From a storytelling perspective, Money in the Bank has easily become one of the WWE’s most critical annual shows, and the only show created in the past decade that cracks the list.
Money in the Bank is as pivotal as any non-WrestleMania show in determining long-term WWE storylines, rivaled only by the Royal Rumble. Obvious case-in-point: Seth Rollins wins the Gold Briefcase last year, and the company builds him as the top-heel-in-waiting, openly referring to him as “The Future of the WWE.”
Come WrestleMania, Rollins walks out with the WWE Title and has been champion ever since.
Especially now that there’s only one briefcase, choosing the winner of MITB is crucial. That’s why, even though Owens / Cena is the most compelling current storyline, the MITB is even more important in trying to suss out where storylines will be heading two, five, or even ten months from now.
As such, here’s a look at the candidates to win the case tonight, ranked from least- to most-interesting.
7. Randy Orton – Especially as he’s matured, there really aren’t any holes in Orton’s game. But that doesn’t make him a good choice to win the briefcase. He’s a face. He’s won it before. He has nothing happening, storyline-wise. Strikes one, two, and three. An Orton win wouldn’t create much in the way of ready-made angles.
Adrian Neville – He’s in the match for the insane spots. Neville is a pure face, and that doesn’t make for ideal MITB winners. Royal Rumble winners tend to be faces, MITB winners skew heel, and for good reason. He also doesn’t remotely have the verbal skillset to build weeks or months of promos around his being the case-holder.
5. Dolph Ziggler – Like Orton, Ziggler has won a briefcase before, and he’s a face. Ziggler also has the added baggage of being in a limbo-state feud with a guy on crutches. Still, there’s at least a sense that there’s some unfinished business for Ziggler: Not long after his cash-in, he suffered a concussion that derailed what should have been the biggest push of his career. Maybe giving him the case would be the latest in the lawsuit-minded booking that we’ve seen from WWE lately? (Hi, Tyson Kidd! RIP, Curb Stomp!) I wouldn’t bet on it, though.
4. Roman Reigns – Conventional wisdom says that Reigns is the more-than-obvious choice to take the briefcase. Of course, conventional wisdom also said that Reigns would win the title at WrestleMania. A Reigns win would have some potential, as he clearly has a beef with Rollins, and both Rollins and Ambrose are former Shield-mates. I do wonder if fans would reject Reigns as “Mr. Money in the Bank” as they did when he won the Rumble. An even bigger problem is that a guy being pushed as dominant shouldn’t need to resort to a briefcase. Reigns would have to do the “honorable, plenty-of-notice cash-in,” which isn’t nearly as exciting.
3. Sheamus – I dig Sheamus’ heel character. It has a good blend of powerhouse and cowardly traits, which is the right mix for someone carrying the MITB briefcase. He’s believable as a champion and as a bastard who would take advantage of a damaged opponent. The only downside is that there’s a feeling of “been there, done that,” as Sheamus has already held the WWE Title on multiple occasions.
2. Kofi Kingston – This would be fun. The New Day parading the briefcase around, threatening that any one of them can cash in at any time. That would probably end with a Kofi face turn after he stops liking the idea of Big E or Xavier Woods stealing the opportunity that he earned. But we’ll never get there, for a few reasons: One, the New Day is already doing great as a three-man tag-champ act. Two, Kofi is in this match for the same reason Neville is—crazy bumps. Three, the veteran Kingston, who hasn’t had a high-profile singles match in years, seems like neither an up-and-comer nor a legitimate threat for the title. That poisons his chances. He won’t win, but it would sure be entertaining if he did.
1. Kane – I know. I can’t believe it, either. Kane’s character is that of a largely ineffectual corporate lackey, and has been for some time. Yet, his winning creates a really intriguing possibility, particularly if Rollins retains (which he will). Will Kane reject the Authority for one last run at the top? Will Rollins be able to convince Kane to back off after months of tension between the two? Maybe Kane shows up on Monday with a briefcase . . . and his mask. He pins Rollins at some point down the road, gets a two-week run as champion, then gets beaten and retired by, say, Brock Lesnar (since we only have about two weeks between PPVs now, that shouldn’t be a problematic timeline—GET THE WWE NETWORK TODAY FOR JUST $9.99!!!).
Yeah, yeah. Kane winning would be a weird choice, and it also cuts against the premise of this article: Namely, that MITB is the way to set up long-term plans for the company. Kane definitely isn’t a part of the long-term plans.
But, from a storytelling standpoint, it would play nicely.