WWE Money in the Bank 2020: Best Stars to Fill Final Spot in MITB Ladder MatchMay 4, 2020
While the Money in the Bank 2020 card appears set, one big question looms ahead of Raw on Monday night.
With Apollo Crews out injured, WWE announced Wednesday a Gauntlet match would determine the final spot in the men's Money in the Bank Ladder match.
If the last notable Gauntlet match is any indication, then any number of options could be on the table. The Undertaker was a surprise entrant at Super Showdown and eliminated AJ Styles to claim the Tuwaiq Trophy.
Here's a look at the stars who are the most logical candidates to compete in Sunday's pay-per-view.
Yes, Crews has already been removed from the match. Perhaps his injury is merely a way to engender sympathy from the fans.
Even going back to his brief time in NXT, Crews has largely been devoid of any long-term direction. He's clearly skilled in the ring and possesses the look that Vince McMahon loves, yet seldom has Crews competed in a match with tangible stakes.
Based on how the last few weeks have unfolded, WWE is finally putting the spotlight on him.
The whole purpose of the MITB match is to climb a ladder and collect a briefcase. What better way is there to make a wrestler a massive underdog than having him work through a knee injury? Crews wouldn't even have to win in order to come out looking better from the show.
Styles hasn't been seen on WWE programming since losing the Boneyard match to The Undertaker at WrestleMania 36. The Phenomenal One will obviously return at some point, and lifting the MITB briefcase would be a great way to easily insert him into the WWE Championship conversation.
The O.C. is no more after WWE released Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.
That provides WWE with the chance to approach Styles with a clean slate somewhat. Fans will naturally view him as a heel when he comes back, but it would take little to get the WWE Universe back on his side.
And the beauty of Styles as the MITB contract holder is he could plausibly cash in against a babyface Drew McIntyre or the villain who inevitable takes the belt from McIntyre, such is the flexibility of Styles' on-screen character.
The thing with WWE is, positioning a wrestler as a star or genuine title contender isn't that hard, at least for the short term. The promotion routinely did this with Mark Henry, with his "Hall of Pain" run a notable example.
Tamina, for instance, had one singles match since November before she was inserted into the Fatal 5-Way elimination match for the SmackDown Women's Championship at WrestleMania 36. She's getting another shot for the title Sunday.
Jinder Mahal's decisive victory over Akira Tozawa last week felt like the prelude to something bigger.
Although Mahal's WWE Championship reign is remembered fondly by few fans, he was effective as an old-school heel. His character work was strong, only to be undone by his in-ring work.
Much like with Crews, the MITB match can be an avenue through which to paint Mahal as more than mid-card fodder on Raw. Maybe he doesn't win but lays the groundwork to challenge McIntyre at some point before or after SummerSlam.
The viewership for Raw and SmackDown has been less than ideal, which might explain why WWE held a big 25th anniversary for Triple H. In case of emergency, the promotion always breaks the glass on the retired or semi-retired superstar contingency.
In an interview with Newsweek's Phillip Martinez, The Game played down the likelihood he's replacing Crews at Money in the Bank:
"I have no desire to climb a high ladder and get pushed off of it. There are certain guys that are built for ladders and guys who are and I'm not one of them. My ladder matches have normally involved me whacking someone with it or getting whacked with it a lot. So climbing and falling off of it is not my forte. ... It's never anything that I regret because you've never seen me do a moonsault for a reason."
Brock Lesnar's victory at last year's Money in the Bank PPV showed how WWE is willing to go against the grain for the Ladder match.
The circumstances for this year's show are even more conducive to giving the briefcase to somebody who generally shies away from traditional MITB high spots. The wrestlers are starting on the ground floor of WWE's headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, and working their way up to the roof.
WrestleMania 36 was a great illustration of how pre-taped thematic matches can allow older part-time stars to do more with less. The Boneyard match was the most enjoyable Undertaker bout in years.
WWE could easily work around any of Triple H's limitations were he to compete in the MITB Ladder match.