By Matt Straub and Brad Carroll
I miss the King of the Ring. The old June Pay-Per-View had a chance to be a great, permanent fixture on the WWE schedule, but the company routinely wrecked it with bad booking. It gave us Steve Austin, but didn’t ever become what it should have over the years.
The eventual replacement, the Money in the Bank show, is an interesting one. The match itself is great, but I liked it better when it was a part of a show and not its own event.
Complaints about the old days aside, this month’s show from WWE should actually be a good one. We’ve moved past the lesser shows which tend to be repeats of the past month and into a bigger card, starting a good run through the summer which will culminate in Brooklyn for SummerSlam.
The Money in the Bank show features a number of matches that could go either way, a couple where there is more than one good character to root for, and a couple which have been built up really well. Of course, it wouldn’t be a WWE show without some inexplicably bad pairings and awful storytelling, and we’ll get to those as well. All things considered, this has a chance to be at least an above average show and possibly a great one, so let’s break down what to expect.
Apollo Crews vs. Sheamus (Kickoff Match)
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: This is the crossing of paths of two guys going in different directions. Or at least one plummeting past another standing still. Sheamus is a former world champion. He’s won the Money in the Bank briefcase. In fact, he did so at this show exactly one year ago. Now he’s in the kickoff match helping develop one of the members of the “new era”. Crews is Bobby Lashley with more athleticism, but they haven’t given him much personality yet. There’s something to work with, however. Sheamus might be done. At the very least, he needs another repackage. The Mohawk/nose ring thing just didn’t work, other than to give us “you look stupid” chants. Crews has to win this one, as it makes no sense to put the veteran over here.
Brad's Breakdown and Prediction: The WWE has tried its best to make Sheamus a star, but for some reason, the fans have simply rejected him in that role. I don't even know why, as Sheamus is actually a solid wrestler with some impressive offense that should impress everyone. But it doesn't and now Sheamus is wrestling a guy from NXT that doesn't appear to have anything special about him, except his impressive build. I don't see either winning this match cleanly, although I don't think the WWE cares anymore about who wins or who loses matches, which changes my overall thought process. If the WWE doesn't care about results, Crews will win so they can start his push up the card. If Sheamus loses, he can recover easily, as he won't lose or gain any ground from winning or losing this match. It's a sad state of affairs nowadays from the past when results did matter. Just watch any episode of Raw where one guy will beat another guy in less than two minutes. What's the point? Or two guys will wrestle several times, trading wins each time. What's the point? You never used to see Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, Undertaker getting pinned on every other WWE show did you? But it's a new world. Crews wins, Sheamus flips out and destroys him after the match.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin (Kickoff Match)
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: Holy cow, this feud is still going on? Any boost Corbin could get from beating Ziggler is lost if it takes him months to do it. And Ziggler? What does it say about him if he can’t put away the new guy? Even the WWE’s writeup of this match includes things like “where could these two superstars go from here?” and that they’ll face “yet again.” WWE sounds sick of this feud, and the rest of the fans are too. That is, any fans who realized it was still going on. Again, it makes no sense for the veteran to win, but I think Ziggler does.
Brad's Breakdown and Prediction: I don't know who the WWE hates more ... Dolph Ziggler, for pushing him so far down the card he's feuding with a nobody from NXT ... or Baron Corbin, for taking him from NXT and burying him in a feud that nobody cares about and is regulated to a kickoff match, yet again, that nobody will watch. Ziggler's upper card career is over, as he will be in this spot for the rest of his time with the WWE. If this was the Monday Night Wars, he'd be a perfect candidate to jump ship and get a career jolt. But those days are long gone. I'm not sold on Corbin as a future star in the company, but the WWE can at least build him into something, so he wins.
WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte & Dana Brooke
vs. Natalya & Becky Lynch
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: Speaking of feuds going on way too long, Natty is still around feuding with Charlotte. At least it’s been expanded to bring in some of the new talent, but it’s time to start one of the big feuds we’ve heard about with Becky or Sasha against the champ. They missed a big chance with Charlotte. She was playing her role as Ric’s evil daughter perfectly, and then they had them separate. Instead of using that as a chance to change Charlotte, however, they just gave her a new henchwoman to help her cheat. Now she’s on the same path, but with a much less interesting helper. I know Ric was a shadow of his real self, but Dana just doesn’t do anything for me. Still, the heels can’t lose this match, unless they’re going to extend this feud. Please tell me they’re not going to extend this feud.
Brad's Breakdown and Prediction: If Matt can get over his man-love of Ric Flair for a moment, he could see exactly why Charlotte and the WWE had to get rid of the old man who's lost more championships than any other. With Flair in the picture with Charlotte, he was the face of the duo. Not the women's champion. I've said it for several of these breakdowns in the past, for Charlotte to truly become a great champion and leader of the women's division, she needed to get rid of Flair. She did and now she has the opportunity to sink or swim on her own. No longer is she Ric Flair's shadow, she's actually creating the shadow now. Having Dana Brooke there gives Charlotte legitimacy as a leader; it doesn't matter who the "second" is. Before, Charlotte was a follower. Your champion should always be a leader. This match is just a waste of time, though, as any random tag team throw-together is. Nobody cares who wins, and it doesn't matter who wins. Becky Lynch has a ton of talent and should be a women's main eventer, but the WWE knows she's the No. 2 right now, behind Sasha Banks, who will make an appearance during this match. Natalya is just a waste of space and shouldn't be anywhere near a match like this. She's had her extra 15(+) minutes of fame in the ring, so she can go back to the Divas show and try to become a star there. Charlotte and Brooke will win the match and then during an after-match beatdown of Natalya and Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks will come down, fight off both Charlotte and Brooke and set up a world title match for SummerSlam, where Banks is sure to win the belt.
U.S. Champion Rusev vs. Titus O'Neil
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: Titus is back from a silly suspension brought on by his even sillier action. His reward is a mid-card push with Rusev, who might be in his perfect role as a second level champion who dominates. Since his return he’s looked great, and the small tweak he’s made to his finisher makes it look more impressive. O’Neil just never caught on as a singles wrestler, and here he’s being fed to a big name. I can easily see Rusev back in the title picture someday, but for now he’s going to go on another long run as U.S. champion.
Brad's Breakdown and Prediction: Since Matt likes to bury the lede, the thought is Titus O'Neil was suspended for grabbing Vince McMahon's arm on stage at the end of Daniel Bryan's farewell episode after Raw went off the air on USA Network, but continued on WWE Network. Apparently, Vince wasn't too pleased with getting grabbed and suspended ONeil for 90 days. Maybe silly, but it's probably more the case of someone not knowing their place in the company food chain. If Triple H did that, or John Cena, nothing would have been done. But O'Neil isn't even a mid-carder, so he was punished. O'Neil is back and has been given a ton of TV time, maybe because Vince showed a heart and felt bad about the suspension. Of course, Vince doesn't have a heart, so he's just putting him here to get his butt whipped to further the punishment even more. O'Neil has the worst theme song I can remember, as when his music hits, it's more of a lazy Sunday drive through the country type spark, rather than an expected butt-kicking rally that is supposed to occur. The feud with Rusev makes no sense, and will simply serve as a way to get Rusev a victory and be built into a dominate US champion again. Until, of course, John Cena wants the belt, then Rusev will lose in three seconds and Cena will take over again and continue to bury everyone in sight. While everyone else is shaking their heads at their computer, Matt is home screaming, "You can't see me!"
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillains (Fatal 4-Way Match)
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: This is probably the most controversial match on the card because there’s so much to either love or hate all going on at once. They finally gave us a verbal fight between Enzo and Cass and the New Day last week on Raw, but there hasn’t been nearly enough of it in the buildup to this match, and what we got was mostly shots at Steph Curry’s shoes. They were interrupted by the Vaudevillains, who are just awful on the mic and have the worst gimmick in years. Of course, they also have a big number of fans, showing the love/hate nature of the teams involved in this one. Enzo and Cass can be funny, but their bits go on way too long and Enzo continues to just try way, way, way too hard. The frantic strutting is just weird. The one team most people agree on is the New Day, which makes me feel weird because I really think they’re losing here, even though they’re the one team in this match everyone seems to like. If they have to lose, I’d like to see Enzo and Cass win, just so they can argue with the New Day some more. So that’s what I’ll pick. And yes I know the Club is in this match, but we’ll get to them in a minute.
Brad's Breakdown and Prediction: I don't think Matt could hate anyone as much as he hates Enzo. Matt just can't stand the little guy. I actually agree with one point about Matt's commentary above, the Enzo and Cass stuff goes on way too long. Both need to edit their work and get to the point quicker, or the act is going to get stale and old real quick. If that happens, they are both done. Matt also has a true hate for the Vaudevillains, which makes me like them even more. For the match, I think it's too early for Enzo and Cass or the Vaudevillains to win the belts, so they won't get the win Sunday night. That leaves the New Day and The Club, which can go either way, depending on where the WWE wants the tag team division to go into SummerSlam. If they want to change the title picture completely, then New Day will win and take on Enzo and Cass at SummerSlam after a long build-up, with the challengers likely winning the belts. If the WWE wants to stay the course, either New Day or The Club will win this match and then have another go at SummerSlam, ultimately with New Day emerging with the belts. The latter is how this thing is going to go, though, so The Club wins the tag team titles here, and the New Day gets their rematch at SummerSlam. Enzo and Cass and the Vaudevillains have a long way to go in their careers, so they just bide their time for now. This has the potential to steal the show, which will be difficult with the Ladder Match also on the card following it.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match contract
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: It’s a MITB match, there’s no way it fails to deliver. I’ve enjoyed some of the promos leading up to this match, with the entire group making fun of Chris Jericho for never winning a match he invented. Kevin Owens is making a star of Sammy Zayn and making Alberto Del Rio and Cesaro more tolerable. He’s going to be around a long, long time. Del Rio is in the shape of his life, but seems destined to become a player on WWE Divas with Paige while younger guys move up the ranks. This one comes down to Owens and Jericho at the end, and maybe a feud between the two after. I could see Dean Ambrose winning just so they can put him into the title picture and make a Shield reunion of sorts, but I don’t think it happens. Instead, it will be a while before whoever wins gets to cash in, as the guys in the main title picture will be there for a while. Owens wins, then waits his turn, perhaps in the fall.
Brad's Breakdown and Prediction: This match isn't just about who will win, but who will become the company's world champion in the following months (or weeks or hours). That makes this a huge moment for all six wrestlers in the match and what the company sees in each of them going forward. It doesn't mean the winner of this match will become the face of the company, as the Sheamus experiment last year didn't work, although it easily could have if the WWE did things correctly. But they were Roman Reigns or bust, which meant Sheamus became a Money in the Bank briefcase holder they had to eliminate. Still, Sheamus did win the title. So, it's easy to eliminate a few of the guys right away, as they aren't ready, or aren't being groomed as a world champion within the next year. Sammy Zayn won't win. Cesaro won't win. Alberto Del Rio won't win. Chris Jericho shouldn't win, but I could see the WWE finally giving him the spotlight for one last run at the top of the card. He could win the belt in the next couple weeks, have a short run, and then retire after losing the belt again. But it doesn't make sense beyond the goodwill sendoff. That leaves Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose. If the WWE is smart, Kevin Owens is the guy who goes over and shoots to the top of the card quickly after. He more than deserves it, as he can wrestle, talk and do everything needed to be the heel at the top of the company. And the fans love him, too, even though there supposed to hate him. Dean Ambrose could win if they want to set up a triple-threat match for the world title with The Shield members. Of course, they can do that anyway, as Ambrose doesn't need the Money in the Bank briefcase for that match to happen. People want to see it, anyway. If Ambrose does win it, I could see him cashing in during the main event of this card, which would be an interesting way to give him the belt and then have a triple threat at SummerSlam. Ambrose, however, isn't a world champion type guy, so I'd like to think the WWE won't do that. But it would be exciting. Still, I have to go with the guy I've been backing since his debut. Kevin Owens wins and we get to wait patiently for him to cash in and win the title.
John Cena vs. AJ Styles
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: First, some issues. This should not be the co-main event. The briefcase match the show is named for should be the main event of its own show. Secondly, despite what they say, this isn’t a WrestleMania level dream match. I like Styles and am glad he’s finally in WWE, but I don’t know anyone who’s been waiting for this match for 15 years. Now for the good parts of this match. The first time they were in the ring together was fantastic. The two biggest pops in recent memory in WWE were when Shane McMahon came back and the first time those two shared the ring. Their promo recently which felt like a shoot argument was also exceptional. Styles was saying how disgusting it was for a great wrestler like himself to see a mediocre wrestler in Cena headline every show, while Cena reminded Styles he had 15 years to make himself a star in WWE and either couldn’t or didn’t have the guts to try. Then he talked about how Styles keeps getting big matches without winning any. It was powerful stuff. Then WWE had Cena bring out dual contracts for the signing, one for a 1-on-1 match and another 3-on-1 with the Club facing Cena. Styles picked the singles match, but took too long to do so, making him look scared of Cena. Also, are we to believe the Club won’t make an appearance? Styles should win to revive his push, but they’re already ruining it by making him look like he needs help. I’m sure Cena wants to win, but WWE doesn’t have to make Styles look weak in the process. If they continue to do so, he might not get many more chances. If Styles has to stay with the Club, book them as a real monster faction. They won’t. Cena will beat them all.
Brad's Breakdown and Prediction: This match is why everyone except little kids and Matt Straub hates John Cena. I had no idea Cena had the power to make matches with stipulations added all by himself, even the skill to write up a contract with that law degree I'm sure he got along the way to stealing world title after world title during a terrible time for the company. I had no idea Cena could make another wrestler ban his friends from ringside and make it look like that wrestler was weak if he didn't do it. I didn't know Cena could be so delusional to think people would actually buy the fact that making this a one-on-one match without any outside distractions would change how people would respond to it. Oh, wait, yes, that's exactly what I would think of Cena - delusional. AJ Styles should have signed the match with Cena allowing The Club to be at ringside, because Cena shouldn't get to make the rules. He already refuses to let anyone beat him, so why let him change the rules of wrestling as well? Cena has so much power to do whatever he wants in the WWE it's just sad now. AJ Styles is on a whole different level in the ring than Cena is, but he was also on a whole different level than Roman Reigns when they wrestled for the title, and the forced world champ won that. I would be shocked if Cena lost this match, unless they had three rematches following it and Cena wins all three. That's the only way Cena would ever agree to lose. (All you have to do is remember the Kevin Owens vs. Cena trilogy). That fact though does make me believe Styles could win this match, though, only to lose the rematch at SummerSlam, which of course negates this win completely. I will say the WWE has been pretty good to Styles, putting him in main events and huge matchups since signing with the company. The WWE could have buried him to the mid-card, but has done the complete opposite, so Styles could never say he made a mistake by signing with the company, as he has done well in his short time. But, and it's a big but, he has lost all of his big matches, which is what the WWE likes to do with guys who were stars outside of the company. To Vince, the WWE always has to win. Even though Styles is vastly superior to Cena, I'll go with Cena winnings this match because, well, you know.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns
vs. Seth Rollins
Matt’s Breakdown and Prediction: WWE did something that works logically! I’m almost too stunned to write. First, Rollins came back and immediately went after the title he never lost. (Brock Lesnar, who started out that way and then kept getting distracted, should take notice). Then, when Rollins came back and got cheered because he was fighting with Reigns, he announced he still hated the fans instead of randomly becoming a face like so many do when they return from an injury. I loved all of it. Now we have a story that makes sense and is interesting. Rollins fighting for the title he never lost, against a big rival, and the two remember their roles and that they hate each other. It’s a shame we have to give WWE so much credit for making sense, but I feel it should be mentioned since I so often criticize things that don’t (Shane). Rollins seems primed to get the belt and go on another long run with it, which would give WWE a way out of the Reigns experiment even I’ve given up on. Ambrose winning the briefcase and getting involved somehow is a wildcard, but I think they let this play out. Also, Bray Wyatt is close to a return, so they might … oh who am I kidding? Rollins wins while we all wait for someone to explain the Authority suddenly disappearing.
Brad's Breakdown and Prediction: Yes, this match makes complete sense, and it's the reason why the WWE is building it up as a WrestleMania-level match, because in today's reality, it would and could be a WrestleMania main event. Today's reality is a big phrase, though, because Roman Reigns should never be in a main event on any card, let alone a WrestleMania, even though it has sadly already happened. I think everyone believes Rollins will win this match and regain his spot at the head of the company, allowing the WWE to reset to the time before he was hurt and lost for all those months, which sent the world title picture into a bit of chaos. Rollins can stable that chaos as a host of challengers show themselves again, with Reigns at the top of the list. But I wouldn't be so sure. Is the WWE ready to have Reigns lose the belt, and lose it to Rollins, who could be considered his level peer? Wouldn't it make Reigns look completely weak to lose the title to the guy who never lost it, meaning Reigns' run with the belt meant nothing to begin with? Would they do that to the guy they (Vince) loves so much? I don't think so. At least not yet. It doesn't make much sense to have Reigns lose the belt at this PPV. It makes more sense for Rollins to win the belt at SummerSlam, perhaps in a triple threat match for the world title with Dean Ambrose thrown in. That could allow Rollins to pin Ambrose, and set up another match against Reigns later on. It furthers a feud that probably will continue for a while. The Shield is going to be at the top of the card for a long while now; this is only the first step. Somehow, someway, Reigns retains the belt, although he won't win cleanly. Rollins gets the title back at SummerSlam, though. But that's for another day.