This past Sunday, Brock Lesnar shocked the WWE Universe when he replaced Sami Zayn in the Money in the Bank ladder match and won the briefcase, earning him a title opportunity whenever he chooses over the course of the next year.
With the way WWE has booked Lesnar over the years, combined with the already-impressive track record of Money in the Bank cash-ins, the question isn't if The Beast Incarnate will become champion again, but when.
It was already teased on Monday Night Raw as Lesnar toyed with both Seth Rollins and Kofi Kingston, taunting them that at any point, he could be lurking in the shadows, ready to strike and ascend the throne once more.
That appeared to be just a taste of what is to come in the months ahead, but Paul Heyman managed to throw everything for a loop when he said that next week, they would reveal when Lesnar intends to cash in his title shot.
Is that it? Will Heyman lay the cards on the table and spoil the surprise next Monday? Or is there something else going on that may indicate other options for when Lesnar will cash in his briefcase?
Assuming Heyman is telling the truth and there will indeed be an announcement that calls the shot, the most immediate option (other than Raw itself) would be Super ShowDown on June 7.
These events in Saudi Arabia are huge deals for WWE, and the catchphrase to advertise this one has even revolved around saying that it will be just as big, if not greater than WrestleMania. WWE clearly wants the perception of it to be something grandiose.
Lesnar was already previously advertised to appear on that pay-per-view, so it would make sense if the announcement would be something along the lines of setting up a rematch from WrestleMania, with Rollins being forced to defend the Universal Championship.
Alternatively, Lesnar could already have it in mind to cash in after someone else faces Rollins, which would be an even smarter play.
For instance, WWE could announce that Rollins will defend the belt against AJ Styles, Drew McIntyre, Baron Corbin or anyone else on the roster, with Lesnar already intending to capitalize on whoever is the weakened champion following that match.
For that matter, he could do the same with Kingston, who will defend the WWE Championship in some fashion on this show.
Those scenarios feel pointless and empty, though, as WWE could have easily booked Lesnar against Rollins or Kingston without needing to put the Money in the Bank briefcase in the middle of them.
Plus, Bayley already cashed in her briefcase, so if Lesnar gets rid of his by the beginning of June, no Money in the Bank will be in play for an entire year after just two weeks.
Instead, it seems more likely Heyman will announce something further in the year to give fans something to dread as it approaches, such as SummerSlam.
This would be similar to how Mr. Kennedy's Money in the Bank contract was originally advertised as something he would cash in at WrestleMania the next year, only since it would be a shorter time frame, it would be much easier for WWE to follow through with it.
But an even more likely section of the calendar to speculate about is around autumn, as SmackDown Live will move to Fox on Friday, October 4.
Coincidentally—or perhaps, not—two days after that premiere will be the 2019 Clash of Champions event. Normally, that pay-per-view features every title being defended and may possibly even have a champion versus champion theme this year, particularly if the brand split ceases to exist.
That may seem like a stretch, but the Wild Card Rule illustrates WWE's fears that not having Superstars like Roman Reigns able to appear on both shows hurts the ratings, even though there has been no considerable bump since initiating this concept.
If the brand split is to end, that event would be the time to merge the belts, and WWE would probably find it too irresistible to make Lesnar the one and only champion heading into WrestleMania.
Fox is much more sports-oriented, and it's not hard to imagine the higher-ups likely value Lesnar's UFC background as a selling point for SmackDown, yet USA will want to have The Beast Incarnate on Raw, too.
Of course, the fatal flaw in this plan is that Lesnar would need to make regular appearances on television in order for any benefit to come out of giving him a championship, which isn't going to happen, but when has that logic ever stopped WWE from giving him a world title in the past?
Somehow, in some way, Lesnar will be holding either the Universal or WWE Championship—or the unified version of those belts—heading into WrestleMania 36 after cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase, and it's safe to assume he'll have that belt by the time Clash of Champions is finished.
Having that title change on the premiere of SmackDown on Fox may well be the target date, whether or not Heyman announces that next Monday.
If not, and WWE's plan is to not drag this out that long, watch out for SummerSlam to be the next furthest option, or Super ShowDown to be the most immediate point in time that Lesnar will become the new champion.
In any scenario, let's hope WWE's plan isn't to do the same thing with Lesnar that has been done for the past several years, or this whole Money in the Bank contract will have been yet another nail in the coffin for burying fan morale.
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.