Booking Decisions That Must Be Made at WWE Money in the Bank 2018
Given the rapid-fire succession of WrestleMania 34, the Superstar Shake-up, Greatest Royal Rumble and Backlash 2018 events, the WWE writing staff deserved some leeway in the quality of the shows.
After all, it's difficult to deal with hectic situations changing on a dime like that, which made those events problematic and rushed at times.
However, with Money in the Bank on June 17, WWE will have more than enough time to think things out, anticipate potential issues that could arise and plan the best scenarios.
There is no excuse if the event turns out to be a mess, as some problems can be seen long enough in advance to strategize solutions to.
The card is still in flux and some elements can change, but these are some booking decisions that must be made at Money in the Bank 2018.
The Tag Team Divisions Must Be Given a Spot on the Card
On Tuesday's SmackDown Live, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson defeated The Usos to earn a future title opportunity against Harper and Rowan.
Oddly, the graphic to announce the winning team indicated this title shot would happen at Money in the Bank, yet no official acknowledgment of this has been posted on the event's page.
The reason for this disconnect is unknown, leading to some confusion.
Is it on the card and the website team hasn't updated the page, did plans change soon after the win, or did the graphics department jump to the wrong conclusions and this will go down on television instead?
Keeping it off the card would be the worst-case scenario, as the tag team divisions haven't been given enough spotlight recently.
Neither brand's tag titles were represented at Backlash and that cannot happen again at this event.
For weeks, both Raw and SmackDown have pushed the tag team championships aside with this No. 1 contender's match and the growth of The B Team being the only exceptions.
If the titles aren't defended at Money in the Bank, it will give the impression that tag team wrestling is dead in the water in WWE right now.
The Good Brothers vs. The Bludgeon Brothers might not be the most dynamic match to attract viewers, but it's WWE's responsibility to build it up properly and convince us to watch.
Announcing this for the event and subsequently pulling it from the card will greatly harm the tag team scene, whereas a match treated with some reverence could reignite some much-needed passion in the division.
AJ Styles Must Defeat Shinsuke Nakamura and Move on
By the time Money in the Bank comes around, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura will have had more matches than makes sense, given Nakamura's failure to win the WWE Championship.
After losing clean at WrestleMania and wrestling to a draw the next two times, he should have run out of opportunities.
Somehow, they wrestled again on SmackDown to set up this match, which will be their fifth—and hopefully final—encounter.
Dragging this out any longer would be beyond repetitive, particularly if this Last Man Standing match ends in the third no-contest in a row.
Likewise, if Nakamura were to win the title just to allow Styles to elect for his rematch to happen at Extreme Rules on July 15, it stretches the feud out for another month just to fill time.
In many ways, fans could be upset at the outcome no matter what, but when thinking about where to go after this event, the smart move is to have Styles keep the title and end this feud here.
It's time to establish a new challenger for The Phenomenal One, rather than keep this story of low blows and "knee to face" promos going on any longer.
If Nakamura was going to be champion, he should have already won by now. This event is too late, as he's lost the momentum needed to carry the belt with prestige.
Styles is the better choice to be champion heading into SummerSlam as he is the more popular of the two with the more impressive track record.
Putting the title on Nakamura just to give it back to Styles at Extreme Rules would also be nothing but a stall, so the best decision is to just have The Phenomenal One retain here.
WWE needs to let these two move on, with Styles as SmackDown's champion and Nakamura feuding with somebody else.
Asuka Has to Dethrone Carmella
Since Charlotte Flair ended Asuka's undefeated streak at WrestleMania, her stock has dropped considerably.
As much as some fans would like to deny it, Monday Night Raw has always been considered the A-show, so when The Empress of Tomorrow moved to SmackDown, it wasn't a promotion.
Asuka also suffered another loss after that, with her No. 1 contender's match being the only positive for her since joining the blue brand.
The booking of this match against Carmella will set the standard of what the creative team thinks of Asuka.
A loss establishes her as old news—someone who no longer has the credibility she had heading into WrestleMania.
A win with the championship changing hands, though, undoes some of that damage and puts her back in good graces.
Carmella is an interesting character who has a right to be champion, but she's never been established as a credible fighter along the same lines as Asuka.
Losing to her isn't the same as losing to Flair, who is more highly regarded as a competitor.
Failing to take the title even in a disqualification victory will mean Asuka has fallen so far that she now cannot even beat someone who is half the wrestler she is.
To reassure audiences she is still a valuable player who can make an impact in the women's division, Asuka has to win the SmackDown Women's Championship at Money in the Bank.
Money in the Bank Winners Need to Be Planned Well in Advance
It is beyond frustrating when WWE builds something up as a big deal, only to cast it aside as a joke or let plans fizzle into an underwhelming lack of a payoff.
The Money in the Bank gimmick is a perfect example of a valuable concept that isn't always handled with the best of care.
When done well, the cash-in can be advantageous in pushing Superstars to a new level, establishing heel or face turns and even being a crutch to fix a problem with an injured champion or challenger disrupting storyline plans.
Baron Corbin's run with the briefcase, though, was an example of a complete waste.
He struggled before winning it, continued to lose while holding it, failed in his cash-in attempt and followed that with a loss to John Cena.
The situation was a complete waste of the gimmick and ranked as the worst Money in the Bank cash-in by the official WWE website team.
This year, the writers on Raw and SmackDown must plan out as much as possible from the next year of storylines to determine who would be the best man and woman to hold the briefcases.
It's impossible to predict everything that could happen months from now, but there should be a general idea in mind of what the end game is for WrestleMania 35 and how Money in the Bank could be a factor in getting to that point.
WWE should then look at the options of men and women available and choose someone who could best fit those plans.
If someone is in danger of falling out of favor in a few months, they shouldn't win the briefcase. Someone less risky should be chosen instead.
WWE has to give the winners of these briefcases serious precognitive thought, rather than choosing blindly and hoping to figure it all out later.
Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal Cannot Main Event
There's no questioning WWE's fascination with Roman Reigns as the top guy and primary focal point of the company, despite the adamant refusal by a good number of fans.
At Elimination Chamber, Braun Strowman dominated the entire match, only for the event to end with Reigns celebrating and upsetting the crowd.
The Big Dog then main evented WrestleMania against Brock Lesnar despite a number of other matches which could have gone on last and received a better reaction.
This happened again at Backlash with Reigns defeating Samoa Joe in the main event, resulting in fans leaving the arena.
The feud between Reigns and Jinder Mahal stands no chance of being received well as a headliner, no matter who comes out on top.
Money in the Bank has to end with one of the ladder matches or the WWE Championship defense, rather than The Big Dog putting down The Modern Day Maharaja.
Putting this earlier in the night allows angry fans to use it as a bathroom break instead of being even more upset that Reigns is booked as the most important thing once again.
If not, WWE runs the risk of having another pay-per-view ending on a sour note, instead of sending fans home happy.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.