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An exciting air of uncertainty hangs over WWE Money in the Bank 2017.
A pair of contract-filled briefcases will hang above the ring at Sunday’s pay-per-view in St. Louis, and 11 Superstars will vie to be the two who grab them. We’ve seen little of what Lana can do in the ring before her SmackDown Women’s Championship match against Naomi.
And the Jinder Mahal era is still very much a work in progress, as The Maharaja looks to prove himself worthy of the mega-push WWE has given him.
It’s not clear who will win the two Money in the Bank ladder matches. It’s not certain the PPV card is complete. WWE fans may see a surprise face show up in St. Louis too. Good luck trying to predict what’s set to unfold.
Read on for a look at the biggest unknowns ahead of Money in the Bank, from whether we will see a coronation for Lana to what kind of statement Mahal will make.
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SmackDown has taken its “land of opportunity” nickname to heart.
The jobber James Ellsworth became a surprise contender. Breezango went from obscurity to a PPV title match. Mahal went from afterthought to the No. 1 heel.
Could Lana get that same treatment? Could a championship reign featuring someone with next to no experience be the next curveball the blue brand has for us?
Lana will face Naomi for the SmackDown Women’s Championship on PPV before she has wrestled on SmackDown. She’s 0-0 and only a three-count away from gold.
It feels obvious Naomi will retain here, that SmackDown will be more patient in crowning Lana. But that’s no safe bet.
WWE’s newest strategy seems to be to find booking decisions that will get folks talking regardless of how much sense they make. The Ravishing Russian winning the title in her first singles match on the main roster would infuriate many a diehard.
That alone gives Lana a fighting chance on Sunday.
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By the end of Sunday’s PPV, two Superstars will be wielding briefcases that all but guarantee them championship reigns.
There is usually excitement and speculation aplenty before these Money in the Bank ladder matches, but there’s an added level of electricity this time around. Fan favorites AJ Styles, Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura are potentially in line for huge wins, for one. And the women’s division will get a crack at this whole Money in the Bank thing for the first time.
Someone will be named the first female Money of the Bank winner.
Will it be the inaugural SmackDown women’s champ Becky Lynch? Will Charlotte Flair’s dominance lead to her taking home the prize? Will this be Carmella’s career night?
Baron Corbin has to be one of the favorites for the men’s match. Unlike someone like Styles, who doesn’t need the briefcase, Corbin could benefit from a major boost via a Money in the Bank win. He’s an ascending star who feels a moment or two away from being top-contender material.
That moment could easily come on Sunday. And be it Lynch, Carmella or someone else, a member of women’s division will get their own career-changing moment too.
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Even with the late addition of The Hype Bros vs. The Colons to the PPV’s kickoff show, there are still only six matches on the Money in the Bank card. There’s room to add more action, even if the two ladder matches go long.
That leaves the door open for Breezango, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, Tye Dillinger and others to be a part of the event.
Any of those talents could use the spotlight. Breezango doing another Fashion Files segment would be a welcome sight. Any kind of perceivable plan for Dillinger would be great.
WWE, though, hasn’t been shy about cutting PPVs short since the advent of its streaming service. There’s a good chance SmackDown’s midcard has to remain on the bench until next time.
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April’s Superstar Shake-up brought Rusev to SmackDown, but he has yet to wrestle for the blue brand since.
Rusev, though, is reportedly cleared to compete again after recovering from a shoulder injury. Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet reported on Wednesday: “Sources tell us The Bulgarian Brute met with WWE docs yesterday and was given the green light.”
Back in April, Rusev appeared in a number of clips in which he demanded a title shot at Money in the Bank. He said he wouldn’t work for his new brand until he got what he wanted.
WWE seemed to drop that stoyline as Mahal rose to prominence.
But could we see him charge into the PPV demanding a chance at the gold? It would continue a narrative already in motion and be an easy, memorable way to reintroduce Rusev.
Plus, the Money in the Bank ladder match’s lack of rules is an invitation for the powerhouse to attack someone out of anger and begin his next feud.
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When Mahal won the WWE Championship at Backlash in May, he completed a sudden rise to the top, going from cellar-dweller to champion in a matter of weeks.
WWE has given The Maharaja a new look, new music, a pair of cronies and all the spotlight he could ever ask for. The results have been mixed. At times, Mahal looks comfortable with the title belt in hand, but he hasn’t given us that moment that makes it undeniable that he belongs on top.
Will that come on Sunday?
Will Mahal put on a performance that silences his doubters? Will he look and feel like a world champ in his title match? Will we see Mahal deliver his magnum opus?
Much of the focus leading up to Money in the Bank will be on the ladder matches, but the PPV is also a pivotal moment for Mahal and his WWE Championship reign. The pressure will be on in a big way.