This Sunday May 19 at 6 Eastern Time and 3 Pacific, the WWE’s first Pay Per View event since Wrestlemania will be underway. Or, the Kickoff Show will, at least. It’s a pretty hefty card, with 11 matches— 7 of which are title matches and 2 of which are Money in the Bank Ladder Matches.
A Money in the Bank Ladder Match is won when a competitor climbs a ladder in the ring and unhooks a briefcase from the ceiling. Inside the briefcase is a contract good for one title match, redeemable at any time. They call it Money in the Bank because “Coupon in a Bag” isn’t a very good name for a ladder match stipulation. (I’m trademarking Coupon in a Bag Ladder Match ASAP so don’t even try it.) If the concept is still confusing, don’t worry, they will explain it to you while you watch like A LOT of times.
Here’s some background on the 11 matches, plus my predictions on who will win, and my own personal hopes for this contract-themed event.
Non-Title Match: Rowan & Daniel Bryan (Smackdown Tag Team Champions) vs The Usos
As I’ve been saying in my weekly recaps, the WWE tag team division is in a bit of a bind right now. So the newly crowned Smackdown Tag Team Champions are wrestling a team from Raw, who they already beat for the titles last week. The match should have some cool spots in it. It’s on the Kickoff Show, though, so…
Best Possible Outcome: We get to see new tag team championship belts that look like the reclaimed wood and turquoise WWE Championship Daniel Bryan had. The match ends with all four men forming a union of tag team wrestlers to advocate for better working conditions.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan and Rowan win.
Roman Reigns vs Elias
During the Superstar Shakeup, Vince McMahon announced that he had made the biggest acquisition in the history of Smackdown Live and brought out Elias. The real big newcomer to Tuesday night’s show turned out to be Roman Reigns, who Superman Punched McMahon and has been an enemy of the Authority (again) ever since.
Best Possible Outcome: This match ends up being a karaoke contest and Roman wins. Roman joins the Usos, Daniel Bryan and Rowan in their union, saying his new SAG-AFTRA contacts would be down to help them organize.
Prediction: Elias wins by cheating.
Cruiserweight Championship: Tony Nese (Champ) vs Ariya Daivari
Tony Nese is a nice boy. Ariya Daivari, not a nice boy, is undefeated so far this year! This is kind of cool because they both spent the last few years in the “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” slot of 205 Live, and now Nese is the champion and Daivari is getting his first push! (Here’s a great blog post analyzing their histories going into the match.)
Best Possible Outcome: Tony Nese should probably retain, but I also want Daivari’s push to continue. I’m fine with either of these guys winning. They also both join the union.
Prediction: Tony Nese retains.
United States Championship: Samoa Joe (Champ) vs Rey Mysterio
This Wrestlemania 35 rematch will hopefully be longer than the squash they had in New Jersey last month. They’ve been doing great work together on Raw, so I’m hopeful. Mysterio and Joe are two of the best ever and I would love to see them pull out all the stops here.
Best Possible Outcome: Rey Mysterio wins, then announces he will also be joining the union. Joe chokes Mysterio out, but gets on the mic to agree that a union is a great idea.
Prediction: Rey Mysterio wins.
Steel Cage Match: The Miz vs Shane McMahon
Shane McMahon’s plan to win his father’s love by jumping off of high things is in full force. He followed his Wrestlemania victory over the Miz by tormenting WWE’s favorite Naruto cosplayer with photos of his dad, and now Miz is pissed! Pizzed, even!
Best Possible Outcome: Miz joins the new wrestler labor union. Vince comes out, says he recognizes the union, and then tells Shane he can stop doing this to himself and just be a normal 49 year old man who doesn’t jump off of high things.
Prediction: Shane jumps off of a high thing and cheats a bunch, but Miz winz.
Universal Championship: Seth Rollins (Champ) vs AJ Styles
After coming to Raw in the Superstar Shakeup, AJ Styles won a tournament to determine the next challenger for Seth Rollins’ Universal Title. Then he turned heel by being a bad tag team partner to Rollins and being mean to Kofi Kingston. This is a first time in WWE, second time ever dream match type deal, which is genuinely exciting.
Best Possible Outcome: While preliminary contract negotiations are underway backstage, these two put on a killer match. AJ Styles wins.
Prediction: Seth Rollins retains.
WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (Champ) vs Kevin Owens
Big E has been out with an injury since right after Wrestlemania, so the newly returned babyface Kevin Owens joined Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods as a replacement New Day member. Kevin Owens is Kevin Owens, though, so he turned on Kofi pretty quickly, challenging him for the WWE Championship.
Best Possible Outcome: They have an even better match than Styles and Rollins. Kofi Kingston retains. Kingston and Owens both cut promos on how much retirement plans and health insurance would help their families.
Prediction: Kofi Kingston retains.
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Ember Moon vs Mandy Rose vs Dana Brooke vs Nikki Cross vs Bayley vs Natalya vs Naomi vs Carmella
This is a solid combination of performers who haven’t been getting a ton of attention lately, five of them former champions. Nikki Cross has a huge opportunity here to really show the main roster how good and fun and weird she can be. I’m excited.
Best Possible Outcome: The new WWE contract isn’t ready yet so the briefcase just has the regular championship opportunity in it. Nikki Cross or Ember Moon or Bayley wins. I’m just praying for someone who isn’t blonde.
Prediction: Mandy Rose wins.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (Champ) vs Charlotte Flair
This is a rematch from Wrestlemania 35, as well as a rematch from Fastlane, a rematch from TLC, a rematch from Evolution, and a rematch from Summerslam. While this might not be the the freshest match-up, we can at least rely on it to be a good watch.
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (Champ) vs Lacey Evans
I’m sure Lacey Evans has had a singles match on Raw, I just can’t remember it. That doesn’t bode terribly well for this match. The thing with both this and the match with Charlotte Flair is that what happens in them really depends on the order of the card. Becky will be more fresh in whichever match happens first. If the Women’s MITB Ladder Match happens before one or both of Lynch’s defenses, it would be a pretty opportune time to cash in.
Best Possible Outcome: Becky Lynch beats both Lacey Evans and Charlotte Flair, then announces she will pay all of the other women wrestlers’ union dues herself. Becky drops the Smackdown title in a cash in either Sunday night or Tuesday night.
Prediction: Becky Lynch retains both titles.
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Andrade vs Ricochet vs Drew McIntyre vs Finn Bálor vs Baron Corbin vs Ali vs Randy Orton
With these eight men, this match has no right to be anything other than awesome. (This could be Ali, Ricochet, and 6 Barons Corbin and it would still have to slap.) In terms of relevant background: Corbin and McIntyre helped Sami Zayn take Braun Strowman’s spot in this match, so Strowman might show up. Baron Corbin won the briefcase in 2017, but failed to win when he cashed it in. Orton won in it in 2013. Sami Zayn and Ricochet are both really good at ladder matches.
Best Possible Outcome: Sami Zayn wins. Holding the briefcase could present some really fun opportunities for the character he’s doing right now.
The briefcase is full of contracts for all the wrestlers in the company to become legal employees of WWE with full benefits. I’m talking retirement plans, childcare, paid vacation time, and health insurance. All the sweaty wrestlers are very tired and say they need time to look over the contract, consult with attorneys, and discuss changes they want to request. Like, for example, they want reimbursement for travel and accommodations. That’s only fair, right? Vince McMahon agrees. Raw and Smackdown are 5 hours of live contract negotiations.
Prediction: Drew McIntyre wins. The briefcase just has the regular championship match contract in it. None of this union stuff happens.