We're just a few days away from the WWE Money in the Bank (MITB) pay-per-view (PPV), booked for this Sunday night (July 14, 2013) at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
It's kind of a big deal.
Unlike most PPV shows, which wrap up their respective storylines when the broadcast fades to black, MITB actually serves as the jumping off point for a new program, or the extension of an existing one. Two new contenders will be named for the WWE Championship, as well as the World Heavyweight Championship.
John Cena holds the former, while Alberto Del Rio retains the latter.
Without further adieu, let's look at the ladder match participants, ranked in the order of their probability of winning. The lower the number (1-3), the more likely they are to walk out of "The City of Brotherly Love" with extra carry-on luggage for the flight home.
The higher the number, obviously (4-7), means they have a snowball's chance in hell.
WWE Championship MITB ladder match:
1. Daniel Bryan
2. Rob Van Dam
4. Randy Orton
5. CM Punk
I kind of miss the old days when you had no clue what the hell was going on backstage or who was getting pushed, etc., etc., because as of now, this one is a no-brainer. Daniel Bryan is on the escalator and he can only go up, which means he'll be moving on to SummerSlam -- we think -- to challenge for the gold.
Returning attraction Rob Van Dam is a nice back-up plan, but his schedule will be too limited for this kind of job.
Speaking of, it's hard not to like this veteran line up, though it's also a bit telling. Kane is getting his hands dirty with the Wyatt family and who even knows if he's still attached to this event. Christian, on the other hand, is nothing more than a mid-card veteran who is good for a courtesy clap because, well, Attitude Era and all that stuff.
CM Punk already won twice and he's got bigger and better things in store (literally) with Brock Lesnar.
That leaves Sheamus and Randy Orton, both former champions, who are pretty much in a holding pattern. It's too soon after their last runs to start up a new one and they're better served as the B team when it comes to RAW and Smackdown! shows.
I think Bryan runs away with this one.
World Heavyweight Championship MITB ladder match:
1. Dean Ambrose
3. Antonio Cesaro
4. Damien Sandow
5. Wade Barrett
6. Jack Swagger
7. Cody Rhodes
Like Daniel Bryan before him, it's easy to look at this list and see Dean Ambrose being head and shoulders above the rest of the group. He's delivered inside the ring (as well as outside of it) and the U.S. title was a nice way to coat the runway before takeoff.
Spread your wings and fly (off a ladder).
I originally had high hopes for Antonio Cesaro, who is on the cusp of a breakout run, but then Creative went and attached a ball and chain to him in the form of Jack Swagger. Not to mention his International background -- lame justification notwithstanding -- weakens Zeb Colter's gimmick.
Somebody shut that window, all the heat is escaping.
With that in mind, I would probably push Fandango into the number two spot, even if he doesn't deserve it. The company is high on him and he had a great start. He's also assisted by the fact that some of his competition, like Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes, are still a twosome.
I'm sure something will happen on Sunday that splits them up, the way WWE has been harping on their bromance these past few weeks.
That leaves Wade Barrett, a black hole from which no entertainment can escape. He has a great look and is a pretty good worker, but he's been spinning his wheels since day one and there is just no momentum behind him right now. He's still ahead of Swagger and Rhodes, but that's not saying much.
There you have it folks.
My picks for Sunday night are Daniel Bryan and Dean Ambrose -- by a lot -- but I'm sure there are plenty of Cagesiders out there who feel otherwise. With that in mind, let's hear your argument for the next two title contenders.
And while you're at it, what happens to Kane?