Money In the Bank (MITB) is one of the most exciting and unpredictable pay-per-view matches of the year. The winner of the match is guaranteed a title opportunity, anytime and anywhere they choose.
In 2010 we saw Kane and The Miz win the SmackDown and Raw MITB, respectively, with both of them cashing the coveted briefcase in and winning championship gold for their efforts in the process. The two victories pushed the undefeated streak that MITB winners have in world championship matches to 8-0.
2011 has a chance to be just as historic with many fresh faces as well as seasoned veterans on both Raw and SmackDown, looking to repeat the successes of Kane and The Miz last year.
With any list, questions will arise why one particular person made the list and another did not. If you have any questions or felt like I left someone out, please let me know in the comment section.
With that being said, let's open up the Money In The Bank edition of the Phantom Files.
R-Truth is the first one out, in what I assure you is not a part of the larger conspiracy against him. Simply put, he is in a tight field of competition with the Raw MITB match. As it stands right now, there is a total of 14 Superstars on the Raw roster who have a serious chance of being included in the match.
For the time being, R-Truth will have to take a seat with the other eight Raw members who did not make the list:
12. Kane (SmackDown)
13. Evan Bourne (Raw)
14. Ezekiel Jackson (SmackDown)
15. Rey Mysterio (Raw)
16. Justin Gabriel (SmackDown)
If you were to make a list of the 10 best in-ring performers in the WWE, without question Daniel Bryan would most likely make the list ranked as the No. 1 or 2 performer in the company. That being said, Daniel Bryan is starting to realize that you need more than that to succeed in the WWE.
While his in-ring character has not reached the likes of a Kofi Kingston or Christian, there are signs of life showing. Like much of the new talent in the company, all Daniel Bryan is missing is an opportunity to showcase his skills. The up-and-coming MITB PPV is the perfect time for him to do just that.
A win would allow Daniel Bryan to get more TV time, which in turn would allow him to gain more steam in promos and build up momentum for a main-event push. He has a chance at the briefcase, considering SmackDown has a softer field of candidates when compared to Raw.
Based on how Daniel Bryan's current character is portrayed as being a noble spirit, his cashing in the MITB briefcase would more than likely have a specific time and date set for the match. That would make him the first MITB winner to do such a thing since RVD faced John Cena for the WWE championship at ECW One Night Stand 2006.
MITB Odds: Average
Some may ask why The Miz is not ranked higher on this list? The answer is quite simple. He does not truly need the match to become champion, but nevertheless is more likely to win MITB than his raw counterpart R-Truth.
Last year around this time, the only way The Miz could capture a world title was through winning MITB briefcase. Fast-forward a year later, and Miz has alleviated himself as a serious main-eventer in the WWE since winning 2010 MITB ladder match and cashing the briefcase in on Randy Orton.
His chances in the match are still relatively high to win, due to the fact that with the exception of Jack Swagger, who could be left out of the match altogether, he will be the only other MITB candidate on Raw that has actually won the match before.
If The Miz wins, look for him to let the world know how awesome he is by cashing in right away in the CM Punk vs. John Cena main-event match.
MITB Odds: Above Average
Wade Barrett has been a lost soul without the aid of Nexus or Corre in his short WWE career. It goes without saying that he has all the tools needed to become a serious contender for a main-event spot in the WWE. It is only a matter of when.
The breakup of the remaining members of the Corre, and Barrett losing his intercontinental championship to former Corre member Ezekiel Jackson, may be the fresh start Barrett needed.
With SmackDown being a bit short of serious contenders for the MITB briefcase, Barrett's main competition will come down to Cody Rhodes, Mark Henry and Sheamus.
A win for Wade Barrett would mean that Randy Orton would more than likely hold onto his world title over Christian. Either way, I don't feel Barrett will be in any hurry to cash in his briefcase. His character still needs time to be build up before going full throttle in a main-event feud. Look for him to flirt around with the idea of cashing in without actually doing it.
MITB Odds: Above Avearge
Dolph Ziggler, at first glance, has gotten lost in Raw MITB shuffle. He is coming off a huge win, followed by a successful title defense against Kofi Kingston for his U.S. title on Raw, but still as of yet not been mentioned by many as a possible candidate to take home the briefcase.
Ziggler will no doubt have the most powerful ally in the match, Vicky Guerrero, but he will also come into the match as one of the more experienced participates for Raw.
The combination of those two factors will have a huge effect on MITB. If Ziggler is placed in the match, there is no way Vicki Guerrero would sit idle while one of the biggest matches of the year and a chance at the world title hangs in the balance.
If Dolph Ziggler wins, look for him to take his time cashing the briefcase in for a title shot. He is one of the few Superstars who I could see realistically carrying the briefcase into the next calendar year and certainly has a real possibility of becoming the first to fail to become a world champion after cashing in MITB briefcase.
He was world champion once for an entire 20 minutes on SmackDown, before dropping the title to Edge. After seeing that debacle, I come to expect the unexpected from Mr. Ziggles, especially when world titles are involved.
MITB Odds: Dark Horse
I was very hesitant about putting Sheamus on this list. Not because he does not deserve to be included on it, but rather because he could easily be involved with Christian and Randy Orton in SmackDown's World Heavyweight Championship match.
He is very similar to The Miz in that regard, the difference being that Smackdown's MITB field is rather weak when compared to Raw's potential lineup.
With that said, if Sheamus is included in the MITB ladder match, he would be placed among the favorites to win along with Mark Henry and Cody Rhodes. The unpredictability of this match gives Sheamus a great advantage and fits his brutal nature well.
If the Celtic Warrior finds a way to win a MITB match, no doubt he will play psychological mind games with SmackDown's World Champion Randy Orton. Expect many close encounters with Sheamus looking to cash in, but retreating at the last moment.
MITB Odds: Dark Horse
One of the IWC's main golden boys, John Morrison is a good dark-horse pick for Raw's MITB ladder match.
While his mic skills are still pretty much subpar and have been going on about six years now, the MITB ladder match favors Morrison's parkour style, which leads him to being a credible winner of the match—despite the fact that currently his overall WWE character does not live up to such a billing.
With that said, a win could change all of that and vault Morrison up to main-event status.
What gives more credence to a John Morrison victory is the fact that CM Punk will take on John Cena in the main event at the MITB PPV for the WWE championship. This is scheduled to be CM Punk's last night with the company.
If CM Punk was to defeat John Cena for the title, there is a real possibility that the winner of Raw's MITB would come out to cash in on CM Punk to keep the title with the company. There are few better candidates to be the hero in this spot than John Morrison.
Punk and Morrison feuded before back in WWE's version of ECW over the brand's title and have had casual run-ins ever since then. A collision between the two at MITB could serve as a final write-off in the chapter of ECW, and help promote Morrison to an elite status in the WWE.
MITB Odds: Dark Horse/Small Favorite
My personal dark-horse pick for SmackDown MITB, Mark Henry appears to be peaking at the right moment. We usually only hear from Henry around Royal Rumble time, which is still seven months away, so for him to be anywhere near the main-event scene should speak volumes.
If that is not enough, Henry has been on a rampage as of late, taking out Big Show and Kane on consecutive nights, putting the entire WWE on notice.
Another reason why Mark Henry is an interesting pick for me, is because like Dolph Ziggler, Henry seems like a great choice to be the first ever to cash in the briefcase and lose. He has made two huge enemies in Kane and Big Show, which certainly will not help him in pursuing the coveted WWE World Heavyweight Championship that is currently held by Randy Orton.
If Mark Henry wins MITB look for him to cash the briefcase the same night, but get stopped by either the Big Show, Kane or both—who want to avenge the injuries they suffered at the hands of Henry. Meaning Mark Henry may go down as the first man to cash in the briefcase and not win a world title for his efforts.
MITB Odds: Dark Horse/Slight Favorite
Ever since Alberto Del Rio lost his WrestleMania match with Edge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and losing to Christian for the same title at Extreme Rules, the Mexican Aristocrat has been floating along on Raw with his world championship dreams delayed.
We have heard the same tired line now about it being his destiny to win a world title. He will no doubt have another chance to crack that barrier and achieve his dreams by winning MITB briefcase thus being in control of when his destiny is reached.
A MITB win for Del Rio would also mark him as a person who could cash the briefcase at any point and time, including the same night in the main event for Raw.
This past Raw, CM Punk stated that MITB will be his last night with the WWE. If Alberto Del Rio found a way to win MITB briefcase and CM Punk can defeat John Cena for WWE championship, us fans may get one last match out of CM Punk with his opponent being Del Rio.
And we all know that if Alberto Del Rio can defeat CM Punk for WWE championship in Chicago, saving the company from losing one of their world titles, we will never here the end of it.
MITB Odds: Strong Favorite
I will admit: At first, I was not sold on the "Undashing" one gimmick change. Over the course of the past few months, with help from Cody Rhodes Fan Club President and fellow Bleacher Report writer, Rachel Miller, his new style has slowly grown on me.
Cody Rhodes is an interesting case for MITB. He appears to have the most momentum out of all the possible SmackDown MITB candidates, and should be one of the odds-on favorites to win the briefcase alongside Sheamus and Mark Henry.
He has proven since ending his feud with fan favorite Rey Mysterio that he can entertain a crowd as well as get it done in the ring without missing a beat.
An MITB match win for Cody Rhodes will put him on a ready-made collision course with Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This could result in an immediate cash in at MITB with Randy Orton who will more than likely be facing Christian for WHC, or a lengthy game of cat and mouse with Cody Rhodes using associate Ted Dibiase as a pawn to soften up Orton for a cash-in towards the distant future.
If the former happens, a Christian vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Randy Orton matchup may be in the cards for SummerSlam.
MITB Odds: Front-Runner
At Capital Punishment, Kofi Kingston dropped the U.S. title to fellow up-and-comer Dolph Ziggler and failed to regain it the following night on Raw. That may sound like Kofi Kingston's stock is falling rapidly, however Kofi dropping the US championship may have been done to give him the chance to pick up the WWE title at MITB following the conclusion of the John Cena vs. CM Punk match.
Which makes him the perfect candidate to win Raw's MITB match.
When you look at the possible MITB candidates from Raw, no one—not even John Morrison—comes close to the amount of good as well as bad history Kofi Kingston has with CM Punk.
As the picture shows, they were at one point WWE World Tag Team Champions together and have history that goes as far back as WWE's version of ECW. Heck, they even left ECW and joined Raw together on the same night in WWE's 2008 draft.
The two made their Raw debuts by winning their first major championships less than 24 hours apart from each other. Kofi Kingston's debut on Raw the night after winning his intercontinental championship at 2008 Night of Champions. That same exact night that Kofi debuted with the IC belt, CM Punk made history by cashing in his MITB briefcase on Raw against Edge to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion for the first time.
Fast-forward to July 17, 2011 and it could be Kofi Kingston's chance to cash in a MITB briefcase on what could be a newly crowned champion CM Punk.
Kingston, more likely than not, would receive boos from the hostile Chicago crowd if this storyline were to play out, but there lies the silver lining. The July 18 edition of Raw will broadcast live from Green Bay, Wisconsin where Kofi will be cheered as a hero for defeating Green Bay's rival city Chicago, and their hometown kid CM Punk, capturing the WWE championship in the process.
As much as the IWC is clamoring for John Morrison or Alberto Del Rio to claim this spot, I cannot think of a better way or a better face character to push in this spot than Kofi.
Allowing Kofi Kingston to receive that main-event push with the boost of his former tag team partner as well as former ECW mate, CM Punk, could result in one of the most memorable moments in WWE history since CM Punk's now-famous MITB cash in on Edge back in June 2008.
OH YEAH ECW STILL LIVES!!!
MITB Odds: Strong Front-Runner