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WWE Money in the Bank is coming up on Sunday, June 18, and fans are surely expecting a good night of action. Money in the Bank is a SmackDown Live event, which means the top stars of the blue brand will be on hand to show what they can do.
That includes the champions, as four titles will be on the line that night.
Money in the Bank may not be considered by some to be one of the company’s top pay-per-views, but perhaps it should. The Superstar that pulls down the briefcase gets a shot at the top championship, so the night can have long-lasting ramifications for the brand.
With a high profile moment like that, WWE may want to throw some surprises in for the champs along the way.
The Road to WrestleMania seems to begin almost as quickly as it ends, so Money in the Bank could hold some key moments leading up to it. What WWE plans to do with the champions now can have direct implications on what’s to come. That’s what intrigues fans the most.
But the notion of fill-in titleholders and throwaway matches is something no one wants to think about. It’s up to the company to get it right at Money in the Bank, of course, and that begins with the champions themselves.
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Fans are anticipating the title match between Naomi and Lana, but they may be doing it for the wrong reasons.
Lana’s opportunity came from out of nowhere, as she stepped over every other woman on SmackDown Live to get this spot. While the other female Superstars are competing in a ladder match for their title shot, Lana got one because she demanded it.
Now fans are anxious to see whether she can rise to the occasion.
No one really seems to know if she’s ready because she doesn’t wrestle, at least not on TV. The idea that WWE is pursuing this because of the desire to enhance Lana’s character seems silly at best, as there’s never really been any move made to seriously showcase her in the ring.
But the proof of her ability will be on display at Money in the Bank. If the match goes south and Lana can’t keep up, then fans will dismiss her and berate WWE for going with her. However, if she looks good, then the company will be praised for making the move.
Then there’s Naomi, who has perhaps become an afterthought here.
The SmackDown Live women’s champion has barely scratched the surface of what she can do in her present spot, and now she’s thrust into a situation in which she could actually lose her title. The Money in the Bank Ladder Match determines who will face her, so fans are already speculating as to when she will lose the championship.
No one seems to be talking about Naomi herself or the challenge that lies ahead.
She will need to make Lana look good on June 18. Despite what Lana’s talent level may be, she will be on a stage that she’s never been on in WWE. She needs Naomi to guide her through the match and carry the bout through to the end. Naomi is a proven talent and will surely do all she can to get the match over.
Naomi should come looking good, as her opponent should. But the title should not change hands.
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Jimmy and Jey Uso have truly been on something of a rollercoaster in WWE.
They were red hot at one point and regarded by many as perhaps the best tag team in the company. They were wildly popular, they looked good in the ring and they delivered every time their numbers were called.
The Usos were the premier babyface tag team in WWE, and they wore that label with pride.
But then they began hanging out with their cousin on TV and everything began to change. Thanks to their association with Roman Reigns, The Usos suddenly began having problems. Fans turned on the brothers and believed their act was becoming stale.
Jimmy and Jey needed a new start, and that’s what they received on SmackDown Live.
Now they’re heel and riding high as SmackDown Live tag team champions. Jimmy and Jey have completely immersed themselves in their villainous characters and are now becoming red hot once again. They have indeed come full circle.
However, the temptation to take the belts off of them at Money in the Bank may be too much for WWE to ignore. That’s because of The New Day, who are the definition of “red hot.” Their recent absence allowed them to come back fresh once again, and it’s only a matter of time until they overtake the blue brand.
But maybe this feud should last beyond Money in the Bank.
The Usos could well lose the belts on June 18, only to get them back at a later point. There’s a lot that can be done with this storyline in terms of not only ring work, but overall entertainment value. Both teams have not yet begun to explore what they can do together, so WWE should continue beyond Money in the Bank.
The Usos are getting over and are hitting their stride; losing the belts now should not hinder that process.
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A predictable Money in the Bank Ladder Match is a boring Money in the Bank Ladder Match.
That’s because despite how many high spots there are, or how many times the briefcase is nearly pulled down, fans are already looking toward the end. No amount of teasing on WWE’s part can change that. But that is not the case now.
Money in the Bank could conceivably be won by any of the six men booked. Shinsuke Nakamura is the new star in town, but he could go over. AJ Styles is the favorite for many, so he could win. Baron Corbin has been on an upward trend in recent months, so it would not be surprising if he went over. The same could be said of Sami Zayn, who has recently beaten Corbin. Even Dolph Ziggler could believably walk away with the title shot.
Then there’s Kevin Owens.
The United States champion is included in this match because he can work and because his potential challengers are booked as well. He’s also a star, which brings even more spotlight to the ladder match itself.
But will he win it all?
Owens is a solid performer and would surely make a fine WWE champion. The Money in the Bank briefcase would only add to his ego and his arrogance, both of which make him an entertaining Superstar. He would definitely do a good job as WWE champion if given the opportunity to do so.
But KO is arguably right where he needs to be. Moving to SmackDown Live has helped reinvigorate him, and his role as “The New Face of America” gets him over with fans that both love him and love to hate him.
His time will come, but it may not come on June 18.
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Randy Orton has been accused of many things throughout his WWE career. But refusing to do business should not be one of them.
Orton put over Jinder Mahal when he could have said no. He may be a top star and a team player, but he is his own man. If he had an issue with dropping his WWE Championship to a jobber, then he surely would have said so.
Now the title is coming back around, and fans are wondering if Orton will get it back.
The problem is John Cena is also coming back around. When he does, Mahal will surely be in his sights. If he is, then the cliched “real American versus the foreign threat” storyline will be in full effect. That storyline will be less effective if Mahal loses the title to Orton at Money in the Bank.
Mahal is in a great place right now. Being WWE champion gives him more spotlight than he’s ever had before, and it legitimizes him as a competitor. Whether he deserved it in the beginning is irrelevant; the real story is what he does now that he has it.
Defeating Orton for a second time will only add value to this title run. Facing Cena after that will surely give him even more credibility. If he were to defeat Cena as well, then it would be obvious that his initial title win was not a gimmick.
Mahal would become a major player in WWE.
As long as he stays focused and stays humble, Mahal should continue as WWE champion. He is the perfect success story, a New Era talent that was given an opportunity and is now making the best of it. For any fan that constantly criticized the company for never giving new stars a chance, Mahal is the one great exception to the rule.
Now he must continue working hard to get over and prove that he’s capable of earning his spot. That begins at Money in the Bank.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com