9 Best Title Reigns That Followed a Money in the Bank Cash-In

A few weeks ago, I discussed the worst of what the Money in the Bank briefcase had to offer us, today we do the opposite.

The Money in the Bank briefcase is often seen in WWE as something that could potentially make someone’s career, giving them their long-awaited big break. As we discussed last time, that isn’t always the case, but these people are the ones who succeeded to at least some small degree. These are the people who ultimately benefited from having used the briefcase to their advantage, rather than becoming little more than a footnote with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it title reign.

9 – CM Punk – 2009
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Extreme Rules 2009
Won Title From: Jeff Hardy
Days As Champion: 42
Lost Title At: Night of Champions 2009
Lost Title To: Jeff Hardy
World Titles Since: 4

After the indisputable failure that was his first world title reign, WWE gave themselves a do-over a year later when Punk won the briefcase for the second time. This reign went better in just about every conceivable way.

Punk started out strong, coming out victorious in a triple threat match on Raw a week later, retaining the title over both former champions, Edge & Jeff Hardy. His next title defence was at The Bash against Jeff Hardy, and that one didn’t go as well. Although Punk did retain, it was via disqualification when he attacked the referee. As is always the case when these things happen in WWE, a rematch was booked for the next Pay-Per-View, where Hardy would regain the championship from Punk in a really good match.

By this point in the list, you may have noticed a pretty consistent pattern with the bottom-half entries, which is that the new champion only gets a month or two with the title before dropping it back to the exact same person they’d won the title from in the first place. This is because WWE often likes to use the Money in the Bank cash-in as nothing but an extra hurdle for a babyface to overcome once they finally think they’re in the clear. Or even worse, sometimes it will simply be used as something for the current champion to do for the next few months while they wait for the next major Pay-Per-View to roll around.

That said, this title reign did actually have a pretty big upside for Punk. For one thing, he would quickly win the championship back from Hardy, but more importantly, he struck upon his “straight-edge saviour” persona. This was a persona that allowed Punk to showcase his incredible promo ability on a week to week basis and can be widely credited for a lot of the great success he’d see later on in his career.

As much as the statistics aren’t anything overly impressive in this instance, looking towards the long-game is where this title reign really earns some positive points.

8 – Dean Ambrose – 2016
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: Money in the Bank 2016
Won Title From: Seth Rollins
Days As Champion: 84
Lost Title At: Backlash 2016
Lost Title To: AJ Styles
World Titles Since: 0

The case for Ambrose’s spot on this list is actually the exact opposite to what I discussed in the previous entry. As it’s what happened during the title reign itself that elevated this entry’s position.

Winning the briefcase at Money in the Bank 2016, Ambrose would cash-in that very same night on long-term rival Seth Rollins after he had just won the championship from Roman Reigns. This created the wonderfully poetic moment of all three former members of The Shield holding the WWE Championship on the same night. Immediately following Ambrose’s title win, the focus on WWE shifted towards the newly established brand split. Ambrose’s first title defence took place a week before the draft, and it ended in a draw when both men’s shoulders were down for a three count, the rematch took place the next week and, after being drafted to Smackdown, Ambrose put Rollins way with a clean victory.

A few weeks later at Battleground, Ambrose once again defended his title in the fabled “Shield Triple Threat” match as all three former members of The Shield faced off for the first and only time ever. It was a great match (even if it didn’t quite live up to some people’s expectations) and Ambrose came away with the win, taking the championship over onto the newly established Smackdown roster.

His first feud on the blue brand was against Dolph Ziggler in a forgotten feud for a forgotten Summerslam. Ambrose came away with a clean victory, but the match wasn’t good, and the memory of it quickly faded. Backlash was up next for the champion and this time it would be AJ Styles stepping up to the plate after having just gotten a clean victory over John Cena to end their feud. Against all odds, AJ Styles, a man who had only joined WWE earlier that year and was known across the wrestling world as “Mr TNA” would succeed in claiming the WWE Championship for his own after kicking Ambrose square in the balls.

Ambrose spent the rest of 2016 chasing after Styles to get the title back, but was unsuccessful and eventually found himself winning the Intercontinental Championship to close out the year instead. While on-paper, Ambrose was treated relatively well as champion, on a week to week basis he was treated more as a comedy character than anything else. WWE had always leaned a bit too hard to the “unhinged” aspects of Ambrose’s character and not in a good way. As it stands, he still rises up to the top half of this list purely by virtue of being treated like a credible wrestler who can win matches. However, he would never see world title success again in his WWE career, eventually leaving for the greener pastures of AEW, where he currently reigns as a much more successful world champion.

7 – Edge – 2007
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Smackdown 11th May 2007
Won Title From: The Undertaker
Days As Champion: 70
Vacated title At: Smackdown 17th July 2007
World Titles Since: 8

Much like CM Punk, it turned out that the second time around was the winning one.

Once again staying true to his “ultimate opportunist” moniker, Edge cashed-in his briefcase on The Undertaker after he had just won a Steel Cage match with Batista and was attacked by Mark Henry, winning the title with ease. Edge would immediately enter a feud with Batista that would last for several months; however, Edge would come out victorious at every turn. The methods of which included a roll-up at Judgement Day; just beating Batista to the ground in a Steel Cage match at One Night Stand and finally, getting Batista counted out at Night of Champions.

Next up for Edge was Kane, who was announced as the number 1 contender and had a match scheduled for The Great American Bash. Sadly, that match would never take place as Edge legitimately tore his left pectoral muscle on an episode of Smackdown and was forced to take several months off to have surgery.

Although he had to relinquish the title after only a short time with the title, the reign held a series of victories for Edge that consistently made him look like a guy deserving of being on top as a heel and it left a lasting impression on his career after that. By the end of 2007, Edge would be back in the ring and would claim the World Heavyweight Championship once again, which led him to him getting a main-event match against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 24.

As much as the title reign itself could be argued to be a bit naff, it can’t be denied that Edge was always in a main-event position for the remainder of his career following it. While this cash-in and title run was just one factor in a laundry list of reasons as to why Edge was put into that “top guy” position, I think it’s clear that this was a landmark turning point for the future legend.

6 – Carmella – 2017
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Cashed In At: Smackdown 10th April 2018
Won Title From: Charlotte Flair
Days As Champion: 131
Lost Title At: Summerslam 2018
Lost Title To: Charlotte Flair
World Titles Since: 0

When Carmella won the first-ever Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match, everyone was a little bit confused. Carmella was a decent wrestler at the time, but she didn’t feel like someone who would hang with the top of the women’s division. However, that is what Money in the Bank is supposed to be about: elevating someone who hasn’t had their chance in the main event yet. So we waited…and waited…and waited. It took almost a full year, but Carmella did eventually cash-in her briefcase on Charlotte Flair, just after she had been attacked by The IIconics.

The reign itself is a bit of a hard one to judge. This is because, while the match quality was often lacking, it wasn’t always Carmella’s fault. A lot of the things fans had a problem with, such as James Ellsworth constantly interfering, is down to the booking. Booking that, it must be said, did a pretty decent job of getting heat onto Carmella. It wasn’t all good heel heat, of course, there was an amount of “go away” heat in there as well but, I think a lot of the character work she did during this time was excellent and let her show her skills more than she’d been able to up until then (including her run in NXT).

Looking to the nuts and bolts of it, Carmella got herself a relatively clean win over former champions Charlotte Flair at Backlash, winning via a roll-up. She then entered a feud with Asuka that was…terrible. As I said, Carmella’s character work was enjoyable, however, the matches were awful and were a clear statement following Asuka’s Wrestlemania 34 loss that she wasn’t someone the company had any interest in investing in. This feud went on for several months.

Once it was over, we were on the road to Summerslam, and Becky Lynch had been gaining a ridiculous amount of popularity over the past 6 months. A title match was set for Summerslam between the two; however, Charlotte Flair would eventually muscle her way in and make it a triple threat. During this match, Charlotte would take advantage of Lynch and pin her to win the title, meaning Carmella didn’t get pinned but lost the title anyway. This is what would eventually spark Becky Lynch to become the single hottest property in the entire industry for the next year or so, but that, unfortunately, meant that there was never any room for Carmella to reclaim her spot.

Instead, Carmella entered the mixed-match challenge and partnered with R-Truth to eventually win the tournament. Unfortunately, this saw no title success for her, as she spent the next year or so being Truth’s back up as he ran around the country, playing out whacky antics with the 24/7 Championship. In recent months, Carmella has been teased to challenge for the Smackdown Women’s Championship once or twice but is yet to actually get her shot.

While it clearly hasn’t done many favours for Carmella in the long-run, the title reign itself saw her being treated as a credible heel, who wasn’t afraid to resort to underhanded tactics. While it might not have felt like all that great of a reign at the time, looking back with the power of hindsight, I think it was a rather entertaining role for Carmella to fill. I just hope she has a chance to fill it again sometime soon.

5 – The Miz – 2010
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: Raw 22nd November 2010
Won Title From: Randy Orton
Days As Champion: 160
Lost Title At: Extreme Rules 2011
Lost Title To: John Cena
World Titles Since: 0

While today, The Miz is a widely respected member of the WWE roster, that wasn’t exactly the case when he won the WWE Championship at the tail end of 2010. The look of utter fury on that little girl’s face was a surprisingly accurate analogy for the wrestling fanbase’s reaction to the title change at the time. However, sitting here almost a decade later with all the power of hindsight in the world, I think it was ok.

Just one week after winning the title, The Miz was forced to defend the belt in a TLC match against Jerry Lawler of all people. He won, which was good, but he very nearly didn’t. Jerry Lawler was genuinely just an arm’s reach away from becoming WWE Champion until Michael Cole interfered in the match and prevented Lawler from winning. Not the best of looks for the new champion.

As it so happened, immediately following this was the TLC Pay-Per-View in which Randy Orton got his rematch for the title in a Tables Match. While he was on the back-foot for the majority of the match, the finish got to make him look like a cunning and intelligent heel. While the referee was knocked down, he took a broken table (initially broken when Alex Riley was sent through it) and placed Orton on top of it to convince the referee he had put him through the table. This was brilliant as it was frustrating for the audience in just the right way and didn’t quite feel like WWE just throwing away yet another Pay-Per-View match…but that isn’t actually where things ended. Instead, WWE decided to make The Miz seem like the world’s biggest moron when the referee discovered Miz’s deception after he watched the replay that played on the arena’s ‘tron.

These kinds of flukey retentions were the running theme throughout Miz’s championship reign, as almost every win came thanks to some form of interference. He beat Orton again at the Royal Rumble…after CM Punk interfered and he battled Jerry Lawler for a second time at the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View. It looked like he had lost again, only for the decision to be reversed after it was revealed Miz got his foot on the rope during the pinfall.

His greatest humiliation was yet to come, however, as his Wrestlemania main event against none other than John Cena was on the horizon. The match itself was fine, but no-one actually remembers the bulk of the match. Instead, what we all remember was the absolute clusterfuck of a finish. Initially, the match – which, let me remind you, was the main event of Wrestlemania – ended in a draw when Cena clotheslined Miz over the barrier and neither man could make it back to the ring before the 10-count (this move legitimately gave The Miz a concussion as well). It wasn’t over though. The Rock, who was hosting the show, came out and demanded that the match be restarted, so it was. Unfortunately, Miz’s aforementioned concussion meant that very little of substance was possible. However, it was all undermined anyway, when The Rock came down to the ring, hit the Rock Bottom on John Cena and gave Miz the pin to retain the title.

After becoming the least important person in his Wrestlemania main-event victory, the writing was on the wall for Miz’s reign, and sure enough, just one month later, John Cena would take the title from The Miz clean as a whistle.

Despite not looking like all that dominant of a champion, there are plenty of things that rule in The Miz’s favour. For one thing, the pure number of days he held the title is more than most on this list, and he did get actual wins over his opponent; even if they were thanks to outside interference.

The most significant point in his favour, though is what has happened to him since. Although he’s never won another world title, he has taken the wealth of knowledge and experience he’s gained over the years to become a legitimate star in WWE and beyond. He’s seen reasonable success on the silver screen with several high-profile film roles, became one of the best talkers in the company today and is arguably the single most consistent and reliable wrestler WWE currently has under their belt.

4 – Daniel Bryan – 2011
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: TLC 2011
Won Title From: Big Show
Days As Champion: 105
Lost Title At: Wrestlemania 28
Lost Title To: Sheamus
World Titles Since: 4

In 2011, Daniel Bryan was far from what we would know him as just two years later, but that doesn’t mean he was any less amazing of a performer. He had captured the hearts of the audience right out of the gate, appearing in NXT and sticking it to his “mentor” The Miz. This popularity continued well into 2011, and he was rewarded with Smackdown’s Money in the Bank briefcase. Bryan had promised his friend and then World Heavyweight Champion Big Show that he wouldn’t sneakily cash-in on him while he was vulnerable, but if you need me to tell you what happened next, you must be new to wrestling.

Sure as the sun rising each day, Daniel Bryan took advantage of a weakened Big Show following a successful title defence with Mark Henry and became the World Heavyweight Champion, cue a massive celebration from both the fans and Bryan himself, who milked the moment for everything it was worth. Although Big Show attempted to remain true to their friendship, Bryan’s arrogance got the better of him, and he quickly found himself facing challengers on all sides; all of whom were significantly larger than him.

This is where the critical difference between Bryan’s and Miz’s reigns come in. Many of Bryan’s title retentions indeed came through interference or other forms of misdeeds, but in these cases, the story was written in the right way so that these non-finishes were compelling, rather than cheap. Situations arose where Bryan would spot the perfect way out and do everything in his power to make it happen. For example, during his first title defence against Big Show, Bryan did everything he could to provoke Mark Henry into attacking him, thus retaining the title via disqualification.

Bryan developed this aura around his character of being the weaseliest little weasel you could possibly imagine. He looked beatable all the time but still managed to come away looking relatively favourable after he finds yet another ingenious way to worm his way out of losing the belt. I daresay that with most other wrestlers this wouldn’t have worked (in fact, I can point to numerous examples over history of exactly that). Still, there was just something about Bryan’s portrayal of his characters that meant everything just…worked. Even losing the title in 18 seconds at Wrestlemania 28, while absolutely infuriating, somehow made perfect sense for his character. Oh, plus he also got a title defence in the Elimination Chamber where he actually came out of it looking pretty strong and competent as a champion; novel concept, I know.

Daniel Bryan’s career following this reign speaks for itself. While 2012 was pretty rocky for him, 2013 was where he became an undeniable megastar in WWE. He became the single most popular wrestler on the planet. SO popular that WWE was forced to have him win the world title in the main event of Wrestlemania 30 to ensure that the entire building wouldn’t boo the show into oblivion (a lesson they unlearned a couple of years later, but hey-ho).

I’ve praised Daniel Bryan almost too much on this blog in the past. However, it’s title reigns like this one that prove that he is one of the most versatile wrestlers on the planet and can slip seamlessly into almost any role he needs to fulfil, while still being able to whip great matches out of the bag whenever he wants.

3 – Kane – 2010
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Money in the Bank 2010
Won Title From: Rey Mysterio
Days As Champion: 154
Lost Title At: TLC 2010
Lost Title To: Edge
World Titles Since: 0

Despite most people coming to love the big red machine in the years following his 1997 debut, Kane actually saw very little success in regards to world titles during this period. Despite being involved continuously in high-profile feuds throughout his entire career in the late 90s and early 00s, Kane’s world championship achievements amount to little more than 24 hours at WWF Champion in the summer of 1998. It seemed the further his career progressed, the less likely it was that he’d ever have the world title run that many fans believed he deserved.

Then came Money in the Bank 2010. There was already a lot of intrigue surrounding Kane going into this match. It was revealed that he had found his kayfabe brother, The Undertaker, in a “vegetative state” just a month earlier (in reality, Undertaker had to take a few months off to deal with an injury). Kane was on the hunt for whoever was responsible. Luckily for him though, he had the spare time on a Sunday to take a break from this hunt and win a briefcase. It seemed like there could be some interesting things on the horizon for Kane. It all came to a head sooner than anyone expected. Less than an hour after he had won the briefcase, Kane appeared following Mysterio’s successful title defence over Jack Swagger and dispatched of him in short order to become champion.

Kane’s run went surprisingly well pretty much the entire run. Things kicked off with Kane retaining cleanly over Rey Mysterio at Summerslam until, surprise! Turns out it was actually Kane that attacked The Undertaker and now he’s seeking revenge. This took the form of a No Holds Barred match at Night of Champions, which to everyone’s surprise, Kane won clean as a whistle, reversing a Tombstone Piledriver from The Undertaker into one of his own and getting the pin.

After wallowing in self-pity for a little bit, The Undertaker decided it was time to return to 1997, as he brought back Paul Bearer to assist him in conquering his brother. The match came at Hell in a Cell, and Paul Bearer decided it really was 1997, as he turned on The Undertaker to hand the win to Kane. This lead to the natural climax of their feud, a Buried Alive match at Bragging Rights where, to everyone’s surprise, Kane retained once again over his brother. Although it is worth mentioning that this win was a less impressive look for Kane, as it only happened thanks to The Nexus attacking The Undertaker at the climax of the match.

After all that was over, the time came for Kane’s title reign to draw to a close in a pretty weird feud with Edge. In a twist not many expected, Kane turned face after Edge kidnapped Paul Bearer and taunted Kane about it every single week. Edge would then win the title from Kane in a TLC match at TLC, and that would be it.

On its own, you could argue that this title reign may be worthy of the top spot on this list, but the problems for Kane come with what happened after he lost the title. Looking back now, this title reign really was the ‘last hurrah’ for Kane as a singles competitor. He lost a rematch to Edge in January and spent Wrestlemania 28 squashing in The Corre in under two minutes in a match that not one person in the area cared about. Including the wrestlers.

Kane then regained his mask in yet another storyline no-one had much interest in, and he just floundered around the lower midcard until teaming up with Daniel Bryan. Even though their pairing was compelling and led them to them winning the tag titles, it wasn’t much more than a midcard novelty in the long-run. Then Kane joined in with The Authority and slowly faded into obscurity from there.

Last hurrah or not, Kane’s run with the World Heavyweight Championship was still a great one that saw him take on the role of a dominant and robust heel, putting away high calibre opponents month in and month out.

2 – Bayley – 2019
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Cashed In At: Money in the Bank 2019
Won Title From: Charlotte Flair
Days As Champion: 140
Lost Title At: Hell in a Cell 2019
Lost Title To: Charlotte Flair
World Titles Since: 1

Another same-night cash-in here and one of the most recent on this list, 2019 is when Bayley really grasped her full potential on the main roster, and she has Money in the Bank to thank for that.

Winning it in rather frantic fashion, following Charlotte reclaiming the Smackdown Women’s Championship from Becky Lynch, Bayley immediately got to work doing what she does best with the title, which is wrestling and winning. Bayley’s first test with the title was Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross, where she would face the pair of them in a handicap match at Stomping Grounds (where we kick ass and take names, didn’t you know?) and put on a solid – if not as good as expected – match against Ember Moon at Summerslam.

Then, following these strong wins, Bayley teamed up with a freshly returned Sasha Banks to turn heel and attack both Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair every week. Suddenly, the somewhat stagnant Bayley face character had new life breathed into it as Bayley went all-in on the persona. She tore down everything she used to represent and built up a brand new character that has been so much more entertaining than anything she’s done since her days in NXT.

Here’s where things may get a bit controversial because following this heel turn. Bayley lost the title back to Charlotte Flair. Which seems like it should land her down in the lower half of this list, losing her title suddenly and unexpectedly to the same person she won it from, BUT, I’d argue the circumstances with Bayley are different because of what happened following this reign.

For one thing, Bayley would get the title back just 8 nights later, which is always lovely and since then, she’s been on an absolute tear. Her heel persona has only grown in both scope and complexity, with the reignition of her legendary feud with Sasha Banks seemingly just around the corner. She’s had solid wins against the likes of Charlotte, Naomi & Lacey Evans and I think her title reign still has a long way to go

Of course, this begs the question, why didn’t I give Randy Orton the same credit given that he did something very similar? To which the answer is that I think the circumstances are quite different. Orton was already set-in-stone when it came to his WWE career, the extra months he had after winning the title back did little to bolster his career or revolutionise his character. Now, look back to Bayley and you realise just how much the Money in the Bank cash-in has done for her. I still liked Bayley’s face character, but it was undeniably stale, and audiences had totally tired of it. What she’s done since turning heel has totally turned that around, I’m incredibly interested in what she’s doing on a week-to-week basis because of what this title reign did for her. So that’s why I’m letting that bolster Bayely’s position here and not Orton’s in the previous list.

1 – Seth Rollins – 2014
(WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Wrestlemania 31
Won Title From: Brock Lesnar
Days As Champion: 220
Vacated Title On: 4th November 2015
World Titles Since: 3

When The Shield broke up in May of 2014, everyone knew that within a year, at least one of these guys would be a world champion. Ambrose could talk with the best of them, Roman had everything WWE wanted from a ‘face of the company’, and Rollins had all the natural in-ring talent in the world. Being the man who betrayed his brothers, Seth Rollins was the focal point of WWE TV in a big way throughout most of the year following the break-up of The Shield. Being groomed by The Authority as ‘The Future of WWE’, that nickname was cemented when Rollins retrieved the Money in the Bank briefcase a month later.

As Wrestlemania 31 rolled around and Roman Reigns looked to be closing in on his first world championship, it seemed pretty clear that Rollins would cash-in sometime in the spring after WWE have tested the waters with Roman as champion. Then, it happened. The single greatest Money in the Bank cash-in to ever take place (and my personal favourite moment in WWE history) took place as Rollins interrupted the main event of Wrestlemania, cashed-in his briefcase and ran away with the title.

What we saw over the remainder of 2015 was the making of a career-long top star in WWE. The booking of Rollins could be a little lacking at times, but for the majority of his title run, I believe WWE struck a stable balance of Rollins getting solid wins over credible stars, while still feeling like a beatable champion that would only ever just squeak away with his title in tow.

Things started out with The Authority in-fighting, and at Extreme Rules, Rollins retained over Randy Orton when Kane got in the ring and attacked just about everybody in sight; distracting Orton long enough for Rollins to hit an RKO and escape the cage to retain. Moving into Payback, we saw more of what we were hoping to see with The Shield members as singles competitors, where Rollins defended his title in a Fatal 4 Way against Orton, Reigns and Ambrose. Once again, Rollins retained thanks to well-timed interferences by other members of The Authority and pinned Orton once more.

Next up with Elimination Chamber and Rollins’ re-ignited feud with Dean Ambrose, which is where Rollins was made to look a bit weaker than I would’ve liked. In the absolute height of Dusty finishes, Ambrose actually pinned Rollins, and it seemed like he had won the WWE Championship. However, earlier in the match Rollins had pulled the referee in the way of an Elbow Drop from Ambrose, causing them to collide, so the decision was reversed, so Rollins actually won by disqualification, thus retaining the title. Then, during their ladder-based rematch at Money in the Bank, Rollins retained the title by accident as he and Ambrose both unhooked the title at the same time only for them both to fall to the ground and Ambrose to lose his grip on it, making Seth the winner.

Battleground was next, which brought with it Rollins’ lowest moment as champion when the previously suspended Brock Lesnar was reinstated and got his rematch for Rollins’ title. Rollins spent 90% of the match being tossed around like a piece of meat by Lesnar, and he didn’t even get to finish the match as things ended when The Undertaker appeared to attack Lesnar, making Rollins vanish in the process.

Luckily for Rollins, he would go from his lowest low to his highest high over the late summer when he entered a feud with John Cena. For a start, nearly every match the pair had was a great one, the first of which took place at Summerslam where Cena would put his United States Championship on the line against Rollins’ title. Although the fact that former host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, cost Cena the title isn’t the greatest of looks for Rollins, he came away from it as a double champion, and it did wonders for his heelish swagger.

Rollins would then have to defend both his titles on the same night at Night of Champions. He lost his US title back to John Cena before defeating Sting in a match that will forever be marred by Sting’s genuinely terrifying injury. However, a clean win is a clean win. Rollins’ last title defence came at Hell in a Cell, where former Authority member Kane (now in demon form) challenged Rollins for the title. The match was boring, but Rollins did at least win the match clean as a whistle.

Rollins was then set to defend the title against Roman Reigns at Survivor Series where, if the dirt sheets are to be believed, Rollins was going to lose the championship. Unfortunately, we never got to find out as at the start of November where at a house show in Dublin, Ireland, Rollins landed awkwardly off of a Sunset Flip and his leg basically imploded, tearing his MCL, ACL and Meniscus. Rollins would be forced to vacate the title and wouldn’t be back on WWE TV until May 2016.

On its own, this title reign was a genuinely great one, but when you consider the ridiculous levels of success Rollins has had since then, there’s no way this could be anything other than the number 1 entry. When Rollins returned to TV, he immediately beat Roman Reigns to regain the WWE Championship (even if it was just for a few minutes thanks to Ambrose’s cash-in, which we talked about earlier). He won his feud with Triple H at Wrestlemania 33, floundered for a bit throughout 2017, but came back strong in 2018, spending the majority of the year having fantastic matches at every Pay-Per-View, defending his Intercontinental Championship.

This culminated in 2019, where Rollins became world champion once again, beating Brock Lesnar to become Universal Champion, not once, but twice before losing it to The Fiend. Rollins has since become a heel again and has taken his character in a new direction that is just as good as, if not better than, his original heel run.

One thing that is for sure though is that Rollins will be a main eventer in WWE for the rest of his career, and he had Money in the Bank to thank for that.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you thought of these title reigns, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back here this time on Wednesday, for the next part in my 100 Favourite Games series!

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.

My 11 Favourite Matches of The Undertaker

For many years, whenever Wrestlemania season rolled around the biggest question on everyone’s minds wasn’t who would be fighting for the company’s world titles, but who would get the prestigious honour of fighting The Undertaker. A wrestler who has stood the test of time like no other, The Undertaker has wrestled for so long in so many different styles that his mere presence on a card draws more hype than any championship match ever could.

I’ve talked a bit before about how important The Undertaker is to me as a wrestling fan, so as you can imagine I’ve watched a hell of a lot of his matches over the years and it’s safe to say that many of them are among my favourite matches ever. His in-ring ability may have waned somewhat in recent years but that doesn’t stop me getting incredibly excited at the prospect of him stepping in the ring once again, especially since we never really know which time will be his last.

With yet another huge bout set for Wrestlemania 36 in a few weeks against AJ Styles, I thought it’d be a good time to look back at the best of what The Undertaker has offered us, over the years.

11 – vs Brock Lesnar – Wrestlemania 30

Ok, we’ve got to address the elephant in the room with this one, which is quite simply that the actual makeup of this match was awful. Taker, unfortunately, suffered a concussion early on in the match and it left Brock having to carry a bit of dead weight in the ring for a while until Undertaker was able to gather his surroundings enough to form a barely passable match.

HOWEVER

That’s not what matters about this match, what matters about this match is the finish and the moments immediately following it. The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania undefeated streak (aka “The Streak”) was inarguably the greatest draw in modern Wrestlemania history. Once the numbers got up to heights like 13 matches and 13 wins, every year The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania match become an absolutely huge deal. The unmatched aura of a man who’s genuinely undefeatable combined with the consistently brilliant match quality (as we’ll soon discuss on this list) brought The Undertaker’s legacy to such a height that we thought it never could (and many thought, never should) end.

And then it ended.

Many people have spoken on this and I perhaps can’t quite do justice to just how monumental of a moment this was. Several people who witnessed the event live have spoken of the atmosphere of pure disbelief and tragedy in the crowd and said that there is simply no comparison to the feel in the building during the moments following the ending of The Streak. It was a rare moment of genuine shock from the wrestling fanbase, with a feeling that I don’t believe will ever be replicated in wrestling during our lifetimes.

But like I said, the match itself was the drizzling shits, so 11th is the highest it can go.

10 – vs CM Punk – Wrestlemania 29

When people think back on The Undertaker’s run of incredible matches through the late 2000s and early 2010s, this match often gets left off of that list and I think that is a huge disservice to the brilliant match these two put forth.

In the build to this match, Punk put forth what I think is some of his best heel work ever. It played off the real-life death of The Undertaker’s former manager Paul Bearer in a way that I don’t think went too far, even if it was uncomfortable for some. This carried over into the match too and having Heyman sitting on the sidelines, playing along with Punk’s every taunt was just fantastic. There felt like there was a real animosity between these two and it brought us some brilliant moments that capture the essence of what a good Streak match is all about because we’re all so sure that there’s no way The Undertaker’s going to lose, that it’s actually very easy to make us believe he might.

This match also holds a lot of personal weight for me too, as it was the first match I’ve ever watched the whole way through. If you want the full story on that, then I’ve talked about it before but there’s a good chance that if I’d seen a match that wasn’t as good as this one, I wouldn’t have stuck around to become the opinion spewing nerd I am today, which I’m sure would be a great loss to the world…right?….riiight?

9 – vs Brock Lesnar – Hell in a Cell 2015
(Hell in a Cell)

This match stands out for me more because of how surprised I was that it ended up being so good.

Going into this match, Lesnar & Taker had already fought a few months previously at Summerslam and the match was…ok. It was pretty fun and gave us the hilarious visual of Lesnar giving Taker the finger as he passed out, but it was mired by a general slow-pace and very confusing finish that was designed to protect Lesnar but ended up making The Undertaker look like a cheat.

Apparently, the solution to all of these problems was just letting these two guys batter the piss out of each other for twenty minutes in just about every way possible. In the modern era, it’s so rare we get a Hell in a Cell match like this, but it had exactly what the stipulation calls for. There was blood, there were weapons and there was wall to wall violence that ended up being the perfect way to represent the pure hatred between these two competitors.

The action was very exciting too, despite what I had expected, things kept going at a pretty solid pace the whole way through and each weapon spot took the intensity up just a little in order to get the maximum impact out of everything. The finish was great too, with the ring-mat being ripped up and exposing the wooden boards underneath – a spot that remains just uncommon enough to still feel like a big deal – and ultimately, the right man won, capping off a surprisingly brilliant feud that benefitted from some very rare, WWE branded long-term storytelling.

8 – vs The Rock vs Kurt Angle – Vengeance 2002
(WWE Undisputed Championship)

As is probably expected, there aren’t many matches on this list from the “Biker Taker” phase of The Undertaker’s career. Various injuries alongside a generally not very interesting persona or in-ring style meant that a lot of the magic that surrounded The Undertaker was gone during this era and is considered by many fans and critics to be the worst era of his career, so this match is very much the exception, not the rule.

The story going into this match was very hot indeed, mostly just consisting of the three men involved in this match slowly escalating the violence in order to bring the hype for this match up to a fever pitch. This carried over into the match, particularly between The Rock and The Undertaker, who spent a lot of time trying to destroy each other throughout this match. As it stood, Angle slipped into his role perfectly for this match. Angle standing there trying to get the attention of The Undertaker and The Rock as they stare each other down is one of those wrestling gifs that has stood the test of time and it really was indicative of how great Angle was at constantly skimming the line between comedy and serious wrestling.

This match was the kind of car-crash TV that doesn’t always work, but in this case, it really did. All three of these men were constantly colliding in all kinds of ways throughout this match. The action was big move after big move in the best possible way and some classic spots where the men kept stealing each other’s finishers. It doesn’t really tell any kind of grand story, it’s just a pure blast of violence and mayhem from start to finish and stands today and one of the best triple threat matches WWE have ever produced.

7 – vs Batista – Wrestlemania 23
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Alongside his match with CM Punk, this is another one that often gets forgotten when people run down the best Streak matches and I think that’s a massive disservice to the unique style of match these two guys put forward on the night of Wrestlemania 23.

The story of this match is very simple, one big man has a title, one big man wants the title, this leads to the two big men trying to absolutely annihilate each other for fifteen minutes straight and it’s an absolute blast. Seriously, these two guys don’t let up on each other at any point during this match, there’s nothing slow or plodding about it in the slightest. The whole match feels like such an intense fight with big move after big move and some brutal-looking spots through tables and the like.

It also clocks in noticeably shorter than almost all of the other matches on this list, which only helped had to that feeling of intensity. “The Streak” had just about become a thing by this point in time so Batista trying to put The Undertaker down hard and fast was the only possible way he stood a chance of winning, The Undertaker responded in kind and those simple story point carried this whole match to something really entertaining and surprisingly unique for the era in which it took place.

6 – vs Mankind – King of the Ring 1998
(Hell in a Cell)

As much as the focus for this match goes mostly onto Mick Foley (and deservingly so I might add), The Undertaker’s contributions to this match can’t be understated.

We’ve all heard the story of this match a thousand times over so I’ll spare you the details, but despite the match being relatively devoid of any “traditional” wrestling action, it’s guaranteed to keep you involved for its runtime because of the sheer shock and awe of what happens during it. The tension during the moments where they’re on the top of the cell is incredible and no matter how many times you see either of the falls, it never fails to surprise me.

From the points following both of the falls, things continue to go absolutely mental with various people getting involved to tide over the time where no-one was quite sure whether or not Mick Foley had just died and some gruesome looking spots involving thumbtacks just before the finish. Ultimately, all that matters about this match is the absolutely iconic moments it created and almost single-handedly lifted the Hell in a Cell match to legendary status.

5 – vs Shawn Michaels – Badd Blood 1997
(Hell in a Cell)

Oh hello Shawn Michaels, I wonder if we’ll be seeing you again on this list…

I’ve already covered a couple of Hell in a Cell matches on this list, so it only makes sense to go all the way back to the first. Being the first match of it’s kind, this was going to have to leave an impression on the audience and it achieved that in more ways than one through both it’s storytelling and it’s action. During this period of his career, Undertaker was working a much slower, methodical style which worked entirely to this match’s benefit as it meant anytime Michaels got offence in, the crowd started to go nuts for it.

The cell was also used to great effect, for one thing, the atmosphere of the whole thing is so incredibly intimidating and it only gets better when we see some of the archetypal spots that we’ve seen in almost every HIAC since. The whole thing also had quite a claustrophobic feeling to it, something the modern cell has lost with its increase in size but I really enjoyed the cramped feeling of the whole thing, even if Shawn Michaels didn’t appreciate being so close to the cameramen.

It also had one of the truly iconic endings in WWE history as Kane made his debut, tearing the door off of the cell and tombstoning The Undertaker, allowing Michaels to sneak away with the win. The whole set up of that final segment was a wonderful piece of storytelling and made sure that it didn’t feel like a cheap get-out to having Undertaker take the pin. Not only was it a brilliant match in its own right, but it established a new stipulation match as a staple that we still see on a yearly basis today.

4 – vs Edge – Wrestlemania 24

This match is probably the closest one of these matches to the expected modern WWE main-event style, but it’s easily one of the best iterations on that formula I’ve ever seen.

There wasn’t a great deal of complications going into this one. The Undertaker and Edge were yet to collide in a major way during their careers so this felt like a huge clash between two genuine legends of the business. When it comes to what we think of today as the formula for “epic” Streak matches, this had just about all the ingredients and more. Both guys would kick out of a bunch of finishers with a whole bunch of really fun back-and-forth wrestling between the two men.

There were some fun story elements in there too, namely Ryder & Hawkins running down during a referee bump to create some more chaos and really milk the crap out of every near-fall. Then we had the immortal gif of Charles Robinson sprinting his way down the extremely long ramp to count a pinfall that never stops being funny to watch.

As it stands, there isn’t really much more to this match, it’s just some really great action between two really great wrestlers in a spot that both of them absolutely made the most of, with The Undertaker vs Edge feud continuing on for the better part of a year following this and becoming one of the most memorable storylines in Smackdown history. Which is nice.

3 – vs Shawn Michaels – Wrestlemania 25

I know, I know, it’s only third, but hear me out.

In terms of in-ring action, this match is easily head and shoulders above the rest. I could sit here and run down all of the posts but that would honestly do a disservice to how incredibly well built this entire match was, telling its own little story (even though there wasn’t much going into it) and creating one of the most edge-of-your-seat exciting matches I’ve ever watched.

The chemistry between these two competitors is just outstanding. As we saw earlier in this list, these two had been around in WWE for a very long time by this point and every inch of their experience was poured into this match. Even though I knew the outcome when I watched this match for the first time, I still found myself buying into every near fall and each kick out created some wonderful moments following it.

As I’ve said, when it comes to in-ring action alone, this might be the highest quality non-NXT match I’ve ever seen in a WWE ring, but these next two matches have a little something over it that this one doesn’t quite have enough of.

2 – vs Triple H – Wrestlemania 28
(Hell in a Cell)

Story. That’s what makes this match so incredible, the sheer force and strength of its story.

The build to this match alone was enough to get anyone hyped up to see this fight. After Taker & HHH beat each other within an inch of their respective lives the year previous, The Undertaker was desperate for a rematch to prove his victory wasn’t a fluke, but Triple H was too busy being the COO of the company to have any part of it. Invoking Shawn Michaels’ from the previous years was a fantastic move and bringing him in for this match as the special guest referee was a stroke of genius. It tied together the past 3 years of The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania matches into one climactic story of Shawn Michaels and Triple H just trying so desperately to defeat The Undertaker just so they can say they’ve done it.

From a purely wrestling-based standpoint, this match wasn’t quite on the level of many others on this list, but what’s really important is the story surrounding it all, a story that was so masterfully told in the ring as well as in the build-up that it elevated a pretty good match into a transcendent one. I still remember very vividly my feelings in that moment where Michaels super kicked The Undertaker into a Pedigree from Triple H and even though, going into the match I KNEW for a 100% fact that Undertaker was going to win, I still bought into that near-fall and it remains to this day my favourite kickout I’ve ever witnessed.

Even once the match was over, the raw emotion of everyone involved was so incredibly powerful and that image of the three men standing in each other’s arms at the top of the ramp as the “20-0” graphic was behind them is just so amazing that even various awful Saudi Arabia matches can’t cheapen its emotional impact.

1 – vs Shawn Michaels – Wrestlemania 26

Maina 25 had the incredible action, Mania 28 had the incredible story, this match has both.

You take the excellent wrestling contest from the year prior to this one, you mix it up and make it feel fresh and new, then you throw in the added drama of Shawn Michaels’ career – a career that’s spanned almost 2 decades – potentially coming to an end and you’ve got a recipe for what I would argue is the single greatest match in Wrestlemania history.

This match worked in so much from the previous year while still bringing in new spots and new action to weave into the contest. It had such a weight to it as both men were able to predict the other’s movements almost perfectly, seemingly calling back to their previous encounter purely out of spite and emotion. The Undertaker was protecting his undefeated legacy, while Shawn Michales was fighting to keep his living.

As the fight wears on, you can almost feel these two titans of the industry coming to respect one another, as they give each other their absolute best to prove that they deserve to be the winner at the end of it all. This all brings us to yet another incredible moment, where The Undertaker had Michaels dead to rights, but he just won’t stay down. You can see that there’s almost a level of pity on The Undertaker’s face as he stands over Michaels…until Michaels slaps The Undertaker across the face in defiance, telling him that if he’s going to end his career, he better do it properly.

It’s one of those truly rare gems in wrestling where absolutely everything comes together. The story, the action, the finish, the aftermath, it was genuinely perfect and still stands today as The Undertaker’s greatest ever match.

That’s all folks! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this article, please let me know what some of your favourite Undertaker matches are, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time next week, where I’ll be running down every episode of Doctor Who Series 6!

10 Biggest Title Changes In Summerslam History

While no show WWE produces will ever reach the of spectacle or importance of Wrestlemania, the one show that comes the closest is Summerslam. It’s position at the opposite end of the year from the grandaddy of them all means it’s a good mid-way point for the wrestling calendar, generally Summerslam is when we get an idea of what the stories are going to be for the rest of the year and there are even cases where WWE start to lay the ground work for Wrestlemania season.

A huge part of those storylines are the championships. It’s what everyone in the company is supposed to be fighting for after all and whoever is holding a title can be a big influence on what path the storylines go down. As such a big show like Summerslam is a great place to do some big title changes that can act as shifts in attitude for what the company will be doing in the months to come. Whether it’s the ending of a long-lasting storyline or the start of a new one, Summerslam has been home to some of the biggest and most fondly remembered title changes in WWE history, so I thought it would be nice if we looked over some of the biggest.

10 – Charlotte Flair def. Carmella(c) & Becky Lynch
(Smackdown Women’s Championship) – 2018

This title change isn’t big because of who won the title, who lost the title or even the story going into it, it’s what it started that makes this title change so important.

Support for Becky Lynch was big going into Summerslam 2018, people were sick of Carmella’s boring reign as Smackdown Women’s Champion and Becky had been underappreciated and underused ever since she lost the title at the tail end of 2016; so when a singles match between Carmella and Becky was booked for Summerslam people were excited. It seemed like it would finally be Becky’s time to shine…enter Charlotte Flair.

Charlotte had been away for a few months due to needing minor surgery and upon her return she was immediately inserted into the title match at Summerslam, making it a Triple Threat, people were not happy about this, to say the least. While Charlotte was a face at the time, people were getting increasingly tired of her dominance at the top of the women’s division (this being just off the back of her ending Asuka’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania 34) and her insertion in this match that was supposed to be Becky’s coronation seemed like a slap in the face.

So imagine everyone’s displeasure when Charlotte won the title. No-one was happy about this, least of all Becky Lynch because after the match the two locked eyes only for Becky to unleash a vicious attack on Charlotte. This was intended by WWE to be a heel turn on Becky Lynch’s part (no matter what Road Dogg says on Twitter) but it ended up having the exact opposite effect as the crowd in the Barclay’s Center exploded with cheers and Becky unleashed on Flair. This is what ultimately led to Becky becoming “The Man” in WWE becoming the most popular wrestler in the whole company.

Ironically, as much as we all hated this title change at the time, without it we may never have gotten the perfect storm that was required for the first-ever women’s Wrestlemania main event this year, which ended in Becky’s true coronation as The Man.

9 – Stone Cold Steve Austin def. Owen Hart(c)
(Intercontinental Championship) – 1997

The Stone Cold character wasn’t quite in full swing yet, but when you talk about moments in Austin’s early WWF career, it’s hard to ignore this moment for both good and bad reasons.

Come 1997, Austin’s 3:16 persona was in full swing and although he hadn’t reached the height of his popularity yet, it’s clear he was only months away from permanent main eventer status. However, this was during a time in the WWF where in order to get to the main event, more often than not you would have to go through the Intercontinental Championship.

When Austin won the belt, it was officially his first singles championship in the WWF and was a clear omen of things to come for the superstar, although not quite as soon as we’d all hoped. As has been well documented by this point, a sit-out piledriver from Owen Hart to Austin in the match caused a severe neck injury that required Austin to undergo surgery and although Austin would return by that October, it would ultimately see him end his career so much earlier than we’d all have hoped in 2003.

That said, this title change was still a fantastic moment for Austin’s career and the injury meant that he was hotter than ever when he returned that autumn to take the title from Hart a second time.

8 – Ronda Rousey def. Alexa Bliss(c)
(Raw Women’s Championship) -2018

We’ve already talked about one half of the Wrestlemania 35 main event, now let’s talk about the other.

There are plenty of mixed opinions out there on how good of a wrestler Ronda Rousey is (I personally think she’s great), so naturally there was plenty of mixed opinion going around when Rousey won the Raw Women’s Championship from Bliss in extremely dominant fashion, just 8 months after debuting in WWE.

Love it or hate it, it’s impossible to deny that Rousey’s mainstream appeal and raw star power elevated the title to a level that it hadn’t been seen at in quite some time and given that Ronda would actually defend the title on a monthly basis, it gave us some great matches against the likes of Nia Jax and Sasha Banks along the way. Of course, it would be remiss of me to go without mentioning the part Ronda had to play in the Wrestlemania 35 main event this past year.

While Becky Lynch’s newfound persona was what got the fans so invested in the hype surrounding the match that would become the main event of Wrestlemania 35, I’d argue the match never would’ve been given that spot if it wasn’t for the star power and marketability of Ronda Rousey. Becky was what got the fans involved, but Ronda Rousey is what got the sponsors, the press and the mainstream public involved in that match becoming the monumental milestone for women’s wrestling that it was, and that makes this title change a massive one.

7 – Randy Orton def. Chris Benoit(c)
(World Heavyweight Championship) – 2004

You can’t argue with the making of a future HOFer.

Now, I’m well aware that this decision was only made in-part so Brock Lesnar would no longer be “the youngest world champion ever” after he left the WWE earlier that year, but it’s undeniable that this title win confirmed the fact that Orton would be a mainstay of the main event scene in WWE in the years to come. Benoit’s title reign was pretty disappointing as a whole, as it’s clear since the only things notable about it, is who he won it from and who he lost it to, but being tied in with Evolution the whole way did at least make this title win make a decent amount of storyline sense.

The thing that doesn’t make this title reign nearly as big as it could’ve been is what happened in the month after it. The next night on Raw, Evolution turned on Orton and Triple H demanded Orton hand the title over. This created a fantastically done face turn where Orton spat in Triple H’s face and laid him out. Orton quickly became the biggest babyface in the company (because anyone who faced Triple H in the early 2000s was the biggest Babyface in the company) however as many of these stories from this time period would end, Triple H beat Orton the next month at Unforgiven clean as a whistle and that was that.

As much as Orton would quickly have the rug swept from under him, this title win was a clear indication that the company had faith in him to carry a world title, and he would go on to carry many more before the present day.

6 – Brock Lesnar def. John Cena(c)
(WWE World Heavyweight Championship) – 2014

Brock Lesnar’s WWE return had been pretty lacklustre before 2014 rolled around. He lost to John Cena, lost to Triple H and beat CM Punk in matches that were all very good, but were completely inconsequential. Then 2014 happened.

Brock Lesnar would be responsible for the most shocking moment in WWE history at Wrestlemania 30 when he ended the undefeated streak of The Undertaker, this turned Lesnar into the most unstoppable force in all of WWE and he was going to eviscerate the next person he came up against. Conversely, the WWE title scene in the summer of 2014 was a little bit of a mess, Daniel Bryan was forced to vacate the title after facing a neck injury so the title was quickly placed back around Cena’s waist until they could work out what to do.

When it was announced Lesnar was going to be fighting Cena, there was alot of trepidation about how things were going to go down. Many thought Cena would do what Cena does and win even when he really shouldn’t and others thought Lesnar’s win over The Undertaker guaranteed a win here, but I think it’s safe to say no-one was expecting what actually happened.

In completely shocking fashion, Lesnar absolutely destroyed Cena. In this 15 minute match, Cena only got in about a single minute of offence and the rest was Lesnar throwing Cena all around the ring. By the time Lesnar pinned Cena to win the title it was clear we were going to see a title reign like never before, which is exactly what we got…over and over again for the next 5 years with various titles Lesnar would hold. So yes, this title reign may have lead us to years of Lesnar being an absentee champion for months at a time, but you can’t say that this moment in 2014 wasn’t a huge deal.

5 – The Ultimate Warrior def. The Honky Tonk Man(c)
(Intercontinental Championship) – 1988

Ok, so there’s not much to this one, but you can’t deny that it’s a moment that has endured stronger than most others over the years.

Although he was by no means the first, Honky Tonk Man is arguably the man who made the idea of a modern heel champion so popular, to the point where on the current WWE roster, there’s almost always at least one champion that follows this archetype. Getting counted out, disqualified and cheating to his hearts content, there’s nothing that The Honky Tonk Man wouldn’t do to ensure he held onto the Intercontinental Championship as long as he possibly could and for 454 days, it worked and when a champion uses heel tactics to hold onto a title for that long, when they eventually lose it, it’s huge.

Summerslam 1988 was the night in question for that huge moment to happen. After Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake – who was originally set to challenge for the title – was laid out and unable to compete, everyone was in the dark as to who The Honky Tonk Man would defend his title against that night. Until to everyone’s delight, The Ultimate Warrior came sprinting down to the ring and 30 seconds later he was the new Intercontinental Champion.

Warrior’s title reign didn’t end up being all that notable in the long run, but that didn’t matter, as the manner in which he won it would go down in the highlight reels for decades.

4 – Daniel Bryan def. John Cena(c) &
Randy Orton def. Daniel Bryan(c)
(WWE Championship) – 2013

We got ourselves a twofer because Summerslam 2013 was the night that set up one of the biggest moments of the decade.

John Cena vs Daniel Bryan was an excellent match and one in which the fanbase at large was completely and totally behind Daniel Bryan and no-one was really sure if WWE would actually let a guy like Bryan beat a guy like Cena. To our amazement, after a great match, Bryan pinned Cena clean as a whistle with the Knee Plus to win his very first WWE Championship and it was a brilliant moment. The biggest indie darling ever had finally reached the pinnacle of WWE and it seemed clear that times were changing in the WWE landscape. It wasn’t to last though.

As the confetti fell, the music of Mr Money in the Bank Randy Orton hit and the two men stared each other down. Orton then looked to back away, until special guest referee Triple H hit Bryan with the pedigree, allowing Orton to become WWE Champion. This set off the Daniel Bryan vs The Authority storyline that would be the A story for most of the way from that show until Wrestlemania 30 the next year.

If it wasn’t for these title changes here (and a little bit of pushing from the fans) it’s entirely possible that the wonderful moment of Wrestlemania 30 ending with Daniel Bryan holding both the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships aloft might never have happened.

3 – Brock Lesnar def. The Rock(c)
(WWE Undisputed Championship) – 2002

Say what you like about his push nowadays, but no-one before or since has seen a meteoric rise like that of Brock Lesnar in 2002.

The moment he showed up on WWE TV it was clear that Lesnar was ear marked to be the next major star for the company, quite literally being labelled as “The Next Big Thing” as an onscreen nickname. Debuting in March of 2002, it took a mere 5 months for Lesnar to be defeating The Rock for the WWE Championship. Lesnar made very short work of opponents like The Hardys and RVD and when he won King of the Ring, a title victory seemed inevitable.

Although Lesnar would sour WWE’s investment in him a couple of years later when he left the company, Lesnar left a lasting impression on the WWE and by the time he returned to the company in 2012 his star power had grown tenfold, as seen by the fact that since 2014 he’s almost always been holding championship gold. Lesnar probably would’ve reached this level of star power anyway, but WWE certainly did him all the favours in the world by building so quickly to this moment.

2 – CM Punk def. John Cena
(WWE Championship) – 2011

When CM Punk won the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank 2011, it was a huge moment. Not only was this the first time an “indie darling” had won the WWE Championship, but the storyline in play meant that Punk was now leaving the WWE for an extended period of time. Of course, that ended up not being the case, since 8 whole days later Cena had won the new WWE Championship and Punk reappeared to face off with him.

Eventually, a match was put in place for Summerslam to crown an undisputed WWE Champion, since both men claimed their title was the legitimate one. The matched carried on the threads from their match the previous month to create a pretty great match and ultimately Punk’s win here solidified him as more than just a flash in the pan champion. It would take a little longer for him to have his 434-day title reign thanks to a sudden Kevin Nash and Alberto Del Rio appearance after this match, but this certainly put everything in place.

1 – The British Bulldog def. Bret Hart(c)
(Intercontinental Championship) – 1992

I mean come on, what else could it be?

We’ve all seen the clip a hundred times by now because it really was that huge a moment. Wembley Stadium, London, England in 1992, the first (and to date, only) time a big 4 WWE PPV has been held in the UK, so what other match could you possible have outside of British Bulldog and Bret Hart, two of the best wrestlers of the time going at it for the Intercontinental Championship.

Obviously, I don’t have the same kind of emotional connection as many people as my birth was still 7 years away when this match took place (sorry if that made you feel old), but all you have to do is listen to the reaction of the crowd when Bulldog pinned Hart to see just how magical a moment it was for everyone in attendance at the time. It would ultimately be a short title reign for the Bulldog, but it didn’t matter in the end because, in a single moment, he had secured his legacy forever.

And that’s this list! Thank you very much for taking the time to read, let me know what you think of it in either the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Make sure to come back here next week as the Summerslam festivities continue with my predictions for next Sunday’s show!|