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Sunday night, WWE presents its annual Money in the Bank pay-per-view, live from St. Louis and exclusively on the WWE Network.
The event has been a fan-favorite since its inception in 2010, and this year’s incarnation features a WWE Championship main event and the first women’s Money in the Bank ladder match to go along with the annual male offering.
A stacked card that figures to set the stage nicely for July’s Battleground pay-per-view and August’s SummerSlam, it could (and should) have long-reaching effects for the Superstars and rivalries of SmackDown Live.
Who will leave St. Louis, a city steeped in wrestling history, with championship gold around their waists or a guaranteed shot at immortality inside a shiny new briefcase?
Final picks for Sunday’s spectacular lie inside.
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A late addition to the card, the Kickoff Show match pitting The Colons against the reunited Hype Bros is little more than an opportunity to showcase Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley.
As usual, the match should be a fun sprint that allows Primo and Epico to exhibit their underrated abilities, but the outcome of this one is not in doubt.
The Hype Bros win here and march toward the SmackDown Tag Team Championships opportunity that was denied them by Ryder’s crippling knee injury.
The Hype Bros defeat The Colons.
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For weeks, fans watched as video packages hyped Lana’s impending return, presumably with a new character and attitude.
When she finally did, two weeks before Sunday’s pay-per-view extravaganza, she immediately set her sights on the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Denied an opportunity to compete in the Money in the Bank match, she cost Naomi a tag team match. Infuriated, the champion demanded a bout with the Ravishing Russian, and commissioner Shane McMahon granted her it.
The match is the biggest question mark on the entire card.
Can Lana perform up to the level of her competition in her first main-roster singles bout? Is Naomi a strong enough worker to carry the bulk of the action and still deliver a quality match?
It remains to be seen.
One thing is for certain: Lana is incredibly popular among the WWE fans, and thus a win cannot be ruled out. Even if it is unlikely.
Naomi defeats Lana.
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The Usos have reinvented themselves and are nastier, more ruthless and unforgivably heinous than ever. They are also the SmackDown tag team champions after defeating American Alpha in March. Despite dominating the tag team division since, they are underdogs of sorts as they prepare to defend against The New Day Sunday night in St. Louis.
Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods enjoyed the longest Tag Team Championships reign in the history of WWE, surpassing Demolition’s record run in December. In the process, they defeated every tandem, including the one they challenge Sunday night.
Jimmy and Jey, for all of their triumphs in 2017, need a quality win that lends credibility and firmly establishes them the top dogs in the tag team division for the time being.
New Day will ultimately regain the titles and re-establish themselves a lead act on the SmackDown Live brand, but Sunday’s show should be a coming-out party of sorts for the champions.
The Usos retain their titles in a manner that sets up a rematch.
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For the first time in WWE history, five women will compete in a ladder match to crown a female Money in the Bank winner.
Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Carmella, Natalya and Tamina have been intertwined in singles and tag team bouts since the Superstar Shake-up, and Sunday night, their seemingly never-ending rivalry will come to a head in one of the most dangerous, high-risk and unpredictable matches WWE has to offer.
Charlotte is the heavy favorite, with her list of accomplishments in Vince McMahon’s company already impressive. A five-time champion who has competed in the main event of television and pay-per-view events, she is the standard-bearer of women’s wrestling in WWE.
There is a groundswell of support for Carmella, though, who has pinned champion Naomi twice before and is the perfect candidate for a Money in the Bank run.
Natalya and Tamina have zero momentum heading into the event, while Lynch feels like something of an afterthought despite being one of the better workers in the women’s division.
Carmella wins the first women’s Money in the Bank briefcase.
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The most interesting match of Sunday’s card is the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match.
The favorite, on paper, is Baron Corbin.
The Lone Wolf, 32, is a relatively young star WWE has been steadily pushing since April 2016, when he exploded on to the scene at WrestleMania 32 and won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Since then, he has consistently competed in the upper end of SmackDown’s card, against stars such as John Cena, Randy Orton and AJ Styles.
It is Styles, though, who could prove the biggest obstacle for Corbin to overcome.
In recent weeks, The Phenomenal One has been downplayed to an extent, almost as if the company were attempting to lessen expectations that he will win the briefcase on Sunday.
Ditto Kevin Owens.
In the past, Superstars in similar positions have emerged victorious.
Still, despite a wealth of quality options, it still feels like Corbin is leaving with his arm raised in victory, with the booking and support of WWE Creative over the past year paying off with his biggest win to date.
Baron Corbin wins Money in the Bank.
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Jinder Mahal’s victory at Backlash capped off the most unlikely and unpredictable rise of any WWE champion in history.
Sunday night, The Modern Day Maharaja will defend against the man he defeated for the title on May 21, St. Louis’ own Randy Orton, in a red-hot rematch.
WWE will undoubtedly be tempted to put the title back on Orton in front of friends and family. Doing so, though, would undermine everything it has attempted to accomplish with Mahal. It would unravel a month of booking that helped create a new main event star and also lend credibility to those who doubted and mocked Mahal’s ascension to the top of the card.
Orton, a 13-time champion whose legacy is not in doubt, does not need the title like the champion does. He will be just fine suffering defeat, whether it happens in his hometown or not.
Jinder Mahal retains the WWE Championship through nefarious means.