Every year, when Money in the Bank rolls along, I end up pondering so many “what if” scenarios with just the number of briefcases and the stipulations on who can challenge who, that inevitably, one of those that comes to my mind is always what would happen if NXT got into the mix.
Keep in mind that this is not only not happening this year, but it’s unlikely to ever happen, particularly with the recent arrival of the North American Championship functioning as a secondary prize on the brand.
Instead, this is just a fun little exercise in taking a theoretical concept and trying to apply it to the current roster, without factoring in things like the plans for TakeOver: Chicago getting in the way.
As such, I present to you my breakdown of how I personally think this would play out.
Let’s get started with the men’s division.
List of Competitors
Technically speaking, even if we don’t count the live event crew and potential outsiders, there are over 30 men on the NXT roster that could be picked from.
However, it makes no sense to have Aleister Black in the match while he holds the NXT Championship, nor The Undisputed Era or Pete Dunne as they have titles, too. Also, you’d have to assume certain people just wouldn’t make the cut no matter what, as they aren’t priorities, and others would be left out of the mix because they’re part of a tag team unit and it would seem weird for only one of them to qualify—even though that seems to be the case this year with The Bar or The New Day.
When factoring all this in, I think we can narrow it down to just a handful of participants who make the most sense, while also limiting myself to the number of 8 competitors like what this year’s lineup seems to be:
- Cezar Bononi — Since he was voted as one of the future stars to be, it would make sense for him to get a bit of a showcase here, even if he weren’t a true contender to win the match itself.
- EC3 — This guy screams Money in the Bank, not just for his look and credibility, but his gimmick as well. No explanation needed.
- Johnny Gargano — It’s arguable that despite not being the champion, Johnny Wrestling is still the top babyface on the entire brand above even Aleister Black. He would not only be a guaranteed inclusion, he’d also be the fan favorite.
- Kassius Ohno — Someone has to be the veteran who has the story of wanting another shot at the gold. Kassius Ohno would eat some ladder and be someone to round out the cast, but not much more than that.
- Kona Reeves — I wish I could be saying Fabian Aichner stood a chance to be included here instead of Kona Reeves, but that just isn’t the way things are. Fabian Aichner is more of an enhancement talent guy, while Kona Reeves is currently in his repackaged push. He would be cutting promos about how winning Money in the Bank brings about the finest things. Blah blah blah.
- Lars Sullivan — I have him down on this list, but only with a caveat. This is a list of 9 people to fit in 8 slots, and while I said I wouldn’t be factoring in NXT TakeOver: Chicago, it does need to at least call into question if this were an event, Aleister Black would need someone to challenge him for the title. That person would seemingly be Lars Sullivan, so he’d only be in this match if someone else wasn’t, for the same reason. Just food for thought.
- Ricochet — After his performance in the ladder match for the North American Championship at the last NXT TakeOver event, you’re damn sure he’d be booked in this. He’s clearly being groomed as one of the top babyfaces for 2018/2019 and would be a true contender.
- Tommaso Ciampa — Where Johnny Gargano goes, Tommaso Ciampa will be right behind him. The Psycho Killer would be able to utilize his dangerous edge to be the top heel in the running for the win, most likely, and someone everyone would have to keep their eyes on.
- The Velveteen Dream — You could copy and paste a good number of things from up above that other people have as qualifiers. He’s proven himself multiple times (particularly in the ladder match at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans), he’s a top heel, yet still a fan favorite, and there’s no way he’d be passed over.
With that being the field of competitors in the match, which one of them would more than likely walk out with the briefcase?
Winner and Plans
Immediately, I’d say we could rule out Kassius Ohno. He’s never a priority and it’s doubtful he ever will be.
For the reasoning of being too fresh on the roster and not getting as big of a push as some of the other talent, I’d eliminate Cezar Bononi and Kona Reeves from the running, too. Maybe next year.
Lars Sullivan—if he were even in the match—doesn’t strike me as the type of guy to walk around carrying a briefcase under any circumstances, even if they’re trying to give him this “educated freak” gimmick.
For the most part, I would think Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano would get in each other’s ways, which would help explain why neither of them would win the match. They would be so focused on each other that they’d take themselves out of the equation, as their blood feud would distract them too much.
That leaves EC3, Ricochet and The Velveteen Dream, and since Aleister Black is a babyface champion (assuming he wouldn’t just drop it to someone like Sullivan), I think that mostly rules out Ricochet, too, leaving us with EC3 and The Velveteen Dream.
Between those two, I’d lean more towards EC3 getting the briefcase, if not just for how his gimmick plays into it so well. He is exactly the type of person who could carry that briefcase around and not look foolish, while talking about how he’s in the top 1% and with Money in the Bank, he’s proven that.
Also, being a heel, he would be supremely positioned to cash in on a beaten down Aleister Black to steal the NXT Championship. Whether that would come about when Aleister Black would face Lars Sullivan, or, if that were too soon, WWE could always book some kind of Triple Threat match between Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV where the deed could be done, as that would be a No Disqualification bout that lends itself to the use of weapons and being totally spent by the end of it. After retaining the title and going through hell, being cashed in on is the worst thing to happen to a babyface champion, but the best thing to happen to someone like Mr. Money in the Bank, EC3.