Money in the Bank: The Contenders

World Wrestling Entertainment’s annual Money in the Bank event is fast approaching, to be held on July 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The winner, who manages to outwit and outlast the other WWE Superstars in contention and grasp the briefcase suspended above the ladder, will be in possession of a contract for a world championship title match. The stakes are higher than ever before this year, since WrestleMania 38’s winner-takes-all unification match between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar merged the WWE Championship and WWE Universal Championship into one. Whoever captures the MITB briefcase will be set on a collision course that ends in a bout for the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship, against current champion Roman Reigns. There is one spot in the match left to be filled, most likely on the upcoming Friday Night SmackDown go-home show.

The Contenders

So far, the participants in the MITB ladder match will be Seth “Freakin’” Rollins, Omos, Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Sami Zayn, and Riddle. Out of these Superstars, three seem to be on a path towards Reigns.

Drew McIntyre has been somewhat adrift in comedy feuds since the end of his title reign as WWE Champion. This is undeserved, as McIntyre is one of WWE’s most valuable franchise players. In the vein of Titus O’Neil, McIntyre has proved himself a valuable spokesman for the company in charitable endeavors. 

Onscreen, he is a reliable bout machine who can easily vacillate between a powerlifting style or or a more technically driven match inspired by his childhood idol, Bret Hart. On a June 2022 episode of Friday Night SmackDown, McIntyre called Reigns out for a match at the upcoming September event Clash at the Castle. 

Riddle recently challenged Reigns for the Undisputed title, and the bout that transpired on SmackDown was ppv worthy. Riddle looked strong against the reigning champion, and suffered several close calls. Reigns eventually overcame him and retained. After RK-Bro lost the tag team title unification match to the Usos, and Riddle also lost his shot at the Undisputed title, his feud against the Bloodline continues.

Rollins has been a perpetual seeker, in recent years. During the Shield’s run and after, Rollins racked up WWE’s top honors. His storyline now trades off his frustration at being denied glory, pushing “The Visionary” further and further on a downward spiral of madness. Rollins has been touting himself in Monday Night Raw promos and on social media as the top contender for Reigns. 

Rollins: Reigns’s Shadow

The two former Shield brothers have both had stellar careers in WWE. The skill and accomplishments of both Superstars have put them both in the upper echelons of WWE, both iconic personalities of their respective brands, Raw and SmackDown. The history between the two, and allusions to Rollins’s betrayal of the Shield, will always be able to evoke an emotional chord from longtime WWE audiences. For that reason, Rollins is the most compelling choice to capture and carry the MITB briefcase.

Rollins has done it all in WWE-the Undisputed title is, at last, a new quest for him to pursue. After a game changing series with Cody Rhodes that concluded at Hell in a Cell, torturing Reigns could be the next storyline for him to sink his teeth into. Rollins thrives in storylines where he psychologically tortures his opponents in between turns in the ring, such as his 2021 feud with Edge. During their Royal Rumble 2022 feud and bout, Rollins tormented Reigns psychologically with their Shield history, dressing in Shield gear, entering through the crowd as the trio customarily did, and reaching for a Shield fist bump from Reigns mid-match. Rollins’ crazed and malicious allusions to their past added a haunting touch of ring psychology to the short storyline.

Full Circle

A run as the MITB briefcase holder will give Rollins a chance to torment Reigns yet more. It would also be an opportunity to create a full circle moment between Reigns, Lesnar, and Rollins. All three performers have transformed since: Reigns into the “Tribal Chief”character, Rollins into the mad “Visionary”, and Lesnar has shed Paul Heyman and now commands his own persona. With Lesnar and Reigns on track for another collision for the Undisputed title, Rollins in possession of the coveted contract bearing briefcase may very well repeat his infamous WrestleMania 31 cash-in on Reigns and Lesnar, act as a spoiler, and take the newly created title. Putting Rollins in both Lesnar’s and Reigns’s crosshairs would add a fresh, compelling  element to this chapter of their ongoing story by capitalizing on an unforgettable moment in WWE history, revisited with the current incarnations of three of WWE’s most enduring characters. 

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