At this year’s Money in the Bank PPV, seven men will be competing for the WWE Championship briefcase in perhaps the most star-studded MITB Ladder match in history. Between them, the seven competitors have held 33 World Championships in the top three North American wrestling promotions (WWE, TNA, ROH). Over the next seven days I will examine each man’s credentials, and question why they should or should not win the briefcase.
After his 434 day reign as champion, the Championship is the highlight of Punk’s extremely successful career, and he is an indelible part of its unparalleled legacy.
Which means that sometime in the future, he will once again be a contender for the prestigious title.
It’s inevitable. The only question is: when?
Not in the near future; that, we can be almost certain of.
Because at this moment in time it looks as though CM Punk will be involved in a top summer angle that doesn’t involve championship gold whatsoever. Instead, it involves himself, agent / compatriot Paul Heyman, and ‘The Beast Incarnate’ Brock Lesnar.
And since Brock Lesnar does not work the B-Shows (Extreme Rules is an exception because WWE likes to use him post-Mania), it’s a safe assumption that this angle will last until SummerSlam in August. To a certain extent this poses a problem for WWE, in that CM Punk is an asset that they can’t involve heavily in an active angle; instead, his next few weeks will consist mostly of segments with Paul Heyman and the occasional match with Curtis Axel.
They made the right decision, then, in making him a competitor in the MITB Ladder match. A former two-time MITB winner, Punk is an intrinsic part of the stipulation’s history. And since it is necessary to promote his angle with Lesnar slowly, this was a good position for Punk to be placed in while waiting for the SummerSlam bout.
That being said, the looming presence of Brock Lesnar does not mean that CM Punk can’t win the briefcase. Give the fact the briefcase can be cashed in at any time, it’s still a possibility that Punk will win, conclude his angle with Lesnar and then put the briefcase to use at a later time.
But giving anyone the dual responsibility of participating in a major summer angle and possessing a guaranteed WWE Championship opportunity doesn’t seem particularly wise; while Punk could win the briefcase, he certainly doesn’t need it. At this point in his career, Punk – like John Cena – can simply insert himself into main event match opportunities and appear to belong.
As such, he would seem to be an outsider for acquiring the briefcase, though given his status it is not beyond the realms of possibility. In all likelihood, however, he will be involved in some of the big spots in the match, and is present as one of the company’s most experienced, reliable performers.
There’s a real possibility that he will be cost the briefcase by outside interference from Brock Lesnar, Curtis Axel, or Paul Heyman himself. The first two would be outright declarations of war, while any Heyman interference could be spun as outside help gone wrong.
What’s clear when all is said and done is that Punk’s future in WWE is intrinsically linked with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar, which means that the WWE Championship is not in his sight right now.
How would it work should it happen?
That’s an unpredictable concept, because the WWE booking team aren’t nearly as inflexible about CM Punk as they are about Randy Orton or particularly John Cena; if he were to win MITB, there’s the real possibility that he could turn heel the same night by cashing in after a post-match assault on John Cena in the main event.
At the same time, he only recently returned as a face so his winning the briefcase would probably involve a legitimate challenge to the WWE Champion unless the champion himself – maybe Mark Henry – is a heel. If the champion is at some point in the future a heel, and Punk is in possession of the briefcase, then he could cash in after a match and remain a face; after all, even as a heroic character Punk’s craftiness is often emphasised.
That, though, is all conjecture. What isn’t conjecture is that CM Punk is working a high-profile angle with Brock Lesnar that means he will most likely be out of the WWE Championship scene for the next few months and is a guy who doesn’t need the MITB briefcase to get himself a title opportunity anyway. Therefore, he’s an outsider to win the briefcase.
And while it certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing for him to win it, necessarily, it would seem to be a waste when other people in the match would benefit a lot more from carrying the briefcase because they don’t have the same ready access to Championship opportunities that Punk does.
Expect CM Punk to be an intrinsic part of the Money In The Bank Ladder match. Expect him to be involved in some exciting, memorable spots. Expect something to be done that will enhance his angle with Brock Lesnar.
But don’t expect him to leave Chicago with the briefcase in tow.