Money in the Bank is here, but this time around, it’s a SmackDown-exclusive event. That brand-split move has made space in WWE’s plans for a historic first, too, as we’ll get to witness the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match with its own briefcase and see if Jinder Mahal can keep the WWE World Championship in his first defense of the company’s top title.
Money in the Bank begins at 8 p.m. ET on the WWE Network, with the pre-show beginning at 7:30. Let’s get right to it.
What am I looking at here? Mojo Rawley won this year’s Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal with help from his IRL pal, Rob Gronkowski. He failed to win his way into the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match, but then his (previously) injured tag team partner, Zack Ryder, showed back up. Mojo seemed, for a moment, disappointed at this, likely because it means his recent singles success is at an end. Maybe the unthinkable has happened, and Mojo is in fact not hyped about something even though it involves his bro.
The Colons, who are no longer selling time shares for their home in Puerto Rico, are in this match because it turns out they weren’t the ones to destroy the office of the Fashion Police, even though a cologne was left on the scene that tasted of tree frog excrement and hibiscus. I promise that every word of that paragraph makes sense in context.
Why you should care: Mojo turning on Ryder or Ryder turning on Mojo could be something here, or at least we’ll get the seeds of that split fertilized now that they’re planted. Zack Ryder making himself the Marty Jannetty of this team would also be kind of incredible but uh, also kind of makes sense in context.
Lana vs. Naomi (c) for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
What am I looking at here? Lana debuted on SmackDown two weeks ago declaring her intentions to wrestle after years as a valet for her husband, Rusev. She asked to be placed in the Money in the Bank ladder match and was laughed at by her boss, Shane McMahon, as well as other women in the ring. When she then changed her demand to a title shot against Naomi, she was laughed out of the ring but then got a measure of revenge by attacking Naomi and costing her a match later in the show.
Lana’s gambit worked, too, as Naomi demanded Lana be allowed a championship match against her even though literally no one — including Naomi, really — believes she deserves it. Pride is a powerful thing, and if Naomi isn’t careful, it could also be what costs her the title.
Why you should care: Lana has real potential on this show as a top-level heel. She’s only wrestled one televised match in WWE (a group effort at WrestleMania 32), but she’s also been spending time working house shows in developmental to get to the point where she could wrestle regularly on the main roster. Don’t expect her to floor you here, necessarily, but you weren’t expecting that out of Eva Marie, either, and that’s the role Lana appears to be filling.
A successful wrestling character isn’t entirely about how many moves she can do. Lana gets huge reactions, her character work is wonderful, and she has a real presence on the mic. If she’s even competent in the ring and capable of telling a story within it, this could be the start of something real good for SmackDown.
The New Day vs. The Usos (c) for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships
What am I looking at here? The New Day showed up on SmackDown thanks to the Superstar Shakeup, and with Kofi Kingston finally healthy, are ready to wrestle again. Their first big match is against The Usos, who were faces the last time New Day saw them. Things have changed now, though, and the Usos have some harder edges but are also still capable of roasting Xavier Woods’ shoes when need be. Maybe that’s what was missing from New Day’s feud with the Wyatt Family.
Why you should care: Well, New Day and the Usos are both great, so there’s that easy explanation. To go a little deeper, however: It would be a little weird to have New Day win this match given that the group still has plenty of mileage on it, but maybe it’s not necessarily as a tag team. They’re already the longest-reigning tag team champs in WWE history, so losing this feud to the Usos and deciding to focus on singles competition while remaining a stable feels like the smarter move.
Who knows, though? They still sell merch, and people love them, and they haven’t won the SmackDown Tag Team Championships yet, and I’m just some dude who thinks they should Freebird a singles title.
tl;dr: This match could tell us a lot about SmackDown’s long-term plans for its most popular stable and current heel champions.
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya vs. Carmella (ft. James Ellsworth) vs. Tamina in the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match
What am I looking at here? Well, as that section header says, it’s the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match. But I guess I can tell you what that all means.
These five women will all try to climb a ladder, and at the top of the ladder is a briefcase. The briefcase contains a contract that’s good for a year, guaranteeing the holder of it a championship opportunity at the time of her choosing. It can be a little boring with faces, who might as well write a polite letter to their opponent declaring their intentions, but when heels win? That’s the stuff booing crowds are made of.
The women have never had one of these matches, mostly because WWE has only had a passing interest in women’s wrestling until recently (and, real talk, its feelings on it are still very much at the work-in-progress level.) With the level of talent in this match, though, you could see it stealing the entire show.
Why you should care: In addition to the above, there are so many directions to go! Becky Lynch could win, which might be a little boring as a face, but the briefcase could also be used as the vehicle to turn her heel and change up the entire power dynamic of the division. Charlotte Flair could win and maybe even cost Becky the briefcase with an underhanded attack in the process, which would reignite a feud we’ve all been waiting some time for. Natalya, as the leader of the Welcoming Committee, could win and spend the coming months beating down Naomi (or whomever the champ is) with the help of her cronies until she finally sees the time to strike.
Most likely, though, at least from my perspective, is Carmella winning. She’s the one who has the outside help in James Ellsworth — sure, Ellsworth is part of the Welcoming Committee, but his strongest allegiances lie with Carmella, aka the reason he’s in that group. She’s also the one who could be truly made as a heel with a successful briefcase run. She’s already got Ellsworth helping guarantee that there will be boos when she shows up on screen. Months of threats and sneaking around, and cowardice, and the inevitable sketchy win over a beloved face champion would bring her the rest of the way.
Oh, there’s also the possibility a former WWE star shows up and inserts herself into this match. But I’ll let you find those rumors on your own so as not to spoil the fun for everyone else.
Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal (c) for the WWE World Championship
What am I looking at here? I could describe it to you here, or I could just link you to a feature I already wrote on it that has links to other features on it because hoo boy is Jinder Mahal’s championship reign the kind of thing that requires in-depth explanations from multiple angles.
Why you should care: I promise I’m not being lazy to avoid writing even more than I already have. Just read that feature and you will find all your answers.
The short of it, though, is that if WWE wants to prove that it didn’t just throw the title on Jinder Mahal to get India’s attention and dollars, it has to actually give him a worthwhile reign that bucks the trends of its unfortunately white-centric history. Jinder losing to Randy Orton a month after winning would just be more of the same for wrestlers of color who manage to hold WWE’s top prize.
Kevin Owens vs. Baron Corbin vs. AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match
What am I looking at here? This is the more traditional Money in the Bank ladder match, as there is always at least one men’s match, and there have also been two on a number of occasions. Between WWE unifying its previous top titles and the brand split making it so there is just one per show, there is only the need for one of them now, though — hence WWE finally deciding there was room for a women’s iteration of the match.
This should be great — in this group, only Ziggler has ever won before, and he has the lowest chance of winning this year’s match. (Having the lowest probability of winning doesn’t mean he won’t, of course.) Kevin Owens is maybe the next least-likely given he’s already United States Champion, which possibly means AJ Styles comes next on that list as he’s feuding for that belt but put that on pause for the chance at the briefcase. That leaves fan favorites Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura, as well as Baron Corbin, who is basically built for this match.
Why you should care: This feels like it’s the moment that makes Corbin into a legitimate main event player for WWE. He’s already had matches against big stars like John Cena, but putting him one surprise beatdown away from becoming WWE’s top champion at any time is something entirely different. And if it’s not Corbin, then this is WWE putting a rocket in a briefcase so Nakamura can strap it on whenever he feels like.
I’d say this could also be the moment Zayn wins, but come on. You’ve all presumably watched wrestling before. He’s almost guaranteed to be the guy who gets real close to winning until something terrible happens to him at the last second, further delaying the gratification of seeing him succeed.
Sure, WWE is PG now, but even with that we can still tell that it is really into edging.