Thursday, June 26, 2014

Money in the Bank Odds: The Titles

Will one of these guys win? One's likelier than the other...
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Thanks to Daniel Bryan's neck going all pear-shaped, the two belts that comprise the WWE World Heavyweight Championship will hang high from the rafters as a prize for the wrestler who can climb the ladder and grab them for the second time in the last eight months. As was the case in December, John Cena and Randy Orton will be vying for them. Unlike TLC, six other wrestlers will join them in the first-ever Money in the Bank ladder match that has something other than a briefcase with a guaranteed title shot as the prize. Five are former Champions. Three would be looking to capture their first ever bit of top hardware in the company, and in the case of Bray Wyatt, he's looking for his first piece of WWE gold altogether. Even though everyone seems to know who's going to win, uncertainty still wafts in the air, like the hope springing eternal in every spring training facility in Florida and Arizona come February. All eight choices could conceivably walk out of Boston with the titles. Or hey, maybe none of them will and the winner of the briefcase match will. Still, not everyone has an equal chance of winning, which is why I'm makin' the odds, baybay.

Someone not announced 1000-1 - Like with a potential replacement for Bad News Barrett, the options of adding or subtracting wrestlers from the main event ladder match are numerous. WWE has never grown out of the Vince Russo-shock booking-for-shock booking's-sake mindset completely, and someone like Daniel Bryan or Brock Lesnar could swoop in and nab the titles. Hell, maybe Dean Ambrose could fulfill his wanton lust of winning a match he wasn't scheduled to enter, climb up the ladder, and take the belts while everyone's laying dead on the floor. While the option of an unannounced entrant could happen, I tend to think what you see is what you're going to get with this match.

Alberto del Rio 200-1 - del Rio will never be given the ball again. I am confident in typing that statement because I hear the lack of reaction he gets and I see WWE growing ever more reluctant to putting him in any kind of program that gets TV time. I hear more and more whispers of him saying "¡Coger a esta!" to WWE life and heading back to Mexico when his contract is up. del Rio is a sturdy hand and an expressive character whose upward mobility was destroyed by the John Cena Kayfabe Explosion, and he hasn't recovered since. He is in this match for the same reason why Christian gets inserted into random big ticket multiman matches. He's in there to make sure the match is good.

Randy Orton 45-1 - WWE putting the Championship back on Orton just months after he lost the title in grand fashion at WrestleMania feels too recursive even for its standard modus operandi. The threat remains, of course, since he's in the match, is still part of The Authority's stable, and is putting in the best work of his career. However, I feel if he wins, he's telegraphing an instant cash-in to symmetrically hearken back to how he won the title in the first place.

Bray Wyatt 40-1 - I'm torn on whether Wyatt will ever win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, to be honest. On one hand, he's got an early-career Undertaker vibe where he doesn't need titles or baubles in order to prove his worth as a strong character, artistically or financially. On the other, I feel that WWE has moved past the idea of special attraction draws not needing titles to be legitimized, and it's only a matter of time that Wyatt wins something. However, WWE can't keep Lesnar away from the Championship forever. Putting the title on Wyatt as a sacrificial pawn for the Beast Incarnate seems to be against WWE's way of thinking. Putting the title on Wyatt for one month so Cena can defeat him at Battleground seems short-sighted even for this company not known for its foresight. When Wyatt gets his run with the strap, he is going to hold it for a good long time. He won't win it for a summer jaunt. He can't win it for a summer jaunt, and for all the shitty decisions WWE seems to make regarding up and coming talent, I don't think it has the capacity to make this shitty a mistake with a future cornerstone of the company.

Sheamus 25-1 - Sheamus is in a rough spot because he's clearly part of WWE's main event future going forward. A match between him and Lesnar could end up being the best option going forward in terms of match quality, and even a loss against Lesnar could be the thing that puts him over the edge in terms of his long-term status within the company. I can rationalize situations in my head that WWE would let Sheamus carry around three belts and walk through the rest of the summer as Champion, but each of those scenarios requires me to ignore that of the competitors in the match, Sheamus has been built up the least save del Rio.

The Demon Kane™ 12-1 - Kane is the best choice to win the title if Bryan is ready to come back for Battleground and take it off him. Even if Bryan's not ready to come back, however, Kane remains a threat to win because as Rollins and Orton are Triple H's boys, Kane is the minion of Stephanie McMahon. Any henchman of an Authority member seems like a threat to win any kind of match for proxy's sake. Do I think he would be a better titleholder than people ranked below him on odds? In every case, I would say no, he's probably the weakest option to win. But the way he's positioned right now, I can see him taking a shock win and either dropping the belt to Bryan en route to the David and Goliath showdown that WWE has been rumored to want happen since Bryan won at Mania, or dropping the title to Lesnar at SummerSlam in a further-muddling of the face-heel continuum.

Antonio Cesaro 10-1 - Cesaro presents the most interesting case out of everyone. He left WrestleMania as a burgeoning HOSS fan favorite for feats of strength not able to be produced by most mere mortal men. Then WWE had the brilliant idea to stick him with a Paul Heyman who spent the first six weeks of their partnership putting over Lesnar ending The Streak. I was baffled by the decision to effectively submarine a cult hero in the name of giving Heyman a reason to stick around between Lesnar appearances, but somewhere along the way, the fortune that was taken from Bryan with his injury was thrust into the general direction of Cesaro. As mentioned before, Lesnar is on a collision course with whomever the Champion is at SummerSlam. Cesaro turning on Heyman over Lesnar and fighting valiantly in a loss, a la CM Punk last year at SummerSlam, may do more to bolster the folk hero status of Cesaro than placing him with the hardcore fan favorite Heyman ever did. Triple H is a Cesaro guy, and Heyman backstage seems to be the kind who would lobby his two charges to face off against each other, especially if the one less established can gain a main event foothold in the process.

Roman Reigns 2-1 - Even if Roman Reigns isn't the most likely person to win the match on Sunday, he's the best option. Unlike Wyatt, he's a young gun who would benefit greatly from being a two-month transitional Champion. He's the most established name out of anyone in this match not named Orton, Cena, or Kane. The Shield ran with the big dogs, and Reigns has proven he can at least break out crowd-popping big spots at the right times. If anyone should get a test drive with the belts now, it's Reigns. I've heard the argument that his big moment should come at WrestleMania, but the thing is that it still can. Reigns can win the ladder match, murder Orton at Battleground, and then go onto face Lesnar at SummerSlam. Much like Cesaro, a HOSS FIGHT booked in a similar mannter to the Punk/Lesnar match last year could put Reigns over huge even in defeat. Him reigning (sorry for the pun) for two months would be, in theory, enough of a taste for fans to be rabid for him again come Rumble time. The plan is fool-proof.

But even if Reigns isn't the most likely to win, he's still the guy I can see with the belts most clearly besides, well, you know who. Again, The Shield has seemingly been groomed to make three singles main event players. The breakup has been executed to allow two of those former members - Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins - to engage in a blood feud. The third is free to win the title. You go get yours, Roman Reigns, and when you do, you best make sure you bring those belts to the next tea party you have with your little princess.

John Cena 1-10 - I am not privy to WWE's booking plans, no matter what stage they seem to be in. However, the general feeling I got from watching WWE programming, feeling out the direction of Daniel Bryan going from slaying all of Evolution to facing down Kane, and listening to the rumblings that may or may not have dictated what really was happening backstage was that SummerSlam's main event was supposed to be Bryan vs. Lesnar for the Championship. Bryan got hurt, and now, those plans have more than likely been scuttled. I mean, even if Bryan made it back for the biggest party of the summer, would putting him in the ring with a behemoth whose stiffness and recklessness might be seen by the institution as positives be the right idea? Of course not. So, if that truly was the case, then WWE would need a backup plan. No matter how bad things get for the company, it has an ace up its sleeve in John Cena.

Cena to me feels like a post-Championship wrestler anyway, a special attraction who transcends the top prize. But WWE might see Cena not as needing the title, but as the title needing him, especially when someone is going to have to lose it to Lesnar in a big money match at the second most hyped and important event of the year. Besides, Lesnar needs his win back from Extreme Rules '12, and what better way to build off ending The Streak than taking out The Franchise? Again, unlike Bryan yesterday (tongue in his cheek or not), I don't think Cena is the best option to win. However, he's the most likely. If I were a Vegas casino, I wouldn't even take bets on Cena winning, because I'd just end up paying out to EVERYONE.