Thursday, June 11, 2015

Oddsmakers! 2015 Money in the Bank Ladder Match

Is it Reigns' time to get the briefcase?
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The Money in the Bank ladder match is on Sunday, and outside of the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, it has become the marquee event on the WWE calendar. The person (or between 2010 and 2013, people) who grabs the briefcase has an 86.67% success rate going in his cash-in attempt, and the cash-ins have made for some of the most exciting and poignant moments in WWE history. Edge's initial redemption of his briefcase set the tone for the surprise. Rob van Dam's created the most surreal and electric crowd WWE would ever see until, oddly enough, the 2011 titular event where CM Punk threatened to walk out of the company (and did) with the WWE Championship. Punk's first cash-in, Miz's prey on Randy Orton, Orton's squelching of Daniel Bryan's first moment, and the iconic WrestleMania main event cash-in by Seth Rollins all helped build a mystique around the briefcase.

This year's crop of competitors contains a bunch of intriguing candidates to get the golden ticket. Some seem like also-rans, others feel way out of leftfield, but all of them except maybe Kane would be interesting choices. However, some of them are more likely than others, and that's why I'm here to bring you my foolproof, science-dictated odds for each competitor, whether or announced or assumed.

The Field (read, R-Truth) - 100/1 - Truth was arguably the highlight of RAW (along with Kane's reaction to him) coming out and promoing on the field for the ladder match without ever really being booked in it. I would give him good odds to be in the fray as an uninvited guest, but as a winner? No way. The same goes for any stragglers who might wander out of the back. Some have better odds than others in specific; for example, I might buy it if Rusev did his best Ivelisse impersonation from Lucha Underground and won that shit with a bum wheel. However, in aggregate, the field of officially unentered candidates, aside from glaring one to be addressed below, is a longshot to win this thing.

Kane - 75/1 - Kane makes sense if the endgame of his part in the internal struggle with The Authority is a match with Rollins. However, I don't think WWE would be that stupid to waste its golden ticket on a dude in his 40s whose crowd reactions are tepid at best, and I'm not entirely sure Rollins is retaining the title here. WWE has several ways to advance the Kane/Rollins story without using the briefcase, and while I will never be shocked at the company's capacity to be terrible and stupid, I'm relatively sure it won't be this terribly stupid.

Dolph Ziggler - 50/1 - Ziggler, he who is one of two others in the match with a briefcase win, feels like he's losing so much steam. Part of that is his booking, sure, but he's seemingly lost his will to live within his WWE career. I'm pretty sure that when Vince McMahon allegedly said he was unhappy with people not reaching for the brass ring, he was verbally subtweeting Ziggler the most. Besides, he's entangled with Lana and Rusev right now. He's got a feud-out.

Randy Orton - 33/1 - Orton's the other winning alumnus in the match, but it feels like the briefcase would be wasted on him regardless of result. He's already had a litany of failed WWE Championship opportunities, so using the briefcase to get yet another one would be pointless in the narrative, and him using it to win again would be the very definition of keeping on fucking that chicken. The only way I see him winning is if WWE sees an opportunity to give him a headlining opportunity in St. Louis for Battleground without really having to write intensively for it, but that feels like a longshot.

Sheamus - 20/1 - Sheamus is where things start to get interesting with the booking possibilities. He's a dark horse candidate at best, but the man came in with such hype and promise that it's hard for me to believe WWE is giving up on him just yet. He's in a weird spot, having just finished up hostilities with Ziggler and having no real feud onto which he can latch. He's got the physical credibility to take on guys like Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns, and he also works smaller against guys like Dean Ambrose or Rollins to help get them over. He's easily the most versatile worker on the roster, and I don't think WWE discounts that fact at all. I don't think he's an odds-on favorite to win, but he's someone to watch.

Neville - 15/1 - If WWE had any intestinal fortitude, it would give Neville the briefcase, let him announce his cash-in for Survivor Series ahead of time, and allow him to go all out against a non-Lesnar opponent for the title. Win or lose, he will be made in the process, and he'll be able to build on it so that when/if he DOES win the big title down the road, he has a launching point for his narrative to get there. I do think WWE would be crazy enough to let him take it too. This field reminds me a lot of the 2011 Smackdown briefcase field, the one where Triple H famously suggested backstage to let Daniel Bryan win in the absence of a stronger, more "sure-thing" candidate. Neville seems to fit that mold, and could very well be a surprising but not totally surprising briefcase  holder.

Roman Reigns - 7/2 - I was prepared to make Reigns the odds on, 1/2 favorite to win this thing, but then, well, yeah, new r/SquaredCircle soothsayer u/falconarrow came out with this bombshell.
Take comfort as that is not the plan as Reigns feuds with [Bray] Wyatt (as Wyatt will ruin MITB for Reigns).
Now, on one hand, this guy/gal/sentient rodent (?!?!) has not been wrong since beginning posting spoilers to Reddit. On the other, "plans change" is the mantra of reporting on the happenings of WWE Creative. Vince McMahon is fickler than a toddler at dinnertime. Much like "LOL CENA WINS" should be the assumed planned booking in any match he's in, "Reigns over" should never be discounted. However, the thunder from the mountain is too much for me to ignore to make him the favorite over the last two.

Brock Lesnar - 3/1 - Now, the time has arrived for the favorites, and I know what everyone's thinking. Brock Lesnar isn't booked for this match. However, I've read rumors that WWE is strongly considering having him ravage the field, take the briefcase, and have his golden ticket to another title shot. "But TH," those in the WELL ACTUALLY crowd chime in, "Lesnar has his rematch clause! It wouldn't make sense!" Sure, for that "rematch clause" to work, one would have to view WWE as a pure sport with fair management. Context will tell you that the Authority, who suspended Lesnar indefinitely the last time he was on WWE programming, would have done enough to strip Lesnar of that rematch out of fear or overreaction. In real life, Lesnar is returning to WWE soon. He's booked for the July 4 live Network special from Japan, and reports say he's coming back to the next episode of RAW, the night after Money in the Bank. Too many things are coming together for this not to make sense. Lesnar at this point has to be the co-favorite to win the briefcase, along with his scheduled opponent for that Japanese Network special...

Kofi Kingston/New Day - 3/1 - That's right. Jesus take the wheel because I am about to make the case for Kofi Kingston in 2015 AD as a favorite to be put on the doorstep to win the WWE Championship, although really, it's less "Kingston as the favorite" and more as "New Day as the new top heels in WWE." They get reactions, for sure, and their run in the tag division has reinvigorated their zeal as in-ring workers. A lot of people are speculating that the Network special match with Lesnar is a smokescreen for something else, but the way the puzzle pieces are falling together, Kingston as a main event-level challenger for Lesnar suddenly makes a whole lot of sense. Kingston will also have the backing of his stablemates behind him, and if he wins, the group has promised to use the briefcase in its own interpretation of the Freebird Rule. Everything seemingly is coming together for these guys to be jetted right to the top of the WWE pecking order, and the more I think about it, the more I believe that it starts right here. My bonus prediction? If Kingston grabs the briefcase, he won't be the one to cash it in. It will be Big E, and it will be glorious.