Three titles will be defended on Sunday at WWE Money in the Bank, but none of those matches are the headliners on a short card that will be contested live in St. Louis. Instead, the two MITB ladder matches — each of which will provide the winner with a guaranteed championship contract in a briefcase — will be the stars of the show.
It is the first ever women’s MITB ladder match that is of particular interest as there will be two briefcases floating around the SmackDown Live locker room in the near future — unless one is used right away Sunday night. There is no doubt that Money in the Bank will drastically shape the future of the SmackDown brand, and CBS Sports will be covering it live on Sunday.
It all goes down live beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The kickoff show, which does not presently have any matches scheduled, begins an hour earlier at 7 p.m.
Want to know how Money in the Bank will play out? Subscribe to our podcast In This Corner with Brian Campbell where we break down the entire show. And join us early Monday for our instant analysis.
AS: There’s going to be a lot of talk about turning Zack Ryder heel after the Hype Bros reunited on SmackDown. That may happen — just not tonight. Most likely, it will happen after these two get the tag team title match they are owed and lose to The Usos or whoever is holding the titles at that time. I could definitely see the Colons going over here but that’s not how you want to start a big show. Pick: The Hype Bros win
BC: The Colons’ rebranding hasn’t changed their enhancement reality. Considering the Hype Bros were one win away from the SmackDown tag team titles before Zack Ryder’s injury, look for them to pick up where they left off in this reunion. Pick: The Hype Bros win
BC: Lana’s relaunch as an in-ring competitor will likely only have one shot to win us over. Can she come off as a believable wrestler despite just one career match (a forgettable eight-woman tag team match on the WrestleMania 32 pre-show)? The debut of her finishing move on Tuesday was well handled, but she’ll have an uphill battle to climb on Sunday. This feels far too rushed as a creative stay-busy program for Naomi while she waits for a MITB winner to emerge. Pick: Naomi retains the title
AS: We’re going to see the women’s title change hands on Sunday night, but it won’t be Lana beating Naomi. More on that later. Lana surprised me with the finisher she debuted on SmackDown, but there’s no indication she will be able to look legitimate in a match of any length against an experienced in-ring competitor like Naomi. Ultimately, I’m glad Naomi was not left off the card, but Lana does not “deserve” this match either in kayfabe or real life. Pick: Naomi retains the title
Tag Team Championship — The Usos (c) vs. The New Day
AS: It’s not paranoia. The Usos are the best tag team in WWE right now, and it’s honestly not even close. Allowing them to fully buy into their heel turn has given the brothers a second life, and they are so much better in those roles than they were as faces. The New Day is over whether they’re champions or not, and with so many tag teams on SmackDown, there are plenty of rivalries they can have until they eventually win the titles, perhaps at SummerSlam. Pick: The Usos retain the titles
BC: Expect this match to steal the show as The New Day makes their SmackDown PPV debut against a rebranded and rejuvenated Usos, who are excelling as heels. Considering the in-ring magic turned in by The Usos and American Alpha in a pair of title bouts heading into WrestleMania, there’s no reason to believe this one will be any different. In the end, it will prove better longterm for the babyfaces to continue the chase. Pick: The Usos retain the titles
WWE Championship — Jinder Mahal (c) vs. Randy Orton
BC: It’s simply too early considering the time and energy WWE has invested in making Mahal a believable main event threat to see him lose the title on Sunday. Orton doesn’t need another title reign, and Mahal’s value will plummet instantly without the strap. But how they integrate Orton’s father, “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr., into the storyline (he’ll be seated at ringside) should end up judging whether this match will be an entertaining success. Mahal will only be effective long term if he’s booked as a more despicable heel. This is his opportunity to be that. Pick: Mahal retains the title
AS: For all the reasons Brian laid out, it does not make any sense to take the strap off Mahal. The truth is that Mahal still has a long way to go: He’s below-average in the ring and average-at-best on the mic. Regardless, WWE wants the title on him, and I do legitimately think an extended feud with John Cena is in Mahal’s future. WWE did a good job making one believe that Orton could win the championship back in his hometown with his family at ringside, but ultimately it will just add to Mahal’s heat. Pick: Mahal retains the title
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match — Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Tamina Snuka
AS: Do not be surprised if this match opens the show with the women’s championship being defended in the penultimate bout prior to the men’s ladder match. Why? Because the winner is going to cash in on Sunday night. While Brian believes that means the face of the women’s division will win, I think it will be a heel that takes advantage of Naomi later in the show. That narrows my prediction down to Natalya or Carmella, and either is a legitimate option. On the podcast, I took Carmella, so I’m going to split the difference and go the other direciton, which would create a nice rivalry to bide some time until Flair goes for the title at SummerSlam. Pick: Natalya wins
BC: The real intrigue in this one will be to see whether the five talented women can have a match equal to the men in terms of excitement and physicality. If their kickoff brawl a few weeks ago was any indication, there’s no reason to believe they can’t. Considering the historic nature of this first match, look for Flair to take home the contract and don’t be surprised if she cashes it in later in the night against Naomi. Pick: Flair wins
We would be remiss to not mention that former WWE “diva” Maria Kanellis is reportedly in St. Louis along with her husband, Mike Bennett. Both previously worked for Ring of Honor, spent 2016-17 in TNA and have supposedly signed with WWE. Many expected them to start in NXT, but it is now believed they will debut Sunday or Tuesday on SmackDown Live.
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match — AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn
BC: There’s enough star power and standout in-ring ability in this one for it to be an instant classic and match of the year contender. There’s no reason to expect anything less. But as for who comes out with the briefcase, give me the veteran, who will use the prop to help reestablish himself as an elite performer over the next few months. His heel turn has worked and now it’s time to give him something important to do. Pick: Ziggler wins
AS: Brian nailed this pick. Most think Styles or Corbin will wind up winning this match not realizing that Ziggler is primed for a push. He has a recent clean win over Styles and was given the spotlight as Nakamura’s first opponent on the main roster. Ziggler did the job to end that feud, but he put over Nakamura and basically promoted that match on his own. Sacrifice is not always rewarded by WWE, particularly when Ziggler is the one sacrificing, but this time is different. He will become the second two-time MITB briefcase winner (CM Punk). Pick: Ziggler wins
Similar to the women’s match, there’s an outside chance for a surprise return here in the MITB main event. Rusev has been off TV for quite some time both recovering from injuries and waiting for WWE to create a storyline for him. He could also show up Sunday or on Tuesday’s TV show.