Who's Winning Money in the Bank?
Running through the possible outcomes for Saturday's event.
WWE’s Money in the Bank event is this Saturday, and the titular match tends to be one of WWE’s most anticipated events of each year. For new/lapsed/amnesiac readers, Money in the Bank is a briefcase containing a contract for a title shot and it’s contested in a multi-person ladder match where the winner climbs up and grabs it. Winning this briefcase is a big deal: because the contract can be “cashed in” at any time, it’s often done on an opponent who is already knocked out or something, so within WWE’s narrative structure it’s highly likely to result in winning the championship. From a meta sense, winning the briefcase generally signifies a push, or at least increased storyline focus for whoever gets it, so on both levels of wrestling viewing it’s a coveted prize.
Historically, the briefcase is most often given to a heel, as the method of cashing in on a knocked out opponent is an inherently underhanded way to win the title. However, last year WWE mixed it up by having babyfaces Nikki A.S.H. and Big E win, and each got fairly unmemorable title reigns that felt like a “thank you” from management for talents who are popular backstage but not perceived as major stars. At this point, WWE has done just about every narrative trick with the briefcase, so they’ve established that there is a wide range of possibilities here, and speculating is a lot of the fun (especially since these ladder matches have gotten a bit stale for me and I’m no longer thrilled by seeing wrestlers fall off high things through tables).
There’s been a series of qualifiers on TV the last few weeks to set the field, so let’s look at some possibilities WWE may explore here.
Men’s Money in the Bank match: Seth Rollins vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus vs. Omos vs. Sami Zayn vs. Riddle vs. TBD
I’ll just run through each person in the match, starting with who I think is least likely to win and moving up to who feels like the favorite.
Sheamus: The Irishman doesn’t have much narrative momentum, and has mostly been in classic WWE time-killing mode the last few months, putting on fine matches (including what felt like a best-of-3-billion series with The New Day) while trying to get stablemates Butch and Ridge Holland over. While he has a decorated past in WWE, nothing on TV suggests that he’s about to become a huge focus by winning the briefcase.
Omos: I may regret putting the 7’3 giant this low, since he is presented as near unbeatable, but watching the shows it doesn’t feel like the company has any desire to put him near Roman Reigns or the title picture despite his dominance. He’ll be used as a special attraction and someone will probably jump off him for a spot.
TBD: The last entrant will come on Smackdown tonight, but I wanted to write this now. There isn’t anyone left on the roster who would feel like a threat to win anyways, so this is a filler spot unless The Rock, John Cena, or someone like that inexplicably shows up to be in a ladder match (they won’t). Chances are this is Ricochet and he’ll do some crazy aerial stuff in the match while not winning.
Drew McIntyre: McIntyre is going to face Reigns soon at a big event WWE is holding in Europe. This would make him an exceptionally dull Money in the Bank winner, as he is already established as a contender who has a title match. There’s a chance WWE still goes this route, or decides to give him the briefcase simply to add intrigue to his impending story with Reigns, but I doubt it. A powerhouse babyface is not a great fit for winning the contract in general.
Riddle: Everyone’s favorite stoner bro has become a pretty popular babyface thanks to the RKO tag team with Randy Orton, and he recently came up short to Roman Reigns in a title match. With Orton out indefinitely due to back surgery, he’s getting a significant babyface push, making him an obvious possibility to win this if WWE wants to continue the Riddle/Reigns story and maybe do some goofy TV hijinks involving Riddle keeping marijuana in the briefcase etc. I don’t see this as overly likely though and lean towards thinking Riddle’s time in the main event scene is over for the time being.
Sami Zayn: Since his humiliating loss to Johnny Knoxville at WrestleMania, Zayn has ingratiated himself with Roman Reigns and The Bloodline, volunteering to do some of their dirty work and becoming an “honorary uce.” This is played mostly for laughs at the idea of Zayn’s pasty, neurotic self trying to fit in with these Samoan badasses, who mostly shrug him off and don’t reciprocate his feelings, but WWE has a chance to make it into a more serious storyline here. Zayn is the exact kind of weaselly heel who often ends up with this briefcase, and it’s easy to envision TV segments revolving around Zayn acting loyal to the Bloodline while possibly hatching a secret plan to cash in. It could even be used as a slow-burn way to turn Zayn babyface if he is loyal but undervalued by Reigns and finally decides to snap and cash in. This is the option with the most exciting storytelling possibilities and is what I hope happens. It also feels like a genuine possibility given Zayn’s presence on TV and the way it could freshen up the very long-running Bloodline story arc.
Seth Rollins: I haven’t looked at betting odds, but I assume Rollins is the favorite. His character, described as either The Joker or a weird guy on PCP, likes to play mind games and is the exact type of heel who can run around with the briefcase and torment people. Additionally, Rollins just got beaten decisively in three straight high-profile matches by the now-injured Cody Rhodes, so thinking like a booker, giving him the briefcase would be a way to restore some of his credibility and give him renewed story momentum. This is the safe choice for WWE and what I ultimately expect them to do on Saturday.
Women’s Money in the Bank Match: Lacey Evans vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Liv Morgan vs. Raquel Rodriguez vs. Asuka vs. Shotzi vs. Becky Lynch
Again, let’s start at the bottom and move up.
Shotzi: Statistically, Shotzi is probably more likely to die during the match than to win. The daredevil is getting a bit of a push on TV lately, and made her name on the indies doing idiotic spots where she’d jump head first onto a pile of steel chairs etc. She has a chance to get over with the audience if she does some insane crash and burn stunt, but she is nowhere near the title picture right now so I’d be shocked if she won.
Asuka: She’s universally considered one of WWE’s best wrestlers, and is pushed at a high level, yet it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Asuka walks out with the briefcase. She doesn’t need the narrative boost to get into the title picture really and while her character is a trickster of sorts, as a babyface on the same brand as babyface champion Bianca Belair, it doesn’t seem like the right fit this year.
Lacey Evans: Evans returned to TV recently and is getting a push as a military pro-America babyface with an inspirational backstory. Unless they want to do a heel turn with her, it’s not a character that fits much with the briefcase. That said, even though I am politically on the left, I do get a kick out of how this character pisses off a certain type of insufferable liberal who sees everything in very black-or-white terms and can’t fathom why WWE fans would cheer for someone like Lacey even though it’s super obvious, so the part of me that loves chaos wouldn’t mind a Lacey win for the people-watching that would ensue.
Alexa Bliss: Bliss feels directionless since returning to TV recently, and hasn’t felt like a major focus of WWE TV despite her strengths as a character and mic worker. Her heel persona previously won and cashed in MITB; at the moment she’s a more normal babyface, so it doesn’t feel like she’ll win the case. The scenario where she wins likely involves a heel turn to set her up as a Bianca Belair challenger, and that isn’t out of the question.
Swerve winner: Cheating a bit here, but WWE likes to do weird unpredictable shit, and it’s well within their range to have a woman end up being in the match who isn’t advertised, whether it’s from a backstage attack or some sort of in-universe politicking. One year, Brock Lesnar just showed up at the end of the match and took the briefcase without wrestling. I don’t see that on the men’s side this year, but this women’s field could definitely involve a swerve, with the most likely candidates being the recently absent Charlotte Flair or Bayley. Or they could bring back one of Sasha Banks or Naomi, who recently walked out of the company. These aren’t overly likely scenarios, but they’re worth mentioning so I look kind of smart if they happen.
Liv Morgan: Morgan has a lot of crowd support as a scrappy babyface who tries hard. Many fans think she “deserves” a run with the title. Personally, Morgan strikes me as someone who people think they want to be champion, but if she became champion they would lose interest in her quickly, as she simply isn’t at the level of the top women as a performer. She seems more primed for the heartbreak spot where she gets her hands on the briefcase before being pushed off by somebody. Still, the momentum can’t be ignored and she is a choice if WWE wants to go the feel-good route this year.
Raquel Rodriguez: Rodriguez is here as my second choice purely because she is getting a strong push and is getting a future champion presentation. Her character right now does not fit the briefcase at all, as she is non-stop smiles and in pure “happy to be here” mode. However, Raquel was a badass heel for most of her NXT run, and I could picture her winning the case and having it fuel a heel turn that would set her up as a strong opponent for Ronda Rousey. I’m not that enamored with this possibility, but the field is a bit thin this year (if you didn’t notice).
Becky Lynch: Becky has to be the overwhelming favorite here as the biggest star in the match by orders of magnitude who has a high-profile storyline that could fit with the case. Like with Seth, this is a safe choice, in the sense WWE probably feels Becky is up for any kind of character work involving the briefcase and she’s someone who is already established as a top star/champion. With her current downward spiral character arc, Becky getting the big high of winning the briefcase and feeling like she’s on top of the world only to blow the title match she gets is a predictable and logical story path. Alternatively, Becky could hold on to the briefcase and eventually use it on Ronda Rousey to rekindle the feud that is widely speculated to be a big WrestleMania match next year. I expect Becky to win this and (obviously) would be fine with it, though some of the other options may offer a bit more excitement, especially if it involves pushing a less established talent.