Money In The Bank 2018: Preview, Predictions And Samoa Joe's Quest For WWE Gold

Wrestling fans will be treated to their ninth installment of WWE's Money in the Bank PPV in Chicago. This will be a co-branded event with 10 matches and two MITB ladder matches involving superstars from both brands. This will also be the second consecutive year we get a Women’s MITB ladder match.

It will have been six weeks since Backlash, so the WWE has had a great amount of time to build storylines and feuds. A series of qualifying matches gave us the final pool of MITB competitors - four from Raw and four from Smackdown Live. Two Superstars will have their fortunes changed for the better at the conclusion of the night. Let's check out the main card.

Big Cass vs Daniel Bryan

The 7-foot shadow isn’t going anywhere and has chosen Daniel Bryan to advance his career. This will be their second match after Bryan tapped Cass at Backlash. Cass has made his mark of attacking Daniel from behind and after matches, but this time will be different. We know that Bryan is no stranger to overcoming the odds. However, to effectively build Cass, he needs a win over Bryan. The only thing in question is, will WWE be bold enough to give him a “clean” victory? I expect the feud to continue and I say “YES!”

Prediction: Cass defeats Daniel Bryan clean

Bobby Lashley vs Sami Zayn

This match presents the most reasonable time to take a bathroom break. The buildup with these two Superstars seems forced and obviously scripted. Fans seem to have no interest in Lashley’s return let alone who “the real Bobby” is. I applaud Zayn’s skills for carrying this feud on the mic, it shows his range. But being honest this pairing has provided some cringing segments on Raw recently. The faster this feud is over the better for both guys. Lastly, I don’t need to see a smiling Bobby Lashley, EVER. Turn him heel, have him smash people. This match will be a reminder that WWE writers are out of touch with the storylines and lines they feed performers.

Prediction: Lashley defeats Zayn clean

The Bludgeon Brothers vs Anderson & Gallows (Smackdown Live Tag Team Tiltes)

The Smackdown Live tag division has fallen flat since Wrestlemania when the Bludgeon Brothers were crowned champs. The unstoppable duo has barely been featured on the show while The Usos and The New Day are seen weekly in some capacity. The shakeup allowed Gallows and Anderson to jump to the blue side and provide a new threat. Recently becoming number 1 contenders over the Usos seemed rushed and these two teams haven’t interacted much before MITB. The blue brand tag division is deep, and I expect a pickup in activity over the summer. Gallows and Anderson will become another notch in the bludgeons title reign.

Prediction: Bludgeon Brothers retain titles

Seth Rollins vs Elias (Intercontinental Title)

Rollins is the hottest thing in the WWE right now. No one is performing at his level and now’s a great time to jump on the bandwagon. Elias is a worthy adversary and has needed a relevant feud for some time now.

The buildup was simple where Seth interrupted an Elias performance. Elias later attacked Seth, then BOOM! This could be match of the night, but the title will not change hands. I like this feud to continue through another PPV.

Prediction: Seth Rollins retains

Carmella vs Asuka (Smackdown Live Women’s Title)

Carmella has improved since becoming champion and plays up to her arrogant persona well. WWE has been trying to recapture the magic that is Asuka since removing the undefeated streak from her gimmick. I’m torn in this match because Carmella is the epitome of this event. She’s the first ever women’s MITB contract winner. Surely, she can’t lose at the PPV that made her a star. We all know it’s only a matter of time before Asuka becomes champion on the main roster. That does not have to happen at Carmella’s expense so soon into her reign. I expect Asuka to win via interference from Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville or my favorites the IICONICS. "MELLA IS MONEY!"

Prediction: Asuka wins by DQ – Carmella retains title

Roman Reigns vs Jinder Mahal

The second singles match without title implications on the card. WWE has done well with building this feud out. Both costs each other spots in qualifying for MITB. While fans are tired of the Roman experiment, Mahal is a heel that fans genuinely don’t care for. If Reigns cannot garner fan affection facing Mahal, he is doomed. I just hope this match isn’t anywhere near the bottom of the card. Reigns wins in expected fashion.

Prediction: Reigns defeats Jinder clean

Nia Jax vs Ronda Rousey (Raw Women’s title)

The match with the most mainstream appeal will see Ronda Rousey in action for the second time. The announcing of this match was weird, and I, like others, thought it has all been too soon. Ronda was great at Wrestlemania, but a title match in her second match is crazy. She still has so much work to be done in form of cutting promos and creating her persona outside the ring. Also, bad timing since Jax is the face of WWE’s “Anti-bullying campaign”.

Turning Jax heel now would be a mistake. It’s a lose-lose situation because WWE wants to keep the Ronda hype train rolling, especially because she will be entering the UFC Hall of Fame. Both ladies are playing this as a friendly competition, but something's got to give. They both seem caught between Natalya’s friendship and I can see 'Nattie' siding with Nia. Ronda chasing the belt now is better than Ronda having the belt and burying other talent. Nia wins via distraction.

Prediction: Nia Jax retains

AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship)

Can WWE finally get the dream match outcome right? The caveat this time is that it's a last man standing match. What fans once clamored for has been full of duds. The only thing consistent here is repetition.

This will be the 5th time these two men meet. After sitting through a Nakamura heel turn featuring terrible entrance music, double count outs and low blows galore, we should finally get a clear-cut winner. (At least we’ve had some entertaining promos.) I expect the action to be great as both men have chemistry. AJ holds the only actual pin fall in a title bout in the previous matches at Mania, but while he has held the strap for over 200 days, I expect Nakamura to be the last man standing and capture his first taste of gold on the main roster.

Prediction: Nakamura wins the WWE title

Women’s MITB Ladder Match

The Field: Ember Moon, Alexa Bliss, Natalya and Sasha Banks from Raw; Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Lana and Naomi from SmackDown Live.

Moon Landing. (Source: WWE)

This will be the third ladies' MITB ladder match. One thing’s for sure is WWE will have a woman grab the briefcase the first time around after the backlash they received last year. Claims can be made for all the previous champions in this match, but Becky Lynch is the most deserving of this MITB contract. She’s been outcast since her first title reign and is always great in ring.

I tend to favor the underdogs, and this year's are Ember Moon and Lana. Moon is an exceptional athlete and has already shown she can handle the stage on Raw. Lana has the fan's hearts thanks to her husband, the beloved Rusev and his 'Rusev Day' gimmick. She’s also been working hard to improve in the ring to be a viable Superstar. WWE loves star power and Lana has always had that. The Carmella blueprint is one that can be repeated here because “Lana is the best, Lana number 1.”

Prediction: Lana grabs the briefcase

Men's MITB Ladder Match

The field: Braun Strowman, Bobby Roode, Finn Balor, and Kevin Owens from Raw; The Miz, Rusev, Samoa Joe, and a member of The New Day from SmackDown Live. (We still don’t know who the New Day member will be and may not find out until showtime.)

With the Universal title not being defended yet again, I hope this bout closes the show. There’s so much opportunity to make monumental memories in this match. In past MITB contests, there was always a chance for cash-ins to happen same day. With the event being co-branded, I don’t see that likely unless someone cashes in on the blue brand's title match.

Almost everyone in this match has a reason to walk out with the briefcase that can make sense for WWE - from rejuvenating guys like Bobby Roode and Finn Balor to the chance of a husband and wife winners with Lana and Rusev to grooving the track for an anticipated SummerSlam showdown between Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar.

But the guy with the most to gain from winning is Samoa Joe, who has never been a champ on any kind on the main roster. Since being called up, Joe has been featured in big bouts and holds his own. He made me believe he could defeat Brock Lesnar clean. He has already laid out the ultimatum to AJ Styles and the entire WWE Universe. The briefcase would allow Joe the flexibility to be blue brand's top heel. 2018 can very well be the year of Samoa Joe.

Prediction: Samoa Joe captures the briefcase

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