UPDATED 6/20/16 with full results.
This Sunday, World Wrestling Entertainment presents its annual Money in the Bank pay-per-view event, named for the inclusion of a 6-man ladder match where the winner must claim the Money in the Bank briefcase dangling above the ring. The winner of the briefcase will be allowed to cash it in at any time within the next year for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, allowing he who holds the briefcase many opportunities to make a surprise cash-in. The legacy of the briefcase, while not as extensive as some other championships or prizes in WWE, has created some of the most memorable moments in recent WWE history
In addition to the ladder match, two main-event talents make their pay-per-view event returns, as John Cena and Seth Rollins return from injury to face A.J. Styles and Roman Reigns, respectively. The match card for Sunday night is stacked, and if all goes well, it is sure to be one of WWE’s best shows of the year.
Fan Contributor Ryan Aday joins me to pitch in his predictions as we dive into what Money in the Bank has in store for us.
Apollo Crews vs. Sheamus
This is an example of a small feud going nowhere from a storyline perspective, but still could produce an entertaining match. Sheamus lost a Money in the Bank qualifying match the night after the Extreme Rules pay-per-view last month, and attacked Crews backstage out of frustration. Crews also lost his qualifying match that night as a result of the attack, and a match between the two was announced. More than that has not been shown on television, which gives way to a very simplistic feud. Crews has been a phenomenal talent even before he was signed in NXT last year, and Sheamus is one of the hardest workers in the business, even if his character is a little stale.
Jacob Anderson: Apollo Crews. If for no other reason than to see a babyface go over after a very little storytelling, Sheamus can make Crews look like a very credible talent if Crews goes over. Don’t look for anything flashy to come out of this bout, and don’t be surprised if the feud dies out after this match.
Ryan Aday: Apollo Crews. Probably by roll-up or something. This should set up another match or two down the road where Sheamus will win.
Apollo Crews defeats Sheamus via pinfall after Sheamus was distracted arguing with the referee.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin
For the third straight PPV, the Showoff and the Lone Wolf will battle it out in one of the most stale rivalries in recent memory.
Even in the midst of a bad feud, let’s give credit where credit is due. Having Corbin win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania was a good surprise move on WWE’s part. Ziggler has been an extremely hard worker and amazing talent, and having the two square off was a move that was sure to propel Corbin as a top-level heel. And, rather than having Corbin buried by Ziggler (as has happened with other NXT talent in the past), WWE Creative has given each man a win at the past two pay-per-view pre-shows, evening the series at one win apiece. So it’s only fitting to have a tiebreaker match on the main pay-per-view…right?
Wrong. For no other reason than that Corbin mutilated Ziggler months ago on Monday Night RAW immediately following WrestleMania, the two have been at each other’s throats ever since…and that’s been all we’ve seen. WWE has two wonderful performers at their disposal and the opportunity to create more than the feud they have been throwing these two into recently. It’s stale and uninteresting because WWE Creative hasn’t given us a reason for the fans to care.
Jacob Anderson: Dolph Ziggler. In a situation like this, where each opponent has one win, chances are the final victory to end the feud will go to the face. It’s not a good outcome for Corbin’s future, but it speaks to WWE’s predictability.
Ryan Aday: Baron Corbin. Does Dolph Ziggler ever win a rubber match? Or any match that has significance? Should see more of the same here.
Baron Corbin defeats Dolph Ziggler via pinfall after delivering an End of Days.
WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Natalya & Becky Lynch
Let’s get something out of the way: when Dana Brooke made her debut on RAW several weeks ago, she got perhaps the worst pop from the crowd in recent memory. That means that the reaction to her showing up and assisting Emma in beating down Becky Lynch backstage was practically non-existent as fans racked their brains trying to figure out who she was or why she was important. In addition, the only reason why she’s had as much of the spotlight as she has was due to Emma’s injury and subsequent time off for surgery.
Charlotte was still feuding with Natalya when she parted ways with her father, Ric Flair, and Brooke and Becky Lynch have some animosity between the two of them, so WWE decided to put them in a tag team bout rather than have Charlotte defend her WWE Women’s Championship again. Considering how a good portion of Charlotte’s character has been built up from being Flair’s daughter and winning dirty due to his interference, it will be interesting to see how WWE transitions her character to deal with no longer having Flair at her side.
Jacob Anderson: Natalya and Becky Lynch. If either one of them were ever going to defeat Charlotte, it would be when the Women’s Championship wasn’t on the line. Plus, if it’s the match that opens the show, it’ll be a good face-over-heel moment to begin the night.
Charlotte and Dana Brooke defeat Natalya and Becky Lynch via pinfall after Charlotte connects with Natural Selection.
United States Champion Rusev vs. Titus O’Neil
After winning the United States title from Kalisto at Extreme Rules last month, the Bulgarian Brute fights former Tag Team Champion Titus O’Neil for the belt. O’Neil has been absent from the company after a misunderstanding between him and WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon resulted in a 60-day suspension.
Rusev has finally found his place as the United States Champion again, having never been given his rematch after WrestleMania 31 last year after dropping the belt to John Cena. Now that the League of Nations is no longer a stable, he dominated Kalisto in a match last month and won the title back shortly before being confronted by O’Neil. Having the latter included in a single’s title match is something we’ve never seen before, as he’s been a Tag Team Champion with his partner Darren Young as part of the Prime Time Players. But with Young occupied in a storyline with WWE Hall of Famer Bob Backlund, WWE are looking to see how O’Neil and Rusev mix in the ring.
Jacob Anderson: Rusev. He thrives in his anti-American persona, especially when he has the United States Championship around his waist, so don’t look to see him lose it to a jobber like Titus.
Ryan Aday: Rusev. Titus O’Neil will not win a major title this quickly after being suspended for touching the boss. The McMahon grudge lasts alot longer than that. Plus you want to make Rusev strong for a feud with a top star.
Rusev defeats Titus O’Neil via submission after Titus taps out from the Accolade.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillains
Fatal 4-Way Match
In standard championship matches, the competitor or competitors holding the championship can only lose by pinfall or submission, but with more than one challenger involved, The New Day doesn’t even have to be involved in the winning pinfall to lose. They could be clear across the arena and another team could defeat a third one to claim the Tag Team titles, presenting all kinds of possibilities for a great match. The personalities and skill levels of the performers involved in the bout are enough to get fans excited just thinking about it, and is sure to be a show-stealing match for all involved.
While The New Day retaining the gold under such unlikely circumstances would further cement them as the best in the tag team division, having them drop the belts on Sunday to a worthy team may not be a bad thing, depending on the outcome. The Vaudevillains aren’t ready for a push with the belts, having been defeated at Extreme Rules by Kingston and Big E, and they aren’t as over with the crowd as Enzo & Cass are. Plus, the unstoppable monsters Gallows and Anderson could also walk away with the titles and be even more polarizing as backup to A.J. Styles. So many outcomes can come from this bout, and almost all of them would be beneficial for the winners down the road.
Jacob Anderson: Enzo Amore & Big Cass. The two are fantastic personalities and wonderful in the ring, but have faded into the background recently. They need this win to catapult them back into the spotlight.
Ryan Aday: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. The club has formed but they never win significant matches. This might be the minor PPV that they use to strengthen them. New Day does not take the pin and remains super strong.
The New Day wins via pinfall after Kofi Kingston & Big E delivered a Midnight Hour to Karl Anderson.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
In a 6-man ladder match that gives the pay-per-view its name, Dean Ambrose, Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Alberto Del Rio must climb a ladder and retrieve a briefcase guaranteeing the winner a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at a time and place of their choosing.
This match is traditionally a 7-man match, and was even advertised as such when the first five men qualified for it the night after Extreme Rules. Then, after Del Rio qualified on Thursday Night SmackDown later that week, that seventh man was suddenly no longer included. Either WWE doesn’t want to stick to tradition and include a seventh member, or they have plans to introduce a mystery seventh competitor at the event.
Four of the men in the match seem to have an ample shot at winning, but the win really only makes sense for two of them: Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens. Ambrose mixed it up with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins on the final episode of RAW before Money in the Bank, and it appears as though WWE is finally going to entertain the idea of all three former members of The Shield going at it. Having Ambrose win the briefcase would be a very solid start to that feud.
Owens, on the other hand, would thrive in the main event spotlight. He seems ready for a massive push to the top of the business, and he has all the tools he needs to ensure he is massively successful in the spotlight. Having him win would cement his move up to the top of the card and show that WWE is ready to have the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on him in the near future.
Jacob Anderson: Kevin Owens. While having Ambrose win would create more opportunities for WWE to get him back into the title picture, Owens is ready and desperate for a push like this. And to be honest, he totally deserves it.
Ryan Aday: Dean Ambrose. The final member of The Shield to get his push will finally get the golden briefcase. I could definitely see a Shield three-way match at WrestleMania after Ambrose cashes in at Survivor Series or Royal Rumble.
Dean Ambrose climbs the ladder and claims the Money in the Bank briefcase for the win.
John Cena vs. A.J. Styles
Making his return to a pay-per-view for the first time in months, John Cena will face A.J. Styles in what has been dubbed a “dream match” by WWE.
It’s funny to see the way that WWE has booked this feud between these two mega powers. Not only has Styles brought an air of realism to the rivalry by having him mention Cena’s tendency to “bury” other talent, but WWE has mentioned how he is “a star around the world” without mentioning any of the promotions that he has worked for over the course of his career. To be honest, it’s quite amusing to see how WWE tries — and fails — to dodge Styles’ previous success and how facing Cena trumps all his previous feuds and matches up to this point.
This feud also shows WWE’s unwillingness to allow fans the outcome of seeing Roman Reigns embrace the boos of the crowd and become an outright heel. Styles was already having issues with Gallows and Anderson upon losing a second WWE World Heavyweight Championship match to Reigns, and WWE turned him heel rather than Reigns to give him a reason to fight Cena upon his return to the company. Let’s hope that Cena doesn’t put Styles down for good and “bury” him as Styles has implied.
Jacob Anderson: John Cena. It’s unfortunate, but Cena will walk away with the (first) win here because it marks his return to active competition. Look for the feud to continue, but Cena will win the opening bout.
Ryan Aday: A.J. Styles. Back to my “make the club strong at a minor PPV” theory. If this is SummerSlam, no way Cena wins. I’d think that we might see a certain Demon emerge to join the club and help Styles win.
A.J. Styles defeats John Cena via pinfall after interference by The Club.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
This match features WWE’s other top star returning from injury as The Architect looks to take the WWE World Heavyweight title from the Roman Empire in the evening’s main event.
Fans have long been awaiting the return of Seth Rollins after he badly injured his knee at a house show several months ago. While he has managed to return a few months early, it’s clear that WWE is just looking to throw somebody else at Roman Reigns in an attempt to show that they’re serious about having him stay at the top of the ladder.
Reigns still isn’t popular with the fans. No matter the matches he puts on, he will still be booed when he walks into an arena due to his booking. It’s not necessarily his fault, but it’s another problem that WWE faces when attempting to work with the orders of Vince McMahon. It’s due to McMahon that Reigns holds the belt as a face rather than as a heel, and because McMahon wants to put him over despite the desires of the crowd, Reigns will continue to get booed until something changes with his character. Fans thought that when Rollins attacked Reigns at the end of the Extreme Rules event last month that we were going to see Reigns finally turn heel with a babyface Rollins coming to reclaim his championship. Instead, WWE turns Rollins heel again and continues to shove Reigns down the throats of the crowd.
The best outcome, no matter the shenanigans involved, is to take the belt from Reigns and place it back on Rollins to facilitate a better reason for the alignments of both Superstars to shift towards being better for business. However, because the title usually only changes hands a few times per year, and Money in the Bank is not one of the major PPVs, don’t expect to see a new champion after Sunday’s bout.
Jacob Anderson: Roman Reigns. If this were SummerSlam or WrestleMania, there might be more of a chance that Reigns would drop the championship, but I’m not too optimistic about it.
Ryan Aday: Roman Reigns. WWE fans refuse to let Rollins be a heel, especially against Reigns. Maybe they can bring a child out and have Rollins berate him. Even with that the fans still wouldn’t cheer for Reigns. Roman wins here and they build to another match at next month’s Battleground PPV.
Seth Rollins defeats Roman Reigns via pinfall after delivering two Pedigrees in rapid succession. Dean Ambrose then cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and hit Rollins in the back with the briefcase to claim the win and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
WWE Money in the Bank airs Sunday, June 19 at 5:00 p.m. PDT on the WWE Network.