A quartet of X-factors will flourish at WWE Money in the Bank 2014.
Boston will host a collection of superstars with their eyes on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and an unexpected member of that group will rise that night. That will be true for a recent convert to the dark side and two imposing brutes whose match isn't garnering enough attention.
Momentum, and their history in the matches they are set to enter, tell us that these four superstars will excel more than many expect.
These may not be the victors come June 29, but they will be the show-stealers, provoking discussion in the week following Money in the Bank. For them, the pay-per-view will be their proving ground, or in Alberto Del Rio's case, a chance to remind us of his greatness.
Alberto Del Rio
The WWE title ladder match is loaded with both marquee names (John Cena, Randy Orton, Sheamus) and increasingly popular emerging stars (Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro). Del Rio, as a result, is standing on the fringe of the spotlight.
He's the forgotten man here.
The audience's eyes will be elsewhere to begin with, but "Mexico's Greatest Export" will draw fans in. He may not be thought of as a ladder match maestro like Jeff Hardy or Edge, but he continually thrives in that violent environment.
That has been true, whether it has been against a single opponent like Christian at Extreme Rules 2011, or against multiple foes like those he defeated for his Money in the Bank win that same year.
Many of his best bouts have come with a ladder at the center of them. Wrestling Observer Newsletter, via ProFightDB.com, has backed that up with how kind it's been to "The Pride of Mexico" in terms of star ratings in ladder matches.
|Alberto Del Rio's Highest-Rated Ladder Matches|
|Event||Opponent(s)||Star Rating Out of 5|
|TLC 2010||Rey Mysterio, Kane, Edge||4.25|
|Extreme Rules 2011||Christian||4.25|
|Money in the Bank 2011||Alex Riley, The Miz, Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Evan Bourne, Jack Swagger||3.75|
|TLC 2011||The Miz, CM Punk||4.25|
|Wrestling Observer Newsletter, via Pro Fight DB|
His speed and viciousness make a contest filled with bent steel and dangerous spills seem like home.
Expectations will be low for him heading into this one. He's done very little in the past few months, not even appearing on either the Payback or Extreme Rules pay-per-views. His last rivalry was a one-sided match against Batista, before WrestleMania, that ended without a real climax.
On June 29, he gets a stage on which to shine regardless of his limited momentum.
His history has shown that this is exactly the kind of stage that suits him. With his enemies receiving the bulk of the hype, Del Rio is sure to force the post-Money in the Bank discussion to focus on him as well.
Each time that WWE has asked more of Rollins, he has come through.
After gutting The Shield by betraying his partners, Rollins had to stop sharing mic time and become the central focus of a story. In an in-ring interview with Michael Cole, he showed a new snake-like side of himself. He glared, scoffed and ranted, all with a compelling energy.
Given more singles matches, he has consistently impressed.
His series of bouts against Dolph Ziggler have been among the most entertaining offerings on WWE TV recently. On the SmackDown from June 6, the two wrestlers had the crowd clamoring excitedly.
Rollins hit a mid-air enzuigiri that few men on the roster could pull off so smoothly. He flew at "The Show-Off" in a battle of two of the company's bestsellers. The man once known as The Shield's "architect" showed how well he has embraced his villainous role, snarling like a jackal before he pounced on his foe.
This all followed six-man tag matches at Payback and Extreme Rules, where Rollins created unforgettable highlights. Leaping from great heights, he demanded attention.
Count on him using the ladders in the bout for the briefcase as the launching pad for his next breathtaking flight.
Fans have so often talked about Dean Ambrose's great mic work and Reigns' top-tier potential, but Rollins keeps reminding us of his own high ceiling.
Expect that to be the case again at the upcoming pay-per-view. WWE is giving him a huge opportunity in the Money in the Bank ladder match and as we've seen recently, he comes through during his biggest at-bats.
The Wyatt Family
Understandably, the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship is garnering the most buzz heading into Money in the Bank.
The match to crown the next champ is sure to be thrilling thanks to the stars and the ladders involved. The possibility of Wyatt, Reigns or Cesaro earning their ultimate triumph is one easy to get excited about. The Money in the Bank ladder match is sure to gain momentum once the field is announced.
June 29, though, will feature Erick Rowan and Luke Harper thrilling fans as they compose their magnum opus.
The leader of their clan is the biggest star of the group. He gets most of the mic time. WWE put him into three straight pay-per-view matches against Cena, while Rowan and Harper played the supporting roles.
Now the stars of their own narrative count on the bearded bruisers to deliver in a major way.
Much of their best work has come against The Usos. The contrast in styles, the stunning visual blend of speed and power and the warrior-versus-monster feel of their matches has made for highly entertaining offerings on a regular basis.
Dives, hard strikes and Harper's eerie antics were hallmarks of their June 2 battle, as they have been for so many of their meetings.
This rivalry stretches back for months. Animosity will be high, as will the stakes. Victory for The Wyatt Family here nets them their first championships on the main roster and jettisons them to the top of the tag team division.
With those carrots hanging in front of them, in one of their few pay-per-view bouts without Wyatt, expect Harper and Rowan to pull off some show thievery.