Views From The Turnbuckle: Money In The Bank Preview; WWE Could Have One Of The Best Shows Of 2016

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On RAW Monday night, John Cena mentioned that the upcoming Money in the Bank PPV is going to be "like another WrestleMania." The reason for this is because there are going to be three "WrestleMania-level main events" on the show. While that is probably a bit of hyperbole, WWE has produced an event that does have three, really marquee matches coming up. Money in the Bank has the potential to be one of if not the most eventful event of the WWE calendar.


The main event will be Roman Reigns defending his WWE Championship against Seth Rollins, the former champion who is returning from injury to re-capture the championship that he never lost. Rollins returned at the end of Extreme Rules to lay Reigns out and then fully committed himself to remaining heel by insulting the fans who supported him during his rehab the next night on RAW. As Dave Meltzer and others have pointed out, Rollins could have returned as a big babyface since his injury (highlighted in the excellent WWE 24 feature) generated natural sympathy for him. However, WWE elected to have him remain a heel, partly because there was a shortage of heels at the main event level, partly because WWE is stubborn when it comes to pushing Reigns as THE top babyface in the company.


Reigns is coming off two excellent title defenses against AJ Styles at the last two PPV events. Despite the high-quality matches; the crowd is not really coming around on Reigns. He still either gets booed or no reaction from live audiences, and the business numbers (TV ratings, merchandise sales, live attendance) are not spiraling downwards since he won the WWE Championship. That will hardly factor into Reigns' being the champion; WWE has shown that they are fully committed to making Reigns the guy even though all logic is telling that he is not the guy.

For that reason I think WWE is in a tight bind from a booking standpoint. Rollins is not going to be taking the championship off of Reigns, but at the same time WWE wants to keep Rollins in the main event picture and relevant as a heel, and having him lose cleanly to Reigns wouldn't help him. Of course, WWE can still go that route, they just did that with AJ Styles, who lost cleanly at Payback but still got a re-match at Extreme Rules. I don't think losing twice to Reigns helped Styles at all; but I don't think that will stop WWE from repeating that formula with Reigns and Rollins. The best case scenario is a screwy finish, maybe a no-contest, which will lead to another match at the next PPV where Reigns will likely win clean. The match will probably be good; Reigns' matches with Styles were great and Rollins is a similar worker to Styles, but I don't expect a very inspired finish.


The second big match on the card is between AJ Styles and John Cena. Billed as a "dream match" that fans would never have expected to happen; and this is indeed a very big match. Styles turned heel by officially joining Anderson and Gallows to form "The Club" and have set their sights on WWE's golden boy, Cena. The exchanges between the two in promos over the last two weeks have been very good; Cena has submitted some of his best work and for a guy that isn't known for his promo ability, Styles has become a solid promo guy and has held his own against Cena.

While the promos have been good I haven't put too much stock in them. As soon as it became evident that Cena and Styles were going to feud I've become focused solely on the results of their matches. Styles can bark at Cena all day and it can be entertaining, but unless Styles is booked like an equal to Cena (something very few, if any have been able to do) then this is mostly for naught. People can act like wins and losses don't matter anymore but in this case they absolutely do; Styles needs to win and win consistently against Cena.

The feud is very similar to last year's battle between Cena and Kevin Owens. Owens was a popular wrestler outside of WWE and called Cena out. Owens worked a great first match with Cena, shocking the world by winning clean. But then? Cena beat Owens and then beat him one more time for good measure. By the end of the feud Owens had lost a lot of the momentum he had at the beginning of the feud. I worry that Styles will be treated the same way; perhaps winning the first match against Cena with the help of Anderson and Gallows but ultimately dropping more than one match to Cena, ruining any momentum he had going into the feud. The matches could be really good, but the reality of a guy feuding with Cena is that he is always in-danger of coming out the worse for the wear; no matter how much time WWE gives them during the feud.


The final major match on the card is the titular Money in the Bank match. The participants for the match or Owens, Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho, Alberto Del Rio, Dean Ambrose and Cesaro. Considering the talent available for the match, it should be a very good bout. I don't think there is an overly predictable winner; Owens, Zayn and Ambrose are the likely candidates and either one of them will do a good job holding the briefcase. I would bet on Ambrose to win it, with Zayn stopping Owens from winning the match so they can continue their feud while Ambrose lurks behind Reigns and Rollins, holding the contract over their heads.

Rounding out the card is a tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championships, with The New Day defending against Enzo and Cass, Anderson and Gallows and The Vaudevillians. I think The New Day retains by pinning The Vaudevillians. The multi-team match serves a couple purposes; it keeps The New Day as champions without having to pin either Anderson and Gallows or Enzo and Cass, it can set up two tag team feuds instead of one, and get some much needed interactions between The New Day and Enzo and Cass. Those two teams are destined to feud with each other, they are the only teams that can match each other when it comes to charisma and the fans will love a babyface vs babyface feud.


Also on the show is Rusev defending his newly won United States Championship against Titus O'Neil. Rusev has a chance to rebuild his star power now with the championship and with Lana again, although I'm not sure defending against O'Neil is a great start. O'Neil is a big guy with charisma, but he is also coming off a suspension and fans really don't have a great reason to cheer for him other than that Rusev hates America and O'Neil happens to be from the US. It's unlikely that O'Neil wins, and for Rusev and the United States Championship to climb back into relevancy he is going to have to defend against someone the fan's care about more; like Dean Ambrose or Sami Zayn.

Last on the card is a tag team match with Charlotte and Dana Brooke against Natalya and Becky Lynch. This feud has come along quite poorly; WWE is teasing Brooke possibly leaving Charlotte, because Charlotte bullies her and is always talking down to her. This is a fairly standard wrestling angle; but the problem here is that Brooke just recently came up on the main roster and was paired with Charlotte. We don't know anything about her other than being Charlotte's lackey and the fan's don't really care about her struggle. If you are going to do a "protégé leaves the master" program the duo better be paired up for at least a year; otherwise the fans are not going to care about the break up because their relationship hasn't been shown as a long-term factor.


Money in the Bank could very well be WWE's best PPV of the year with a couple matches that have the potential to be the best WWE match of the year. There are some shaky booking decisions that could be implemented that might damper the impact of the PPV when we look at it retrospectively, but I have no doubt that this will be an exciting show.