sun with this angle. He’s there to prevent someone else from winning and perform the solid offense we’ve all come to appreciate from him. While Kevin Owens is both an ideal choice to win a match like this and someone who would benefit greatly from the “cashing in” angle, he’s an active champion and frankly doesn’t need the rub at this point.

AJ Styles has been the best wrestler in the WWE since he showed up, bar none, and that won’t change if he loses a match like this. He’ll be in it to win it, but he’s got other fish to fry in the near future and therefore also wouldn’t get the shine of a big victory. He’s too good to even need it, and it’s a testament to him.

That leaves fan favorites Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura, and plodding heel Baron Corbin. Zayn is the sentimental choice, but you’ve learned this lesson by now surely. He never wins anything. Ever. He exists to make you feel like your opinion matters, and then promptly dissipates into a cloud of McMahon flop sweat and emoting. Nakamura would be the logical choice, as he’s insanely over just by showing up and dancing, and he featured prominently in this week’s go-home Smackdown ep.

I don’t feel like WWE is ready to commit to Shinsuke enough yet to really get this thing done, because should he win the stage is set for him to carry big gold. Instead, I imagine him moving on to feud with KO over a lesser belt while they pick the “right time” to do what should already be done. Corbin’s booking has been bizarre, but he’s been pushed heavily as a winner in this encounter and heels make better briefcase carriers by far. It won’t be Jinder he cashes it in on, naturally.

Winner: Baron Corbin

Matthew: This may be as good a time as any to shoehorn in here that I’m not a huge fan of the MITB Briefcase as a concept. It’s a narrative cheat, and a crutch that lazy writers all too often rely on as a quick fix or to add instant drama to generally boring narrative proceedings. They also very rarely divert from the standard procedure with who wins the match and the briefcase. The concept may very well have run it’s course or need some fixing.

We are probably all pretty sure that Baron Corbin is going to win, because he’s a heel that’s been eating a lot of pins as of late. This itself is a trope of the MITB match and briefcase. The idea that the person who will win it can lose a lot prior to and afterward because they are all but guaranteed a Championship reign is very silly, narratively speaking, and that’s putting aside the fact that they always do it.

My main issue with the concept is that it’s become paint by numbers. It’s easy to predict because they don’t bother trying to explore other avenues the case might be compelling as a part of. I don’t completely blame them though, because most things have already been done. There isn’t much left to explore with the concept. It’s just a traditional repetitive thing they do. It should be a fun, great match because the people involved are all fun and great performers. I just wish I could excited about what would come after. Here’s a hint, it’ll be the same stuff that they always do with Mr. MITB.

Winner and New Mr. Money In The Bank: Baron Corbin (because duh)

John: My pick, which appears to be popular one, is Baron Corbin. When people asked me six months ago he was my pick and when they announced this match one month ago he was my pick.

The match is going to be outstanding. I have very high expectations because Styles, Zayn, Nakamura, Owens and Ziggler are all outstanding workers. If you used letter grades to rate them as workers I’d say Styles is an A+, the next three are all As and Ziggler is an A-. Corbin isn’t at the level of the other five guys, but he should do well as the biggest guy in the match that hits big moves on guys who great sellers. I feel like we’ll be talking about one of the best matches of the year after it’s over, so good luck to whoever has to follow this match…unless they go on last.

What’s been interesting about this match is that all three faces have won several matches over the heels in the last four weeks. The heels have won no matches. In fact, Owens lost four weeks in a row and was pinned by Shinsuke Nakamura three different times. Sami Zayn has pinned Baron Corbin multiple times, including in the main event of last week’s Smackdown in a six-man tag match. Styles and Ziggler traded wins. If you’re into momentum based off wins then all three faces have it while the heels do not.

Styles would be a great pick to win because he has a lot of credibility as the best wrestler in WWE. Does he really “need” the briefcase? Nope. The same can be said for Owens, who is already the US Champion. Both of them could do well as threats with the briefcase, but I don’t see either one of them winning this. Ziggler’s consistently good and he’s won Money in the Bank before. In this case, though, he’s mostly there to help them have a great match.

Nakamura is a wildcard in the match. He is undefeated on the main roster. He ended the last Smackdown holding the briefcase, which could be seen as a bad sign going into the match. Think about Extreme Rules, though. Samoa Joe won multiple TV matches leading up to that and then won the PPV match. Perhaps they’ll go that same route with Nakamura.

I’d love to see Zayn win because I think they are slowly starting to book him better on Smackdown and maybe winning the briefcase would help him a lot. However, I don’t think WWE views him as a main event talent right now. I think he’s going to be like Ziggler has been in the last seven years as a solid midcarder that might break through once in a while, but Vince McMahon may never get fully behind him.

Corbin is the guy I targeted as Money in the Bank winner for a long time because the idea of the briefcase is to elevate somebody that hasn’t been a main eventer and to help them get to that main event level. He’s a heel that has gone through developmental, had a decent run in NXT and a start/stop push on the main roster. A lot of fans think he wins a lot, but he really doesn’t. I think that was by design. I think WWE knew he was getting the briefcase and figured he didn’t need to be booked strongly in the last few months. It’s not how I would book it, but that’s how WWE operates. They don’t want the average fan to think about Corbin as a threat, so that when he does those fans will act surprised.

I see them going over 25 minutes. I think Nakamura will come very close to winning and Owens will be there with a chair to knock him off the ladder. That would set up a Nakamura/Owens feud for the US Title. The final spot could see Sami Zayn as the guy doing the slow climb. As Zayn gets close, have Baron Corbin climb up on the other side, Zayn gets a hand on the briefcase and Corbin knocks him down with a punch and Corbin ends up winning it. If it’s Styles in the Zayn spot that works too.

I went really in-depth on this match in my preview at The Comeback so check that out if you want more of my thoughts on it.

Winner: Baron Corbin

Is it concerning that all four of us picked the same guy? A little bit, yes. Speaking for the other guys in this preview (except maybe Kurt the Corbin superfan), I doubt anybody would be too upset if we were wrong because of the other talented wrestlers in this match.

WWE Championship: Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton

Kurt: It seems as simple as the hometown guy has to lose, right? I can’t see any good reason there is for Orton to win here. Not only is Mahal gaining more confidence every week, but even on a lower level, Orton doesn’t do many live events. It would be a travesty to have both major titles not be defended at live events. That may be a petty reason to not pick Orton to win, but I think those are things the company should think about.

I think the longer the title stays on Mahal, the more fans will buy him as the top heel and that will continue to help him gain momentum and confidence. Then, when it does come time for him to drop the title, he can stay at a top level and not just automatically be dropped to the bottom again. The only way they can truly make a new star out of this move, and I think they are well on their way, is to keep the belt on Mahal. A short reign will make people not take him seriously and you’ve done nothing to improve Mahal or the brand itself.

I’d like to see a cleaner win for Mahal than he got at Backlash, meaning less Singh Brothers interference, but I’m sure it’ll end up being somewhat similar. The fact that this is in Orton’s hometown helps make this match feel more important that their initial encounter.

Prediction: Jinder Mahal retains

Mike: I hope they don’t close with this match, because that will kill it dead before the bell even rings. You can count me among the early fans of the push of Jinder Mahal and the somewhat rushed decision to put the belt on him. Foreign heels sell in any decade, and his look and promo work were worthy of the rub. I also feel like it is a “semi” true exemplar to the plethora of young talent in the locker room that putting the work in can lead to very positive results. That message is sorely needed.

All of that being said, it’s gotten very old very fast and this feud with Orton has been an absolute dud. Orton can work, no doubt, but he’s lacking the fire in the belly and Mahal’s constant celebrations and interference have become tiresome. Fortunately, this will be the blowoff of this particular duo. I’d bring Rusev down to annihilate Orton, pairing them off, and allowing Mahal to continue to sneak away with the gold until the correct challenger comes along.

There’s very little secret that John Cena is returning anon, and even less of a secret that he’ll be booked into a major angle from the gate. They are already playing up his “free agent” status (wow, these arbitrary wrestling logic rules hurt my brain), and an Independence Day return dovetails nicely into returning the belt to domestic shores at the expense of the game (but limited) Mahal. This match to me is less about what happens Sunday evening as it is about what happens after Sunday. That’s not very good advertising for your supposed main event.

Finally, because it needs to be said: You know the hometown folks never win. Orton’s chances of winning in St. Loo are lower than Chris Christie refusing a cupcake handout.

Winner (and STILL WWE Champion): Jinder Mahal

Matthew: I don’t care. Like even a little bit. This is the dullest championship feud I can remember. I really can’t remember two more bland characters vying for the most cherished and valued prize in the WWE. This experiment is pretty much a failure as I see it, and I really hope they inject some excitement into this main event picture on Smackdown soon.

Winner and Still WWE Champion: Jinder Mahal (because I doubt they course correct here. Plus Randy getting back the title is hardly a course correct)

John: The feud has been slow paced and boring. The only reason the crowd may not completely shit on it is because it’s in Orton’s hometown of St. Louis. Mahal should take advantage of that by cheating as much as possible and coming off as a cheap heel with the Singh Brothers cheating as much as possible.

I’m a big fan of Randy Orton, but this is his second straight boring feud. The Wyatt feud was the worst of the year so far. I hope that something happens later in the year that ignites a fire under Randy so that he can become great again because this feud is just very basic, which is disappointing when the WWE Title is up for grabs. I feel like Orton may be paired up with Baron Corbin (who should have the Money in the Bank briefcase) and they can use Orton to put him over.

I can see them going around 12 minutes with Mahal winning after something controversial like a shove to Randy’s dad Bob Orton Jr. at ringside leading to Orton losing his cool. Even a disqualification ending is possible since they could do this match for a third time. I feel pretty confident in picking Mahal because I believe WWE wants to see what he can do for at least three or four months before they take the title off him. Then again, if ratings continue to drop then management may decide to act sooner than that.

Winner: Jinder Mahal



Match I’m Looking Forward To The Most

Kurt: All of them? I’ll say the Women’s MITB match simply because it’s a first ever and I know they’re going to try to steal the show.

Mike: The women’s ladder match. WWE tends to overdo the hyperbole before the ink is even dry, but this is a really big deal. Congrats.

Matthew: The Money In The Bank Ladder Match is probably going to be the most fun match on the card. That said the Tag Team Title match actually could set up the future of the Tag Division in a big way.

John: The men’s Money in the Bank match should be amazing. It’s as good of a lineup for a MITB match that they’ve ever had. I’m also intrigued by the women’s MITB match. Excited for the ladies.


Match I Care About The Least

Kurt: The Tag Title match but that’s only because I’m being forced to pick something. I have a genuine interest in every match, but this match is the one that is VERY likely to continue moving forward.

Mike: Frighteningly enough, the WWE Title match. They could do Mahal vs. Orton in a “Flaming Punjabi Oscillator” match and I’d take a nap.

Matthew: Jinder and Randy for sure.

John: It’s probably Naomi vs. Lana due to no other options (I won’t pick Kickoff Match). Mahal vs. Orton doesn’t interest me much, but I am intrigued by how they might book it.


Longest Match

Kurt: Men’s MITB match.

Mike: Without question it will be the men’s ladder match. I could see that going upwards of a half hour quite easily.

Matthew: Money In The Bank for the men.

John: The men’s Money in the Bank should be the longest. I think 25 minutes is a safe guess and possibly longer to make it one of the longest MITB matches.


Shortest Match

Kurt: Lana/Naomi.

Mike: I would end Naomi/Lana quickly. Say, about three minutes in? Dos vedanya.

Matthew: Lana vs. Naomi.

John: Since Lana has no experience working a PPV singles match, her match against Naomi should be the shortest. Seven minutes at the most. Five minutes will likely be enough.


Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)

Kurt: It’s at least an 8, probably a 9. Both MITB matches are so intriguing and then the other three matches have my attention as well. I’m sure other matches will be announced, but for an only five match card, they couldn’t have booked it any better.

Mike: This will be a tough show to watch when the ladders aren’t in use. Those two bring it to a 6 for me.

Matthew: A solid 6.

John: I’m at a 7 because when you only have five matches in three hours (unless they add more) that means they are all going to get a lot of time. Longer matches means a better show usually. The undercard could be a bit better, but I think the two Ladder Matches can be great and that’s why people are watching the show.


Final Thoughts

John: I’m optimistic that it will be a good show. I love the Money in the Bank concept and the excitement that exists when somebody has the briefcase in their possession. We all know WWE TV needs more excitement, so hopefully after this show is over we are talking about what happened in a positive light.

I will have a live review of Money in the Bank on Sunday night, so check it out on during the show or after it’s over for all of my thoughts, ratings and analysis.

Kurt – @KTankTMB

Mike – @DharmanRockwell

Matthew – @MJDP_GSE

John – @johnreport

If you want to send an email, send it to me at as well. Thanks for reading.

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