For those unaware to how MITB operates, a field is chosen and compete in a ladder match with a briefcase hanging above the ring. Whoever can climb up and grab it wins the contract inside of it that guarantees them a title match within the next 365 days at any time/location of their choosing. (As long as it's in a WWE ring. This isn't the 24/7 Hardcore Title rules from back in the day.)
It's a match that favors bad guys and underdogs, really. The advantage of being able to strike at a moment's notice and gain the ire of the WWE Universe helped make Edge's singles career, and coined the term "The Ultimate Opportunist". The Miz, Randy Orton and CM Punk have all been aided as bad guys with this device. The plucky underdogs (CM Punk in 2008, Daniel Bryan in 2011 and technically RVD in 2006) helped cement their WWE careers, too. If you are a main event- caliber good guy (coughJOHNCENAcough), well- it's not really meant for you.
The difference with this year's edition is there is only one MITB briefcase match. The other is to determine a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion in the absence of one Daniel Bryan. Tonight the WWE has a chance to surprise us all. How? It's not certain just yet. But based off the field for the respective matches, I'll run some numbers* and see who is in the best position to walk away with the gold and who will win the MITB briefcase.
* all percentages were officially calculated using a universal formula: watching WWE on a weekly basis.
Money in the Bank Contract Match: Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Kofi Kingston, RVD
Seth Rollins has the edge due to his recent swing in momentum- but how much confidence does WWE have him to be champion within the next year?
Seth Rollins (60%)
Ever since his turn a few weeks ago against his Shield brothers- or shall I say, business partners- Rollins has been a huge focal point if not THE focal point of WWE programming. CM Punk is gone for now. Daniel Bryan is injured. John Cena is, well, John Cena. No one knew who would turn first, but whoever was made to be the bad guy for the Shield would most certainly gain a lot of attention. Rollins was not anyone's first choice to be that guy based off his limited mic skills, yet he has flourished in his screen time since the beatdown.
He isn't a finished product by any means, and his ringwear is rather...unique- but Rollins should far and away be the favorite to come away with the briefcase in hand on Sunday.
Dean Ambrose (20%)
Ambrose seems to have taken more offense to the Rollins' heel turn than Roman Reigns. In all fairness, Reigns was rather busy affecting the integrity of his maniacal boss's beverages in order to get a shot at the WWE WHC title to get bent out of shape over Rollins' dastardly actions. Get 'em, Dean. Ambrose is the most talented mic worker of the Shield, and his mannerisms/promo style bring a younger Brian Pillman to mind. If there is any chance of anyone not named Seth Rollins to win this match, Ambrose is an easy choice.
Bad News Barrett (10%), Dolph Ziggler (10%)
Once word got out that Barrett had injured himself at this week's Smackdown, his participation was immediately put in doubt.* Barrett has been on fire these last few months and was (still might be) a legitimate darkhorse to win the contract. His confidence is at its highest since his Nexus days, and he's pretty good in the ring as evidenced by Monday's show-stealing IC title defense against Dolph Ziggler. Barrett during any other time might even be a favorite, but Rollins and Ambrose seem to be on a collision course and edge the talented Brit out.
Ziggler is the WWE's best worker and still has plenty of miles left on his career (as long as he doesn't do that concussion thing again). He will likely submit another awesome performance come Sunday. Ziggler, like Barrett, will be limited to the current storyline with Rollins and Ambrose. As they say- never say never. Well, until you get to the rest of the field in this match as you'll soon see.
*as of this writing, Barrett is still a participant as noted by WWE.com.
Jack Swagger, Kofi Kingston, RVD - (0%)
Well, that made this list a little bit easier. These three are here for a few reasons. The first being: bodies. Swagger along with Barrett will act as a big bruiser. Kingston will be the "special spot" guy ala Jeff Hardy/Shelton Benjamin as he always is. RVD is there to put over young talent. I'm not a huge fan of the guy, but his willingness to make the younger stars look good is very admirable.
That being said, none of these wrestlers has a shot in hell at walking away with the briefcase.
BOLD Match Prediction: Rollins and Ambrose are so engulfed in their personal issues that either Wade Barrett or Dolph Ziggler come away with the briefcase, shocking the WWE Universe.
As this image implies, John Cena is WWE's golden boy and the sure bet to win the WWE WHC title on Sunday. Also implied, John Cena is the second son of God and is the epitome is all that is good.
WWE WHC Ladder Match: John Cena, Randy Orton, Kane, Roman Reigns, Cesaro, Sheamus, Bray Wyatt, Alberto Del Rio
John Cena (55%)
Shocker, right? At this point, Cena being in the title picture and/or winning the title should never be a surprise. From an adult male standpoint, I can't stand it. His character hasn't changed in almost a decade, and he could really benefit from a heel turn. From a business standpoint, I completely understand it. Cena is their top guy not solely because of his charisma, physical appearance, in-ring abilities or even because of his merchandise sales. (Although all of those are great supprting reasons.) Cena is the face of the company because he is reliable. He's the safe bet. Sure, he's had injuries, but he's come back from them in the blink of an eye and stronger each time. The "smart" fans might shake their head at the notion of him being the champ, but I couldn't possibly blame WWE for putting the belt on a man who has been a driving force in programming since 2003.
Also, who else is excited to see Cena's "you love me, you hate me, OMG I'm polarizing" promo on Monday's RAW? Thought so.
It sort of pains me to put Kane's chances this high, but the "Big Red Machine" still has a built-in storyline with Daniel Bryan. Kane has been The Authority's right-hand man for the better part of a year and like Cena is a safe and reliable bet. Kane is rarely ever injured despite his age and is a company man. Kane winning and continuing his feud with Bryan would still make me queasy, though.
Randy Orton (10%), Roman Reigns (10%)
Orton is similar to Kane. His alliance with HHH and Stephanie since last summer gives him an advantage, yet the idea of him as champion anytime soon is still nauseating. He should not allowed to have any physical contact with John Cena during the match. If I see the two of them square off even one more time, I'll likely vomit. Orton has been the more vanilla version of Cena. While not THE face of WWE, he's been a huge part of it in programming since around the same time.
Reigns is an option based more on his potential than actual ability at the moment. His ringwork has been strong and protected in six-man tags, and his promos have been limited as well. He has an aura about him. Whenever he is on screen, people notice. WWE is looking to groom him as the future of the company and could shock a few if they put the belt on him tonight. While an option, I still do not think he is ready for it just yet.
Cesaro has been on the rise since late last year and his aligning with Heyman was definitely a good thing for both men. Cesaro looks like a player, and Heyman stays busy while Brock Lesnar does Brock Lesnar things. The likelihood of Cesaro winning is very low, but IWC'ers and independent wrestling (read: Ring of Honor) fans would die to see it happen. If anything, we will be treated to Cesaro Swiss-death'ing and spinning the others like crazy.
Sheamus (2.5%) , Bray Wyatt (2.5%)
If anyone could benefit from winning the belt, it would be Sheamus. He's been incredibly stale since coming back from injury (despite being US Champ), and is borderline irrelevant. Sheamus winning the belt after teaming up with HHH and Steph as a bad guy would make him a focus and...interesting. He thrives as a heel with his old-school gimmick and flops as a face. He likes to fight...yeah, that's about it. In real life, Sheamus is good friends with HHH, so the elevation to champ is not so far-fetched.
Bray Wyatt has been around since being disposed of by John Cena at Payback. By around, I mean just sort of there. Sure, he cuts his promos and puts on great matches. But the best young mic worker next to Ambrose should be doing so much more. His winning is very slim, but would definitely add a "what happens next?" vibe to the immediate future of the WWE.
Alberto Del Rio (0%)
ADR is in this match? Oh, that's right. As the saying goes, last but not least. In regards to ADR- last and definitely least. The once highly-touted Del Rio is at his lowest point since debuting, and there seems to be no end in sight. Sure, he can put on great matches. But so can a host of other stars who haven't had half the chance Del Rio has. What is left to do with him? His heel turn failed. His title runs failed. His face turn failed. His recent heel run has been anything but memorable.
The reason WWE hasn't released him yet is because of how much they invested in him and they still seek a Spanish star to market on the levels of Rey Mysterio. This is some misguided notion that they HAVE to have a Spanish star. While utopian, I don't find it necessary.
BOLD Match Prediction: Roman Reigns wins. Rollins after winning MITB cashes it in, wins and steals Reigns' thunder.
Other MITB Musings:
WWE Tag Team Championships
The Wyatt Family will win tomorrow and begin a dominant reign as tag champs. The Uso's will try and stay close to John Cena some more.
WWE Divas Championship
Paige will retain over Naomi, likely due to Cameron intefering. Because we ALL are clamoring to see Cameron in the ring very soon. Not. The focus here should be on Paige and developing her character. But hey- Total Divas has a season three ahead and needs material! Way more important.
Layla vs. Summer Rae (special ref Fandango)
The only match I have less desire to see outside of Cameron/Naomi is Layla and Summer Rae. Who asked for this? Summer Rae and Layla can be great in the ring, but their recent backstage segments have done neither one of them any favors. Flip a coin. Summer Rae wins because CATTINESS.
Also, Fandango should be repackaged ASAP. Johnny Curtis still has a future, yet WWE fails to push him.
Rybaxel vs Goldust and Stardust
While I wasn't a fan initially and believed Rhodes should be pushed more (still do), I have to admit Stardust grew on me last Monday. Rhodes is making it work and is showing his talent in spades. I'd root for them to win the tag titles, but we've been there before. That is, unless they plan to feud them with the Wyatt Family. Those would be spectacular matches. Rybaxel are a very underrated team. Each guy plays their role well, and Axel is actually entertaining and underrated in the ring. Rybaxel win if WWE pulls the trigger soon on a Cody turn. The Rhodes will win if they are to be looked at as tag title contenders.
Rusev vs. Big E
Tell me if you've heard this before: Rusev beats up a black guy. Sounds repetitive, doesn't it? R-Truth, Kofi, Xavier Woods, Big E (multiple times). Also, he's branched out to other squashes with Zack Ryder and Heath Slater. Point is, what will be different about tomorrow's match? It's "shit or get off the pot" time with Rusev, and WWE needs to make a move with the Russian.
Booking idea: Jack Swagger turns face and rescues Big E tomorrow night during a post-win Rusev beatdown. After all, Swagger's list does have Rusev's name on it:
Like it? Love it? Hate it? Let me know @SeanNeutron