Tonight marks one of the most anticipated events in recent memory, the second-annual Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
The undercard features another meeting between WWE Divas Champion Kelly Kelly and Brie Bella, as well as the proverbial "clash of the titans," when Mark Henry and Big Show lock up.
There are also two Money in the Bank ladder matches, featuring three former winners and two other former world champions. Will we see a repeat winner, or will new faces arrive on the world title scene?
Christian and Randy Orton meet once again with the World Heavyweight Championship on the line. And finally, John Cena defends the WWE Championship against CM Punk in the main event, in what has been one of the most anticipated title bouts in years.
Let's get a jump start on tonight's action, picking all six (or will it be seven?) winners for tonight's event at the Allstate Arena in Chicago.
WWE Divas Championship: Kelly Kelly (c) v. Brie Bella
The latest Diva rivalry will pit the former champion, Brie Bella, against champion Kelly Kelly in a rematch of the Raw: Power to the People bout which saw the Divas Championship change hands.
Kelly Kelly is the latest Diva to take control of the female division in WWE, and things shouldn't change Sunday night. Look for Brie and Nikki Bella to try some "Twin Magic" to no avail, as the champion will retain her championship.
Big Show v. Mark Henry
The two biggest men in WWE today will meet, with nearly a half ton of humanity in the ring when Big Show and Mark Henry clash Sunday night.
Henry has been on a tear as of late, manhandling Big Show, Kane, and others in his latest path of destruction. But will the latest attempt to push Henry as a monster heel actually pay off?
Without a win over the world's largest athlete, Mark Henry's push will be another failed one. Big Show has little to gain from a victory over the World's Strongest Man tonight. Look for Henry to continue his tear with a victory over Big Show.
SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Six men who have never held a world championship while with WWE will fight with two former world champions in SmackDown's Money in the Bank ladder match.
History has shown us the potency of winning the all-important briefcase—every man who has cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase has won the world title.
The Internet Wrestling Community seems to favor three men: Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, and Sin Cara. Sheamus has been mentioned as an outside contender, but the remaining four men don't seem to be in contention.
Rumors have been swirling stating Sin Cara will come down with the blue briefcase Sunday night, but I don't think it is time for the masked wonder to ascend into the world title picture. He is still very new to the WWE style of wrestling, and has plenty to learn under the tutelage of Triple H.
Rhodes and Barrett will be the men to watch. Both have ascended through the ranks of the SmackDown roster, appearing to bump into the proverbial glass ceiling time and again.
Look for Barrett to shatter his glass ceiling first, winning the chance to compete for a world championship whenever he so chooses.
Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Half of this match's eight contenders—The Miz, R-Truth, Alberto Del Rio, and Alex Riley—have been mentioned as potential winners of the Raw briefcase. Proverbial Money in the Bank bride's maid Kofi Kingston takes another shot at the guaranteed world title match, while Rey Mysterio, Jack Swagger, and Evan Bourne attempt to steal the contract.
Miz and Swagger already know what it takes to win this match. Riley may be the hottest competitor in the field, and may grab the same briefcase he carried for so long while at the side of The Miz, for himself.
R-Truth may be the biggest wild card in Sunday's match. Some people view Truth as a pretender in the world title picture, but he's had a WWE Championship match already this summer, and may be poised to jump into the Raw title picture with a victory.
However, you can't mess with destiny. Alberto Del Rio has said, since winning the 2011 Royal Rumble match, that his destiny is to become world champion. Look for Del Rio to take another step in fulfilling that destiny by snatching the briefcase hanging from the ceiling of the Allstate Arena.
World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton (c) v. Christian
The odds seem to weigh in favor of the challenger in Sunday night's World Heavyweight Championship match.
World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton will lose his title via pinfall, submission, disqualification, and even poor officiating. Christian's claims to being screwed out of the World Heavyweight Championship have brought these special stipulations to the most recent clash between the two stars of Friday nights.
Christian was World Heavyweight Champion for five days because creative, and more specifically, Vince McMahon, doesn't believe Christian is a main-eventer. Will that change Sunday night?
It's hard to see why. Christian isn't considered a main-event player, and Orton is being built into the John Cena of SmackDown. When the chips all stack against SuperCena, he comes through. Expect much of the same from WonderOrton Sunday night when he retains his World Heavyweight Championship.
WWE Championship: John Cena (c) v. CM Punk
Sunday is billed as CM Punk's final night in WWE. What remains to be seen is whether or not that is the truth.
Before a public contract negotiation was held Monday night on Raw, a legitimate contract negotiation between Vince McMahon and CM Punk was held behind closed doors Monday afternoon. The results of that meeting have yet to be revealed officially, but we will find out, by proxy, by the time Money in the Bank goes off the air Sunday night.
The speculated endings to Sunday night's main event seem to be piling up by the hour. Some say Punk will win and "walk out" with the WWE Championship, signaling a re-upping with the company. Others are banking on a Montreal Screwjob-like finish, where McMahon screws Cena out of the title. Another section of the IWC has Colt Cabana—who has openly touted his attendance at the Allstate Arena Sunday night, and has yet to re-sign with Ring of Honor—getting involved in some capacity.
As of press time, all signs point to CM Punk not re-signing with WWE. Not yet, at least. In that case, one of two outcomes are possible:
- John Cena wins cleanly over CM Punk.
- CM Punk wins, but does not leave the Allstate Arena as WWE Champion.
The first is a worst-case scenario, but is certainly in play. It would crush the momentum of the storyline and alienate the fans who have been drawn back to the product over the last few weeks. It would just be another instance of Vince McMahon proving what he said on Raw last week: He doesn't give a damn what the people want.
In the end, however, it will be the latter which takes place. The stipulation of the match reads that if CM Punk leaves Chicago with the WWE Championship, then John Cena is fired. As is the case more often than not, the fine print is worth reading in the WWE Universe.
If Punk wins, it sends him out on a high note and gives the Chicago fans something of a victory, seeing their hometown guy beat Cena for the title. However, Cena won't be fired, as Raw's Money in the Bank winner, Alberto Del Rio, cashes in his briefcase to fulfill his destiny in becoming WWE Champion.
This scenario accomplishes two things.
First, it doesn't completely destroy the heat and momentum the Punk storyline has built since the June 27 worked shoot. If McMahon really does want to re-sign CM Punk, there is no way McMahon can script a clean Cena victory and ever have a chance at re-signing Punk.
Second, it sets up the rumored Del Rio-Cena SummerSlam match. After Del Rio won the Royal Rumble match in January, rumors hit the Internet stating Del Rio and Cena would headline SummerSlam 2011, in a feud for the WWE Championship.