10 Worst Title Reigns That Followed a Money in the Bank Cash-In

The concept of Money in the Bank is one that’s inherently interesting and exciting. The idea that at any time, the briefcase holder could show up and claim their spot at the top of the company, totally changing the landscape of the WWE is something that will almost certainly never get old.

When the briefcase holder finally decided it’s their time to shine, it’s always a memorable moment, even when the wrestler in question is one the audience doesn’t particularly care for. While the action of a wrestler showing up and winning a title in shocking fashion has led to some of the most legendary WWE moments ever, the discussion surrounding it often only focuses on the win and not what came after it.

It’s all well and good crowning a new champion in memorable fashion, but the next day, work has to start on making that champion a good one; a task which has seen a surprisingly high failure rate. So that’s what I’m covering today, as, in this two-part post, I look back at what every wrestler to successfully cashed in the Money in the Bank contract did with the title after winning it. Starting with the worst.

To be clear here, I’m ranking these items on a couple of things. First, there’s the pure numbers, namely, the number of days they reigned as champion. I’m also looking at the overall quality of the titles reign. How were they booked as champion? How many great matches or interesting storylines did they take part in while holding the belt? Finally, there’s the critical matter of how that wrestler continued to be treated after losing their championship. Was their stock in the company raised to a level above what they were at before holding the briefcase? Or did they just sink straight back down to where they were or – in some cases – did they sink even further?

I’m also not counting Asuka in this list as her title reign is still ongoing and I don’t think it would be fair to rank it yet.

So, with that in mind, let’s get going with these rankings.

10 – Alberto Del Rio – 2011
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: Summerslam 2011
Won Title From: CM Punk
Days As Champion: 35
Lost Title At: Night of Champions 2011
Lost Title To: John Cena
World Titles Since: 3

When people think back to the summer of Punk and how it was utterly squandered by WWE before suddenly changing their minds and course-correcting in November, what people tend to focus on in regards to Summerslam 2011, is Kevin Nash. I can’t say I blame anyone for doing so because let’s be real here, it was 2011 and this is Kevin Nash, whose physical prime was in about 1987; I know that’s before he was famous but, in many ways, that’s the point.

Anyway.

What I’d like to look at here is the oft-forgotten clusterfuck that the WWE title went through following Kevin Nash’s attack on Punk as Alberto Del Rio cashed-in his contract and became champion. The move itself was a terrible one. Punk was arguably hotter than any superstar in WWE had been since the attitude era and to not give him the chance to have a run at the top in favour of the unproven Del Rio seemed like it was throwing money directly in the bin.

Realising this, WWE knuckled down and made Del Rio into a legitimate main-eventer who wowed crowds the world over.

…hmm? What? What is it? That didn’t happen? Well, what did?…you serious? Wow, ok.

The night following his win over Punk. CM Punk decided he would get justice for this crime by…not attempting to get a rematch and went after Nash. Instead, Del Rio successfully defended his title against Rey Mysterio is a pretty decent match (unlike Swagger, Del Rio was actually a respectable in-ring competitor). It seemed like WWE might actually be trying to make something of him.

Then, just over a month later, he lost the title to John Cena. I’d love to give more detail, but that’s really it. Nothing even remotely interesting surrounded it, Del Rio and Cena had a match, Cena won, job done.

That brings up an interesting point because, based on that, I imagine you’d think that this reign should be much lower down on the list. The thing is, Del Rio actually wins bonus points in the last category of my criteria because, despite being a shitshow, Del Rio did actually see his stock in the company raise significantly following this title reign.

He won the title back from Cena just two weeks later. Although he would lose it back to CM Punk rather quickly, he was still treated as a legitimate upper midcarder in the following years. He even saw two more fairly substantial reigns with the World Heavyweight Championship a couple of years later.

So, even though his actual title reign was awful, the longlasting effects of it were beneficial to Del Rio, so the whole endeavour has got to be given some credit. Not much, mind, but some.

9 – Randy Orton -2013
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: Summerslam 2013
Won Title From: Daniel Bryan
Days As Champion: 28
Lost Title At: Night of Champions 2013
Lost Title To: Daniel Bryan
World Titles Since: 2

When I was first putting the research together for this list, I had honestly anticipated Orton’s title reign to be among the top. In my mind, he had cashed in at Summerslam and then held the title all the way through to next year’s Wrestlemania, but that’s actually not the case.

Instead, after Orton teamed up with Triple H to ruin Daniel Bryan’s crowning moment, Orton was immediately thrown into a rematch with Bryan at the next Pay-Per-View, Night of Champions. At this show, Bryan won the title back…for about 23 hours. It transpired the next night on Raw that the referee, Scott Armstrong, had performed a fast-count (sort of) for Daniel Bryan’s successful pinfall attempt. Even though it was made very obvious that Triple H had paid Armstong to do this deliberately, it was used as grounds to strip Bryan of the title.

Now, you might have noticed there that I only spent a single sentence talking about Orton’s reign. That’s because it’s roughly how important it was to all of this. Despite, being dubbed “the face of the WWE” he was just being used as a surrogate for Triple H, who wasn’t an active wrestler at the time.

While the number of world titles Orton won after this is just two, don’t let that fool you. Orton was already a certifiable megastar in WWE and had firmly secured his spot as a future legend for the company. After (eventually) winning the WWE title back thanks to various people being paid to screw over Daniel Bryan, he held it all the way through until Wrestlemania 30, where Bryan would reach the crowning moment of his career (for real this time).

Orton was a fantastic foil, but as it stands, all of that is moot in regards to his place on this list, because the fact is, the title reign following his Money in the Bank cash-in was a total non-factor in just about every conceivable way.

8 – Alexa Bliss -2018
(Raw Women’s Championship)

Cashed In At: Money in the Bank 2018
Won Title From: Nia Jax
Days As Champion: 63
Lost Title At: Summerslam 2018
Lost Title To: Ronda Rousey
World Titles Since: 0

The main problem with this reign is that it actually came at the end of Alexa Bliss’ first run at the top, instead of the beginning. Had this whole thing happened in reverse, this would probably be top 5 material because Alexa Bliss’ run at the top of BOTH the Smackdown & Raw women’s divisions throughout late 2016, 2017 and early 2018 were fantastic.

Bliss had been conquered at Wrestlemania 34 earlier that year by Nia Jax after seeing well over a year dominating WWE’s women’s division, so when she won the briefcase, it seemed odd, especially in the face of brilliant up-and-comers like Ember Moon. We didn’t have to wait long to find out what WWE’s game was though, as later on that night, Bliss would interfere in the Jax/Rousey match and cash-in her contract.

This seemed to be done for a couple of reasons. For one thing, Nia was not popular and, despite being a face, fans did not really care for her as the Raw Women’s Champion. The second was that WWE wanted to hold off on crowning Ronda as champion until Summerslam, but that was 2 months away, so they needed a story to tide themselves over in the meantime. So, why not revisit the Wrestlemania feud between Nia and Alexa? What’s that? Because we’re all sick of it? Pfft, who gives a shit?

As it stood, Alexa did a fine job as champion, by this point in time, she had an evident grasp on her heel persona and was as brilliant with it as she always was. The match the pair had at Extreme Rules was pretty decent too, thanks to a bunch of chaos injected by Ronda Rousey and Mickie James’ presence at ringside.

The main problem with this reign is that there was no drama to it because we were all just waiting for Ronda to win the title at Summerslam. I’m not saying that was a bad thing, I seem to be one of the only wrestling fans that enjoyed Rousey’s run as champion, along with believing she’s a great wrestler, but whatever. My point is, there was never any goal for Bliss’ title run other than to stall for time until Summerslam.

As I mentioned at the beginning, despite having many reigns as Raw & Smackdown women’s champion, this reign happened right at the end of that period, and as such, she’s only moved down the card since. She’s currently doing a fantastic job as one-half of the tag team champions. Still, she in no way benefitted long-term from holding the briefcase after everything else she’d already accomplished.

7 – Jack Swagger -2010
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Smackdown 30th March 2010
Won Title From: Chris Jericho
Days As Champion: 79
Lost Title At: Fatal 4 Way 2010
Lost Title To: Rey Mysterio
World Titles Since: 0

JACK ONE TWO.

Honestly, I hate that theme so much, but it’s going to be in my head for the next week, and I may as well try and take you down with me.

All the other title reigns I’ve covered so far on this list have all been bad because of some sort of exceptional circumstances or completely bonkers booking decision that was made by WWE that ruined the whole thing. This title reign isn’t like that. While it’s still relatively short, clocking in at just under 3 months, it’s a hell of a lot longer than any other reign I’ve covered so far. There wasn’t any weird or stupid booking that occurred during it, and he didn’t lose the title in any kind of unusual way. So what makes it so bad?

Well, it’s actually quite simple. The thing that made this title reign among the worst on this list was Swagger himself. I hate to say this because his current work in AEW is delightful, but he just wasn’t ready in 2010. He had a good look to him, and he even had a legitimate amateur wrestling background to boot. Unfortunately, he was yet to find a personality or in-ring style that clicked with audiences.

As a direct consequence of this, there was usually very little interest in any of his major title feuds. He got some solid wins under his belt against the likes of Chris Jericho and even a clean Pay-Per-View victory over Randy Orton. The problem is that those matches were crap. The veterans did what they could for Swagger. However, the more he wrestled, the more obvious it became to everyone watching that he hadn’t built up the ability to carry a world title and it’s no surprise that none of his PPV title defences ever got the main event spot. Combine this with a personality that had little-to-no charisma, and it became clear that this wasn’t going to work.

It’s a shame because something like this is the whole point of what I believe Money in the Bank should be. It’s a rocket to strap to someone’s back to give them the chance to prove that they’re world championship material. Unfortunately, using it on untested wrestlers is always going to lead to some failures, and this was the case with Swagger.

6 – Dolph Ziggler – 2013
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Raw 8th April 2013
Won Title From: Alberto Del Rio
Days As Champion: 70
Lost Title At: Payback 2013
Lost Title To: Alberto Del Rio
World Titles Since: 0

Ziggler’s cash-in is one of those moments that you could use to singlehandedly justify the existence of the Money in the Bank concept. I’m a sucker for watching a crowd go absolutely mental for something and the moment Ziggler’s music hit on 8th April 2013 is one of the biggest, most excited reactions I’ve ever heard from a wrestling crowd.

Unfortunately, that night is about where the good times stopped. However this time, it wasn’t directly WWE’s fault. Ziggler was initially set to defend the title at the Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View that May. Sadly, that match would never happen as Ziggler suffered a concussion at a Smackdown taping and was taken off of TV for a month to recover.

When he made his return, he reignited his feud with Alberto Del Rio, the man he had won the title from and their match at Payback was a surprisingly well-told story that was able to successfully execute the rare “double turn”. Del Rio ruthlessly targetted Ziggler’s head (playing off of the concussion angle), and Ziggler pressed on, resilient as ever, reversing the face/heel roles going into the match.

As good as this was, it was also the end of Ziggler’s title reign. A rematch was scheduled for the next Pay-Per-View (Money in the Bank, funnily enough) and Ziggler’s entourage, consisting of AJ Lee and Big E Langston, turned on him and cost him the match. After this, Ziggler abandoned his world title pursuit in favour of getting revenge on his former friends.

Ziggler would have a small handful of world title matches in the years since, but he’s never been in with a chance of actually winning. While his cash-in has undoubtedly immortalised him in the minds of modern fans, the unfortunate events that followed it did nothing to elevate his long-term standing in the company.

5 – Rob Van Dam – 2006
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: ECW One Night Stand 2006
Won Title From: John Cena
Days As Champion: 22
Lost title At: Raw 3rd July 2006
Lost Title To: Edge
World Titles Since: 0

This is a case is just a bit sad, more than anything else. This is because if things had gone as they were originally planned, this probably would’ve landed towards the top end of the list. Sadly, as it often does, real-life got in the way and put a premature end to this story.

RVD’s cash-in at ECW One Night Stand is one of the better cash-ins we’ve ever been greeted by. Taking place at the second version of the event, this match was actually a full-length affair due to RVD announcing his intensions to cash-in on Cena in advance of the event. It was the kind of beautiful chaos that reminded us all of the good ol’ ECW days, resulting in the man who was arguably ECW’s biggest star during its lifetime winning WWE’s grand prize.

Things started off in promising fashion. Heyman reinstated the ECW Champion and gifted it to RVD, making him a double champion. RVD retained the title against Edge at the Vengeance Pay-Per-View and then retained the ECW Championship against Kurt Angle just two nights later in a pair of quality matches. Things were going well, and RVD was riding a wave of momentum. Unfortunately, things were about to come crashing down.

In the early hours of 3rd July, RVD and fellow ECW alumni Sabu were pulled over by police for speeding on the highway. While they were being questioned by the police, the car was searched, they were found to be in possession of hash and were arrested. This was a direct violation of WWE’s Wellness Policy and was technically a firable offence. They weren’t fired, however, a triple threat match where RVD defended the WWE title against John Cena and Edge was immediately scheduled for Raw that night where Edge walked away as the champion. The following night on ECW, RVD lost his ECW Championship to the Big Show, and he was promptly suspended for 30 days.

It’s impossible to know how far RVD would’ve gone with the title had this incident not occurred, but if the first few weeks were any indication, it probably would’ve been something really memorable. As it stood, RVD would leave WWE in 2007 and would only return for brief stints in the midcard in the years following. As such, he never reached the world title scene again.

4 – CM Punk – 2008
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Raw 30th June 2008
Won Title From: Edge
Days As Champion: 69
Vacated Title At: Unforgiven 2008
World Titles Since: 6

After being moved to Raw in the 2008 draft, CM Punk immediately made his presence felt on the red brand by taking advantage of a laid-out Edge (courtesy of Batista) to crown himself World champion for the first time in his WWE career. Almost immediately, things didn’t look to be favouring the new champion. Less than a month into his reign, Punk was forced to defend his title against Batista. While he did retain the championship, it was only via Disqualification after Kane appeared and attacked both men.

A rematch was scheduled for the next night on Raw, which had a near-identical outcome, as the match ended in a no contest, allowing Punk to retain once again. This led to an odd situation in which Batista turned his hunt towards John Cena’s WWE Championship (for seemingly no reason at all), and JBL targetted Punk’s title instead. This admittedly went better for Punk, as he was able to get a pinfall win over JBL at Summerslam, although it must be said that there was little exciting or unique about the match, due in part to the fact that it was buried under much bigger matches.

So far, so standard for WWE in the late 00s right? Well, you’re not wrong, and if Punk had actually lost his title in a match, then this might have jumped up several spots on the list. However, WWE managed to make it so much worse than it needed to be.

Going into Unforgiven, CM Punk was set to defend his championship in a 5-man championship scramble, featuring Kane, Batista, Rey Mysterio and JBL. Unfortunately, Punk never got to the match as earlier in the night, he was attacked by Randy Orton’s Legacy stable and was deemed unable to compete, thus forfeiting the championship. While this might have made sense if Punk had suffered some sort of legitimate injury and couldn’t take part in the match, that wasn’t the case, Punk was perfectly healthy and even wrestled the next night on Raw.

Instead, for whatever reason, WWE saw fit to simply take the title off of Punk for basically no reason, coming up with the lamest of excuses to do so in kayfabe. Punk had a rematch with the eventual winner of the championship scramble, Chris Jericho (who was announced as Punk’s replacement), the next night on Raw. He lost, and that was that. The weirdest part about all of this is that Punk wouldn’t even attempt to seek revenge on Orton for this until 2011, where he suddenly remembered it and used it as the basis for their Wrestlemania 27 feud.

Without taking into account the way it ended, this championship reign would’ve been slightly below average at best. Still, when you take into consideration that Punk never even got the chance to lose the title in the ring, the whole thing becomes an absolute joke. Amazingly, it would take another 6 years of this kind of treatment for Punk to walk out of the company.

3 – Edge – 2005
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: New Year’s Revolution 2006
Won Title From: John Cena
Days As Champion: 21
Lost Title At: Royal Rumble
Lost Title To: John Cena
World Titles Since: 10

You know what they say: first’s the worst…almost.

With the hindsight of the greatness that Edge would go on to achieve throughout his career, it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that Edge’s first title reign was just another glorious accomplishment in his long list of career highlights. Unfortunately, the reality of the matter is quite different. As iconic as his cash-in was, very little of interest would follow, and it wouldn’t last very long.

The “live sex celebration” became a very memorable moment in WWE history for obvious reasons, but it wasn’t actually any good. What followed it was a pretty decent micro-feud where Edge put away Ric Flair in a TLC match of all things. However, following that, the man Edge had stolen the title from, John Cena, came knocking and it was all over.

Cena was already growing a bit of reputation as the guy who wins every title match regardless of whether it’s actually a good idea, a trend was not about to be bucked. Cena had his rematch against the Rated R Superstar less than a month after he lost the title and if you need to me to tell you who won, then clearly you haven’t been paying attention.

Cena would go on to main event Wrestlemania 22 against Triple H, while Edge got himself into a feud with Mick Foley. While this feud and the match that came from it were brilliant, it wasn’t the world title match that we had all hoped Edge would be partaking in that year. In the years since New Years Revolution 2006, WWE has framed the moment of Edge’s first cash-in as the real moment he seized the main event scene in WWE by storm. In reality, it would take at least another six months for him to get a world title reign that aligns with the legendary status his career is held to today.

2 – Brock Lesnar – 2019
(Universal Championship)

Cashed In At: Extreme Rules 2019
Won Title From: Seth Rollins
Days As Champion: 28
Lost Title At: Summerslam 2018
Lost Title To: Seth Rollins
World Titles Since: 1

When it comes to elevating a wrestler, that was obviously never the intention with this one. Brock Lesnar is inarguably the biggest megastar of WWE’s modern era, and there was literally no way possible that his stock could be elevated any higher than it already was. Instead, Brock’s acquisition of the briefcase and subsequent title reign served the singular purpose of creating an excuse to have a full-length rematch of Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins, which had lasted a mere two minutes at Wrestlemania 35 earlier in the year.

The match in question turned out to be a great one. Rollins fared exceptionally well against a version of Lesnar who was very clearly “on” that night at Summerslam. It was easily the match of the night and reminded people of what a brilliant wrestler Rollins is, during a time where character stagnation and letting out his frustrations at the fans on Twitter was causing audience investment in him to plummet.

That said, the result was a title reign that was, quite frankly, pointless. It consisted of just two matches, the cash-in where Lesnar won the title and the rematch at Summerslam where he lost it. While I don’t doubt the fact that the Rollins/Lesnar rematch was the right move for Summerslam, I don’t think the Money in the Bank briefcase was even remotely required to achieve that. As has been shown countless times in the past, the only justification you need for Lesnar getting a title shot is Lesnar showing up on Raw and declaring he wants one.

As I said, this entry gets a higher entry than Sheamus’ purely because it was more successful in executing its primary goal. That said, it was still a waste of the Money in the Bank concept and deprived another wrestler of the opportunity of a lifetime.

1 – Sheamus – 2015
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: Survivor Series 2015
Won Title From: Roman Reigns
Days As Champion: 22
Lost title At: Raw 14th December 2015
Lost Title To: Roman Reigns
World Titles Since: 0

Traditionally, the purpose of the Money in the Bank briefcase is to take a wrestler who hasn’t quite got their breakthrough into the main event scene yet and strap a rocket to their back to turn them into a verifiable megastar. So I don’t think it’ll be much of a surprise that Sheamus’ title reign landed last on this list when you consider that its entire purpose was to get someone else over. That someone else being Roman Reigns.

The thought process behind this title reign was a simple and surprisingly clever one. The audience at large were still staunchly against Roman Reigns as the face of the WWE, favouring more versatile wrestlers such as Dean Ambrose or Kevin Owens. So the conundrum for WWE was simple, how do they make everyone happy about Roman Reigns winning the WWE title? Enter Sheamus.

Sheamus tends to be quite a polarising wrestler, but the most prominent opinion of him amongst fans (myself included) is that he’s got a lot to offer the company as a tough midcard wrestler. However, as a main-event competitor, he’s always been quite underwhelming. So the idea was simple. If Sheamus wins the WWE title, then everyone will hate that, so when Roman Reigns wins the title from him, everyone will love it.

As cynical and shortsighted of a plan as it was, it absolutely worked. Although the match between the pair at 2015’s TLC event – where Sheamus retained the title – wasn’t all that great, the rematch the next night on Raw (featuring Vince McMahon as a special guest referee) went down an absolute treat as fans screamed their approval when Roman Reigns ended Sheamus’ run at the top.

While this title reign did technically serve its intended purpose, that purpose was an inherently flawed one that not only failed to give Sheamus any kind of longlasting credibility as a main event level competitor, but didn’t even create any longlasting goodwill for Roman Reigns. By the time 2016 rolled around, the audience was back to their Roman loathing ways, booing him out of every arena he entered.

Everything about this title reign was an absolute failure and a complete waste of the briefcase.

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