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WWE Money in the Bank 2017, one of the company’s most anticipated events of the year, is set to air live on the WWE Network this Sunday, June 15, and on paper it has potential to be a blockbuster show.
Traditionally, Money in the Bank has been shared between Raw and SmackDown Live, though this year’s installment will exclusive only to the blue brand. Despite that, almost all of SmackDown’s top stars will be in action at the event, competing either for championship gold or for one of the two briefcases.
History will made at Money in the Bank with a women’s Ladder match being held for the first time ever and the winner earning a future shot at the SmackDown Women’s Championship. That is of course in addition to the annual men’s Money in the Bank match that is more star-studded this year than ever before.
Elsewhere on the card, Randy Orton will vie for the WWE Championship in his hometown of St. Louis against Jinder Mahal, while The Usos and Naomi defend their SmackDown Tag Team and SmackDown Women’s Championships, respectively. All things considered, these five marquee matches should result in an exciting event.
Money in the Bank is known for its unpredictability and going against what most fans predict will happen. What the future holds for each of SmackDown’s top prospects heading into the summer season remains unknown, but a strong showing on Sunday could certainly give them the momentum necessary to make an impact on the brand.
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It’s interesting to note how much Randy Orton has cooled off since his high-profile victories at the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 33 earlier this year, the latter earning him his ninth WWE Championship. His latest run with the title was short-lived, however, as he lost it to Jinder Mahal at last month’s Backlash event.
Although this Mahal vs. Orton rivalry hasn’t been lighting the world on fire, The Viper is much better off chasing the championship than he is in possession of it. That was especially evident on this past week’s edition of SmackDown Live, where he laid out his adversary out of nowhere with an earth-shattering RKO.
That said, putting the belt back on Orton at this point would be detrimental to Mahal’s growth as a main event player. The self-proclaimed modern day Maharaja must emerge with his title intact at Money in the Bank this Sunday.
Mahal has a long ling of challengers ahead of him, including a returning John Cena, but it will be more intriguing to see where Orton goes post-Money in the Bank. He doesn’t have any obvious programs lined up for him heading into the summer, but if one thing is for certain, it’s that he works infinitely more comfortable in the heel role.
With such a surplus of fan favorites on SmackDown at the moment, the end of this title feud with Mahal will allow Orton to finally return to being a sadistic villain, and thus the seeds should be planted for the pending heel turn following his latest loss to the WWE champion.
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There can be no denying the roll The New Day have been on since arriving on SmackDown Live on the May 30 episode. This came after a month-long absence from WWE programming, but now that they are a part of the blue brand, they feel fresher than they have in close to two years.
Not to mention New Day as challengers and not champions is a strange sight considering they were the Raw Tag Team champions for a record-setting 483 days. Despite that, they have dominated the competition on Tuesday nights in recent weeks.
From American Alpha and Breezango, The Usos have overcome every obstacle throughout their reign as SmackDown Tag Team champions. Additionally, they been the best thing to happen to the tag team scene on SmackDown in some time, hence why they should continue to hold the gold for the foreseeable future.
New Day will capture the twin titles at some point, but a championship win at Money in the Bank would be premature. The money is in the chase, and it would also be quite fitting for them to become champions at SummerSlam in Brooklyn, where their second title run kicked off in 2015.
In the meantime, expect them to fall short against The Usos on Sunday, potentially due to outside interference from American Alpha. Immediately reinserting them into the title picture would be one way for them to avoid being overlooked any longer.
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A women’s revolution is in the works on Tuesday nights with SmackDown Live hosting WWE’s first ever women’s Ladder match at Money in the Bank. It should come as no surprise that Charlotte Flair, who is familiar with breaking boundaries and making history, is at the forefront of the matchup.
Upon her arrival on SmackDown in April, Charlotte was touted as the blue brand’s biggest acquisition coming over from Raw. Almost instantly, she made her mark on the women’s division by setting her sights on the SmackDown Women’s Championship and even beating current champion Naomi in non-title action.
However, due to the impromptu debut of the Welcoming Committee, her plans to take the title were temporarily derailed. Now a participant in the unprecedented women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match, this could be her chance to finally contend for the one championship that has alluded her thus far, assuming she can gain possession of the opportunistic briefcase.
Of course, it will be easier said than done considering the level of competition she will be going up against on Sunday. There are a few strong candidates to capture the contract, including Carmella and Becky Lynch, but Charlotte should be the heavy favorite given her track record when the lights are on bright.
In addition to expecting her to emerge victorious, look for the Flair family scion to steal the show by getting innovative and finding new ways to use the ladder as a weapon.
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Naomi may not be involved in Sunday’s historic women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match, but she will have her hands full nevertheless with newcomer Lana, who vowed to make the SmackDown Women’s Championship “ravishing” during her debut on SmackDown Live earlier this month.
After Lana cost Naomi a match later that night, Naomi granted her a shot at the strap at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Their championship clash is also noteworthy in that it will mark Lana’s first ever singles match on WWE TV.
That said, fans aren’t sure what to expect when she steps inside the ring on Sunday, nor are they aware of what lengths she will go to in order to retrieve the title. She has proven herself to be desperate and manipulative in getting what she wants in the past as a valet for Rusev, and she will likely exhibit those same attributes as an in-ring competitor.
Then again, Naomi has been SmackDown Women’s champion for over two months for a reason: she always find a way to win when it matters most, including on stages such as WrestleMania and the Royal Rumble. Money in the Bank should be no different, even with a massive target on her back.
Despite the odds being stacked against her with the women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match being held on the same show, Naomi will walk out of the event with her title intact.
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Shinsuke Nakamura has been nothing short of dominant in his brief stint on SmackDown Live thus far, beating everyone he has gone up against. From Dolph Ziggler to Kevin Owens, he has already put together a string of victories versus a handful of credible opponents and currently eyes the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Of course, Nakamura is new to the Ladder match and is one of the least experienced combatants in the contest. That won’t stop him, however, from climbing the ladder and capturing the contract that grants him a WWE Championship match at any time and place of his choosing.
On this past week’s edition of SmackDown, Nakamura ended the night standing tall over his upcoming adversaries with the briefcase that was hanging high above the ring, in hand. That was clearly designed to send the message that The King of Strong Style is a fan favorite to come out on top on Sunday.
While he will undoubtedly be involved in the world championship picture eventually, now is not the time. Instead, he would benefit from a temporary program with United States champion Kevin Owens, who he has pinned on three consecutive occasions in the last month.
With Owens also taking part in the men’s Money in the Bank Ladder match, it is virtually a guarantee he will avenge those recent losses by costing Nakamura the contract, kicking off what should be an exciting program between them this summer.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham “GSM” Matthews, is an Endicott College alumni and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and “like” his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.