Money In The Bank 2020
WWE Performance Center, Orlando, Florida
As another month passes by in the state of lockdown, WWE prepares to present its latest PPV offering in the form of Money In The Bank. As was the case last month, there will be no live audience and the now familiar and eerie silence will do little to complement the action taking place in the ring. Wrestling Royalty’s and Rushonrock King of the Ring Andy Spoors reports.
The WWE Universe, as always, remains divided on the current product. To be fair, there has been much activity that perhaps needs to be addressed before we go any further. On April 15, now dubbed Black Wednesday in the industry, WWE released or furloughed more than 20 on-screen talents and many more office-based workers. For context, some sections of the WWE Universe have brought up the company’s figures of having $500m in cash reserves as a reason why the move wasn’t warranted.
The continued backlash over the state of Florida allowing WWE to continue to perform while lockdown remains in place, combined with the collapse of Vince McMahon’s relaunched XFL league, has really pushed not only McMahon – but WWE as a whole – into rough waters.
Viewing numbers have decreased to reportedly record lows and some notable Superstars have stayed away due to both health and personal circumstances. In the ring, both Raw, Smackdown and NXT have started the process of introducing new Superstars and storylines. Right now the action in the ring, rather unfairly, does not appear to be the thing grabbing people’s attention. With more time on the hands of many fans, every aspect of the industry is being scrutinised.
Money In The Bank offers the perfect chance to put the focus back on wrestling. After the success of the cinematic matches at WrestleMania, it’s great to see WWE trying to utilise more creative ways to showcase matches wherever possible. The Boneyard and Firefly Funhouse matches set social media alight. The Final Beat match between Gargano and Ciampa on NXT, although more straight-laced than the aforementioned “bouts”, further flexed the creative muscles in WWE’s writing.
Already revered as one of the best PPVs outside of the big four, Money In The Bank finds itself the latest case of straying from the norm. The premise remains intact, a briefcase hangs above the ring containing a guaranteed championship opportunity. All the Superstars have to do is climb a ladder and be the first to gain possession of the briefcase. Billed as a virtual guarantee to be champion, the success rate of cashing in and becoming the new champion, currently sits at 82.6% out of 23 matches.
However, the twist this year sees the ring, ladders and briefcase situated on top of WWE’s corporate headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. You read that right. Both briefcases will be hanging above a ring situated on the roof of a building. Starting in the lobby, both sets of competitors in the men’s and women’s matches will make their way through all the floors to earn their future title shot. Both matches will start at the same time, so expect utter chaos and an enormous amount of fun as WWE steers into the craziness.
WCW fans may be forgiven for drawing comparisons to the bonkers Sumo Monster Truck match that took place on the roof of Cobo Hall at Halloween Havoc ’95. With rumours of a big stunt taking place, if you aren’t even remotely intrigued by the prospect of these matches, modern professional wrestling really isn’t for you.
A mix of mid-card talent, with a smattering of star quality, means this year’s men and women’s fields are a little trickier to call when weighing up everyone’s chances than previous years. There are so many questions that very few have the answer to when it comes to the match itself. What format will the match take? Can Superstars use the lifts or stairs? How will the different genders interact with each other as the match progresses?
We will find out on Sunday night.
Away from the titular matches, there are four other matches scheduled to take place on the main show, with championships on the line in each. After years of being nothing more than the muscle or bodyguard for other women, Tamina gets her shot at Bayley and the Smackdown Women’s Championship. The rivalry has felt somewhat disjointed from its inception and Tamina has never truly felt like the legitimate threat the WWE commentary team has tried to paint her as. A decade ago, Tamina would have felt like a monster heel that could have destroyed most challengers. Now, her pace has slowed and the women’s division has evolved. The inevitable clash between Bayley and her best friend Sasha Banks, means this match is likely to be fodder to develop the pair’s story further.
Smackdown has gone through great pains to develop the tag team division. The ladder match at Wrestlemania would have stolen the show had it not been for the two cinematic efforts. Each of the tag teams involved at Money In The Bank brings something different to the table. With New Day now eight-time tag champs, they must be included in the conversation for best tag team or faction in history. Add in the relatively unknown factor of the Forgotten Sons, the brashness of Miz & Morrison and the high flying technique of the Lucha House Party, this match could be the best in ring bout of the night.
Since capturing the title at Mania, Braun Strowman has not had to defend his championship. In fact his only in ring action as champ has come against Shinsuke Nakamura on the first Smackdown after the event. Instead, the Monster Among Men has become embroiled in a feud with previous mentor Bray Wyatt. It was Wyatt that introduced Strowman to the WWE Universe as the ‘black sheep’ of his cult like family back in August 2015. With plenty of history, it should be a fascinating match-up between the two and one that will in most likelihood catapult Strowman as a legitimate champion. The downside to this would be yet another loss for Wyatt who, in simple terms, can’t catch a break. Intriguing personas have come and gone, but WWE and Wyatt must address the longevity of his characters to ensure he can remain at the top of his game for as long as possible.
Drew McIntyre has very quickly become the poster boy for WWE. A plethora of media appearances and multiple segments on Raw each week, no one can accuse the big Scot of resting on his laurels. The problem he currently faces, is the lack of audience to work from is damaging his patter like promos. A machine in the ring, McIntyre has arguably been the biggest loser of the current predicament. No live reaction from the crowd to his biggest ever win and no real way to gauge how audiences are finding his current persona, means he must continue to plough his own furrow and hope he is striking an accord with those watching at home.
Full PPV Card and Rushonrock predictions:
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Aleister Black, AJ Styles, Rey Mysterio, Otis, King Corbin and Daniel Bryan to participate)
Reese: AJ Styles
John: AJ Styles
Andy: Aleister Black
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Asuka, Carmella, Dana Brooke and Lacey Evans to participate)
Reese: Shayna Baszler
John: Shayna Baszler
Andy: Lacey Evans
Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt – Universal Championship Match
Reese: The Fiend
WWE Champion Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins
Reese: Drew McIntyre
John: Drew McIntyre
Andy: Drew McIntyre
SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley vs. Tamina
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Fatal 4-Way Match (New Day (c) vs Miz & Morrison vs Lucha House Party vs Forgotten Sons)
Reese: Miz & Morrison
John: New Day
Andy: Forgotten Sons