In the past decade, Money in the Bank has rightfully become a must-watched pay-per-view. Some could argue that it has surpassed Survivor Series as a major event along with Summerslam, Royal Rumble, and WrestleMania; if it weren’t for the importance of seasonal proximity. The Summer, of course, belongs to Summerslam. But aside from the Rumble, there isn’t a match with so much on the line, and so much potential storyline significance. Even more important to note is the fact that while the Royal Rumble winner is guaranteed a title match at WrestleMania, the Money in the Bank briefcase holder is a number one contender for as long as he desires, up to a full year.
That’s a three month period as a Rumble winner versus the suspense and potential element of a surprise factor for a year as Mr. Money in the Bank. Of course, the briefcase holder could cash in as early as he wants, even in the same night, just as Dean Ambrose has promised.
Out of the six competitors in the matchup, there are certainly some odds on favorites. As much as I love Cesaro, he is not one of them. The Swiss Superman has all of the tools to succeed in the ring as his unique and powerful style is never dull to watch. Unfortunately, the fact that English is not his first language makes it somewhat difficult for him to keep up with guys like Jericho and Owens on the mic. His new James Bond/Jason Statham gimmick is at least an improvement on his yodeling experiment from years ago. Whoever thought it would be a good idea for Cesaro to yodel should be fired. Who am I kidding...it was probably Vince McMahon. And luckily for Vince, he can’t fire himself.
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I would also say that Alberto Del Rio is an unlikely victor at Money in the Bank. Even though he pulled out a surprise Royal Rumble win back in 2011, he has spent the last month or so recovering from the career setback that was The League of Nations. Yes, the evil foreigner faction didn’t quite find their niche in the modern wrestling world, and Del Rio is still trying to prove his worth to the company since he’s been rehired. Between Zeb Colter’s MexAmerica and The League of Nations, Alberto is having a rough comeback run. Although his return was a U.S. open challenge title win over John Cena, Del Rio will need to find some kind of a groove before he can be considered Mr. Money in the Bank for a second time.
Sami Zayn could be a dark horse in this match, but it may be a little too early for the long time heart and soul of NXT to realize his championship dream. The common fan is still not sold on Zayn and his ironic lack of gimmick gimmick. No matter what, Sami never fails to impress in the ring. A match with as many creative opportunities as the Money in the Bank ladder match is sure to spark Zayn’s innate innovation. The chemistry he shares with his longtime friend/rival, Kevin Owens is unparalleled. We are bound to witness some insane and gruesome looking spots from those two, which brings me to Owens’ likelihood of winning.
There have been few wrestlers with as successful a first year in WWE as Kevin Owens. I believe he holds the distinction of being on the card of every pay-per-view in his first year in the company; the only man to achieve that statistic since The Undertaker. The only difference between Owens’ and Taker’s first year is that in Taker’s time, there were only four pay-per-views a year. He could potentially add a Money in the Bank briefcase to his résumé. The French-Canadian prize fighter knows his way around a mic, and anyone who picks on Michael Cole as relentlessly as Owens does is a friend of mine. If there is any heel in the company who is deserving of a Championship feud with Roman Reigns, it’s Owens.
But there is another great heel in that match who also happens to be a former champion; a former first ever Undisputed Heavyweight Champion, to be exact. The Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah has made it a point to reinvent himself every few years as a way of keeping his character fresh, and one could argue that Chris Jericho is one of the greatest heels in history. This year, he has outdone himself, and is doing some of the best heel work of his career as his current variation. His God complex persona is ripe for a main event feud, and (excluding a returning Corporate Kane) he’s the only remaining veteran of the Monday Night War who is still actively and regularly wrestling. Jericho is a true master of his craft, but the only thing holding him back is his age. He has visibly lost a step in the ring may be winding down his career. A first ballot Hall of Famer, he still has a lot he can teach a lot of the younger talent; especially some of the world travelled talent, which Jericho is no stranger to. The promos between Jericho and the other five competitors in this match have been hilarious and legendary, and it’s good to see that he’s using the fact that he actually invented the Money in the Bank ladder match to his advantage. It also doesn’t hurt Y2J’s hardcore cred to be rolling around in thumb tacks this late in his career, as he did against Ambrose in their Asylum match. You’d have to be a stupid idiot not to think Chris Jericho could have another WWE Heavyweight Championship run in him.
As much as Jericho may have a right to the briefcase that he created, Dean Ambrose coming out with the contract would make the most sense from a booking standpoint. The Lunatic Fringe is the favorite going into the six-man ladder match. He has all the motive in the world as a former Shield member with Rollins and Reigns to win and cash in the title contract in the same night. He would also have the ability to turn the main event into a triple threat match before it even starts. But that’s not a very exciting option, unless Ambrose wins the title. Part of the fun of winning the briefcase is the opportunity to keep the champion on their toes and looking over their shoulder for as long as possible, especially if Rollins wins the title. Seth Rollins could play a perfect coward to Ambrose’s Money in the Bank mind games. It also adds a wild card to any main event, knowing that Mr. Money in the Bank could run out to the ring at any moment and demand that a new title match must start. This would fit in well with Dean’s chaotic persona much better than if he were to cash in right away. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing the former Mr. Money in the Bank, Seth Rollins, hypocritically judging Dean Ambrose’s own tactics going into Summerslam. After all, the whole point of having money in the bank is to gain interest over time.
Nathan Burke is a stand-up comedian based in Boston. Follow him on Twitter @IamNathanBurke