By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Former Dot Net staffer Marv Hermanstyne liked to use confidence picks while making some of his match predictions in past years. As such, I am once again dubbing these “The Marv Hermanstyne Memorial Confidence Picks” (even though Marv is thankfully alive and well and can be followed @TheInfamousMarv). I will start with the wrestlers I feel are least likely to win the MITB matches while building to the wrestlers I feel are most likely to win.
Men’s Money in the Bank ladder match (Entrants: Riddle, Ricochet, John Morrison, Drew McIntyre, Big E, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, Shinsuke Nakamura): On paper, this match has the potential to be terrific. Ricochet and Morrison don’t strike me as real contenders to win, but both are sure to perform some jaw-dropping stunts.
8. John Morrison: I wish he would drop the cornball Drip schtick and all the comedy because he could be a player in the men’s division. But I’ve felt that way throughout most of his WWE runs and nothing has changed even after his long hiatus from the company.
7. Shinsuke Nakamura: As much as I’ve enjoyed Nakamura’s work over the years, he doesn’t strike me as a great fit in an MITB match. He has his mid-card King gimmick now, but it doesn’t seem hot enough to justify him winning MITB.
6. Ricochet: The potential standout performer of the match. Still, the company has never really gotten behind him and I doubt that changes tonight. At this point, I’m just hoping that the push that was designed to make him look like a threat in MITB won’t completely disappear once the match is over.
5. Kevin Owens: Another guy who is sure to have a crazy spot or two. Owens had a long feud with Roman Reigns earlier this year. If he were to win MITB, I suspect he would be booked to go after the WWE Championship.
4. Riddle: His character’s antics typically make me roll my eyes when he’s not on camera with Randy Orton, but there’s something about the two of them together that really works. There’s a story to tell with Orton being jealous of Riddle winning MITB if they want to go there. My guess is that Riddle comes up short and they go after the Raw Tag Titles whenever Orton returns. I suppose they could do that with Riddle holding the MITB contract.
3. Seth Rollins: If WWE follows its usual formula, Rollins’ fate as an MITB loser was sealed when he pulled the briefcase down and celebrated with it at the end of Friday’s Smackdown television show. He’s obviously doing something with Edge at SummerSlam. I’m not sure how they get there, but I don’t think it involves Rollins winning MITB.
2. Big E: I feel better about Big E’s chances coming out of Smackdown. WWE can’t stop themselves from foreshadowing even at times when it ruins surprises. In this case, Big E confronted Paul Heyman in the backstage area for no good reason. It may have been a swerve, but I think there’s a good chance that it was foreshadowing, meaning Big E is a strong candidate to win MITB and use the contract to chase Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship.
1. Drew McIntyre: I had McIntyre as the favorite from the moment he qualified for the match. But the timing of his feud with Jinder Mahal has me wondering if the plan is for Mahal and his minions to prevent McIntyre from winning MITB. It would obviously give McIntyre an out for losing. At the same time, I wonder if they have a plan in mind for McIntyre somehow getting around the stipulation that he can’t challenge Bobby Lashley for the title again. Lord knows the WWE creative forces seems to take great pride in finding ways around their own stipulations.
Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match (Entrants: Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Asuka, Naomi, Zelina Vega, Liv Morgan, Natalya, Tamina): Is “none of the above” an option? Obviously, everyone involved is talented, but none have enough steam going into the match to make me really want to see them win MITB. This would be a great spot for a surprise replacement, but I’ll stick with that advertised field for my picks.
8. Tamina: An underwhelming addition as the final entrant in the match. It’s nothing against her. It’s just that she doesn’t stand out as a realistic threat to be booked to win the match.
7. Natalya: I guess they want to tell the story of Natalya and Tamina potentially working together during the match. I actually had her listed a couple spots higher during Friday’s Dot Net Weekly audio show, but I’ve already cooled on the possibility of her winning.
6. Naomi: I have no clue why Naomi spent time teaming with Lana and is still spinning her wheels now that she’s back working as a singles wrestler. She is talented and the crowds genuinely seem to like her, but it’s been a long time since the creative team got behind her in a meaningful way.
5. Zelina Vega: Vega made her surprise return to Smackdown and lost an impromptu match to Liv Morgan minutes later. It was not the type of return that makes one think that the company has something big planned for her. I’d love to be wrong.
4. Nikki Ash: There’s a big gap between Ash and the bottom four in my book, meaning she has a much better chance of winning than those listed below her. The superhero gimmick doesn’t do anything for me, but there’s always a chance it clicks with the live crowds. She got the better of both women in the Raw Women’s Championship heading into the last pay-per-view, so perhaps that was the start of a push for her moving into the title picture.
3. Liv Morgan: She received a lot of storyline attention heading into the match with the idea being that she was being slighted by Sonya Deville. But then Bayley got hurt and they removed Carmella from the match, which led to the quick resolution of the storyline, as Deville quickly gave Morgan a spot in the match. Morgan stood tall in the final women’s MITB related segment on Friday, which probably doesn’t bode well for her chances of winning.
2. Asuka: Last year’s MITB winner has been losing a lot of matches on television lately. This would be one way to breathe some life into her act. More than anything, I’d like to see Asuka turn heel and really shake things up regardless of whether she holds the MITB contract.
1. Alexa Bliss: I have a bad feeling that the creative forces will take great pleasure in having the Lily doll emerge from inside the MITB briefcase. I’m really down on the Female Fiend routine, but it seems to be a favorite of those in power based on how much television time it gets.
Roman Reigns vs. Edge for the WWE Universal Championship: So now that we’ve established our MITB favorites, the question is whether we’ll see either winner attempt to cash in during the show. The company is obviously building toward Edge vs. Seth Rollins for SummerSlam. If Rollins wins MITB, then my guard will be up for him getting involved in this match even if he doesn’t actually cash in. Edge received one of the biggest pops at WrestleMania and he got the mega pop at Friday’s Smackdown. But Reigns continues to be the chosen one and he’s doing a fantastic job as the face of Smackdown. I don’t see any reason to take the title away from him.
Roman Reigns retains the WWE Universal Championship.
Bobby Lashley vs. Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship: The story of Lashley losing to Xavier Woods on Raw and then delivering the angry and focussed promo at the end of the show doesn’t bode well for Kingston. In fact, that promo left me wondering if Lashley will destroy Kingston in a matter of seconds to help set up a match with Brock Lesnar, who famously beat Kingston in eight seconds. Either way, I don’t believe we will see a title change unless there’s some type of shenanigans involving a McIntyre cash-in on Kingston. Is that even possible? We know McIntyre can’t challenge Lashley, but is he allowed to beat one of his challengers if he were to cash in during a title match?
Bobby Lashley retains the WWE Championship.
Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair for the Raw Women’s Championship: Another month of confusing storytelling that left both women looking like heels. It will be really interesting to see how the live crowd reacts to both wrestlers. Ripley got herself intentionally disqualified when they met at Hell in a Cell last month. She was scolded by authority figures Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville, yet oddly they didn’t announce a stipulation that would prevent her from doing it again in this match. I would hope that they have something better in mind. Either way, I suspect the title stays put. Bring on The Man!
Rhea Ripley retains the Raw Women’s Championship.
AJ Styles and Omos vs. “The Viking Raiders” Erik and Ivar for the Raw Tag Titles: My interest in the match faded when Erik and Ivar delivered promos and continued to act like jolly Viking cosplayers. It didn’t work before Ivar missed time with an injury, and I was really hoping that they would return as War Machine style badasses. I assume that Styles and Omos are going to work with Randy Orton and Riddle at SummerSlam, assuming Orton is back by then, so the champions keep the belts.
AJ Styles and Omos retain the Raw Tag Titles.
Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio vs. Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso for the Smackdown Tag Titles: No, I don’t see the Usos working the Kickoff Show as a mild punishment for Jimmy Uso’s latest arrest. Rather, I see this as a hot opening match on the first pay-per-view back in front of fans since WrestleMania. It would be bold of WWE to book the Usos to win the titles so quickly after Jimmy’s latest legal woes. I don’t think there will be a title change, but it’s not like the company doesn’t already look bad for not commenting on his arrest, let alone announcing any type of punishment or treatment plan. My guess is that these teams will have a rematch at SummerSlam regardless of who goes over tonight.
Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio retain the Smackdown Tag Titles.
Join me for my live review of WWE Money in the Bank tonight beginning with the one-hour Kickoff Show at 6CT/7ET.