On this week's edition of Monday Night Raw, Stephanie McMahon announced a star-studded lineup for the WWE Championship Money in the Bank Ladder match, which will feature CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kane, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Christian and Rob Van Dam.
In an attempt to outdo The Billion Dollar Princess, Teddy Long proposed his own set of Superstars to compete in a Money in the Bank Ladder match for a future shot at the World Heavyweight Championship at the event. The participants will include Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Dean Ambrose, Damien Sandow, Antonio Cesaro, Jack Swagger and Fandango.
While all seven Superstars are currently heels, that doesn't take away from the fact that the bout has the potential to steal the show. With only one former World Champion taking part in the contest, there is a very good chance that this match will help shape the stars of tomorrow.
Every one of these up-and-coming talents has his respective reasons for winning the opportunistic briefcase, but with only one winner in mind, which one of them will seize this ultimate opportunity?
At the end of 2011, Wade Barrett's reign of terror was at its peak, and there seemed to be no stopping the Barrett Barrage. However, an abrupt injury sustained the following February cost him a chance to compete at WrestleMania 28 and forced him to render inactive for nearly six months.
It was heavily rumored (per Mark Middleton of wrestlinginc.com) that there were plans in place for Barrett to win the Money in the Bank Ladder match on The Grandest Stage of Them All. If Barrett wasn't ultimately injured, would he have already been a World Heavyweight Champion?
While we may never know the answer to that question, what we do know is that Barrett is still full of potential and has his whole career ahead of him. The Intercontinental Championship ruined his strong momentum in the first half of 2013, leaving fans wonder if a Money in the Bank victory could get his career back on track.
As of now, Barrett is my personal pick to win the briefcase at the event. Of all the competitors, he is the most ready for the main event scene and is bound to have championship gold around his waist sooner rather than later.
Cody Rhodes was one of the longest reigning Intercontinental Champions in the last 15 years, having held the prestigious prize for a whopping 236 days. With victories over established stars such as Randy Orton, Booker T and Sheamus, Rhodes was seen as a future World Heavyweight Champion in the eyes of many fans.
However, after dropping the strap to Big Show in lackluster fashion at WrestleMania 28, Rhodes' career went downhill and has yet to recover. Sure, his partnership with Damien Sandow was fun and all, but it basically amounted to nothing since they never managed to win the tag team titles.
Despite his lack of push, Rhodes continues to prove himself on a weekly basis by showing he can hang with the WWE's top stars. I've found that his mustache has hindered him more than it has helped him in recent months, but aside from that, Rhodes has all the tools to be a main event player.
The only thing he is missing is the Money in the Bank briefcase.
He was a top candidate to win last year's Money in the Bank match, and this year is no different. I truly feel that a Money in the Bank win in addition to a possible face turn could do wonders for the second-generation star.
Despite arriving on the WWE scene just over a year ago, Damien Sandow has already made a name for himself on Friday nights. His current feud with Sheamus has showed that he is not only excellent on the mic but is a solid worker in the ring as well.
He has contended for the Intercontinental and WWE Tag Team Championships on a number of occasions over the last year but has yet to strike hold. However, there's a strong chance that could change very soon with a victory in the Money in the Bank Ladder match.
Although he came up short of winning last year's match, he had an impressive outing in the contest. He's improved in all areas since then, including the immense amount of heat he receives as he enters the arena.
It's possible that WWE was testing the waters with Sandow's recent rivalry with Sheamus to see if he could hold his own against one of the company's biggest babyfaces. I would certainly say that he succeeded and that it is a matter of time before he gets what is coming to him.
Sandow could use a mid-card title or two before chasing the World Heavyweight Championship, but it would not at all surprise (or bother) me to see him win the blue briefcase as soon as next month.
Debuting at last year's Survivor Series event, The Shield's Dean Ambrose immediately made an impact in WWE by shaking the entire company to its very core. Ambrose quickly captured the United States Championship at last month's Extreme Rules pay-per-view and hasn't looked back since.
With successful title defenses over the likes of Kofi Kingston and Kane, Ambrose has already proved himself to be a fighting champion that will do anything to obtain what he most desperately desires. While the star-spangled prize won't be up for grabs at Money in the Bank, a blue briefcase just might end up in Ambrose's possession.
Capturing the briefcase would give The Shield something to fight over among themselves and foreshadow an eventual split. It's too soon for that to be happening, so I don't expect Ambrose to ultimately win the bout.
Nonetheless, potential interference from The Shield might mean that the odds are undoubtedly in his favor.
Within mere months, Fandango became one of WWE's hottest Superstars. He defeated Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 29 and got himself over in a huge way the next night on Raw in front of a rabid New Jersey crowd.
That's what I like to call a good week.
He was well on his way to capturing the Intercontinental Championship at WWE Payback, but an unfortunate injury prevented that from happening. Now that he'll be making his return to the ring at Money in the Bank, could capturing the blue briefcase be his way of regaining glory?
As over as Fandango might be right now, he is far from World Heavyweight Championship material at this point in time. He's a great athlete and all, but it's hard to take him seriously as a threat to one of the WWE's top titles.
In all honesty, he should not be anywhere near the main event scene in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, Fandango should stick to dancing his way to winning his first mid-card championship.
Being the only former World Heavyweight Champion in SmackDown's version of the Money in the Bank Ladder match, Jack Swagger has a massive advantage over all the other competitors. Not only that, but he has won the Money in the Bank Ladder match once before at WrestleMania 26.
After his brief stint in the main event scene concluded in mid 2010, Swagger floundered for the longest time. It wasn't until earlier this year that he was repackaged and brought back to prominent status in his feud with World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio, whom he lost to in a title match at WrestleMania 29.
He disappeared from television following his loss to Del Rio at Extreme Rules last month and has yet to resurface on television. In reality, he suffered an arm injury and is due back at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
It'd be wasteful for Swagger to win Money in the Bank for a second time next month. He can be easily reinserted back into the title picture without having to cash in the opportunistic briefcase.
While Jack Swagger has been out with an injury, Antonio Cesaro has taken his place as Zeb Colter's right-hand man. The two formed an alliance a few weeks ago on Raw, and Cesaro's career has taken a turn for the better since that point in time.
Cesaro reigned as United States Champion earlier this year for 239 consecutive days, an impressive feat to say the least. What's stopping him from setting his sights on the World Heavyweight Championship next?
If Colter could lead Swagger to a World Championship opportunity, I don't see why he can't do the same for the Swiss Superman. Cesaro has had a positive shift in momentum in recent weeks, which could be a telling sign that he's a likely candidate to win Money in the Bank.
As long as he doesn't cash in right away, I could definitely see Cesaro capturing the blue briefcase next month. Most of the Money in the Bank winners are the ones you don't see coming, and Cesaro fits that bill to perfection.