The countdown to Seth Rollins cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase for his chance at the WWE title is mostly likely to end after the main event at Night of Champions.
Cash-in trends, history and rumored matchups for the summer's marquee pay-per-view suggest that it will be Sept. 21 when Rollins becomes the 15th man to utilize the contract contained inside his briefcase.
Rollins wanted to speed up the journey to being WWE champ. Dean Ambrose flew in front of him, a rabid beast.
On the June 30 edition of Raw, a Tombstone Piledriver from Kane had John Cena flat on this back with his eyes closed. Short of cartoon birds flying around his head, it couldn't be clearer that he was vulnerable for a cash-in attempt.
Hesitation, a referee's delay and an angry Ambrose prevented Rollins from certain victory.
When will Rollins actually get the title opportunity he earned by winning the Money in the Bank Ladder match? Looking backward helps answer that question.
Money in the Bank history reveals that most winners don't take long to cash in. Jack Swagger and Kane didn't wait a full 48 hours. John Cena waited just over a week. Alberto Del Rio and Randy Orton both demanded their shots at the title after about a month since winning the briefcase.
The average days between Money in the Bank win and cash-in attempt is 92 days.
If Rollins were to follow that pattern, that would land him an opportunity around the Night of Champions pay-per-view on Sept. 21. The stretch of the WWE calendar following that show is often a slow point for WWE.
Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series and TLC: Tables, Ladder & Chairs are often not as star-studded and hyped as the pay-per-views that fill the docket starting with Royal Rumble and ending with Extreme Rules. The excitement of a cash-in, a new champion and a fresh star in the main event picture would be a good way to reinvigorate interest during a slower span.
It's also a safer time to put the belt on Rollins.
When WrestleMania rolls around, an established star is going to be the top champion. In the last four years, Orton, The Rock, CM Punk and The Miz have walked into the event with the strap. With as much as The Miz has fallen since, don't bet on WWE making a leap of faith with Rollins there.
Having him become champion in the fall allows him a short reign before the company shifts into WrestleMania mode in January, finding a more marquee star to serve in that role.
Rollins would make history if he cashed in at Night of Champions or Hell in a Cell. Of the 14 cash-ins so far, half of them have come at a pay-per-view and never at either of those. Two of the shows where cash-ins took place (ECW One Night Stand and New Year's Revolution) are now defunct.
Money in the Bank, Extreme Rules, TLC and SummerSlam (twice) have all featured a cash-in.
Two words suggest that Rollins' time won't come before SummerSlam—Brock Lesnar. Roman Reigns, Kane and Orton all have hopes of dethroning Cena at Battleground, but the champ has a showdown set with Lesnar in August.
As Dave Scherer shared on PWInsider, WWE sent out an email showing a SummerSlam poster that features Cena and Lesnar. The email notes, "We have an early sneak peek at SummerSlam's poster, which seems to pit John Cena against the man who defeated the streak, Brock Lesnar."
That's about as strong a hint as one could imagine. Plus, Lesnar's win over Undertaker at WrestleMania surely earns him a crack at the title, and Cena vs. Lesnar is a big-money match that WWE can depend on.
For Rollins to cash in before that possible showdown would mean that Rollins gets shoved into the main event of one of the year's biggest shows. That's too outside the box to be a WWE move.
Many fans will question whether the company would put the championship on a man with such a part-time schedule. As we saw with The Rock in 2013, the answer is yes, if his reign isn't a long one.
Lesnar and Cena could trade victories in two consecutive pay-per-views. The Beast Incarnate is reportedly set to work Night of Champions as well.
According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc), "Lesnar is now scheduled for a two-show feud at SummerSlam and continuing to Night of Champions."
Should Lesnar win the WWE title in his first meeting with Cena and lose to him on the next show, that opens the door wide for Rollins to come running in. A fight with Lesnar never leaves a wrestler ready for another go-round.
That will be especially true if Cena and Lesnar's rematch is a No Disqualification or Steel Cage match. A wounded, drained Cena barely capable of lifting his newly won title is just the state Rollins wants the champion to be in.
With a cash-in on Cena, then, The Authority angle would roll on, Rollins would earn a career highlight and WWE would create intrigue going into its slow season. By Night of Champions, Rollins will have ended his feud with Ambrose and be ready to reap the benefits of being a company man. This is the timing that's the safest bet, the story that feels most likely.
Night of Champions awaits history to be made and for an emerging star to force his way onto the top tier.
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