(Originally Posted Jun 2018)
It’s that time of year once again, where we get to see who WWE is going to be putting their stock in for the future of the company. Well at least that’s what WWE want us to believe, while the Money in the Bank briefcase has created stars and amazing moments in the past, it’s had its fair share of duds in its time too.
So before we look forward to June 10th, let’s look back on the best, and the worst of previous year’s Money in the Bank winners.
Worst: Edge’s False Start
It’s one of the big iconic moments in the history of WWE, a bloodied and beaten John Cena sits in the ring with his WWE Championship after going through the grueling Elimination Chamber, only for Edge to come out with the briefcase in tow, to pick the bones and gain the WWE Championship for the first time in his career.
While that is an awesome moment, what is often neglected, is what came after it. While he would create one of the most iconic moments in Raw history by having sex live in the ring, he would drop his title back to John Cena less than a month later at the Royal Rumble and that was that. Edge wouldn’t win his title back until July that same year, and even then, he lost it to Cena again little less than two months later.
Luckily, this wasn’t a death sentence for him, since he would win the briefcase for a second time from Mr Kennedy a couple of years later to much greater success, but this first win wasn’t the crowning achievement WWE want us to think it is.
Best: Back to Back
There are many parallels to be drawn between the careers of Edge & CM Punk, and their Money in the Bank wins are no exception. Punk’s first contract win didn’t really do him many favours, cashing in on a beaten down Edge, his tile run was very forgettable, and he didn’t even lose it in the ring, he was simply stripped of it after Legacy attacked him backstage. However one year later he was given another shot, winning the contract for a second time, becoming the first and (to this day) only man to win the contract in back to back years.
This time he would cash in on Jeff Hardy, who had just won the championship after a grueling match with Edge, and it would mark the beginning of what – for my money – is one of the best singles feuds of either man’s career. The entire feud was built around Punk’s straight edge lifestyle versus Jeff Hardy’s free spirit, the two played off each other perfectly and it led to a string of fantastic matches. During this feud, Punk would drop the title to Hardy before winning back in the rematch, he would then hold the title until that year’s Hell in a Cell PPV, where he would lose the title to The Undertaker in one of the most one-sided Hell in a Cell matches I’ve ever seen.
Despite a rather disappointing beginning and ending, CM Punk’s time with the Money in the Bank briefcase led to a very entertaining run with the championship and helped build up his legitimacy for what he was to do in the years following.
Worst: The Ones that Failed
A Money in the Bank cash in is usually the most exciting thing to happen on any given WWE show. Even when you see it coming a mile off, watching the briefcase holder sprint to the ring and claim his match is quite the buzz. So it takes the wind out of your sails a bit when the man who cashes in the contract, ends up taking the fall.
First was John Cena, this one wasn’t a particularly exciting cash in anyway, since he announced it ahead of time to take place in the main event of Raw 1000; it didn’t get any better once the cash in actually happened though. While the match between Cena and then champion, CM Punk was a good one, it ended in a move perhaps pretty symbolic for WWE in 2012, as CM Punk would retain the title via Disqualification after Big Show interfered in the match. The Rock would then come down and clear house before CM Punk notoriously turned heel by attacking The Rock. While all that was fairly entertaining, John Cena, the actual briefcase winner, was the least important factor in the whole thing.
Next up was Damien Sandow, his briefcase win was extremely surprising to begin with, and with the power of hindsight it would be quite amazing to think of what Sandow’s career might’ve been had he won the World Heavyweight Championship. However it was not to be, it seems WWE management gave up on him pretty quickly. John Cena had just returned and won the World Heavyweight Championship from Alberto Del Rio, and WWE already had plans to unify both World Championships, but since there was no way Sandow was getting in on that action, they had to remove him from the equation, so in the most underwhelming cash in history, Sandow interrupted a fresh John Cena to cash in his contract, at which point the shows cuts to commercial; I don’t think there’s ever been a more telltale sign that nothing interesting is going to happen. Low and behold, nothing did, after a pretty underwhelming match, John Cena retained his championship and that was that.
Now we come to the most recent Money in the Bank holder, Baron Corbin. Him winning the briefcase last year felt like a given and most people predicted him to win the match, alas, he did and held the briefcase for a good few months. During this time the Jinder Mahal experiment was in full swing and he had a WWE Championship match with Shinsuke Nakamura just around the corner at Summerslam. while a lot of people believed Corbin would cash in on a victorious Nakamura, that wasn’t to be as 5 days before hand on Smackdown is when Corbin would strike. He cashed in the briefcase to a huge pop since literally anything was better than Jinder Mahal, only for John Cena to pop up on the apron, Corbin would get distract, Mahal rolled him up and that was that. It’s still not really clear what exactly he did to upset WWE officials, but while he’s slowly fighting back to relevance on Raw right now, he’s yet to recover, and who knows if he ever will.
Best: One Night Stand
RVD was arguably the single hottest star to come out of the invasion in 2001, and it never felt he ever reached the heights he should’ve, being stuck on Raw while Triple H went on his reign of terror meant he never got the main event spotlight he deserved, this would all change in 2006 however, when RVD won the Money in the Bank briefcase, and he announced that he would be cashing in that contract at ECW One Night Stand 2006, against the champion John Cena.
An ECW crowd was always a very unique and vocal crowd as such, they were ready to tear the place apart if Cena were to walk away with the championship. Luckily the riot was averted, as following a Spear from Edge and a 3 count Paul Heyman, RVD won the WWE Championship for the first and only time in his career. It was a wonderful moment to see RVD get his well deserved crown in his home of ECW, however it was not to last…
Worst: Unfortunate Circumstances
So it’s no secret that RVD is a man who enjoys smoking marijuana, and regardless of what you think of that, it’s undeniably got him into a fair bit of trouble over the years. This was one such time, as he was pulled over as he was travelling between WWE shows and was subsequently arrested for possession of marijuana. Since this was in breach of WWE’s newly established Wellness Policy, RVD was subsequently suspended from the company and stripped of his WWE Championship.
It’s always a shame when a champion doesn’t lose their title in the ring, but this was especially disappointing since it finally seemed like RVD was being given his due. It’s hard to tell how long he would’ve held his WWE Championship as a couple of months later it was back over John Cena’s shoulder, and there’s nowhere that RVD would’ve really fit into the picture. Regardless it’s a real shame that such a beloved performer had his glory stripped in such underwhelming fashion.
Daniel Bryan has had quite an interesting relationship with the Money in the Bank briefcase, but more on that later. Bryan’s first experience with the briefcase came in 2011, there were several times he attempted to cash in, but failed. But finally at TLC that same year he would succeed. Taking advantage of Big Show and Mark Henry destroying each other in the match that preceded, Daniel Bryan broke his promise to the Big Show and cashed in his briefcase moments after Big Show finally defeated Mark Henry.
However, the most notable thing about this title run is how he lost it, infamously at Wrestlemania 28, in the opening match, Daniel Bryan would lose his World Heavyweight Championship to Sheamus in 18 seconds, however in hindsight, this was good thing, as it would cause the crowd to get behind Bryan like the hadn’t before and that support would eventually launch him to his crowning glory two years later.
While for the past year and a half, I’ve been loving Sheamus has one half of The Bar with Cesaro, he never really enthused me as a singles star, I just found him rather boring, and 2015 was when he was at the height of this boredom. I remember going into this match, I thought to myself that I’d be happy with literally anyone in the match other than Sheamus winning, and Vince clearly heard that thought and decided to spite us all.
My main problem with this isn’t even so much about Sheamus himself however, it’s that it was so clear from the moment he won the briefcase that the sole purpose of him winning the briefcase was as a tool to get Roman Reigns over. Admittedly it did work, albeit very briefly, but it always annoyed me how transparent it was that getting Reigns over was the only purpose of Sheamus ever winning the briefcase, so I don’t look back on this one very fondly.
Best: What’s Best for Business
Daniel Bryan vs The Authority is an interesting storyline, because while there was a lot of bad in the middle, the beginning and the end were done to perfection.
Daniel Bryan was riding his monumental wave of popularity into Summerslam 2013 where he would face off against John Cena for the WWE Championship, with Triple H in the background as the special guest referee. After one hell of a great match, Daniel Bryan would finally reach the top of the mountain as he toppled Cena to win his very first WWE Championship. It was a glorious moment, but it was not to last as Triple H revealed his true colour, laying out Daniel Bryan and allowing Randy Orton to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and become the face of the WWE.
This moment was fantastic writing, and it set everything in motion for 8 months later when Daniel Bryan would finally get his own back at Wrestlemania 30 and reach the top once more. That moment wouldn’t have been possible without this one, so it gets it’s due.
Worst: The Tragic Tale of Dolph Ziggler
It’s become one of the most iconic moments in the history of Monday night Raw: The night after Wrestlemania 29, after almost a year of waiting, Dolph Ziggler finally seizes his opportunity and claims the World Heavyweight Championship.
However, that’s pretty much all of the good there was from this championship reign. Ziggler was set to defend the belt in a triple threat ladder match at Extreme Rules, that probably would’ve been an extremely good match, however on an episode of Smackdown Ziggler suffered a concussion at the hands of Jack Swagger, which put him out of action for a few weeks meaning plans had to change.
Upon his return, he was set to face Alberto Del Rio at Payback, in a match where the story was Del Rio trying to give Ziggler another concussion, which wasn’t great considering a couple of years later, many former stars would sue the company for concussions they suffered in the WWE. Del Rio would win the title in that match, and Ziggler would get a rematch at Money in the Bank, where AJ Lee would interfere and cost Ziggler the match and that was that.
Ziggler’s shown flares of life since then, but for the most part he’s never been able to climb back up and smash that glass ceiling, I like what he’s doing at the moment, but that’s only thanks to Drew McIntyre, who is the person WWE actually want to push as a major star in the near future. It’s a sad tale, but sadly not an unfamiliar one.
Best: The Heist of the Century
How could it ever be anything else?
In my time of being a fan of professional wrestling, this was the single most exhilarating and awesome moment I’ve ever seen, and that feeling comes rushing back to me every time I think about this moment.
In the main event of Wrestlemania 31, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns were putting on a surprisingly good match, but everyone knew that it was moving to the inevitable conclusion of Roman Reigns as WWE Champion, which no-one wanted. But suddenly, in a move no-one saw coming, while Reigns and Lesnar were both down, Seth Rollin’s music hit and the crowd EXPLODED, he sprinted down to the ring and a couple of Curb Stomps later, Seth Rollins was the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
I’ve talked in this article about how many people would have a very underwhelming title reign following a cash in, and to some extent this was true of Seth Rollins, but in this case I don’t think it matters. No matter what happens for the rest of Rollins’ hopefully long career, that image above, will be the single image that defines his career, and what an image it is.
Well that’s all folks! I had a nice break from the wrestling content after going through 3 PPVs in a month last month, but I’m happy to be getting back into it in the build up to Money in the Bank, in what currently shaping up to be a pretty good show!
As always please share this post around, and follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo and my lovely editor @lauren_cmonster, and I’ll see you soon!