WWE Money in the Bank 2014: Biggest X-Factors to Watch at Massive PPV
The Money in the Bank pay-per-view is one of WWE's annual events, and since its inception in 2010, it has become one of its most popular.
The Ladder match that has, over the years, propelled young stars to championship glory and helped cement the legacies of others captures the attention of the audience while Superstars in matches elsewhere on the card help ensure its overall quality.
This year, there will be plenty of questions to be answered at the show, none bigger than the status of WWE World Heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan. His health and availability cast a large cloud of doubt over the event and lead many to wonder exactly what the main event will be, who will be involved and what the status of the title is.
The raging story between Evolution and The Shield underwent a major twist when Seth Rollins turned on his teammates and joined Triple H and Randy Orton in the all-time great faction. What will Rollins be up to in what should be the most important match of his career to date?
With so many questions to answer, Money in the Bank should be one of the most intriguing events of 2014.
As with any show, there are certain to be X-factors that every fan should keep their eyes on.
Here is a look at five, in particular.
Daniel Bryan's Injury Status
There is absolutely no bigger X-factor surrounding June 29's Money in the Bank pay-per-view than Daniel Bryan's injury status. His availability dictates the entire direction of the show, not to mention its selling point.
Should Bryan be cleared to return to the ring in time for the show, he will defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Kane in a Stretcher match. If he is not given the figurative thumbs up by the WWE medical staff, he will be stripped of the title and it will be awarded to the winner of the popular Money in the Bank Ladder match.
With a recent report from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (members only) stating that Bryan's healing process is coming along slower than anticipated, the decision for Bryan to work the show may not be made until the last possible second.
This puts the creative team and management at a major disadvantage. Do they still book toward Bryan vs. Kane? How do they structure the Money in the Bank match if it does, in fact, wind up becoming a title bout?
In many ways, it puts storylines at a standstill.
Bryan's injury has all but killed the momentum he had built for himself coming out of WrestleMania. Though hardly his fault, one could not criticize WWE for taking the necessary steps and stripping him of the title until it is known for sure that he can safely set foot back inside the squared circle without concern for his short-term or long-term health.
Seth Rollins' Heel Turn
Seth Rollins' shocking betrayal of Shield teammates Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns created a buzz among wrestling fans and has many wondering what is next for all involved.
With Rollins joining Evolution and hoping to benefit from the perks that being associated with Triple H and The Authority bring, there are several options on the table for the June 29 event.
A big tag team match pitting Rollins and former WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton against remaining Shield members Reigns and Ambrose would almost assuredly result in a great match. All four workers are extremely talented, and past bouts involving them have been tremendous successes.
A singles match involving Rollins taking on either Reigns or Ambrose would be another option. With nine hours of Raw to fill before Money in the Bank, though, those matches are safe bets to be given away for free.
Another option is for Reigns and Ambrose's first official opportunity to get revenge on Rollins to come in the actual Money in the Bank match. Rollins is a dynamic performer whose offense suits him well for a match as wild and chaotic as the annual ladder bout.
Regardless of exactly what the company does with Rollins, expect him to be heavily featured, as he appears to be the first member of The Shield to benefit from a legitimate singles run away from his former partners.
A Breakout Star
More so than any other WWE pay-per-view presentation, Money in the Bank is a show that has gained a reputation for breakthrough performances. In years past, The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, Daniel Bryan and Cody Rhodes (in a loss) have delivered breakthrough performances.
This year, there is a handful of men poised to do the same.
Cesaro has been on a roll since winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. With Paul Heyman by his side, he is certain to have a strong second half of 2014.
Bad News Barrett has been even hotter than Cesaro, crafting a character that fans can finally get behind and one that suits his personality to a T. The current Intercontinental champion has been the favorite to break through the proverbial glass ceiling since his debut in 2010, and he now appears closer than ever.
Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose have been building momentum for themselves all year. With Rollins' recent heel turn and potential for a match involving all three elsewhere on the card, however, it appears unlikely that they will be competing in the Ladder match.
Big E may be an underdog thanks to a recent losing streak, but he remains a potential star of the future for the company. Any momentum issues can be fixed with a win.
United States Champion Sheamus
Sheamus has been one of the hottest wrestlers on the planet from an in-ring perspective in 2014, and that should not change come Money in the Bank.
Where he'll be placed on that card is a bit of a mystery at this point, however. The current United States and former WWE champion is one of the rare stars on the roster who absolutely would not benefit from a spot in the Money in the Bank match.
Already an established star with several heavyweight titles to his name but stuck in somewhat of a holding pattern, Sheamus is not likely to win the match and would only supply star power. Why waste his talents in a match that, for him specifically, would be meaningless?
Working to return legitimacy to the U.S. title would better suit him. With Cesaro likely to compete in the Money in the Bank match, why not book a match between Sheamus and Rob Van Dam? Van Dam is in desperate need of a really good match to stave off criticisms about his age, his repetitive move set and his lackluster work since returning, and Sheamus would be the perfect guy to help him achieve that.
Leave the titular match to guys that could benefit from it and allow Sheamus to provide the event with a solid undercard bout.
Otherwise, he is being wasted at a time when the company needs to continue delivering very good to great pay-per-view offerings if it wants to ensure that the first batch of WWE Network subscribers opt to re-up for another six months.
If WWE is planning another major summertime program for the Beast Incarnate, Money in the Bank would be the perfect time to jump-start it.
While the company has one more show between now and SummerSlam, Money in the Bank is far more prestigious than Battleground ever will be, and shooting an angle that reintroduces him and at the very least hints at the direction WWE will head with him would create some additional buzz for the show.
Perhaps he helps fellow Heyman guy Cesaro win the Money in the Bank briefcase. If not that, maybe he attacks Daniel Bryan, setting up a scenario in which the bearded WWE World Heavyweight champion is forced to hand over the belts because he has been further injured and cannot compete.
Lesnar is a marquee name, an elite Superstar in the world of sports and sports-entertainment. The fact that he is not always on Raw or in pay-per-view matches makes the times that he is more important and memorable.
An appearance in Boston, in which it is made clear exactly what he will be doing leading into SummerSlam and possibly Night of Champions, would be a great way to put an exclamation point on what should be an oustanding show.