This Sunday, the WWE holds their annual Money in the Bank pay per view. Of all the WWE's secondary pay per view events, Money in the Bank holds special significance as it creates an instant new threat for the WWE World Heavyweight Title in the form of the Money in the Bank winner. Money in the Bank also marks the start of the build to Summerslam, the WWE's second biggest event of the year. Here are five of the most interesting storylines to follow into Money in the Bank:
The Money in the Bank Match
The highlight of Money in the Bank is the Money in the Bank match, a special ladder match with massive implications for the WWE title picture. At the heart of the Money in the Bank match is a special contract guaranteeing a WWE World Heavyweight Title match opportunity at a time of the contract holder's choosing. That means that the Money in the Bank winner can cash in their contract after the WWE title holder is beaten down, incapacitated or already worn out from another match. It's almost a guarantee that the Money in the Bank contract holder will become WWE World Heavyweight champion, as 90% of past winners have cashed in to win a title.
This year's Money in the Bank match features six wrestlers. The odds on favorite to win is Dean Ambrose, a popular babyface whose reputation has fallen somewhat in recent months. Ambrose was one of the hottest wrestlers in the WWE going into Wrestlemania, but he had awful matches/storylines against Brock Lesnar and Chris Jericho that have somewhat cooled him off. However, Ambrose remains the favorite in the match as Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, his two ex-partners in the popular wrestling staple the Shield, are both in the WWE title picture.
Jericho, who actually invented the Money in the Bank contest, is also in the match, playing the role of a heel with an ax to grind against Jericho. Ambrose and Jericho's last match ended with Ambrose throwing Jericho into a pile of thumbtacks, so expect Jericho to try to return the favor. The other contestants include Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, best friends turned bitter enemies who seemed destined to fight each other for eternity, and Cesaro, a fan favorite and one of the best technical wrestlers on the WWE roster.prevnext
Ex-Brothers Battle for the Title
Last fall, Seth Rollins blew out his knee during a non-televised house show, which forced him to vacate the WWE World Heavyweight Title without actually losing the belt. After several months struggling against Rollins' former allies, Roman Reigns won the WWE World Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania and is now in his first major championship reign. Last month, Rollins returned from injury at Extreme Rules and attacked Reigns from behind to send a message: Rollins was back to take back the title he never lost. That immediately led to Seth McMahon setting up the main event for Money in the Bank: Reigns vs. Rollins to settle who was the true champ once and for all.
Extreme Rules wasn't the first time Rollins attacked Reigns from behind. Rollins, Reigns and Dean Ambrose formed the Shield, one of the most popular WWE wrestling staples of all time. Rollins attacked Reigns and Ambrose two years ago to join the McMahon-led Authority group, breaking up the Shield in the process. Rollins then cashed in his Money in the Bank contest during the the main event of Wrestlemania 31 to all but steal the WWE World Heavyweight title from Reigns.
There's history between Reigns and Rollins, but there's also a weird dynamic at play involving the fanbase. While the WWE considered Reigns to be their next big star, the fanbase just hasn't accepted him as "the guy", no matter what his catchphrase is. And fans gave Rollins a thunderous reception when he returned from injury, even though he's supposed to be a cowardly heel. People want to cheer Rollins and they want to boo Reigns. So, the real question is how long will the WWE stay the course with Reigns and does Rollins present the company with a better option?prevnext
Future Hall of Famers Collide
In 2002, John Cena and AJ Styles both began their rise to superstardom for separate promotions. Cena became the "Face that Ran the Place" for the WWE, a Superman-esque good guy known for his patriotism and his adherence to a belief system of hustle, loyalty and respect. Meanwhile, Styles rose to fame at TNA and ROH, the WWE's largest rivals, as a main eventer and one of the best all around wrestlers in the world. When Styles finally joined the WWE earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before Cena and Styles finally met in the ring.
Sure enough, when Cena returned from injury on Memorial Day, Styles was there to greet him. After a raucous applause for both men, Styles and Cena shook hands before Styles attacked Cena from behind and delivered a brutal beatdown with the help of "the Club", a tag team consisting of Styles' friends Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. Styles' reasoning for the attack was surprisingly meta: wrestlers tend to lose to Cena at the cost of their careers and he didn't want to be the next person to fall down the totem pole. That's a common complaint among WWE fans, who have seen their favorite wrestlers stagnate after getting built up for a program against Cena and then tossed aside after Cena won. Cena and Styles later agreed to a match at Money in the Bank, although Styles agreed not to bring the Club in to interfere.
Cena vs. Styles is a match that people have wanted for nearly 15 years and it's fantastic that we're finally going to see it at Money in the Bank. These are two of the top wrestlers of the current era, and we're finally going to see them fight for the first time.prevnext
Fatal Four Way for the Tag Team Titles
The New Day, a three man tag team consisting of Big E Langston, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, have held the WWE Tag Team Title since September of last year, staving off all challengers for the better part of a year. During that time, the New Day have gone from villainous heels to happy go lucky babyfaces and are now one of the most popular acts in the WWE. However, the New Day's title reign has gotten a bit stale and Sunday's Fatal Four Way presents a great way to mix things up in the Tag Team division.
The rules of a Fatal Four Way tag team match are a bit complicated. Only two wrestlers can be in the ring at any time, but other wrestlers from any team can tag in at any time. The match ends when one wrestler is pinned, which eliminates the New Day's "champion's advantage". After all, the New Day can lose their titles even if they aren't the ones getting pinned in the match.
The other competitors in the Fatal Four Way match represent the best the WWE Tag Team division has to offer. Enzo and Big Cass are arguably as popular as the New Day are, and there's a feel good story to them as Enzo suffered a nasty concussion two months ago at Payback. The Vaudevillains are one of the newer teams in the division, a heel team with a gimmick of wanting to return to a "bygone era" with old-fashioned values. Although the Vaudevillains haven't gotten over with WWE fans, they're both dependable workers and winning the title would establish them as a top level team.
Arguably the favorites of the Fatal Four Way are the Club, a team consisting of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. The Club is the WWE's version of the Bullet Club, a super-popular heel group in Japan. Anderson and Gallows are ex-Bullet Club members and former IWGP Tag Team Champions. The WWE have made a big deal over the Club, even though they haven't done much since debuting after Wrestlemania. A Fatal Four Way match seems like the perfect time for the Club to establish themselves as a force in the WWE and shake up the tag team division.prevnext
The Best of the Rest
Rusev is also defending his United States Championship at Money in the Bank against Titus O'Neil. Rusev had a memorable run as US Champion in 2014-2015 that culminated in a heated series of matches against John Cena. Like many Cena opponents, Rusev's career faltered a bit after losing, but he recently won the United States title back in convincing fashion against Kalisto. Putting a belt back on Rusev is a good first step to reestablishing Rusev as a monster heel, so expect him to beat O'Neil in major fashion.
The only women's match on the card is a tag team match between Charlotte and Dana Brooke and Natalya and Becky Lynch. Charlotte has held the WWE Women's Championship since September, but has won a number of her matches thanks to her father Ric Flair's dirty tactics. Charlotte recently kicked Flair to the curb, but picked up a new ally in Dana Brooke, a recent call-up from the NXT developmental system. However, Brooke doesn't seem content with just being Charlotte's sidekick and doesn't seem thrilled with Charlotte's constant belittling. There's clearly a set up here to Charlotte and Dana Brooke squaring off in the near future, although we'll see if the catalyst for that match happens this weekend.prev