With Money in the Bank just a few hours away, wrestling fans continue to anticipate CM Punk vs. John Cena. Yet an afterthought of the show is the very theme of the show itself-the Money in the Bank ladder matches. Sixteen men will compete for a chance to demand a title match whenever they choose. Currently the lineup for the Raw ladder match is Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Alex Riley vs. R-Truth vs. The Miz vs. Evan Bourne vs. Jack Swagger. Over on the Smackdown side, the planned match is Kane vs. Sin Cara vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Wade Barrett vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Justin Gabriel vs. Heath Slater vs. Sheamus. Like the Royal Rumble, the MITB matches are always interesting for whom the participants are. Also to consider when it comes to the competitors is how the match itself will work.
The Raw brand has an interesting mix of guys. You have the high-flyers but none of the big men that Smackdown has. Evan Bourne will be the sizzle of this match. He’s not a lock to win, but would be a fun choice. Kofi Kingston is another guy that will be a stuntman this Sunday. Kofi’s a bit different since he is in a bit of a limbo right now. The win in this match would give him something new to do, but is he the next guy to ascend to the main events? Perhaps someday, but not yet.
Miz has stepped back in recent months as John Cena has taken on R-Truth and CM Punk. Currently tangled in a summer program with Alex Riley, Miz doesn’t look to be ascending to the title picture again in the coming months. Last year when Miz took the briefcase, he was on his way up the card and the MITB win was a perfect fit. A win this year isn’t like that perfect fit. Neither is former MITB winner Jack Swagger. His alliance with Michael Cole helped put him back into prominence, and his feud with Evan Bourne has been good. As for a win this Sunday, he’s probably the most unlikely in this match.
Alberto Del Rio recently laid claim to a title match and will probably be the challenger at SummerSlam. So how should WWE work this? Do they give the number one contender the MITB contract as well? Not a bad idea. This is Del Rios’ year. He won the Royal Rumble, but has failed time and time again. It just hasn’t been in the cards for him yet. However, this is his year. Alberto Del Rio will win the WWE Championship at some point in 2011, even if it is for a short time. Getting his title match, only to fail, and then cash in his title shot later works for Del Rio.
R-Truth had a great month or two and is starting to fade back now. It’s tough to say what the future holds for him, but a MITB briefcase is not something he will get this year.
Who could use the win more out of all the participants? Rey Mysterio and Alex Riley might benefit the most. Mysterio is a guy WWE can use should Punk win. You could actually use Mysterio against any champion to cash in his title shot. The only drawback is that he is a former champion. There is not always a need to give the win to someone who’s already had the gold. Alex Riley has not yet had it though. He’s a fresh face and could conceivably win the title later on this year. It would also feed into his feud with Miz since Miz win this thing last year. Maybe we see a blow-off match at SummerSlam between the two where Riley puts up his briefcase.
On the Smackdown side things are very different. There are the smaller guys, but there are also competitors such as Sheamus and Kane, a couple of big guys that know how to wrestle a ladder match. Kane took won the match and cashed in his title shot last year during a hot run. This year Kane is undergoing another character transformation, though not quite as heated as last summer. A Kane win seems pretty unlikely this year, but his involvement is very important. Kane knows how to work a ladder match. He knows he functions in a certain role.
Sheamus is very much the same. His TLC pay per view match last year with John Morrison is a testament to that. He gets how to work a gimmick match, especially with guys like Sin Cara and Daniel Bryan in the ring. The most logical for a winner here is Sheamus. At the same time, this isn’t a win that he needs. Sheamus will get title shots in the future. Giving an MITB win to a former champion is typically part of a bigger picture as it was with Kane last year, and CM Punk in 2009.
While Sheamus may be the logical choice, don’t count out Wade Barrett. At the beginning of 2010, not a lot of people knew who Barrett was. By the end of the year, he had headlined multiple pay per views. Barrett hasn’t been as prominent on the card in recent months, but he is still very important to the roster. He went back down to the middle of the card and helped bring up Ezekiel Jackson. He now is at point where he either ascends once again or stays where he is at. Either way, fans can’t lose. Barrett’s a good hand on any roster. As for the MITB match, Barrett is a guy who can believably win yet surprise people at the same time. If Orton stays champion, Barrett is one of his impending opponents. Have Barrett cash in his title shot would be a great way to kick off the feud.
Cody Rhodes looks to grab his first briefcase, and as a rising heel, has a shot at winning. Rhodes will make a great challenger to Randy Orton down the line. As early as autumn it’s a good bet Rhodes will be ready to face Orton is a pay per view match. Having guy cash in their match and taking the title is an easy way to kick off a feud, but Rhodes doesn’t seem like a championship guy just yet. Who knows? After all, look at where Dolph Ziggler was this time last year.
It’s a little surprising that they put Gabriel and Slater in the match, but their alliance will serve the match well and add a new dimension. In multi-man matches it always serves to benefit the match if there is a heel alliance. They can play off their past with Barrett, maybe even align with him for part of the match, only to turn on him later.
Sin Cara is really the wild card in this match. Not because of his odds of winning, but because of how he will perform. It can go either way for him. Either he goes out there and catches eyes, or he becomes just another guy in the match.
And then there’ Daniel Bryan. It was thought to be a good choice when Bryan moved over to Smackdown. The blue brand has a perception (sometimes misguided) of being more wrestling oriented than Raw. It’s a big boost to the Smackdown roster to have Bryan over there, but he hasn’t been the Bryan fans saw on Raw. That’s not to say his performances aren’t as good. He is still consistently putting on good performances. He would make a great baby face challenger if the belt gets put on a heel. Bryan and Christian would do some great stuff. Instead of doing a surprise cash-in, Bryan could be utilized as a baby face trying again, again, and again against a champion such as Christian or Sheamus, but unable to get capture the gold. He could then try one last time by cashing in his briefcase at the perfect moment.
Looking past the entire buzz around Cena-Punk, Money in the Bank could be the best pay per view yet this year for WWE. The ladder matches especially the Smackdown bout, could be two of the better MITB matches in a while. The whole situation with CM Punk only serves to make these matches more intriguing as fans will surely be looking for one of the briefcase carriers come the end of the night to collect what is theirs.