WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The Smackdown Tag Team Division almost looked to be on its last breath in early 2017. The low point had to have been the championship reign of American Alpha, through no fault of their own. Despite the evident talent and potential of both Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, the bookers just didn’t seem all that interested in making their reign feel important as they were off of television and doing absolutely nothing for 90% of it. And most other teams were heatless as well, with The Ascension still not having climbed out of the rut and Breezango just recently finding sustained spotlight by way of their hysterical Fashion Files segments. Alas, they battled The Usos for the Tag Team Championship in an unsuccessful effort. But with no other team significant enough to step up, who was next in line? That would be the recently-drafted New Day; Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Big E are still arguably the most over and important tag team on the main roster, which automatically cues them up to take on Jimmy and Jey for the Tag Team silver. (Seriously, the center plates on those belts are the color of Reynolds Wrap.)
Who I Want to Win: The New Day; granted they don’t really need them after becoming the longest reigning Tag Team Champions in history last year, but after their sustained break I wouldn’t be opposed to them winning the Smackdown rendition.
Who Will Win: The Usos; they may believe it’s too soon to give New Day another title so quickly after their history-making reign ended. But then again, I don’t get to sit in on the creative meetings, so this is just speculation.
WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
Looks like we have a brand new Lana gracing Tuesday nights. It was only three years ago when the self-proclaimed Ravishing Russian debuted on the main roster alongside her future husband Rusev and the two would run roughshod over WWE until being knocked down a peg or two by John Cena. Since then, she reunited with Rusev following one of the most disastrous storylines ever put to WWE-branded celluloid; a tortuous soap opera of summer love with Summer Rae, Dolph Ziggler, and Rusev that wasted everyone’s time and for the most part left people sympathizing with the heels (thanks largely to Summer and Rusev‘s brilliant performances) moreso than the supposed babyfaces who weren’t that likeable at all. Thanks to that aforementioned reunion, she was able to rebuild her credibility and eventually step into the ring for a match at WrestleMania 32. She hasn’t wrestled on-screen since then, but with her new sexy Elsa look, Nicole Scherzinger-esque dance moves, and a combination Barbie Crusher/Boyfriend Stealer as her new finishing move, she’s set to step foot in the ring again at Money in the Bank. Bewilderingly, it’s a Women’s Championship match against Naomi. What did she do to earn it? Piss Naomi off so much she requested the match herself. Why don’t wrestlers do that more often to coax their way into title shots?
Who I Want to Win: Naomi. Her championship reign could be so much better than it actually is, so it’d be disappointing to see her title reign end at the hands of a woman who’s only wrestled one televised match to date.
Who Will Win: Lana, because WWE can be so cruel sometimes. She may have been in McMahon’s doghouse a while back, but I wouldn’t put it past him to want her to be the “face of the division” again following a very sneaky win.
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Voted the 2016 Feud of the Year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated readers, the Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks angle made a huge deal on the fact that so much of what they were doing was historic within the context of women in WWE, including having the first women’s pay-per-view main event, the first women’s Hell in a Cell match, and the first main roster women’s Ironman match. One thing they didn’t do, however, was hold the first women’s Ladder Match in WWE history. Sure, Impact Wrestling has done it not once, not twice, but numerous times and OVW did one in both their WWE developmental and TNA developmental years, but never had one ever happened on the WWE main roster. But Shane McMahon has made it so. The Smackdown women will indeed make history in the first women’s Ladder Match ever to take place on the main roster. And it’s a Money in the Bank match, so an opportunity at the Smackdown Women’s Championship awaits either Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Tamina Snuka, Natalya, or Carmella. Or a surprise sixth member, but that hasn’t been confirmed.
Who I Want to Win: Becky Lynch; her momentum on Smackdown has stalled a bit, and I don’t want to give the typical internet solution of “turn her heel” to get it back. I’d rather she grab the MiTB briefcase instead.
Who Will Win: Carmella; I’m basing my prediction on rumors this time. Apparently, Carmella has been impressing the right people backstage and is in line for a push. However, though I predict this match will start the show to prevent back-to-back Ladder Matches, I doubt Carmella will cash in on this night, opting to be more crafty with her opportunity.
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Well, here is one positive to AJ Styles not being WWE Champion, or even the #1 contender to the WWE Championship: he actually gets to take part in a Money in the Bank Ladder Match. We already know AJ Styles can hold his own in a match like this; he was in several King of the Mountain matches in TNA Wrestling. This is basically the same thing, minus the penalty box and the stipulation of having the hang the desired object rather than retrieving it. But even then, perennial loser Dolph Ziggler has been touted as the favorite to win this match since he’s not only heavily experienced in Money in the Banks matches, but has also won one and went on to present one of the all-time greatest cash-ins. That’s not to dismiss the Ladder Match experience of both Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn; they were, after all, a part of the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match at WrestleMania 32, and lord knows that was no walk in the park for either man. Skim through the gallery for a reminder. The two wildcards are without a doubt Baron Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura. Corbin is dangerous, but he’s never been in a Ladder Match. And I did my Shinsuke Nakamura homework, and it turns out: neither has he, not even when he wrestled in his home country.
Who I Want to Win: AJ Styles; half my day should be taken up just thinking up scenarios on how to gt AJ Styles back in the World Title picture. With the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, I don’t have to think up a scenario. This is his golden ticket back there.
Who Will Win: Baron Corbin. It’s no secret that there’s main event potential with the guy, and he’s spent his time on Smackdown largely being a loner background player. Holding the MiTB briefcase gives him a chance to lurk in the shadows and pounce when see the perfect chance to snag the title.
Jinder Mahal winning the WWE Championship was one hell of a Cinderella story. I’d be lying if I said I’d ever been a full-on fan of the guy, but it was really fascinating to see his rapid ascent to the WWE Championship. Doesn’t change the fact that it didn’t make a lick of damn sense for the most part and, like a Beyoncé album or the finishing move of his opponent, come completely out of nowhere. Him moving from jobber to the top man on Smackdown in less than two months is the stuff that whiplash is made of. But the fact remains that he is the current reigning WWE Champion, and he’s held the thing longer than Kane and Rey Mysterio combined. But now he must learn that keeping the title is the difficult part. He has to defend against Randy Orton, the man he won it from. To the surprise of no one, this has kind of become an “us vs. them” angle, with Orton talking about doing things “The American Way”. Because of this, I feel like most fans will plant their feet firmly on either side of this angle, or at least the people who want to go along with this forced, outdated narrative will. But hanging in the middle is the WWE Championship.
Who I Want to Win: Jinder Mahal; I am one of those people who have no desire to see Orton as World Champion again at this point. I may not like Jinder personally, but he’s refreshing at the very least.
Who Will Win: Jinder Mahal; mainly because John Cena is set to make his return soon, as a free agent. I predict Jinder retaining and going straight into a feud with the multiple-time WWE Champion.