Let me talk to ya.
The field for the Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match this weekend has the annual high risk, high stakes spectacular set up to be one of the more exciting ones in recent memory. And that feeling goes beyond the anticipation of the show that this eclectic collection of talent will put on for the fans in London Saturday afternoon.
It’s also exciting in a sense that, whichever Superstar walks away with the briefcase, they are all but guaranteed to be thrust into a stratosphere not previously reached in their career. None of the seven competitors have ever been a World Champion in WWE before and arguments can be made as to why a few of these guys should be the apparent next man to hoist the gold.
Before you ask, yes, Logan Paul is one of the few.
The highly successful YouTuber has more than proven that he belongs in the ring. His athleticism coupled with an already mature sense of showmanship and the nuclear heat magnet that comes attached to his back, is exactly why he was put into this match in the first place.
23 million YouTube subscribers would be enough to get almost anyone in the door initially, but WWE would not keep bringing him back if he didn’t show that he could hang with generational stars like Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.
There’s some added intrigue for you, Logan Paul already has history with both reigning World Champions and may just be the perfect storyline foe for Rollins after he’s finished with Finn Balor and the rest of Judgment Day.
Afterall, it certainly seems as though Cody Rhodes is being pushed further and further away from the top title scene. Eventually, he’ll work his way back, but if it was going to happen anytime soon the American Nightmare would be in the ladder match on Saturday.
Paul has never failed to deliver on an opportunity presented to him by WWE and I’m sure they would happily showcase him more if Logan decided to put all of his time and energy into being a pro wrestler.
On an April episode of his Impaulsive Podcast however, Paul says he’s more than happy to be a part-time player in WWE.
“You have the weeklies, who are actively building this organization every single week, and I get to come in and capitalize on the good will that they’ve sacrificed their bodies for, four times a year. By the way, I’m not going to stop. For the wrestlers listening, I’m cognizant of it, and I appreciate your hard work that I get to benefit off of four times a year.”
The World Heavyweight Championship was recommissioned, in part, because the “Undisputed” WWE Universal Championship is currently being held hostage by a part-time performer - albeit one of the best to lace up a pair of boots this side of the millennium.
Seth Rollins is Hellbent on defending his Championship anywhere, any time and against anyone. Money in the Bank will be his third televised defense of the WHC (a fourth was advertised but ultimately cut from RAW) and his seventh overall in just a months time.
Roman Reigns meanwhile, has not defended his collection of titles since his controversial win over Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania 39, save for one SuperShow victory over Rey Mysterio. And unless there’s a MITB cash-in attempt sometime in the very near future, it’s very likely that the Tribal Chief will not be putting his new golden belt on the line until SummerSlam - probably against Jey Uso.
While putting the briefcase, and ultimately, the World Heavyweight Championship on Logan Paul would certainly generate headlines and social media clicks, the move would go against WWE’s own rationale for bringing the title back.
Could Paul be the one to beat Roman? Ehhhhh... I hope not. Beating Cody in the main event of WrestleMania, just to have Roman get cashed-in on by a full-time YouTuber is not the move to make.
There’s always a chance that Logan could lose the briefcase or fail in his quest to capture the gold. Or he could cash-in on the United States or Intercontinental Champion, because that’s a thing now for some reason.
Yeah, doesn’t seem right. Does it?
Having Paul win Money in the Bank would certainly be understandable from a marketing standpoint. Creatively, it’s just not a good fit.
And yes, very aware that this is WWE we’re talking about here. Not having a good reason to do something, has very rarely stopped the company from going through with their plans.
Expect Logan Paul to at least flirt with the case this weekend. Maybe even get his hands on it once or twice and give the O2 a collective heart attack. But will he pull it off the ring and hold it high for the crowd to see?
No, it seems likely (to this author, anyway) that Triple H passes on the temptation.
Paul was not put in this match to win it. He was brought in to add a bit of star power and mainstream appeal to a field that’s lacking established main event talent. Let me be very clear on this, the other six men in the match are main event caliber Superstars, they just haven’t been booked to that level on the main roster, yet.
The other reason to book Logan Paul in MITB is let him show-off his freak athletic ability and try to create another highlight or two with his buddy Ricochet.
Speaking of Ricochet. It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where either he or Shinsuke Nakamura climb the ladder to victory while Bronson Reed is floating around the RAW locker room with a grudge.
He may not have qualified for the all-important ladder match, but I don’t foresee Reed staying away from the fray. Expect a tsunami-sized impact from the big fella on Saturday.
Butch and Santos Escobar are both diamonds waiting to be unearthed, but given the secondary statuses they hold in their respective factions, it just seems too soon to have either one of them take this monumental career leap. WWE needs invest more time in building up both men first.
Santos Escobar, especially.
Any avid NXT viewer already knows what Escobar is capable of doing in ladder matches. Money in the Bank is great showcase opportunity for him to gain even more traction with the main roster crowd.
Once Saturday has come and gone, it would be great to see Santos go on a major winning streak that leads to a successful United States Championship run. The goal for WWE over the next few months should be to cultivate Escobar’s talents and then harvest the fruits of their creative labor at WrestleMania 40 in a battle with Rey Mysterio for the LWO.
That has the potential to be a huge passing of the torch moment and star making night for Santos Escobar. His victory in Philadelphia should set him up as a big time, main event level heel heading into next Summer. And then, absolutely, give that man the briefcase.
That whittles the field down to two men. Both of whom, should be considered heavy favorites.
Damian Priest is an absolute rockstar and is someone that has reportedly garnered his supporters backstage. From a storyline standpoint, he’s the slam dunk selection, honestly.
His stablemate is challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship this weekend, and a very dangerous Damian Priest with that briefcase in his hands, adds another layer of interest to Seth Rollins’ on going war with the Judgment Day.
There are a number of avenues WWE could go down creatively with Damian Priest as Mr. Money in the Bank. Most of them lead to a big babyface turn and his exile from the dastardly stable he’s helped build from the ground up.
Especially, if he tries to get involved in Finn Balor’s match with Rollins on Saturday.
JD McDonagh is right there waiting in the wings to fill his spot and keep the Judgment Day moving forward, while Priest takes his next steps to becoming a World Champion.
That said... does Damian Priest need the briefcase for any of that to happen?
He does not.
Without any more lead up, let’s finally discuss the man who should be walking out of the O2 Arena with a new airport carry-on Saturday. Everybody say his name.
WWE has to see the opportunity that lays before them this weekend. LA Knight is over, with a capital O-V-E and R.
It should not come as a huge surprise that the fans love the man. Almost anyone who saw his work in NXT knew he was going to print money on the main roster. Everyone except for... well... you know.
And that’s the truly amazing part of the Megastar’s rise in popularity over the last year. The fans were given every reason not to care about him. One creative or booking fumble, after another. Think about everything that LA Knight has gone through since getting the call up to the main roster.
First off, in classic Vince McMahon fashion, he was stripped of everything that made him a success in NXT and given a new name, persona, and a gimmick that had a ceiling so low you could consider it a second floor built on top of the first one.
Putting it nicely, the move was puzzling. LA Knight is typically what Vince McMahon looks for in a star.
Physically, the man is chiseled. Maybe a little on the shorter side at 6’1” but he’s still a hair (or the right boots) away from looking Stone Cold Steve Austin in the eye.
First criteria, he passes the eye-ball test. Secondly, he can more than hold his own in the ring. But it’s on the mic where LA Knight truly makes his money. He’s funny, brash, cocky, confident, and quick-witted. He has high energy and knows how to work a crowd and command their attention.
He’s a brand new star with an old-school feel, often compared to The Rock or the aforementioned Steve Austin. It’s a style that you wouldn’t think would be as successful in today’s wrestling landscape, but Knight is so charismatic and he continues to resonate with the audience.
People love the man.
So why would Mr. McMahon actively ignore everything that made him great? In an interview with the UK’s Daily Mail, Knight said his age was the prime concern with him as a wrestler, which is how he wound up as the head of his own male model agency.
“Oh, boy! Hahaha. I’m killing it in NXT. It’s crazy, like, just the reactions, the way I had turned from big time heel in the summertime to big time babyface by the winter. It’s not piped in and it’s not prefabbed reactions. It was organic, real stuff happening. I come up for a dark match, I get the attention of the right people; “hey, who is this guy?” but then the age thing comes up - [whispers] “oh no, he’s 40, danger’. But I’m not the average 40-year-old. I haven’t gone through the ringer. I haven’t had a bunch of surgeries or injuries, knock on that wood. I’ve lived a good, youthful life in a certain sense and I’ve taken care of myself in a way I would say most don’t.”
Not even going to mince words here. That’s codswallop. The “concerns” of the powers that be at the time, were nothing short of absolute, pure, grade-A horse manure.
At the time that Max Dupri was debuting on SmackDown, Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley had just come off WWE Title victories and both men are well into their mid-40’s.
Believe it or not, but Damian Priest is actually older than LA Knight. He was brought up to the main roster and tagged with one of the biggest music stars on the planet at WrestleMania and then had a nearly 200 day run with the United States Championship.
You cannot use age as an excuse to not use a talent when some of your most heavily pushed Superstars are several years older. Not to mention, when legends like the Undertaker and Goldberg were continuously brought back to compete into their mid-50’s.
Not trying to compare LA Knight to the Undertaker, please do not misconstrue the point. Obviously there are reasons for why each Superstar named continues(d) to work well beyond the arbitrary cut off point that was given to LA Knight.
We can only speculate what the real reasoning behind the character shift into Max Dupri was, because the age excuse doesn’t add up.
Thankfully when Triple H took over as the Chief Content Officer last Summer, he immediately started correcting several issues with the on-screen product. Bringing back LA Knight was among them, but it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing for the Megastar after his return to competition.
He rarely won matches. His biggest push came against Bray Wyatt and while the build up to the Mt. Dew Pitch Black Match at the Royal Rumble received mostly rave reviews, the match itself was a disaster. Cut down to a mere five minutes, allotting Knight very little offense in a contest that was difficult to view on television - although it was visually stunning, at times, in person.
Knight lost at the Rumble and continued to lose all the way through WrestleMania season. And yet, the audience continued to cheer. The calls for LA Knight to take over Hollywood grew louder with each passing week.
Rumors began to swirl about a possible ‘Mania moment with Stone Cold or Bobby Lashley, but neither came to fruition. His only appearance that weekend was on the SmackDown prior to ‘Mania in the old Staples Center. The Los Angeles crowd that night, almost immediately hijacked the show with chants of “LA Knight”.
Take it from someone who was there, what you heard on TV did not compare to how loud the cheers actually were inside the arena.
And yet, Knight was eliminated from the Andre the Giant Battle Royal before it’s conclusion. A chorus of boos rained down on the Superstars left in the ring before Knight got a heroes send-off back to gorilla.
The support for LA Knight has not waned in the weeks since, in fact, it has grown and defiantly so. The WWE Universe has made their choice loud and clear.
Like Andy Dufresne escaping from Shawshank Prison, LA Knight crawled through a river of s—- and came out clean on the other side. He has been bullet proof. And it’s time to stop denying the people what they want.
I’ve never understood the mindset of pushing back against the rising popularity of a Superstar that WWE didn’t plan for or potentially didn’t want. At the end of the day, who cares?
It’s like finding $20 in an old jacket. Do a little dance to celebrate the free money you stumbled upon and move forward accordingly.
Creating a truly beloved babyface is difficult. It’s much easier to get someone to hate you than it is to get them to love you. So when a Becky Lynch or Kofi Kingston situation comes along, you’d think the creative team would happily shift directions.
Nope. Historically, they would much rather do everything in their power to be proven right about the stars that were chosen for the fans to love.
Never forget, Becky Lynch marched into her match with Charlotte Flair at Evolution back in 2018 as the heel. A full two months after she clocked her former best friend at SummerSlam to thunderous applause. Creative spent several weeks trying to get the people to turn on The Man, before finally giving in to her unrelenting fanbase ahead of Lynch’s Royal Rumble victory.
But for every Becky Lynch and Kofi Kingston, there unfortunately, are many more Rusev Days.
It took fans metaphorically moving Heaven and Earth to help get Bryan Danielson into the main event of WrestleMania XXX. The same man who Sunday night at AEW & NJPW: Forbidden Door solidified himself as the greatest technical wrestler in modern history with his stunning victory over Okada.
Granted, a new regime is place these days, but not much has changed when it comes to to this type of situation. Triple H and his creative team have effectively ignored that fans admiration for LA Knight to this point.
The is past Friday night on SmackDown being a prime example. the mere presence of LA Knight got Rey Mysterio - beloved WWE Hall of Famer - booed. Yet after the match, in which Knight won clean as a sheet, he was still attempting to get heat by ripping at the mask of Mysterio.
Why is this man still resorting to such heelish tactics? Are they simply waiting for MITB to flip the switch?
Even if Triple H is ready to ride the LA Knight wave of momentum and wants to book him to win the Money in the Bank Briefcase, the presence of Vince McMahon continues to loom over the company like a dark ominous cloud.
Could the man who looked at LA Knight and saw a fashion model manager, ultimately stop a big push for the megastar dead in it’s tracks? Anything is possible, unfortunately.
Saturday night presents a big moment for WWE to buck another historic trend and ride the hot hand, willingly. Whether it’s what they wanted initially or not.
It’s LA Knights game. It’s LA Knight’s time. It should be LA Knight’s briefcase. YEAH!