Charlotte Flair understands that you might be focused on the “ladder” part of the first-ever WWE women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match on Sunday. She’s focused on the “Money in the Bank” part.
That’s because the winner of the match gets a contract for a SmackDown women’s title match anywhere at any time within the next year.
As a former four-time women’s champion, Flair isn’t used to not having a championship.
“There is a lot of anticipation and an element of what are the girls going to do, especially with the ladders,” she told For The Win. “But I think people should be more excited about the actual briefcase itself and being the first Miss Money in the Bank.”
Flair, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Carmella and Tamina are in the match. The SmackDown-exclusive pay-per-view event airs Sunday from St. Louis on WWE Network (8 p.m. ET for the main show, 7 p.m. ET for the kickoff show). Lana challenges Noami for the SmackDown women’s title as well.
The ladders have been part of the set for SmackDown Live leading into the show, but here are two things that are self-evident from past ladder matches: The ladders are heavy and they hurt.
“Even though we’ve all been able to pick it up and feel what it’s like in person, they are all different sizes and it’s much different trying to use it when you have 15,000 people watching,” Flair said. “It’s way different being in front of an audience and when your adrenaline is flowing in that moment. I really don’t know what to expect, to be honest.”
Given that Flair’s signature move is the moonsault, it lends to reason that Flair will inevitably climb a ladder and flip on to our opponents.
“You’ll have to tune in on Sunday,” she said, laughing.
For Flair, it’s another chance for a WWE first. She and Sasha Banks were the main event of Hell in a Cell in the fall, and she and Banks were in a falls-count anywhere title bout on RAW, among others. “I think there is just as much anticipation (for this match),” she said.
Flair touched on a number of topics with For The Win, including her upcoming appearance in a “Psych” movie on USA Network, the Mae Young Classic, Talking Smack and looking ahead to WrestleMania.
Moving to SmackDown Live means an opportunity for you to appear regularly on “Talking Smack.” Is that something you are enjoying?
I like being on Talking Smack because it’s another opportunity to voice my opinion without being in the ring. There are subjects you have to touch base on, but you can go on and you never know what direction the conversation will turn. There’s more freedom.
After a run of singles matches on pay-per-view, this is another multi-person match. Do you have a preference?
I can’t say I’ve had as many multi-person matches. It’s a lot different because you’re dealing with more and more bodies. I don’t have a preference, but I always like fighting for the title in singles matches.
You were recently in Vancouver to film the “Psych” movie for USA Network. What was that experience like?
I was nervous at first because I’ve never been in film before, but the cast was amazing. I’m excited for my role. Once I was able to start my fight scenes, I felt right in home.
Alexa Bliss moved from SmackDown to RAW, is the RAW women’s champion and seems at the top of her game there. What’s your impression of the impact she’s made?
I think when one girl does well, we all do well. I couldn’t be more proud of her. It’s another showcase of what NXT does for girls because she’s NXT homegrown.
The Mae Young Classic is next month in Florida with 32 women. What do you think that will mean for women’s wrestling overall?
It adds more depth and provides more exposure. It will be an opportunity to talk about Mae Young’s history and what she accomplished a bit more. It will get the main roster girls down to NXT to feel the excitement of the tournament. The women have been so busy in the last year that the girls who came from NXT haven’t had the chance to get back to Orlando and see all the buzz about Asuka and what’s happening. I’m excited to just watch the tournament and I hope I can get down there in person. I think it will be awesome.
SmackDown Live was just in New Orleans this week. That is the site of WrestleMania 34. Look into your crystal ball and where will you be come WrestleMania 34?
I will be a Triple Crown winner plus an NXT champion — I have to add the NXT title in there – and I hope to be one of the main events at WrestleMania.
The Titus Brand
The “Titus Brand” seems to be branching out to the cruiserweight division with founder Titus O’Neil courting Akira Tozawa, who seems to be the next likely challenger for Neville’s WWE Cruiserweight championship. Tozawa beat T.J. Perkins to end “205 Live” on Tuesday night, with Neville then confronting O’Neil backstage.
O’Neil also has been appearing on RAW with Apollo Crews.
So what is the Titus Brand all about? It’s a melding of the real-life Titus O’Neil, who is among the most socially conscious WWE performers, and the character.
“It’s really me being me and gives me an opportunity to be more me and have fun doing it,” O’Neil said. “People ask me that and I say, ‘I’m highly motivated, well-respected and well-connected.’ And that is the truth. I can literally pick up my cellphone and call anybody that I need to get something done and get it done.
“I can cause a lot of trouble if I want to do or I can cause a lot of change. Up to this point, I’ve tried to cause a lot of positive change and hopefully that translates into my WWE character.”
WWE has advertised that Roman Reigns will announce his plans for August’s Summer Slam on RAW on Monday. But first, Reigns does not have plans for the RAW-exclusive July event, Great Balls of Fire. Those two things could be related – or maybe someone such as Finn Balor could interrupt Reigns’ announcement – and make them related.
The other wrinkle is that WWE is promoting John Cena’s return on July 4 to SmackDown Live and labeling him as a “free agent.” The thinking is Cena could toggle between the brands and use his star power wherever necessary. Cena vs. Reigns would be a blockbuster for Summer Slam, one of WWE’s biggest shows of the year. Not betting that’s the way it goes, but not ruling it out completely, either.
Best in the World
The card for Ring of Honor’s Best in the World pay-per-view on June 23 continues to take shape with a lot of potentially memorable matches in store. The show features four title matches led by ROH world champion against Cody Rhodes. Don’t be surprised if the show stealer is the ROH world television championship rematch between champion Kushida and former champion “The Villain” Marty Scurll.
New Japan rising
Anticipation continues for the New Japan Pro Wrestling shows in Long Beach, Calif., on July 1-2. An eight-man tournament to crown the first IWGP United States champion will be a major focus with the first round on July 1 and the semifinals and final on July 2.
Along with the tournament, the main event for July 1 is IWGP heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada defending against Cody Rhodes. On July 2, IWGP Intercontinental champion Hiroshi Tanahashi defending against Billy Gunn. The Young Bucks defend the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team titles against Roppongi Vice on July 2.