Fantasy Booking WWE Money in the Bank 2021: NXT Ladder Matches


Every year, when Money in the Bank rolls along, I find it fun to play the game of “What If” in regards to how other brands and briefcases would play out if WWE decided to really expand the concept to the other divisions.

This is just an interesting little exercise in taking a theoretical concept and trying to apply it to the current roster, with a bit of analysis and fantasy booking in the mix.

The first of this two-parter will focus on the black and gold brand of NXT with part two surrounding the idea of a tag team Money in the Bank ladder match. Stay tuned and check that out in a few days.

As such, I present to you my breakdown of how I personally think this would go down, and I invite you to do the same in the comments below!

Let’s get started with the women’s division.

Women’s Division – List of Competitors

Since this year’s ladder matches are consisting of eight competitors, I’ll be keeping my picks to just eight women here, too.

Obviously, Raquel Gonzalez sits this out as champion, as do the injured stars like Tegan Nox and Mercedes Martinez (though she would have definitely been in the match if I had written this up prior to her concussion).

  • Candice LeRae
  • Ember Moon
  • Franky Monet
  • Io Shirai
  • Sarray
  • Shotzi Blackheart
  • Toni Storm
  • Zoey Stark

Narrowly not making the cut for me are Dakota Kai and Xia Li. I’m a big fan of both, so that’s not a slight against them. Rather, it’s just protective booking. If Kai is in there, we have to start rushing the potential split with Gonzalez. With Li, I want to see her win more matches before she’s set up to lose and I just don’t think she’d be the right choice for this type of gimmick to actually give the win to.

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

Money in the Bank works significantly better if a heel wins it and can utilize the cash-in. I’d instantly rule out all babyfaces here like Ember Moon, Io Shirai, Sarray, Shotzi Blackheart and Zoey Stark.

In their own right, all of them could be interesting, but there are negatives on top of just being faces, too. Moon’s already had her title opportunity. Shirai lost the belt to Gonzalez to begin with, so we’re not just going back there. Sarray should establish herself more outside of this sort of gimmick, as should Stark. Blackheart is probably prime for the main roster, rather than staying in NXT for another year.

That narrows it down to LeRae, Monet and Storm.

Just like Blackheart, I’m imagining Storm is coming up to Raw or SmackDown by the time the draft has settled. She’s done all she can in NXT and needs to start working with some of the other established names and take that next step in her career.

LeRae is already a tag team champion, so that may be a conflict of interest. It’s not as though nobody’s held a belt and the briefcase at the same time, but if you’ve got Monet right there, you might as well go with her as the easier option.

I can imagine a scenario where Gonzalez eventually turns more babyface down the line after feuding with Kai. Then, Monet (who will have decorated the briefcase to fit her personality more) could sneak the title away. That would protect Gonzalez, work well with Monet’s prissy character and allow for a smooth championship transition.

Men’s Division – List of Competitors

The same as the women’s division, I’m keeping this at eight, despite how there are far more than that number who could be great for this type of match.

Naturally, Karrion Kross is out of the mix as champion, as are all the injured or completely Superstars like Ridge Holland, Kona Reeves and Danny Burch.

This was tough. There are so many talented Superstars to pick from. I found myself struggling to whittle 12 down to 8 and became fully stumped on which 4 to take out. However, I decided those 4 to not make the cut were ultimately LA Knight (since he’s already holding the Million Dollar Championship, even though I’d love for him to try to justify that coinciding with “Money in the Bank”), Roderick Strong (so he can focus on the Cruiserweight Championship), and both Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa (the latter more so just to keep him from suffering an injury, but also because if only one could get in the match, it’d make the other look like a weaker part of the team.)

That left me with this ultimate list of participants:

  • Adam Cole
  • Bronson Reed
  • Cameron Grimes
  • Dexter Lumis
  • Johnny Gargano
  • Kyle O’Reilly
  • Pete Dunne
  • Santos Escobar

Working with this list, who would capture the briefcase?

Winner and Plans

I can’t picture Dunne walking around with a briefcase like this, can you? He’s great, but that would be awkward.

Lumis isn’t as big of a priority, nor should he carry the briefcase, either. He’s there in the match to fill a spot and do something creepy while climbing the ladder.

Reed is main roster bound. He’s the big guy in the match you can root for, but would come up short.

Grimes would be a great story where he’s looking to offset having lost the Million Dollar Championship by getting his own Money in the Bank, metaphorically and literally. Still, that’s just a gag and the joke would run thin.

There’s a strong case for Cole, Gargano, O’Reilly and Escobar. Less so for Escobar, though, as he’s just not yet on the same level as the others. I love the guy and hope he reaches that echelon, but realistically, I know he wouldn’t win it.

As MITB works better for babyfaces, that rules out O’Reilly, doesn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see him play the air guitar with that briefcase and finally ascend to the mountain top. However, let’s think about this. If he says he is ashamed of the underhanded tactics The Undisputed ERA used to do, he cannot fundamentally cash in on a weakened champion, even if it’s a heel. That would mean he’d have to call his shot in advance and that’s ultimately a waste of the gimmick.

Down to Cole and Gargano, you can take your pick. Flip a coin. Both are fantastic, perfect options who could pull it off amazingly. The real question is whether or not either is going up to Raw or SmackDown any time soon. If so, the other one wins, simple as that.

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