Jinder Mahal defends his newly-won WWE Championship against Randy Orton at WWE Money In The Bank.
The Modern Day Maharaja looks to retain the title he snatched from The Viper in a huge upset victory at Backlash.
Both men’s and women’s Money In The Bank contract holders will also be revealed in ladder matches in St Louis, Missouri.
The first women’s bout of this kind sees Becky Lynch, Carmella, Charlotte Flair, Natalya and Tamina compete for a world title shot at any time and place.
Meanwhile AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura will battle it out for the men’s briefcase.
Elsewhere on the card, The Usos put their tag titles on the line against The New Day and Lana challenges Naomi for SmackDown’s women’s gold.
Here is a match-by-match breakdown of the show.
Money in the Bank ladder match for a WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship match contract
Carmella (with James Ellsworth) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya vs. Tamina vs. Becky Lynch
History will be made tonight with the first ever women’s Money In The Bank ladder match between five of SmackDown’s top female stars. Shane McMahon announced the bout after a fatal five-way elimination match to decide who would face women’s champion Naomi ended in chaos. The participants – Carmella, Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Tamina and Becky Lynch – now have the chance to shine in the next step in WWE’s women’s evolution. On paper, the two favourites would be the brand’s most accomplished performers, Charlotte and Becky, who are yet to resume their acclaimed rivalry. However, it could be argued that neither of these talents particularly need the famous briefcase in order to make a name for themselves or recapture gold. The bruising Tamina – who only returned to action two months ago – seems an outside choice, as she is yet to be given the opportunity to establish her character.
That leaves the veteran antagonist Natalya plus new kid on the block Carmella, who will of course be supported by the professional irritant James Ellsworth. Nattie would no doubt be a strong future opponent for Naomi and is capable of leading the women’s division for many months on end as a heel champion. But there is a sneaking suspicion that Carmella could be helped to victory by Ellsworth, who would then carry her briefcase to ringside until the time is right to strike. The Princess of Staten Island is still green in the ring, but that hasn’t held back Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss, and Ellsworth may be her ticket to success.
Predicted winner: Carmella
Tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
The Usos (Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso) (c) vs. The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston, and/or Xavier Woods)
At Backlash, The Usos retained the SmackDown Tag Team Championship against Breezango, and again in a rematch on the following episode of SmackDown. The Samoan duo are accomplished wrestlers who have settled brilliantly into their heel champions role, which was long overdue and rejuvenated their stagnant WWE run. But they are yet to engage in a classic feud after their rivalry with American Alpha fizzled out and Heath Slater and Rhyno left for Raw in the Superstar Shakeup.
Fortunately the record-breaking tag team of The New Day moved in the opposite direction and now Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods are ready to step up. It’s going to be interesting to see whether they gel with Jimmy and Jey and how WWE handle this situation, as The New Day are still one of the company’s premier acts. An immediate victory for the newcomers would be a shame. Hopefully we’re instead treated to a narrow win for The Usos, leading to a prolonged chase for their belts.
Predicted winners: The Usos
Singles match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Naomi (c) vs. Lana
When Lana finally debuted on SmackDown earlier this month, she demanded she should be added to the women’s Money In The Bank ladder match. This request was refused by Shane McMahon, who said the Ravishing Russian would have to earn her opportunity at this evening’s pay-per-view. Lana interfered in a match pitting Naomi, Becky, and Charlotte against Natalya, Carmella, and Tamina, allowing Tamina to pin the champion Naomi. A furious Naomi then asked for a match against the dancing queen, which was made official, before Lana again attacked her and posed with her title.
Lana’s ring experience in WWE is extremely limited, so this match is intriguing to say the least. How will she cope in this high pressure situation? Along with great new entrance music, some impressive high kicks and a look to die for, Lana does have an Ace up her sleeve – her absent husband, Rusev. Could the Bulgarian Brute return and help his wife record a shock victory? After Jinder Mahal becoming WWE Champion, anything can happen! But it seems unlikely.
Predicted winner: Naomi
Singles match for the WWE Championship
Jinder Mahal (c) (with The Singh Brothers) vs. Randy Orton
Jinder Mahal’s triumph over Randy Orton at Backlash capped off one of the most incredible career turnarounds in WWE history. The Indo-Canadian star was released by the company in June 2014, but earned a second chance after getting in the best shape of his life. After almost winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33, he set his sights on SmackDown’s top star, Randy Orton. Then in one of the biggest upsets in history, Mahal defeated the 13-time world champion to clinch the industry’s most prestigious title.
The Viper immediately invoked his rematch clause to set up tonight’s clash and has since flattened the Modern Day Maharaja with an RKO. He said he received supportive phone calls from Ric Flair, Harley Race and his dad, ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton, who told him actions speak louder than words. Clearly Race has forgotten the time Orton the ‘Legend Killer’ spat in his face! But that aside, the suggestion was Backlash was a freak result, and Randy’s quality will show through. Sadly for him, if Mahal is to establish himself as a champion of note, then he simply must win this bout, with the Singh Brothers role at ringside no doubt proving pivotal.
Predicted winner: Jinder Mahal
Money in the Bank ladder match for a WWE Championship match contract
AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn vs. Baron Corbin vs. Kevin Owens
The men’s Money In The Bank ladder match boasts a stellar cast with some of the best workers in the business today. This is the stuff fans dream of. AJ Styles and Kevin Owens have been warring over Owens’ US Championship and are sure to collide once more after KO defeated AJ at Backlash by count out. Meanwhile Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin have been tearing each other apart since the Underdog of the Underground was ambushed by Corbin on Talking Smack. Finally Dolph Ziggler was forced to eat his words last month after his taunting of Shinsuke Nakamura ended in the former NXT Champion levelling him with a Kinshasa.
On SmackDown this week, Styles, Nakamura, and Zayn teamed up to defeat Owens, Ziggler, and Corbin, before a brawl broke out involving all six men. It ended with Nakamura standing tall atop the ladder with the famous briefcase – in WWE history usually an indication that he won’t repeat the trick tonight. That being said, who makes more sense as a champion in waiting than the Japanese great, an incredible talent who really should face Styles at WrestleMania next April?
Some fans have complained of WWE ‘botching’ Nakamura’s main roster debut, as if his run is dead in the water after a few long-winded promos, and one good but not great contest against Ziggler. That of course is a premature judgement and one WWE could go a long way towards rubbishing by having the ‘Rockstar’ sensationally notch a huge win in St Louis. Sometimes a wrestler comes along who should not be held back in any circumstances and Nakamura fits that bill.
Predicted winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Watch WWE Money In The Bank 2017 live on the WWE Network or on Sky Sports Box Office at 1am on Monday, June 19.
You can follow all the action as it happens in the Mirror Sport WWE Money In The Bank 2017 Live Blog from 11pm on Sunday, June 18.