The Greek god of wrestling isn’t a big fan of building pay-per-views around a certain style of match. For example, TLC matches should occur because a feud merits that style of match, not because the calendar says it’s December. The same is true at TNA’s Lockdown, when every match takes place inside a steel cage.
Money in the Bank is the exception to that rule.
The reason Money in the Bank, which takes place Sunday in Boston, is the exception is there a purpose to the match. The ladder match determines who will have the championship contract, which can be cashed in at any time during the following year.
With one world champion, there was only supposed to be one ladder match at Money in the Bank this year. But the injury to Daniel Bryan created the need for a second ladder match, which will determine the new WWE World Heavyweight champion.
The competitors battling to become world champion are John Cena, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Sheamus, Roman Reigns, Alberto Del Rio, Bray Wyatt and Kane. With the championship on the line, expect to see the wrestlers pull out all the stops. There isn’t a high flyer to provide highlight-reel moves off the ladders, so expect this to be an extremely physical match with painful ladder shots.
Who will win? Let’s first eliminate who won’t win. Alberto Del Rio, a favorite of Achilles Heel and a former world champion, won’t win. Neither will Sheamus, unless he turns heel. Cesaro and Bray Wyatt are long shots to win. Wyatt would be an interesting champion, especially if Luke Harper and Erick Rowan also win tag team gold, but I don’t think WWE is ready to pull the trigger on that scenario. Cesaro is terrific in the ring, but still needs a little more time with Paul Heyman before becoming a threat to win the championship.
Kane, a late addition to the match, is also a long shot to win. A Kane victory would set up a rematch with Bryan when he returns, but Kane’s role, as was evident in Smackdown’s main event Friday, appears to be to help Orton recapture the title he lost at WrestleMania XXX.
Could Orton regain the title? It’s possible. Although it hasn’t been brought up on television, Orton was never pinned in the WrestleMania main event. Bryan pinned Batista to win the title. As champion, Orton could claim that Bryan never beat him for the title, setting up another match between them. But I don’t think WWE is going down the Orton-Bryan road again.
The two most likely winners are Cena and Reigns. There are rumors that Brock Lesnar, who hasn’t appeared in WWE since ending the Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak, will face Cena at SummerSlam, which would make a Cena victory Sunday make sense. But it would also make sense for Wyatt, who has been in an ongoing feud with Cena, to get the last laugh, literally and figuratively, by costing Cena the championship. Besides, a Lesnar-Cena match wouldn’t necessarily need a championship to make it an important match.
WWE could elect to have Reigns win the title. A quick title reign would validate Reigns’ elevation into a main event player.
The match for the championship contract, the traditional Money in the Bank ladder match, includes Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Rob Van Dam, Dolph Ziggler, Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett, Seth Rollins and Deam Ambrose.
Barrett suffered a separated shoulder on Smackdown, so there is a question as to whether he will participate in Money in the Bank. That’s the wrong kind of match to be in with a bad shoulder. If Barrett can’t participate, that opens the door for a surprise addition to the match.
Achilles Heel won’t speculate on possible replacements, but he will tell you this match is set up for Rollins to win. Ziggler is a long shot to win – and I think there will be teases that he could win – but, unless Ambrose derails his former Shield teammate, I think Rollins wins the Money in the Bank contract.
If Reigns win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rollins cash in right away and become world champion.
As I mentioned earlier, Jimmy and Jey Uso will defend the tag team titles against the Wyatt Family’s Harper and Rowan. A title chance is very possible. I don’t think we’ll see a title change in the Divas Championship match between Paige and Naomi, the top challenger. This match almost certainly will end with Cameron, Naomi’s tag team partner, costing Naomi the title.
There also will be a tag team match between Goldust and Stardust (Cody Rhodes) and the team of Ryback and Curtis Axel. Other matches are Rusev vs. Big E and Summer Rae vs. Layla, with Fandango as the guest referee.
If the Boston crowd reacts to the mid-card matches the way the Chicago crowd did at Extreme Rules, Sunday’s event has the potential to match the quality of last year’s Money in the Bank in Philadelphia, which was tremendous.
BRYAN SPEAKS: Instead of having a preshow match at Money in the Bank, WWE will present an interview with Daniel Bryan. Fans can send in questions for Bryan.
NEW LORD OF THE RING: Michael Elgin, who lost to Adam Cole in the finals of Ring of Honor’s World Championship Tournament last year in Philadelphia, got revenge last Sunday be defeating Cole for the title at Best in the World 2014.
The more important result may be how Best in the World fared among those who bought it as a pay-per-view through the cable or satellite system. Achilles Heel thinks Ring of Honor put on a good enough show to merit return viewers.
TNA RAISES PROFILE: TNA continues to build momentum off its strong Slammiversary show two weeks ago. TNA took its show on the road to New York, where it had three sold-out shows.
Achilles Heel’s contacts report that the boisterous crowd enhanced the quality of the shows, especially when compared to the usual studio crowd in Florida. The problem for TNA is that taking its show on the road costs a lot of money. The New York shows may have paid off financially, but TNA was hemorrhaging money trying to do shows on the road every two weeks.
Among the newsworthy events at the TNA events in New York, which followed Bobby Lashley winning the world championship the previous week in Bethlehem, were Kurt Angle being named director of wrestling operations, the return of Bobby Roode to the active roster and the reuniting of Matt and Jeff Hardy.
TNA also made a huge announcement: Bound for Glory will be held in Tokyo on Oct. 12.
PHILLY CROWDS: Watching the NHL Draft on Friday – yes, Achilles Heel has interests other than professional wrestling – made the Greek god of wrestling smile. As I wrote in the Money in the Bank preview and in the TNA note directly above this one, an enthusiastic crowd can greatly enhance an event.
The Philly crowd at Wells Fargo Center made the NHL Draft entertaining. The loud booing of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the Pittsburgh Penguins, balanced out by the “Let’s Go Flyers!” chants and the hero’s welcome for former Flyer Rod Brind’Amour created an electric atmosphere. I almost felt as if I were transported back to the ECW days in the ECW Arena.
The NHL Draft took place before a pro wrestling crowd – and Achilles Heel intends that as a major compliment.
DRAFT MEMORIES: The NHL and NBA drafts reminded me of when WWE used to have drafts for RAW and Smackdown, which had exclusive rosters. The wrestlers were often not informed ahead of time who would be switching brands, so some of the looks of shock and surprise you saw were genuine.
FUN IN READING: If you’re reading this on Saturday, don’t forget that Wrestling is Fun presents Bananastar Galactica tonight (7 p.m.) at Goodwill Beneficial Association Hall in Reading.
BULLPEN’S SECRET? While trying to figure out the secret to the Phillies bullpen’s turnaround, csnphilly.com’s Jim Salisbury wrote an article explaining how closer – and noted pro wrestling aficionado – Jonathan Papelbon has given his bullpen mates names of pro wrestlers in order to bring them out of their shells and develop personas on the mound.
Jake Diekman is, not surprisingly, Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Justin De Fratus is Goldust. (Achilles Heel doesn’t want to know why.) B.J. Rosenberg is Stone Cold. Papelbon, who has a Ric Flair robe, is Flair. Ethan Martin is the Iron Sheik.
The Greek god of wrestling laughs just thinking about the Sheik throwing a baseball, but, hey, if the wrestling nickname trick is working, there’s no reason to stop.