By Beau Le Blanc

This Sunday, June 18th LIVE on the WWE Network and Pay-Per-View it is the Smackdown Exclusive event, Money in the Bank. The titular match puts 6 superstars in the ring with a brief case suspended high above it and the first competitor who can climb up and retrieve it; is guaranteed a Title Match at ANY time over the next year. Since 15 out of 17 Money in the Bank winners have gone on to successfully become champion, the stakes are as high as the briefcase and the competition is fierce.

The New Day vs. The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles

During the “Superstar Shake-Up” The New Day were sent to Smackdown, and after a few weeks of recovering from some bumps and bruises, they finally debuted here in Atlanta a few weeks ago. Given their record breaking 483 Day Title Reign and The Usos having twice beaten the previous challengers, Shane McMahon granted them a shot at the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. The Usos have been vastly more entertaining since dropping the facepaint and war dance and have really shined as angry, overlooked competitors. We all love The New Day, but the act is starting to wear a little thin, so I’m hoping the change of scenery will re-invigorate the charismatic trio. The level of experience in this match should make it an outstanding contest combined with The New Day’s three man advantage. I think this will be the launch of a feud between The Usos and The New Day, so look for Jimmy and Jey to retain.

The First-Ever Women’s Money in the Bank Match: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Tamina vs. Carmella vs. Natalya

The Diva’s Women’s Revolution Evolution has hit another milestone with the first ever Money in the Bank match featuring female competitors. The driving storyline of the Women’s division on Smackdown has been that they all can’t seem to get along and all want to be champion, culminating in an out of control brawl prior to a #1 Contender’s match back on May 30th. Charlotte’s clearly the biggest star in the match, but it should be a good showcase for all the participants. Look for Carmella’s boy-toy, James Ellsworth to be involved as well. It’ll be interesting what the Women come up with as the bar for Money in the Bank spots is pretty high. I’ve seen some speculation that there might be an immediate cash-in after the Women’s title match, but I hope not as I think having a “Ms. Money in the Bank” for a few months would be a great storyline for Smackdown. Look for the Princess of Staten Island, Carmella to grab the case and the opportunity.

The Money in the Bank Match: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens vs. Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Featuring 6 of Smackdown’s best wrestlers, this one will invariably steal the show. Other than Nakamura and Corbin, all of the superstars in the match have been in previous Money in the Bank contests or multi-man ladder matches and Dolph Ziggler is a former Money in the Bank winner. Recently, Owens has feuded with Styles, Corbin with Zayn and Ziggler with Nakamura, giving more context to the contest than just having six random guys pulled out of a hat. It also plays into Smackdown/Shane McMahon’s “Land of Opportunity” gimmick quite nicely with guys who have been in the WWE title picture or dancing around it, going back to last year. Given the experience level and tensions between the superstars there should be some serious “jump out of your seat” moments. I think this match will finally result in the arrival of Sami Zayn, who will be Smackdown’s Mr. Money in the bank come Sunday night.

Lana vs. Naomi for the Smackdown Women’s Championship

The Ravishing Russian, Lana, will make her singles match debut in a title match with Naomi this Sunday. Up until this point we’ve only seen Lana wrestle once on TV, in a 10 Woman tag match at Wrestlemania, so it’ll be interesting to see how she rates as an in-ring performer. I loved how Lana demanded to be in the Money in the Bank match, and how logically, Shane McMahon shot that down as she has yet to compete in a WWE ring. Thought it was smart of them to have her attack Naomi and have Naomi demand the title match from Shane as well. Naomi’s been riding high and perhaps is overlooking a wrestler she knows nothing about, which adds additional intrigue. Also, since every other active female on Smackdown is in the Money in the Bank match, who else was Naomi supposed to defend her title against? I think Naomi retains, it’s too soon to make Lana the focal point of the division, but I’m hopeful she’ll impress as much as I enjoyed her previous work with Rusev.

Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship

Jinder Mahal, WWE Champion. That sentence would’ve sounded utterly ridiculous back in January, but after being the runner up in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale at Wrestlemania 33 and his winning a six-pack challenge and subsequently the Championship from WWE’s Apex Predator, Randy Orton he is now on the list of Champions dating back to 1963. Sure, Mahal has had help from the re-packaged Bollywood Boys, but he’s been booked as a fearsome fighter and his physique is more than impressive to sell him as Champion. The cynic in me would point to WWE’s expansion into India as having a role in his quick rise to the top and I’m somewhat disappointed that it reportedly derailed Rusev’s return angle, but this should be a good one. Remains to be seen how much longer the “Modern-Day Maharaja” will hold the championship as it’s not crazy to think this is just a stop-gap to a bigger feud down the road. Orton is Orton, when he’s not decrying indie wrestling, he has the ability to put on really solid matches, though I wouldn’t begrudge anyone who thinks his act as gotten stale. Also, prior to the recent revelation that John Cena will be a Free Agent upon his return to Smackdown, I thought for sure his Independence Day comeback was going to be tied to challenging Jinder Mahal at Summerslam in a classic Good American vs. Evil Foreigner feud (speaking of things that are stale), but that’s all up in the air now. I don’t think fans necessarily want to see Orton get his 14th Championship just yet and I think WWE has legit gotten behind Mahal, so look for him to retain, with a bit of assistance from the Sing Brothers.


Each and every Wednesday, it’s Pro-Wrestling Wednesday on 92-9 The Game, be sure to check back each week for the latest on the wide world of wrestling. 


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