On Sunday, WWE will roll out one of its most anticipated and unpredictable Pay Per Views of the year. This particular edition features not one but two ladder matches. In addition to the traditional ladder match that guarantees the winner a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the main event features another ladder match for the title itself. With so many participants and possible outcomes, let’s take a look at where each man stands heading into the event and where they may find themselves coming out of it.
Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match
- Rob Van Dam & Kofi Kingston - I grouped these two guys together because they basically serve the same function in this match. They’re there to provide big, high-flying spots but neither has a chance to actually win the briefcase. Considering his age and with his style, RVD's current run as a performer at this level can't last much longer and there's no reason to think the company would have him heavily involved in long term title picture plans. Kofi is an amazing athlete and a credit to the roster but he’ll likely never be a major threat to the championship. If it was going to happen, it would’ve happened by now.
- Jack Swagger - Despite, or perhaps even because of, having a previous Money in the Bank Ladder Match and World Heavyweight Championship win, Swagger's chances of walking away with the contract seem very slim. He has tremendous size and athleticism but his lack of charisma and mic skills limit his potential. Zeb Colter and the Tea Party gimmick only help so much and creative seems to be stumped as to what to do with him.
- Dean Ambrose - Ambrose is on one of the hottest runs of anyone on the roster right now but he will not win this match. What makes Ambrose so special right now is that he’s the only guy in the company who doesn’t care about the title. He’s not interested in the contract, he’s only interested in kicking Seth Rollins's ass. The jeans and T-shirt fit his character much better than the faux-Soldier of Fortune Shield getup and, and if anything, he’s taken off since going solo. He won’t win, but there is a chance he could keep Rollins from doing so.
- Dolph Ziggler - Quite possibly the most underused guy on the roster, Ziggler would be an excellent choice to win the briefcase, especially if they pair him up with the returning Ric Flair. It isn’t all that likely, but it would work. Ziggler is over with the fans, whether the company wants to acknowledge it or not.
- Seth Rollins - Rollins is, of course, the likely winner. This doesn’t provide much suspense, but the options here are slim. If Rollins does win, he can wait to cash it in and use the briefcase to continue to draw heat as the importance of his treachery fades. Either way, the match should be an ideal showcase for his tremendous skill set.
It’s entirely possible that Wade Barrett was originally booked to win this match, but he received some legitimately bad news when he was injured at the SmackDown! taping on Tuesday. There’s been no official statement on his status outside of initial acknowledgment of the injury, but it’s believed that he suffered a separated shoulder which would likely keep him out of Money in the Bank. It’s bad news for the fans because he would’ve been great in the match and with the briefcase. It’s even worse news for the company because the roster can’t afford to take that kind of hit right now. But just because he’s injured doesn’t mean he should be kept off of television. If he can’t wrestle, they should put him on commentary. His stick work is too good to lose just because he can’t physically go. As for the ladder match, it’s possible that a surprise replacement for Barrett could be put in and walk away with the contract
Money in the Bank WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match
- Alberto Del Rio - After four title reigns, a Royal Rumble win and a Money in the Bank win Alberto Del Rio's character has literally nowhere left to go. He has decent in-ring ability but the Mexican aristocrat thing went stale and there isn't much left. Not only will he not win here, but his days competing for the top prize may be numbered.
- Sheamus - Despite a somewhat silly gimmick, Sheamus is one of the company’s better workers. He has elevated the importance of the U.S. Championship in the short time he’s had it simply by defending it but he isn’t likely to take home the World Championship.
- Cesaro - People love Cesaro but he’s never struck me as a World Heavyweight Champion. He’s a throwback with a vast move set and tons of ability but I’m not sure he’s cut out to be the face of the company. Despite his association with Paul Heyman and recent heel moves there just doesn’t seem to be much to the character. There is something missing and time needs to be taken to figure out exactly what that is. Again, he’s a tremendous wrestler and totally unique but there’s just something about his character and look that doesn’t scream World Champion. Even if you disagree with all of that, it’s likely still too soon at this point.
- Roman Reigns - Reigns has the look in spades, but like Cesaro, he also isn’t ready. His mic skills are the least advanced of the former Shield members and his first title win needs to happen as the climax to a one on one feud with a lot of buildup. Many fans would love to see him win the title Sunday but the powers that be would be wise to hold off at least until WrestleMania 31. Let him work a program with Triple H and work on his promos for a while. He’s going to be a major star and a top guy for a long time so there’s no need to rush it.
- Kane - The Devil’s Favorite Demon is an even more imposing figure in person than he is on television and should be legitimately frightening when you combine that with the way he’s packaged and presented. On paper he may be the ideal candidate for a transitional championship reign, but the problem is that he’s been around so long and loses so frequently that he has no credibility anymore. A monster that loses all the time just isn’t that scary. The importance of wins and losses often seems to be an afterthought in WWE booking and Kane is a perfect example of that. Kane could win if the company wants to bring continue his terrible feud with Daniel Bryan but that wouldn’t just be bad writing, it would be lazy, which is actually worse.
- Bray Wyatt - The one thing that I am absolutely sure of about the current state of WWE is that Windham Rotunda is the best actor in the company. Not will be, not can be, not has the potential to be but right now. I have no idea about his versatility as a performer but the character of Bray Wyatt would be just as a credible in a narrative feature film or a dramatic cable series (would he be at all out of place on an episode of Justified or the first season of True Detective?) as he is every Monday night. What may be even more impressive is that the character informs his every move in the ring and, for his age, he is a master of ring psychology. Unlike the other two young guys in this match, Wyatt is ready now. His character is fully formed, his athleticism for a man of that size is incredible and putting the belt on him would open up myriad story options. It would signal a major change of direction, but he could immediately enter into a feud with Daniel Bryan as soon as the latter is healthy or any other face the company chooses. If you go this route, however, you have to keep the title on him for a significant run or risk ruining his credibility after his program with Cena. It probably won’t happen, but it would be a bold, game changing decision to book the match that way.
- Randy Orton - A Randy Orton victory here might just be best for business. Without some sort of swerve, it represents the best opportunity for Authority interference and thus legit heat. It also may be the easiest way for a healthy Daniel Bryan to resume his feud with the Authority. There is staleness issue at play here, but Orton is a top talent and probably the safest choice.
A couple of days ago, the wrestling rumor mill kicked into high gear when Amazon listed the Summer Slam DVD for pre-order, complete with cover/poster art that featured Brock Lesnar and, yep, John Cena. The quick consensus seemed to be that it was an unintentional spoiler, not a prediction, as to the outcome of Sunday’s World Heavyweight Championship ladder match. Some were quick to point out that those posters usually reveal little about the actual card and they seemed like their’s sounded like the voices of reason on the matter until amazon pulled the image yesterday confirming the earlier suspicions of many. With Lesnar long having been rumored to return to face the champion (whoever he may be) everything lines up very neatly. The thing is, as much as many fans won’t like it, Cena walking out of MitB with the belt(s) isn’t just the most likely outcome, it’s one of the most workable ones for future storylines if handled properly though there are some longterm considerations that must be weighed.
It’s likely that Lesnar becomes the Champion at Summer Slam so assuming that there’s no immediate contract cash-in or a title change at Battleground, a babyface should win the Championship ladder match. None of the younger guys, face or heel, could sustain that short of a title reign without losing all of their momentum. No man on the roster, is positioned better to sustain that kind of a loss without effecting anything, which is why it’s so puzzling that the powers that be didn’t use this cachet to put Bray Wyatt over in a clean win instantly turning him into the most feared heel in the company. Instead they chose to protect Cena. He doesn’t need protecting anymore.
The biggest concern with another Cena title run is fatigue. His first came nearly a decade ago but some of this is something of a subliminal projection. His gimmick is basically a reboot of Hulk Hogan and older, longtime fans feel like this has been shoved down their throat for thirty years. In some sense, they’re not wrong, but the ill will is misdirected.
Crowds chanting that he can’t wrestle is utter nonsense, he’s a far better worker than Hogan ever was and has an impressive “matchography” that includes many excellent matches that get forgotten and pushed to the wayside. He’s been an excellent “face of the company” for a decade but the time to step aside is quickly approaching.
This would be Cena's fifteenth title reign, meaning it could conceivably be his last. To anyone with even the slightest sense of wrestling tradition, the notion of John Cena eclipsing or even tying Ric Flair's 16 World Championships is sacrilege. The timing and impact of his final title run should be carefully considered, both for Cena and the guy he drops the belt to.
He seems to genuinely like working with younger guys and helping them get over so I can’t imagine that this will be a problem when that time comes but it seems like a waste for Lesnar to be that guy. He doesn’t need it, it would help a younger guy much more, and the likelihood of Cena and Lesnar surpassing their 2012 Extreme Rules match is nil.