Ever since its inception at WrestleMania 21, the Money in the Bank ladder match has been used as both an exciting car crash match and as a way to elevate a younger star to the main event level. In some cases (e.g. Edge, CM Punk and Seth Rollins) the idea of a 24/7 contract has been a smash hit, but in others (e.g. Jack Swagger and Sheamus) the idea has been a complete flop. The concept of an automatic, 24/7 number one contender creates a buzz in the atmosphere of a WWE event, but depending on the booking and follow through, it can be a blessing or a detriment for “Mr. Money in the Bank.”
Great ‘cash ins’ almost always amount to a shocking moment and can be used for great heel/face turns, and this process has been used to elevate many young, mid card talents. Phenomenal cash in moments in WWE history include Edge’s first cash in on John Cena, CM Punk’s heel turn on Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton and The Authority turning on Daniel Bryan and, of course, Seth Rollins' epic WrestleMania cash in moment.
Heading into the now annual PPV event, there are a plethora of options for WWE to put the briefcase on and secure a title shot against likely WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns. Whether they want to use this match as a way to elevate an NXT call up, further a rivalry with a former Shield brother or give power to the soon to reform Bullet/Balor Club, the options are endless. With that being said, any winner of the briefcase will likely draw a babyface pop due to the vocal majority of the crowd being anti-Reigns, but whoever the winner is, their career will never be the same.
12 12. Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio was met with a thunderous applause in 2015 when he returned at the Hell in a Cell PPV to defeat John Cena for the U.S title, but since then he has floundered in a flat rivalry with Kalisto and becoming just another name in the crowd with The League of Nations. After he left the company and began touring the independent scene once again, Alberto El Patron was hotter than he had ever been, in promotions such as AAA and Lucha Underground. Fans were ecstatic to see him return and if WWE can begin booking him as a genuine threat once again, the fire he showed on the indies could very well warrant him the briefcase as a solid upper mid card heel.
11 11. Apollo Crews
The newest addition to the main roster, a combination of Bobby Lashley and Shelton Benjamin, is the supremely talented and athletic Apollo Crews. While his in ring charisma has drawn rave reviews, the former Uhaa Nation lacks personality and this could hold him back from his complete potential in the long run. While a run with the briefcase may be premature, many industry veterans and experts have touted him as a future champ, so why not give him the ball and see how he can run with it?
10 Baron Corbin
The Lone Wolf also just arrived on the scene with a bang, successfully winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 32 in his main roster debut. Though Corbin has vastly improved as an in ring performer in his three years with developmental, he still lacks the skill and in ring abilities of the Indy darlings who currently make up the main roster. Despite this, he has the menacing size and look that Vince McMahon admires, which can only bode well for his chances in the future, if they do not come at Money in the Bank 2016.
9 Shinsuke Nakamura
The only member of this list not currently on the main roster (or rumoured to be on it shortly), Shinsuke Nakamura’s overwhelming and electric charismatic personality make him a certainty for the main roster in the near future, as he is seen as too big for the smaller houses of NXT. The King of Strong Style boasts a deadly arsenal of strikes, highlighted by the Kinshasa knee strike (formerly Boma Ye), making him the perfect candidate for a shock entrance and surprise winner, as he would provide fans with a true hero on the main roster and a certain future world champion.
8 Dean Ambrose
The Lunatic Fringe, Dean Ambrose, has been on the cusp of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship numerous occasions since 2014 and WWE seem to enjoy presenting him as the loveable loser. Often the forgotten member of The Shield, Dean has recently come into his own as a crazy, straight up, no nonsense, ass kicker in his feud against Brock Lesnar, despite coming up short at the final hurdle again. With the Money in the Bank briefcase, WWE have the chance to change all perceptions of Ambrose and finally present him as a real threat, and this could be used as the final catalyst in the long awaited Roman Reigns heel turn.
7 Seth Rollins
The former Mr. Money In The Bank (the only one to appear on this list), if healthy, which is the reason for his low placement on this list, is a major threat to winning his second brief case. Much like the last entry, this could be used to further the Reigns-Rollins feud, which was put on hold due to Rollins devastating knee injury in November and could be used as a highlight reel type match to cement Rollins' status as the company's top babyface. Though many don’t feel he will return until SummerSlam, never rule the possibility out.
6 Bray Wyatt
While The Eater of Worlds is currently sidelined with an injury, a recent face turn on Raw suggested that a major push could have been on the way for Bray and his family, who are now down to two active members. Organically winning over the crowd for being so different to what they are given on a regular basis, Bray and his family have often garnered babyface reactions from the ‘fireflies’ in the crowd. A crowd which has been begging for Bray to finally get the push he deserves or at least win in a high profile feud. A run with MITB would give Raw the unpredictability it sorely needs.
5 Sami Zayn
The heart and soul of NXT has finally become a permanent fixture on the main roster and the former El Generico looks to have firmly won over the entire WWE Universe. Zayn is a master of storytelling in the ring, using facial expressions and ring psychology like the veteran that he is to his advantage, though he may still be seen as way too undersized by Vince and WWE management. Despite this, Money in the Bank can continue the underdog story for Zayn and whether he wins or loses, he will still have legions of followers to cheer him on.
4 AJ Styles
The Phenomenal One has arrived with major fan fare and now finds himself firmly in the main event scene, challenging Roman Reigns for the WWE title at Payback. While many expect Styles to simply ‘make Roman look strong’, WWE management could use this to gauge the true popularity of their new star and use that as a significant indicator going forward. Styles has been a world champ everywhere he has been and Money in the Bank could be the chance for WWE to finally embrace the future, which would certainly happen to the deafening pleasure of the masses.
The Swiss Superman recently made his shocking return and looked every bit like the world champion everyone in the world knows he should be. Sporting an upgraded gimmick – The Professional (complete with James Bond like entrance and tear away suit), he looks as impressive as ever and this may signal that it is now or never for management to pull the trigger on Cesaro, as the fans don’t strongly rally around a wrestler for no good reason. Maybe a manager to go with the briefcase will finally push Cesaro over the top in the eyes of Vince McMahon.
2 Finn Balor
The heavily promoted Bullet/Balor club reunion could very well be on its way to main roster programming, with Balor losing his NXT title to Samoa Joe at a recent house show, and what better way to push this new group as a force to be reckoned with than promoting the leader as a future world champion? Balor is very well liked backstage and has all the tools necessary to become a main event star who can carry the brand into the future. It's just a matter of management finally moving on from the Cena-era and pushing forward into the future, and there is no better opportunity than Money in the Bank to put this plan into action.
1 Kevin Owens
Arguments can be made that the ‘Headlock Master’ should have already tasted World Championship gold, as he has consistently been the most entertaining performer (not named the New Day) on WWE programming since his debut. The former Kevin Steen debuted by defeating John Cena and having a phenomenal trilogy of matches (which the majority of critics feel he should have won), and has proven himself time and time again to be the only true heel on the main roster. A run with the MITB briefcase, and the world title, could help buck the trend of what a superstar should look like and would be a deserving accolade for a fantastic professional wrestler, who is only just getting started in the world of WWE.
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