WWE announced Wednesday that Titus O'Neil will challenge Rusev for the United States Championship at Money in the Bank on June 19 in Las Vegas.
If he's victorious, O'Neil will capture the first singles title of his WWE career. Winning the U.S. title will also be a major reversal in fortunes for a wrestler who looked to have fallen out of WWE's good graces a few months ago. The company suspended him for 60 days back in February after he grabbed WWE Chairman Vince McMahon at the end of Daniel Bryan's WWE send-off.
O'Neil discussed the suspension Wednesday with WWE announcer Michael Cole:
The former tag team champion has had only one match on Raw since returning from suspension—a Battle Royal on May 2 to determine the No. 1 contender for the U.S. Championship. It became clear, though, on this week's Raw that WWE intended to pit O'Neil against Rusev going into Money in the Bank.
After Rusev beat Jack Swagger by count-out, O'Neil entered the ring and attacked the Bulgarian Brute:
On one hand, it would seem odd for WWE to elevate O'Neil so quickly. He and Rusev have little to feud about beyond the same patriotic American babyface vs. foreign heel dynamic the company has used with Rusev ever since he joined the main roster, via the WWE:
Then again, the United States Championship has lost almost all the prestige it had following John Cena's open challenge series last year. WWE could put the belt on just about anybody, and it would hardly register positively or negatively with a large segment of the fanbase.
With Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins and Cena vs. AJ Styles headlining the Money in the Bank card—in addition to the MITB ladder match—WWE needed another match or two to fill out the pay-per-view.
Rusev and O'Neil are unlikely to deliver the best bout at Money in the Bank. If the company gives them enough time, though, the two Superstars could have a good old-fashioned hoss fight, which is always entertaining.