By Chuck Carroll
For the second time in as many months, Becky Lynch will be headlining a pay-per-view for WWE. But unlike at WrestleMania, “The Man” will be pulling double duty at WWE Money In The Bank while defending the Raw and SmackDown Women’s titles in separate matches against newcomer Lacey Evans and longtime foe Charlotte Flair, respectively. On paper, the busy night casts doubt as to whether “Becky Two Belts” will still have double gold come Monday or whether “Champ Champ” will be champ at all.
The odds of Lynch leaving the XL Center empty handed seem remote. She remains one of the hottest Superstars on the roster and can move the needle at a time when shoring up eroding ratings is a priority. Simply put, WWE cannot afford to take much shine off her character. Additionally, her historic win over Flair and Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania was the culmination of nearly year-long build and it seems senseless to invest all that time only to cut the payoff short.
That is what Lynch has working in her favor. But not all Irish eyes are smiling upon her fortunes. The recent implementation of the “Wild Card” rule, which eliminates brand exclusivity by permitting a certain number of Raw and SmackDown talents to float between the two shows each week, means that she no longer needs to be champion of both brands to appear on television on both Monday and Tuesday night. This opens up the door for Evans, Flair, or even the winner of the women’s Money In The Bank Match to capture gold in Hartford. Doing so could be good for a one or two-week ratings boost, but may also risk turning off fans in the long run as a title change would chip away at Lynch’s popularity.
Elsewhere on the card, two guaranteed title shots will be earned in the men’s and women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Matches, Seth Rollins will defend the Universal Championship against AJ Styles, Kofi Kingston will defend the WWE Championship against Kevin Owens, and The Miz and Shane McMahon will continue their feud inside of a steel cage.
This is a look at how everything may shake out when the dust settles.
SmackDown Women’s Title Match
Becky Lynch (c) vs Charlotte Flair
If Becky is going to lose a title, this would be the match to do it. Aside from the “Champ Champ,” there is no woman more worthy of leading the women’s division than Flair. She’s already proven that she feels right at home with gold around her waist, having amassed seven title reigns already. A title change here would also put one of sports entertainment’s most recognizable names back at the top of the heap. Unlike with the Raw brand, WWE could make such a move without having to worry about further destabilizing ratings. But the question is whether they’ll wind up pulling the trigger here. My guess is no. PICK: Becky Lynch
Raw Women’s Title Match
Becky Lynch (c) vs Lacey Evans
It’s really hard to imaging Lynch falling prey to A Woman’s Right in this one. Lacey Evans is nowhere near ready to be the face of a brand and putting the title on a still largely unfamiliar face would be disastrous at this point. The only way that a title changes hands here is if it’s someone other than Evans who bests Lynch (i.e. the winner of the Money In The Bank Match opting to cash in). My sense is that won’t be happening though and “Becky Two Belts” will still be the “Champ Champ” when Raw goes live on Monday. PICK: Becky Lynch
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Dana Brooke vs. Bayley vs. Carmella vs. Ember Moon vs. vs. Nikki Cross vs. Mandy Rose
This match is filled with interesting subplots. Alex Bliss was pulled from the card suddenly on Thursday and replaced by Nikki Cross. After missing a large of amount of time due to injuries dating back to last year, WWE again announced that the former champion is medically unable to compete, but did not elaborate on the nature of the ailment. Cross had been all-but-forgotten until she resurfaced on Monday to take Bliss’ spot in a Fatal-4-Way match against Naomi, Natalya, and Dana Brooke. Meanwhile, it looks like Splitsville is approaching for Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, leaving open the possibility that continued friction between the two will be a factor here. But I suspect that the major falling out will take place a little bit further down the road, leaving Rose free and clear to take a big step forward in her career. PICK: Mandy Rose
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Ricochet vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Baron Corbin vs. Sami Zayn vs. Ali vs. Finn Bálor vs. Randy Orton vs. Andrade
This men’s MITB match should be the Ricochet show. Without Kofi Kingston in this one, look for the former NXT star to put on a dazzling high-spot display and make this a memorable match. Unfortunately for him, his odds of actually winning seem slim-to-none. As much as WWE loves to push Baron Corbin, he’s an unlikely victor as are Ali, Finn Bálor, and Sami Zayn. There’s a better than good chance the latter will have his hopes of a victory dashed by Braun Strowman. Everyone else seems like they have a good chance at winning, but I suspect Drew McIntyre will be the guy to stand tall here and take the next step in becoming one of the company’s top heels. PICK: Drew McIntyre.
Universal Championship Match
Seth Rollins (c) vs. AJ Styles
I’m leery of major title changes so close to WrestleMania, which gives Seth Rollins the edge here. Keeping the Universal Championship on him opens up the possibility of WWE playing up the angle of a real-life power couple now that he and Becky Lynch have gone public with their relationship. Romantic partners have been featured together in angles many times before, but never when both were champion. Regardless of the outcome, Rollins and Styles have the potential to earn match of the night honors. PICK: Seth Rollins
WWE Championship Match
Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Although I’m still not keen on having a major title change hands on the show, I could see WWE opting to put the belt on Kevin Owens here. As of now, all major titles are held by babyfaces and giving some gold to a heel would balance things out. But doing so here risks backlash from fans since the payoff for Kofi’s 11-plus-year quest for gold would only last just over a month. For that reason, and just because it’s the right thing to do, I’m thinking the heart and soul of The New Day will be celebrating a successful title defense. PICK: Kofi Kingston
Steel Cage Match
The Miz vs. Shane McMahon
Since Shane won at WrestleMania it’s time for The Miz to get his revenge. The A-Lister has been at the top of his game in recent months and it would be foolish to risk taking some of the shine away with a loss. The good news for fans of Shane O’Mac is that since this is inside of a steel cage, you can expect he’ll to do something memorable here. It just won’t be enough to get the win. PICK: The Miz
Roman Reigns vs. Elias
You have to figure WWE wants to put Roman Reigns back into a major title picture. And while wins and losses don’t count for as much as they used to, it’s hard to envision The Big Dog not taking care of business here. PICK: Roman Reigns
United States Championship Match
Samoa Joe (c) vs. Rey Mysterio
Samoa Joe has the rare ability to make nearly any feud feel personal. Like his clash with AJ Styles at last year’s SummerSlam, family is playing a central role in his storyline with Rey Mysterio. Rey’s son, Dominic, who is much larger than his father, has been featured in the feud and has also reportedly been training to follow in his father’s footsteps. Look for him to get involved in this match, but whatever he does won’t be enough to pull off the win for the Mysterio clan. PICK: Samoa Joe
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match
Tony Nese (c) vs. battle Ariya Daivari
WWE needs to do something to make the cruiserweight division sizzle again, but I’m not sure a title change here would do much of anything to accomplish that. Plus, no champion has held the belt for less than 100 days since Enzo Amore vacated the title in 2017 and he very likely would have also surpassed the mark if not for his abrupt release from the company. PICK: Tony Nese
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match
Daniel Bryan & Rowan (c) vs. The Usos
This match has no business being on the kickoff show. Bryan is one of WWE’s largest stars while The Usos are arguably the best tag team on the roster. One must wonder whether the bout and its big name competitors were put in this position to attract last minute subscriptions to the WWE Network. That aside, I truly hope The Planet’s Champions introduce new eco-friendly title belts. But that can only happen if the odd couple is victorious. Plus, The Usos are needed to anchor the Raw tag team division so a win for them seems unlikely. PICK: Daniel Bryan and Rowan