Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Money in the Bank Odds: The Briefcase

"Dean couldn't go back to the greasers, the best he could do was pickup the pieces..."
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Money in the Bank was established as its own pay-per-view on the promise of having two big ladder matches for two separate briefcases. Wrestling logic dictates that you can't have too much of a good thing, even if the original briefcase concept had a certain measure of intrigue as to which title the holder would target in his quest for eternal, sneaky glory. Then again, back when only one briefcase existed, the Big Gold Belt was on the same level as John Cena's Spinner. Remember the halcyon days of Jeff Hardy and a pre-pipebomb CM Punk headlining SummerSlam? Thems was the days, I says. A funny thing happened on the way to 2014's event, however, well, two funny things if you want to be anal about it. The first major elemental change to the show happened back in December, when Randy Orton unified the top titles and created one, wholly undisputed WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Gone would be the double-barreled display of ladder related carnage, and the drama of when that briefcase would be cashed in would be halved. Of course, I don't find that prospect to be bad. Two briefcases always meant that one cash-in would happen nearly immediately and the other would be stretched out to time enough after anyone might have expected it in an attempt to create a moment.

Then, the other funny thing that really wasn't funny at all happened. Daniel Bryan, who spent a good eight months scratching and climbing to get to the highest perch in the company, hurt his neck and anticlimactically had to give up his WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The twofold top hardware in the company will be on the line in the main event, which means at least in 2014, the Money in the Bank special event will have two multi-person car crash ladder matches to hold intrigue, and lo and behold, the same stratification exists as it did before. Main event guys in one match, up-and-comers in the other. This year, however, with the title involved in the big match, chances for a true elevation from the other match are back to levels not seen since Jack Swagger had SO MUCH TROUBLE taking the briefcase off the hook at the final WrestleMania Money match. Today, I will take a look at who may or may not have the best odds of walking out of Boston with a golden opportunity to become an instant Champion. Spoiler alert, the odds are not one-in-seven for everyone, no matter how much Michael Cole insists otherwise.

Kofi Kingston 1000-1 - Kofi Kingston is in the Money in the Bank ladder match for the same reason he's in the Royal Rumble every year, and why whenever a battle royale happens, he's there in the fray. He's nimble, knows how to produce something memorable that doesn't involve him winning, and has no fear of dying from a huge bump. The best time to pull the trigger on him came and went with a Randy Orton tantrum in early 2010. Ghana has a better chance of advancing to the knockout round and making the World Cup semifinals than Kingston does of sniffing that briefcase.

Bad News Barrett 100-1 - Barrett got hurt at the Smackdown tapings last night thanks to Jack Swagger. A separated shoulder in the grand scheme of things isn't that bad, but it could be enough to keep Barrett out of the ladder match. He's supposedly listed as day-to-day right now. Either way, I can't confidently put him where I wanted to put him because of that injury. Healthy, he would have been the smart pick to win. He's obviously the hottest wrestler in the match, and with the two favorites in Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins embroiled in a DEATH FEUD with each other, he might have been the guy to sneak in and take the briefcase while they were skirmishing.

The biggest shame out of all of this is how snakebitten Barrett has been since the last time he was in a WWE Championship match. I blame Matt Striker for gleefully proclaiming JOHN CENA WAS FREE at Survivor Series '10. The man has had chairs dropped on him for no reason other than WWE bookers are idiots. He was saddled with the worst stable since the Union. WWE gave him a sustained singles push, but his best chance for a breakout ended up going to Daniel Bryan in 2011. He won the Intercontinental Championship and became the template for Creative's shitty plan for secondary titleholders. It took the fucking JBL and Cole Show to get him a character idea to finally catch on for him, and now, he gets hurt at the one time where he would have been the smartest choice to in the briefcase. The man just cannot win.

Jack Swagger 75-1 - Last year, Swagger concussed Dolph Ziggler right when he was about to embark upon a World Heavyweight Championship reign that could have defined him. This year, he separated Barrett's shoulder by being just a little too rough with him at the guardrail. Wrestling injuries far too often are laid to blame solely at the guy giving out the moves, but at the same time, Swagger hasn't done himself any favors, especially since the Ziggler injury really couldn't be blamed on the guy taking the kick to the head. Swagger's ship has sailed. I can see him with better odds of winning than, say, Kingston, but everything else equal, his WWE career may just see him as a hard-working if somewhat sloppy jobber to the stars.

RED BELLY'S potential replacement 50-1 - The 50-1 odds seem in aggregate of the menagerie of wrestlers who might replace Barrett. Guys like El Torito, Sin Cara, or Heath Slater could get the nod just to take huge bumps and titillate the crowd in a similar manner as Kingston might. Bo Dallas, Alexander Rusev, or Big E Langston could be last-minute additions who would be immediate dark horses to win the match. The A-bomb scenario, however, would put Brock Lesnar in the match to annihilate everyone, snag the briefcase, and use it as his in for his elusive shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Either way, since I have no idea who might replace Barrett (if he needs to be replaced at all, mind you), I can't in good faith give it better odds than these, but hey, the options are as limitless as they are interesting.

Rob van Dam 20-1 - RVD winning is my personal nightmare scenario, but with Barrett out and the fabulous feuding Shield Bros. always with the chance to knock each other out of the match, what other great option does WWE have at this point? I know management can't be dumb enough to position RVD's busted ass as a challenger, no matter how much of a nostalgia pop he gets, but I will never not be surprised at how regressive the company can get in pushing geezers regardless of talent level.

Dolph Ziggler 18-1 - The biggest benefactor of Barrett potentially being out, however, could be Ziggler. Like Barrett, he's got fan support out the wazoo and is still young enough that he'd be able to carry a WWE Championship reign. He's also got a ready-made "Reality Era" story with Triple H brewing. I've read a lot of rumors, however, that Ziggler has fallen out of favor because of his injury history, but rumors are just that at this point. He always busts his ass in the ring, even to the point of bumping like a madman in C and D level shows, and he's got so much fire on promos that WWE just doesn't let him show on a regular basis. Past history dictates that his odds can't be much better than the 18-1 I'm giving him right now, but he's still the best combination of talent and health to win this match right now outside of...

Dean Ambrose
Seth Rollins
1-3 - Sometimes, WWE telegraphs something so hard that it has no option BUT to follow through. WrestleMania was a sterling example of them building so hard to a Bryan triumph that I was almost certain the result would be some kind of shenanigan. The closest WWE came to a schmozz was having Bryan getting loaded onto the stretcher; the finish was never in doubt. Bryan was meant to destroy Evolution and take home the titles from the moment he was screwed out of the belts at Elimination Chamber. Right now, WWE is not giving any semblance of a chance to any of the other five competitors in the match. The briefcase and the shot at the eventual next WWE World Heavyweight Champion is a physical manifestation of what's at stake between Rollins and Ambrose here. It's a proxy for a simple singles match if you will. Even before Barrett got hurt, I would have bet the farm that one of these men would walk out with the golden briefcase. Now that Bad News got some bad news, I'm almost certain one of them will get the nod.

But which one will get that shot at the title? I guess this match needs some intrigue going into it. Rollins winning would put more heat on The Authority and continue to build them as a group. Ambrose winning would help him build his psychopathic fan-favorite antihero persona exponentially. Either one's a great choice, and at this point, I can't think which result is more likely.