Braun Strowman became the first man to qualify for the upcoming Money in the Bank ladder match, defeating Kevin Owens in the opening match of Monday Night Raw.
After a number of devastating running shoulder tackles outside the ring, Strowman planted Owens with a Running Powerslam for the win.
Raw General Manager Kurt Angle came out to start the show by announcing a pair of triple threat qualifying matches for the two Money in the Bank Ladder matches at the June 17 pay-per-view of the same name. Ember Moon, Sasha Banks and Ruby Riott will compete for a spot in the women's match, while Roman Reigns will take on Sami Zayn and Finn Balor in another triple threat.
The win continues the hot streak Strowman has been on ever since he failed to capture the Universal Championship against Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble. Since that January match he set the record for most eliminations in an Elimination Chamber match at five in February, won the Raw Tag Team Championships with 10-year-old WWE fan Nicholas as his tag partner, won the first-ever Greatest Royal Rumble match in Saudi Arabia and broke the record for most eliminations in a Royal Rumble match at 13.
Strowman was joined in the ladder match by former Universal Champion Finn Balor, who defeated both Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn in the main event of Raw after some interference from Jinder Mahal. Two more participants will be determined on Tuesday night's SmackDown Live as Daniel Bryan vs. Rusev and Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz will both take place as qualifying matches.
Given that WWE is back to having co-branded pay-per-views, this year's Money in the Bank Ladder match will have four wrestlers competing from each brand for an eight-man match.
Of the potential competitors (so far), only Bryan and Miz have previously won the Money in the Bank contract. Miz famously cashed his in against Randy Orton in route to defending it in the main event of WrestleMania XXVII against John Cena, while Bryan used his on an injured Big Show at the TLC pay-per-view in December 2011.
Miz cut a lengthy promo after the Backlash pay-per-view where he bragged about winning the briefcase for a second time.0comments
"Money in the Bank, if you remember, in 2010 I won that match. And I went on in November 2010 and I defeated Randy Orton and became the WWE Champion. Understand that tonight I went for the most coveted title in all the WWE because I made it that. But I make titles relevant. I make titles prestigious," Miz said. "Titles don't make the man, the man makes the title. And whatever title I hold over my shoulder is the title to get."
"When I win next month I will go on to become the WWE Champion, making it the most coveted, most prestigious in all of WWE."