WWE returns to pay-per-view (PPV) -- if your cable provider is carrying the event, of course -- tomorrow night (Sun., June 29, 2014) live from the TD Garden Arena in Boston, Massachusetts, with its Money in the Bank event starting at 7:30 p.m. ET with the pre-show featuring the return of Daniel Bryan leading right on into the main course at 8 p.m. ET on the WWE Network.
Set for the card: Two ladder matches, two Divas matches, a tag title match, and more!
Luckily for you Cagesiders, our staff of learned wrestling blowhards is here to help figure out just how the event is going to play out with predictions for each match on the card.
Let's get to it.
WWE MONEY IN THE BANK 2014 PREDICTIONS
WWE championship ladder match (John Cena vs. Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Cesaro vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns vs. Kane vs. Randy Orton)
The General: It's easy to sit here and say "CENAWINSLOL" because that's probably what's going to happen, but isn't it more interesting to think that Vince McMahon is so upset the SummerSlam poster got out that he'll change the finish just to swerve the fans? Even if it makes no sense whatsoever and it will result in a terribly booked program leading into Battleground, when Cena will inevitably get the title just before Brock Lesnar returns to challenge him for it? And we'll all complain that it feels rushed and poorly thought out because it's rushed and poorly thought out? I'm going to assume the plan is to change the finish but at the last minute Vince will change his mind back and go with Cena because as unsurprising as it may be it's absolutely the right thing to do for business right now. Pick: Cena
Sean Rueter: I was 100% sure I knew where they were going with this, and then the SummerSlam poster leaked. Now, my inner meta-fan is wondering if that wasn't misdirection, or if they won't book a swerve to compensate for the leak. They will in all likelihood stick to their guns, though. Brock is main eventing in August, and no one else makes sense as a big enough name that can also do the job for him. Pick: John Cena
Hulk Holland: I'm inclined to believe the only reason Kane was inserted into this match is for him to win, thereby setting up a convenient return angle for Daniel Bryan, who still has unfinished business with the "Devil's Favorite Demon." Doesn't mean I have to like it. Winner: Kane
Keith Harris: With WWE tipping their hand to a surprising degree through surveys, leaked posters and email blasts, the question now is whether WWE will change their mind after spoiling their own storyline. The modus operandi in recent years is to hold course, although John Cena could always headline SummerSlam against Brock Lesnar in a non-title match, delaying The Beast Incarnate's inevitable title shot by another month. But most of the other options on the table are much worse ideas. Sheamus and Del Rio are management favourites and thus got the nod to make up the numbers, but they're clearly not at the level to hold the main WWE belt. As Daniel Bryan isn't going to be healthy by Battleground, there's no point giving Kane the gold for a three week transitionary run. Randy Orton's last WWE title run was a boorish flop and second time wouldn't be any more charming. I think Cesaro could make an excellent World champion, but I don't think WWE believes he's ready for that opportunity yet. Clearly, barring disaster, Roman Reigns will be WWE champion within twelve months, but now is not the right time, as his big title victory should be the climax of a several months long storyline, not a rushed decision due to another man's injuries. That leaves Bray Wyatt, who I'd personally favour to be victorious, as he'd be a fresher, more dynamic choice to be WWE's flagship bearer, but when the chips are down, it's much more likely Vince McMahon will go back to what he knows will work. Pick: John Cena.
Cain A. Knight: This match will be a breathtaking showcase for the most exciting action of the night. Roman Reigns is going to decimate every superstar in his path until he is screwed over by The Authority near the end of the match. Outside of that, I expect Sheamus and Cesaro to get in a ton of impressive offensive maneuvers while Del Rio is tossed around like a squishy toy between all 7 of his opponents. John Cena is the obvious winner here because he makes the most sense as Brock Lesnar's upcoming SummerSlam opponent. That doesn't mean that everyone else has a zero percent chance to win though. With the exception of Alberto Del Rio, every superstar in this match has a reasonable case to be booked as the winner. But John Cena is clearly still the face of the company, and that makes him the safest bet here. Pick: John Cena
Contract ladder match (Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger vs. Rob Van Dam)
The General: There are only two possible winners in this match, and even that hardly matters because they'll surely be facing off with the briefcase on the line at Battleground. Rollins will win here and Ambrose will spend the next month trying to goad him into putting the contract up when they have a singles match in Tampa next month. Pick: Rollins
Sean Rueter: There are a number of ways they could go here. Smart money is to keep the momentum behind Rollins, and I think there's a much better story in Ambrose's chasing him than in having him win it here, as much as I would love to hear him gloat about it. But if we're going with a long title run for Lesnar with defenses few and far between, whoever wins is either holding this case for a long while or joining Sandow and Cena on the failed cash-in list. Seth makes sense for the former, but if they go with the latter (pun semi-intended) I could see them booking the former Shield-mates to cancel each other out while someone like Dolph Ziggler gets a bit of a rub by becoming a two-time MitB winner. As close as I am to talking myself into that, I'll stick with my first answer. Pick: Seth Rollins
Hulk Holland: With Bad News Barrett nursing a bum shoulder, this pick becomes easy. Seth Rollins is hanging out with Triple H and drawing terrific heel heat wherever he goes, so having him lay claim to the magic briefcase infinitely extends his current run as a top heel. Winner: Seth Rollins
Keith Harris: I think this is a no-brainer. Bad News Barrett is injured and likely out of the hunt, while Kingston, RVD, Swagger and Ziggler are all struggling midcarders that WWE hasn't shown any signs of giving even a sniff of a push too, yet alone giving them the prestigious Money in the Bank briefcase to hold. Which leaves the two former Shield comrades, Ambrose and Rollins, to pick between, and it's clear that WWE are a lot higher on the latter than the former, by choosing him to be the turncoat to break up the Hounds of Justice and to be associated with Triple H going forward. Pick: Seth Rollins.
Cain A. Knight: WWE did the smart thing and included the traditional MITB ladder match on the card. The only guys who have a real chance to win here are Rollins and Ambrose. I would have included Barrett in that group as well, but unfortunately Jack Swagger's recklessness struck again and has probably taken Barrett out of the mix. Ambrose is chasing after Rollins in what is shaping up to be a long-term feud, and so it would be a little odd to have Ambrose prevail in their first televised encounter with each other. Rollins needs a little something extra to cement himself as a force to be reckoned with, and winning the MITB contract would be a great way to add some legitimacy to the idea that he is a top star in the company. Finally, don't be surprised at all if John Cena somehow wins this match too and then cashes in against himself in the main event of Battleground. Pick: Seth Rollins
The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family (Tag team championships)
The General: The hope here is Luke Harper & Erick Rowan win the titles so we get less of The Usos backstage with Renee Young just shouting things and finding new and uninteresting ways to say their last name. My fear is the match won't be any good because The Usos signature spots are all so blatantly set up that Harper and Rowan often end up looking silly just waiting to take the offense. It's just bad. Pick: Wyatt Family
Sean Rueter: All of Bray's promos since Payback have been focused on holding gold as the next step in their mission. Since I truly don't believe the Eater of Worlds is getting the call yet in the main event, it seems pretty obvious that it's time for a new blood at the top of the tag team division. Jimmy and Jey had a nice run, and will get a few more chances to shine in rematches, but with a new babyface team lined up in Gold and Stardust, the tag belts will follow the buzzards. Pick: The Wyatt Family
Hulk Holland: Faces are always better off in pursuit of the gold, rather than the retention of it, and this would be a nice way to keep the supporting buzzards relevant while Uncle Bray is off playing with the big boys. Besides, it's not like The Usos are doing anything that memorable as sibling champs. Winner: The Wyatt Family
Keith Harris: The Usos have had a nice, deserved run as tag champions, but there's no strong heel challengers on the rise for them to face after The Wyatts, who are really long overdue their own stint with the gold. Thus, the winds of change are blowing favourably for Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in the tag team division and there's no time like the present to make that move. Pick: The Wyatt Family.
Cain A. Knight: This won't be a bad match, but it isn't particularly exciting because we've already seen so many incarnations of it on WWE television over the last two months. The Usos will probably retain the titles here and move on to feud with an NXT tag team. A Wyatt Family victory would be much more interesting however, as it could add some intrigue to the idea of Bray Wyatt also walking out as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at the end of the night. Pick: The Usos
Stardust & Goldust vs. Rybaxel
The General: This is WWE putting Stardust in a PPV match to see if he'll catch on any more than Cody Rhodes ever did. I imagine he will because he's incredibly talented and has thrown himself into the character in the same way Mark Calaway threw himself into being Undertaker. The Dusty brothers will win, because they were always going to. Pick: Stardust & Goldust
Sean Rueter: Early returns are promising on the Cody Rhodes gimmick change, and it seems clear that Ryback and Axel's role is as gatekeepers in the division. They can alway bring Cody back with a turn and start a brother vs. brother feud later, but they need another babyface contender right now among the pairs, and with a literal fresh coat of paint, it looks like it's the brothers Rhodes again. Pick: The Dust Brothers
Hulk Holland: A few short weeks ago, I would have picked against GoldStar because a loss would have further divided the pair and perhaps launched yet another scavenger hunt for a new partner. But the Stardust gimmick has been a huge hit, so expect these two to get some mileage out of it. Winner: The Rhodes Bros.
Keith Harris: The Brothers Dust squashed Rybaxel in less than a minute on Monday Night Raw and have been beating them on the road since their reformation. That should tell you everything you need to know. Pick: Stardust & Goldust.
Cain A. Knight: Ryback already reached his PPV victory quota for the year when he had his hand raised at Payback. Stardust is the new rising (ahem) star on the scene, so Rybaxel can go back to being serviceable jobbers who occasionally whip out some entertaining antics. Pick: Stardust and Goldust
Paige vs. Naomi (Divas championship)
The General: This doesn't feel like Naomi finally earning her Divas championship run so much as Total Divas needing a compelling story for season three. That compelling story will end up being the break up of The Funkadactyls. Cameron will cost Naomi the title here and that will be the straw that broke the camel's back. Pick: Paige
Sean Rueter: Just have a feeling that the Total Diva is going to get here what she was rumored to have been planned for before Aksana broke her face. And honestly, I don't know that it would be the worst thing for Paige. A three month reign at 21 years old is nothing to scoff at, and she'll always be able to say that she ended AJ's record-setting run (unless Mrs. Brooks is getting written out of WWE history, too). A chance to show some fire in a quest to get back to the top might be just the ticket. And it's probably time to see if all of the Funkadactyl's natural ability means she can make money as the top star in the division. Pick: Naomi
Hulk Holland: Naomi is poised to break up with Cameron, disbanding the Funkadactlys and setting up a feud between the two. Having said that, there is no way WWE is going to put Cameron in a series of title matches because, welp, she can't wrestle. Look for her to instead cost Naomi a win. Winner: Paige
Keith Harris: Clearly, the focus here will be on the eventual break-up of the former Funkadactyls, rather than the match, the title or the champion. Thus, Paige gets overshadowed by Cameron and Naomi's infighting, but still picks up the win thanks to their dissension. Pick: Paige.
Cain A. Knight: This divas match might actually get more time than usual because the undercard is pretty bare. The booking in this one seems straightforward. The Funkadactyls are on the verge of splitting up, and so a jealous Cameron is going to complete that break up by screwing Naomi out of a win. Pick: Paige
Summer Rae vs. Layla (Fandango as referee)
The General: For all the uncomfortable feelings that came with the mud pit segment on Raw this past week, at least that was written well and the heel got it far worse than the babyface, who, despite being covered in slop, stood tall in the end. Here, we have two women who have been feuding for weeks now -- and by "feuding" I mean pouring milk and kitty litter on each other in between their brawling -- over the love and affection of a complete sleazeball. Now, Fandango has been inserted as special guest referee with the idea that he will finally have to choose who he wants to be with. Because, you know, that's exactly how it should be, right? The sleazy douchebag getting his pick of two beautiful women who are drooling all over him. This has to end with Summer and Layla realizing the situation for what it is and turning on Fandango. It has to. Anything else would be awful. Pick: Whatever
Sean Rueter: The only question is, "how will they get the bottle of milk to the ring?"...amirite, fellas?!?! Grrrr...I actually like everyone involved here, and I still can't bring myself to give a damn. It's taking all of my energy to not be offended. Pick: Kevin Dunn
Hulk Holland: Summer Rae gets her revenge by beating Layla, causing Fandango to realize he made the wrong choice. He will attempt to reconcile with his former dance partner, and just as she lures him in for a hug/kiss, 'Dango gets a nut shot, or perhaps just a slap in the face. Winner: Summer Rae
Keith Harris: In a week where Jerry Lawler was caught ogling Paige's derriere and then bragged about it on Twitter, it's fitting that we have two women fighting over the attention of a cheating jerk and have been pouring milk and kitty litter over each other in revenge. Of course, the man gets to choose which woman he sleeps with and which woman he kicks to the kerb. That's girl power for you! Given that Summer is the top heel on Total Divas, I think Fandango will favour his old flame here and help her to victory. Pick: Summer Rae.
Cain A. Knight: Fandango has been passionately kissing each of these divas in recent weeks but I think his luck is finally going to run out. This match is the right time for Layla and Summer Rae to put aside their differences and take out some aggression on that sleazeball Fandango. There won't be an official winner in this match because both competitors are going to get disqualified when they try to humiliate the referee. Pick: Double Disqualification
Big E vs. Rusev
The General: Crush. Pick: Rusev
Sean Rueter: CRUSH! Pick: Rusev
Hulk Holland: This feud just started, so it wouldn't make much sense for the face to triumph, because then it would be over lickety-split. The "E" has to lose, then chase the heel around the next few weeks, before exacting his revenge at Battleground. Expect Rusev to win by nefarious means. Winner: Rusev
Keith Harris: This is just a match to fill time, as Rusev has already crushed Big E on the last pay-per-view and clearly will do so again, because killing his momentum before he gets to the top would be really stupid. Pick: Rusev.
Cain A. Knight: Big E obliterated Abraham Lincoln last week on Raw and so now Rusev is seeking vengeance on President Lincoln's behalf. I'm pretty sure that's the story behind this PPV rematch. It is obvious how this one will end, just like it was obvious at Payback. Big E is going to lose because that's what he does. And maybe Rusev will go on to become Cena's victim at Battleground. Pick: Rusev
Those are our predictions, Cagesiders. What are yours?