This poster is probably my favourite thing that WWE has done since Wrestlemania.
I don’t watch Raw or Smackdown weekly anyway – preferring to read summaries – but since Wrestlemania I’ve also dropped 205 Live, NXT, and NXT UK from my weekly watch. In the case of 205 Live, I think the Cruiserweight Division is really suffering from the size of the division – there’s only so many times we can watch the same matches, and Tony Nese doesn’t inspire me all that much as a champion. With the NXT brands, I think I’m a little too heartbroken about my favourites being called up to the main roster and inevitably misused – I don’t want to get invested any more until that changes.
As for the main roster, despite a few things here and there which are fun (I like the tag team of Asuka and Kairi Sane and if Paige as an English-language mouthpiece is needed for Vince to give them a push, fine, and the Iiconics’ promo game has been excellent), it’s just left me entirely cold. It’s like Vince and the booking team only wrote up to Wrestlemania and gave no consideration to following on from that, which is bizarre because I am pretty sure once upon a time they used to plan much longer in advanced than that.
So, that being the case, why am I even planning to watch Money In the Bank? Well, next week there’s this little rinky-dink indie mudshow called Double Or Nothing which apparently has Vince spooked. I’d have hoped that WWE would up their game to give a memorable PPV here to perhaps engage with the competition – but either way, I’m going to look at how I feel about tonight’s show, I’m going to look at what AEW has to offer next week, and then I’m going to make some decisions about my viewing habits going forwards.
Oh, and I’ll be hanging out in the Nothin’ Means Nothin’ Discord if people want to chat during the PPV and preshow!
EDIT: Whoops, forgot notes on the two actual Money In the Bank matches. Have now added.
Daniel Bryan & Rowan vs. The Usos (Preshow)
Bryan and Rowan are your new Smackdown Men’s Tag Team Champions, in a move which I guess is meant to keep Bryan in the mix whilst at the same time protecting him from further injury. They apparently won the titles in a play-off against the Usos after the Hardys relinquished them, and this is a non-title rematch for the pre-show.
My main question here is: why? What are the stakes here? The Usos lost and can’t regain their belts here. In principle, if they win they stay in the running, but they’ll stay in the running anyway because there just aren’t that many credible champion tag teams in WWE. Why couldn’t this be the match for the vacated title? Whatever happened to saving big matches for the PPV rather than giving them away for free on TV?
Tony Nese (C) vs. Ariya Daivari (Men’s Cruiserweight Championship)
I remain unconvinced that Tony Nese really has what it takes to be the ace of the 205 Live brand – not that any WWE brand actually has an ace – and the fact that they’re resorting to this match for the championship only reaffirms my concerns about the shallowness of the 205 roster. It’s something we haven’t seen that often before, sure, but it’s also not something I don’t think anyone was crying out for. Don’t care, no prediction.
The Miz vs. Shane McMahon (Steel Cage Match)
Oh gosh, I wonder whether Shane will do some sort of daring leap or fall off the cage? Don’t care, no prediction.
Roman Reigns vs. Elias
Someone who always fucking wins against someone who almost always loses? Of course LOLROMANWINS. Creative already spent their free pass on putting Roman in an easy win post-leukemia at Wrestlemania, and if they want to build him back to being one of the top faces, they really need to have him facing opponents who actually mean something… except, of course, WWE booking ensures that nobody of substance really exists in the regular roster any more.
This seems to be taking up space which could have been given to an Men’s Intercontinental Championship match for Finn.
Samoa Joe (C) vs. Rey Mysterio (Men’s United States Championship)
It’s a repeat from Wrestlemania, hopefully Rey will be in good enough condition to give more of a fight this time. And what role will be played by Dominick? I’m hoping for a heel turn where he declares that he wishes Eddie Guerrero had won custody of him “because I’d rather be an orphan than have an embarrassment of a father like you”, but that probably won’t happen. Don’t care, no prediction.
Kofi Kingston (C) vs. Kevin Owens (WWE Men’s Championship)
This is a match I am actually pumped for – no prediction, not because I don’t care, but because I can totally see the merit in either result (Kofi getting a longer run is good, Kofi having to chase the belt all over again to get it off KO is good, it’s all good.)
Becky Lynch (C) vs. Charlotte (Smackdown Women’s Championship)
Earlier, I’d have said that Charlotte wins so Charlotte can go dominate the Smackdown division and Becky can reign over RAW. Now, however, I am not so sure. It seems evident that Vince’s Wild Card Rule is designed to ensure that top stars will show up on both shows, thus keeping NBC/Universal and Fox happy with the new TV deals coming in. (Vince may have made a blunder here, of course – Fox and NBC may have wanted a bit more talent exclusivity than that.) This means there’s more scope for wrestlers to appear on both shows, which means there needs to be stories requiring them to show; Becky being the Champ-Champ is a good way to accomplish that.
Seth Rollins (C) vs. AJ Styles (Men’s Universal Championship)
Like Kofi vs. KO, I consider this another “Whoever loses, we win” match.
Becky Lynch (C) vs. Lacey Evans (RAW Women’s Championship)
As fun as Lacey’s “I’m a WWII-era pinup someone painted on the side of a bomber which came to life” schtick is, I don’t think she’s ready for a championship yet. My hunch is that Becky will retain this one.
If I am wrong about Becky winning both matches, I suspect she is more likely to lose whichever goes on first, since that way it’ll create more of a question mark over whether she can make a comeback in the second match.
Sami Zayn vs. Ricochet vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Baron Corbin vs. Ali vs. Finn Balor vs. Andrade vs. Randy Orton (Men’s Money In the Bank Match)
First off, how absurd it is that Finn gets to be in this match whilst also being a title holder? He absolutely shouldn’t get the Money In the Bank contract – not because he doesn’t deserve to finally have the Universal Championship run that injury denied him, he absolutely does, but because it completely subverts the point of the gimmick if champions can win it. Champions should be afraid of the briefcase, even champions of midcard titles.
Secondly, in terms of actual predictions, I think there’s two likely winners here: Ali because WWE are definitely giving him a push in terms of making Network specials about him and the like, and Baron Corbin because WWE is intent on shoving him down our throats. Please, Vince, for the love of fuck pick Ali. (I’ll accept Andrade or Ricochet or Sami Zayn as a compromise.)
Natalya vs. Dana Brooke vs. Naomi vs. Bayley vs. Mandy Rose vs. Ember Moon vs. Carmella vs. Nikki Cross (Women’s Money In the Bank Match)
I really want it to be Nikki. On the face of it, that seems unlikely since she’s a substitution anyway, except they seemed to be going for some sort of Alexa/Nikki interaction prior to Alexa’s injury pulling her from the match. Maybe Alexa was going to have Nikki come in and wreck her opponents for her – only for Nikki to inadvertently grab the briefcase and win the match. (Yes, this would mean someone not entered into the match could win it, but honestly, do you put such stupidity past WWE Creative?)
It probably won’t be Nikki. Mandy Rose getting it seems to be the bookie’s choice, and might catalyse the breakup of Fire & Desire… but does WWE really want to be breaking up more women’s tag teams when the Iiconics are thin on the ground when it comes to opponents anyway? OK, sure, it’s blatant that the Kabuki Warriors are being groomed for that spot in the long run, but who is there after that for Asuka and Kairi to fight (except each other in the main event of the pirate-themed Wrestlemania 36)?