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Separating the contenders from the pretenders in the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match

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We are just days away from WWE Money in the Bank and the field for the annual men’s ladder match is nearly set. Kevin Owens and Ezekiel still need to face off for the final open slot in the men’s match, but that hasn’t been confirmed for Friday’s SmackDown as of this writing.

Right now there are 6 Superstars ready to put their bodies on the line for the coveted briefcases and earn a well-documented 85% chance of becoming a World Champion.

Let’s be honest about something though. Not everyone who walks into MGM Grand Garden Arena this Saturday has the same likelihood of taking home a briefcase, or a Championship, should they choose the same night cash-in strategy.

So let’s take a look and see if we can determine who’s a contender this weekend and who’s a pretender.


Important disclaimer: These are just my opinions based on evidence as I see it. Whether that be on television or through various news sites.

Labeling someone a pretender for Money in the Bank, in no way means they are not worthy or deserving of capturing the briefcase. In fact, I would be thrilled if many of my pretenders were to pull off the upset and claim their respective contract.


With that out of the way, let’s have some fun!

Men’s Money in the Bank Match

Seth Rollins - Contender

WWE

I mean, Duh. To steal a line from his wife, he’s on the freaking poster for crying out loud. But there’s obviously more to it than that.

Seth Rollins may not exactly be racking up major wins as of late, but he’s still on one of the best runs of his entire career with classic feuds and banger matches against the likes of Cody Rhodes, Edge, and Cesaro. It’s been long overdue for Rollins to hold the company’s top prize once again and with the American Nightmare out of action for up to nine months, it could fall on the Visionary to recreate some magic with the Money in the Bank briefcase.

Cody was my odds on favorite to win MITB prior to the his pectoral tear and it’s pretty clear that WWE has plans to revisit his rivalry with Seth “Freaking” Rollins when he’s healthy again. Rollins capturing the briefcase makes sense for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it instantly thrusts him to the level of title contender, effectively wiping out months worth of losses. It would allow him to resume his rivalry with Roman Reigns that WWE swiftly moved to the backburner after their match at Royal Rumble.

Speaking of the Rumble, that would be the perfect place for Cody to make his triumphant return and finally earn his shot at the WWE Universal Championship. Which presumably would be around the waist of Seth Rollins at this time. It’s not hard to connect the dots on this one. Seth Rollins vs. Cody Rhodes for the WWE Universal Championship could easily be the Night One main event in Hollywood at WrestleMania 39, leaving Night Two open for that potential dream match between Roman Reigns and The Rock.

Omos - Contender

WWE.com

I know what you’re thinking. There’s no way WWE is about to make the Nigerian Giant, Mr. Money in the Bank. Well, I’m here to remind you... we said the same thing about Otis. Granted, that didn’t work out so well in the long run but you can’t rule out the possibility that the company takes another risk with the briefcase this year. Especially when the talent they’d be taking said chance on has the backing of Vince McMahon.

There’s not a whole lot I can say about Omos that hasn’t already been said. He’s still green. He’s not the most fluid worker in the ring. His presentation did get a much needed boost when MVP became his mouth piece, but he still has a lot of work to do before WWE should even consider making him a World Champion. But his booking makes me believe that are, at the very least, considering it.

Omos has been presented as an absolute monster ever since he made his in-ring debut at WrestleMania 37. He’s an attraction standing at 7’ 3” tall and looks even larger than life on TV, especially when they put the cameraman on the floor and have him shoot upward. Omos makes Bobby Lashley look like a small child in comparison. I’ve stood next to Lashley. He is a large, large man.

I can guarantee that Vince McMahon would love to put two Championships over Omos’ gargantuan shoulders some day soon. I can’t rule out that the ball gets rolling toward that goal on Saturday.

Riddle - Contender

WWE’s Twitter

Riddle is one of the more interesting competitors in this match and I’d definitely label him as one to keep your eye on. He’s coming off one of the best matches of his career when he narrowly lost to Roman Reigns on the June 17 SmackDown, and it just might have been the one to put him firmly on the trajectory to becoming a future World Champion.

It’s pretty clear that Riddle has always had the backing of WWE Creative, but I’ve never been able to place just how high they view his ceiling to be. His partnership with Randy Orton put him on a new level as the duo became the most over act in the entire company. However, with The Viper now on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Riddle is on his own.

The fact that his match with Reigns was on SmackDown and not at Money in the Bank itself, makes me believe there was still a little trepidation in presenting Riddle as a main event guy at the time. Did he open some eyes? Were some eyes already open? Am I reading way too much into things? Am I completely wrong about everything? The answer to all of those questions is probably yes in varying degrees. Again, I’m just calling it like I see it.

Regardless, this is Riddle’s last chance to get his hands on the WWE Universal Championship. Per the stipulation to their match, Riddle cannot challenge Reigns again as long as the Tribal Chief holds all the gold. The Money in the Bank briefcase would provide The Original Bro with a pretty sweet loophole. He may not be the favorite, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him climb the ladder to success on Saturday.

Sheamus - Pretender

WWE.com

Much like his long time frenemy Drew McIntyre, Sheamus had to clear multiple hurdles to get this opportunity, but there’s no evidence to suggest that he’s a real contender to win the briefcase.

The Celtic Warrior doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the quality of his in-ring work, or his career accomplishments, but it’s been a long time since Sheamus has found himself in the World Title picture. The last time he held the gold was December of 2015 and he hasn’t competed for it on a regular basis since then.

The 44 year-old finds himself in more a mentor role these days. As the leader of the Brawling Brutes, it appears his job is more to help develop Ridge Holland and Butch than it is to compete for World Championships. Of course, that’s the whole point to the Money in the Bank briefcase. Anyone’s fate can change by winning this one match.

Sheamus can certainly still go. He’s in phenomenal shape. He’d absolutely be a credible challenger to Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar. I just think it’s far more likely we see him compete for the Intercontinental Championship in the near future. The one title that’s alluded him thus far in his Hall of Fame career.

Drew McIntyre - Pretender

WWE.com

This may come as a surprise to many people, including Drew if he happens to read this article, but my logic is pretty sound. McIntyre already has his shot at the WWE Universal Championship locked in. Keeping it kayfabe, he hasn’t earned the opportunity yet but we all know that Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre will be the main event at Clash at the Castle.

McIntyre has been leading the charge both privately and publicly to make this big UK Stadium Show come to fruition and it would take something short of an act of God to keep him out of that match.

In theory McIntyre could win the briefcase and then take the RVD approach by calling his shot, but that would be a little too easy. As the SmackDown Warrior said himself last week, nothing has been easy for him on the road to getting his WWE Championship back. He’s not Brock Lesnar. He can’t just show up after a couple months off and get booked against the Head of the Table. He had to jump through several hoops just to qualify for Money in the Bank.

Reigns and his Special Counsel, Paul Heyman, know that McIntyre is a threat and they will continue to pull any strings they can to keep him away from the Tribal Chief. Their luck will continue in the short term, because I’m anticipating the Bloodline standing tall on Saturday. An honorary member of the Bloodline to be exact.

Sami Zayn - My Pick to Win it

@WWE

WWE has a chance to break some new ground with the Money in the Bank briefcase and it’s my hope that they take the ball and run with it. No one has ever won MITB with the intention of squashing the contract. Sami Zayn has been trying to prove himself to the Bloodline for weeks now and views Saturday as his opportunity to go from the Honorary Uce to full-fledged member of the family.

The only caveat to that plan being that no matter what Zayn does, he will never be good enough to join the Bloodline. You know it. I know it. Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman and the Usos know it. And that’s where the drama unfolds.

At some point, the frustration with Zayn is going to boil over. He’s inevitably going to realize that nothing he does will ever get him in the good graces of the Tribal Chief and that’s when he’ll turn to the briefcase. I’ve heard people bring up the idea of having Seth Rollins win the contract so history can repeat itself at SummerSlam this year. Bag that noise. Right concept, wrong guy. And way too soon.

This situation with Sami Zayn to needs to simmer for months, before finally boiling over right before WrestleMania season. Zayn could shock the Bloodline and the rest of the world by cashing in during one of Reigns’ matches and pinning his opponent to capture his first WWE Universal Championship. You complete the face turn with Zayn, reward him for all the great work he’s been doing these last few years, and keep Roman protected for his match with the Rock. Everybody wins, including us fans.

Will WWE pull the trigger? I’m choosing to believe. It makes too much sense and it’s too good of an idea to pass up. I predict the Usos will interfere on Saturday to help Sami Zayn win, screwing over Rollins and McIntyre in the process and setting literal months worth of storylines in the process.


Who do you think is a pretender, contender or favorite in the men’s ladder match at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sat., July 2? Sound off below, and don’t worry — we didn’t forget the women. They just got their own post here.

Rick Ucchino can be reached at Rick.Bleav@gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @RickUcchino and make sure to subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling YouTube Channel.