WWE Match of the Year 2020

Much like every company (and every person) in 2020, it’s been one hell of a year for WWE, with a lot of ups and downs. However, it led to many things we’ve never seen before, some stuff we never thought we’d see in a WWE ring and a lot of bloody good wrestling. So, as we sail off into a new year which surely HAS to be better than this one, let’s take a look back at some of the best matches WWE gave us in 2020.

10 – Men’s Royal Rumble – Royal Rumble

Putting a Royal Rumble on the match of the year list almost feels like cheating, because even a lousy rumble is at least a little bit good. However, I think this one did enough unique things that it deserves to be spoken about.

Rumbles often have a bit of a through-line story to them, especially when there’s a story surrounding who enters first, however, normally in that instance it’s about that wrestler being an underdog. So here, we finally got a chance to see what it would be like if that formula got turned on its head. Brock dominating the first half of the match was brilliant, I know some people say it went on for too long, but I entirely disagree, it was perfect. Not only was it something new, but it gave us so many great little moments between Brock & various competitors, and the little moments are what make a lot of the best rumbles so good.

On top of all that, it led to what was possibly the largest crowd reaction of the year (not exactly a high bar, but whatever) when Drew eliminated Brock from the match. From there we got loads of really fun Rumble antics that hit all the beats you want from a match like that. We got a bunch of fun action as the ring filled up, until what was ACTUALLY the biggest crowd reaction of the year when EDGE returned to wrestle for the first time in 9 years. Then, as the match drew (heh) to a close, we got another brilliant final four-segment between Orton, Edge, Roman & Drew that gave me a result I wasn’t expecting but was very happy about.

The past few years have been absolutely brilliant for rumble matches, and it makes me all the more excited for 2021’s version of the match, whatever form it takes.

9 – WALTER(c) vs Ilja Dragunov – NXT UK 29th October
(United Kingdom Championship)

Live crowds weren’t the only thing we missed out on this year, thanks to the UK’s restrictions, NXT UK was off the air for a large chunk of the year. However, once it came back, they did as much as they possibly could to make up for all the time they missed.

Truth be told, there isn’t really anything complicated about why this match is so good. It’s not a technical masterpiece or an epic story, it’s just two men beating the absolute stuffing out of each other for twenty minutes, and it blew me away. WALTER wrestled a ferocious style at the best of time, it’s what made his matches against Dunne and Bate so incredible to watch, but when he’s up against a guy like Dragunov who, despite his smaller size, can hit back just as hard, it’s compelling in the weirdest way possible. Almost like a car crash, in that, you just can’t quite bring yourself to look away.

Despite the brutal style, they still did a great job making Dragunov someone I wanted to cheer. I don’t watch NXT UK’s weekly show very often, so I wasn’t very well informed of the story going into this match, but I got all I needed to from watching the match itself. He was able to mix his strong strikes with that kind of plucky underdog style of creating openings and pulling out ‘hope’ spots; a factor that is greatly aided by the fact that WALTER is bloody massive. There’s a reason you have to write his name in all-caps, after all.

This match was a brilliant showcase of the best of what the division has to offer, which was desperately needed after the show had been off our screens for many months.

8 – Bayley(c) vs Sasha Banks – Hell in a Cell
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)
(Hell in a Cell)

Bayley and Sasha are just really good at wrestling each other.

Their NXT matches are, in my opinion, the two very best women’s matches the world has ever seen (and in the conversation for best overall) and they haven’t missed a beat since those encounters, even with the heel/face roles reversed. In fact, I’d argue the reversal of the roles was to this match’s benefit, as it created a very different feeling match. Sasha can draw love from any crowd by simply selling like she’s being murdered with every move she takes. At the same time, Bayley spent 2020 producing the best heel-work seen in the company all year, to the point where the super-babyface NXT Bayley genuinely feels like a completely different person.

Hell in a Cell matches are usually not for me, they’re the very height of slow builds to high spots we’ve seen plenty of times before, but in this match, the competitors didn’t let the weapons detract from the action. Other cell matches would grind the match’s pace to a halt so the wrestlers could set up a spot, only to immediately go through the motions to do the next one, in this match, the weapon spots were primarily set up during the auction. There were a few points where things had to slow down, but they were few and far between, and the match’s wrestling action spoke for it more than the weapon spots.

That said, what weapons spots there were had a significant impact. The thread of Bayley using the chair that came back towards the end was classic storytelling done to near-perfection, and it helped the match build to its climax. Sasha winning wasn’t was I was expecting going in, but with hindsight, it was definitely the right conclusion. I’ve become so used to WWE dragging out stories for way longer than they needed to, that I forgot how great it feels when the big win happens when it feels like it’s supposed to. It rounded off a great match which a wonderful emotional moment that left me with very positive feelings.

7 – The Undertaker vs AJ Styles – Wrestlemania 36
(Boneyard Match)

I was really worried this was going to be crap. The few times in the past WWE had tried cinematic matches, they’d been awful, or cheap imitations of what other companies had already done. However, when the world felt like it was ending, WWE pulled out all the stops and created some genuinely amazing pre-taped stuff this year. The Money in the Bank match isn’t on this list, but it was a little bit out there, and genuinely hilarious with the bits they filled it with, and it showed that when WWE employees are allowed to be creative, they can create some magic. Speaking of…the boneyard match.

It reminded me of some of the more epic fight scenes from movies, but with a difference. The thing is, in a movie, a fight scene is just one part of the overall story, there’s usually so much more going on around it that the scene is either short or constantly cut away to see what the other characters are going. However, in a wrestling match, the fight IS the story, so we got 24 minutes of two men fighting like their lives depended on it.

The build was a little bit goofy, but in the match itself, both men leaned all the way into it, and it made it work. AJ became the most hatable human in the world and Undertaker had the badass vibes we haven’t seen from him in a while. With the hindsight of knowing this is Undertaker’s last match, it gains a whole other layer too. The way he fights like an old gunslinger on his way out of the door, the way he acts so visibly tired in some points, and even the way he talks to Styles as he puts him in the ground. It’s not the send-off I expected, or even wanted for Taker, but it really works.

It was the kind of match that I was genuinely on the edge of my seat during it because it was something I’d never seen before. Every new twist popped me in some way, and at the end of the day, it left me with a massive grin on my face, and I can’t ask for more.

6 – Roman Reigns(c) vs Jey Uso – Hell in a Cell
(Universal Championship)
(Hell in a Cell)
(I Quit)

There’s been a lot going on with Roman Reigns this year. After it looked like we were in for another run with face Roman at the top following Wrestlemania, the unfortunate circumstances forced him to take time off from WWE and miss out on that opportunity. We all knew he’d come back at some point, and I was looking forward to seeing him around again, but little did I know just how great it would be. After years of asking for it, we’ve finally got to see what Roman Reigns can do as a heel, and it’s absolutely fantastic. He has this aura of indestructibility around him that makes him the kind of figure you always want to pay attention to when he’s on-screen.

A considerable part of building this aura was his story with Jey Uso, where he showed himself to be genuinely ruthless in a way we haven’t seen from anyone in WWE for a very long time. Jey Uso is the kind of guy that I don’t think anyone ever saw as a single star, that’s not to say he didn’t have the potential to do well. It’s just his identity (and looks) as a wrestler are tied so heavily to his brother, it seemed impossible for them to do anything outside of the tag team division. This was precisely the right story to prove that belief wrong, though.

This match at Hell in a Cell is the best part of this story. The Cell is largely irrelevant, and to be entirely honest, so is most of the actual wrestling action. What matters here is that the story that was told was one of the most compelling WWE have told in years. Every element simply worked. Roman wanting to assert his dominance as the leader of the family, Jey desperate to prove himself, Jimmy wanting to make sure his brother didn’t get hurt and Heyman standing by to put the exclamation point on everything, along with being the personification of Roman’s betrayal of his old ideals.

The way Roman would put Jey down with such ease, only to watch Jey struggle to his feet. He would gain the advantage here and there, but it never lasted long. It was clear that Roman was the far superior wrestler, but Jey just wouldn’t say die, which ended up being his undoing. We got to see just how much of a bastard Roman has become, not just in the way he brutalized Jey, but in the way he pretended to break down crying, only to emotionally manipulate his cousins into letting their guard down.

It struck the right balance of drama so that it didn’t feel over the top, it just felt real, and I felt the emotional weight of every moment of it. It didn’t just establish Roman as an absolutely horrible person, but it elevated Jey’s standing to the point where he’s now seen as a credible singles competitor. Everybody wins.

5 – Drew McIntyre(c) vs Seth Rollins – Money in the Bank
(WWE Championship)

There really isn’t any complexity to this one, it’s just a bloody great wrestling match.

Drew McIntyre’s ascension in 2020 has been one of the more positive stories of this dark year. I’ve already talked about his Royal Rumble win, but once he actually had the title over his shoulder, the pressure was on to deliver. We all knew he had it in him, it was just a matter of whether or not it would be able to shine in his feuds. Thankfully, WWE knows what they’re doing sometimes and knew that Seth Rollins was the perfect person for Drew’s first major feud as champion.

This match let us see all sides of what Drew could (and would) give us as WWE Champion. He was able to look beatable, without looking weak, he was able to look tough without seeming too dominant, and most importantly, he could wrestle like hell and hang with the best. Both competitors came together perfectly to create a match that was an absolute joy to watch. When Rollins lets loose, there are honestly few better in WWE and McIntyre rose to his level particularly on that night.

Rollins adapted his fast & flashy high-flying offence into something slightly slower and hard-hitting. Instead of bouncing all over the place with some fast-paced flying knees, he slowed them down and made them more impactful when he smashed Drew in the face with them. It worked to Drew’s more brutal style and created the sense of a real fight that kept me engaged in the action from start to finish.

4 – Rhea Ripley(c) vs Charlotte Flair – Wrestlemania 36
(NXT Women’s Championship)

While Ripley’s star has faded slightly from what it was at the beginning of the year, the fact that she was able to have the best singles wrestling match of Wrestlemania against one of the best women’s wrestlers in the history of the sport is something that will forever keep her a star in the eyes of everyone inside and out of WWE.

This was the match I was the most hyped for going into Wrestlemania, and it didn’t disappoint. As the opening match for night 2, it set the tone perfectly for the rest of the show. It’s easy to roll your eyes at Charlotte these days after she was pushed so hard for so long, but we can’t forget that when it comes to pure wrestling ability, she’s in the discussion for best women’s wrestler of all time. Charlotte pulled out all the stops in this match, and Rhea matched her beat-for-beat. This match felt so explicitly crafted to make both women feel perfectly matched for one another, and Rhea came out of it looking like a star, even in defeat.

The action was so fluid and satisfying at all moments, with Rhea slipping into the role of the hungry underdog, while Charlotte looked down her nose at Rhea as the veteran. Charlotte underestimated Rhea in the opening segments but quickly learnt what she was capable of, which was all the story that was needed to turn this into one of the best matches of the year.

3 – Keith Lee(c) vs Dominick Dijakovic – NXT Takeover: Portland
(North American Championship)

While NXT is still an excellent wrestling product these days, it definitely feels like the golden era is over now. For the past couple of years, NXT has dominated my ‘match of the year’ lists, but as you’ve seen, it’s been pretty barren this year so far. I think it has suffered greatly from the lack of live crowds – perhaps more so than any other major promotion – so I guess it makes sense that one of their better matches would come before we were all locked down.

Keith Lee is a rocket waiting to take off. From his performance at Survivor Series 2019 all the way through 2020, you can feel the stardom that awaits him when he’s finally allowed to run free, and this remains one of his finest works. Interestingly, it took me a hell of a long time to get on board with Dominick Dijakovic (now Retribution’s T-Bar). For the longest time, I just didn’t understand what was so special about him, he was just another big guy, right? Wrong, very, VERY wrong.

Turns out, he’s a big guy moves like a cruiserweight and can put on fast-paced, exciting and bombastic matches with a wide range of opponents. Lee & Dijakovic clicked like you wouldn’t believe in this match, they were absolutely perfect for each other. Rather than focusing entirely on power, the early stages of this match focused more on the two competitors out-manoeuvring each other to get the upper hand, only busting out their feats of strength when they had the upper hand. Then, once the opening was out of the way, they slammed their feet down on the accelerator and started to destroy each other for our entertainment.

This match stunned me in how amazingly fast it was, yet it still managed to convey the two men’s power and brutality. All of the biggest moments came and went in a flash, and yet they left such an impression on me that I can still picture some of the spots almost a full year later. Lee seems like he’s going to reach the spot her deserves at some point over the next few years, and I hope Dijakovic does the same because he deserves so much more than what he’s currently getting.

2 – The Fiend Bray Wyatt vs John Cena – Wrestlemania 36
(Firefly Funhouse Match)

The only reason this isn’t number 1 because it wasn’t technically a match. Truthfully though, I believe it to be one of the best things WWE has ever aired.

When The Fiend lost to Goldberg, there was a lot of worry about how the character would be treated going forwards. This was the hottest property in the company all year, and it seemed like it was going to be squandered. Then, the character set his sights on righting the wrongs of the past, not just of himself, but of the company. Focussing on Wrestlemania 30 for this feud, and how Cena definitely shouldn’t have won was a brilliant way to frame the animosity between these two that hasn’t been done to this great effect before. Cena leaned all the way into it as well and came across like quite an embittered man about the whole thing, something Wyatt preyed upon.

I don’t even know how to go about breaking down how brilliant this whole thing was. It was a complete and total character assassination of, not only John Cena but the whole WWE system of hand-picked stars to carry the company. It’s a miracle that it was ever even allowed to air on a WWE product given that included lines such as puppet Vince McMahon saying “it’s such good shit”, a line used by Jon Moxley to mock Vince after he left the company. It broke down every aspect of John Cena’s career and highlighted how much of a farce it was, and how deeply flawed it was. While it didn’t directly address many of the topics at hand, it doesn’t take much backstage knowledge of WWE to understand the implications of stuff like nWo Cena, tearing down not only Cena but also Hogan’s history of keeping people down for no good reason.

The Firefly Funhouse match didn’t just blur the lines between fiction and reality, it straight-up shattered that line and used every broken piece of the line to create the finished product. It’s the kind of thing that I never thought I’d see on a WWE product and may never get the chance to see it again and I utterly adored it.

1 – Charlotte Flair(c) vs Rhea Ripley vs Io Shirai – NXT Takeover: In Your House
(NXT Women’s Championship)

While, in all honesty, the Firefly Funhouse match was probably my favourite thing to happen this year, this is a list about proper wrestling matches, and on that front, nothing this year came close to this match.

I don’t think NXT made the most of having Charlotte Flair as their champion. It’s not entirely their fault, as they were somewhat handcuffed by the fact that Raw still wanted to use Charlotte on a weekly basis without even referencing the fact that she was NXT Champion. Either way, there was definitely a feeling of wasted potential when it came to an end. That said, they sure as hell did their best to get as many amazing performances out of it as possible. I’ve already covered her Mania match with Ripley, but on top of that, we saw a great match against Io Shirai on NXT and this match, which is one of the best triple threat matches I’ve ever seen.

Shirai was definitely coming into this match with momentum, but I really didn’t think she stood a chance of winning the title. I’m glad that I was wrong about this, but I honestly thought NXT had missed the boat with her thanks to her rise coming right in the middle of Shayna Baszler’s run of dominance. The match’s story was definitely with Rhea & Charlotte following their Wrestlemania encounter, but Io Shirai burst into the feud and made sure her voice could not be ignored.

This patch was paced to near perfection, and never let up. It used the triple threat factor to its advantage and never let there be a moment where nothing was happening. Rhea felt like a vicious underdog who was looking to recover from her Mania loss, Charlotte fought like a woman fuelled by her hatred of anyone that wasn’t her, and Io came in like a house on fire, tearing down any and every obstacle in her way.

It had everything I want from a headline NXT match: Drama, action, excitement and ending out on both a surprise and a high-note. I think it says something about how fantastic NXT is that even in a year where I consider NXT’s performance to be sub-par, it put on some of the best damn matches in the entire company, in 2020.

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.

Money in the Bank 2020: Every Match Ranked

Woah…ok. That sure was a night of wrestling.

It’s easy to forget given the…something…that was the main event, but there were actually proper wrestling matches on this show, and almost all of them were pretty good. The lower number of matches than usual did feel a bit weird, especially when some of them didn’t get to go very long, but much like the two-night Wrestlemania, I think it was actually a good idea. Things felt like they were paced a lot better because of it and my interest never wained in the show because it didn’t drag on for an hour longer than it needed to. Sure, I would’ve prefered it if more high-profile talent got a spot on this show, but I’m thankful that they didn’t stuff this show with guff.

So, let’s get on with the matches.

7 – Bobby Lashley def. R-Truth

Oh yeah, Bobby Lashley is a thing…how did I forget about him?

Not a whole lot to say with this one. Truth and MVP’s promo was kinda fun but not really all that intriguing, I guess it probably would’ve been a bit better if I knew anything about basketball, but that’s my problem. As for the bait-and-switch, I’m ok with it, since I don’t think MVP vs R-Truth would’ve been all that great.

Admittedly, this match wasn’t anything special either, but I certainly didn’t hate it. When you get matches like this that are just slightly extended squashes, you have to look at them through a different lens than you look at a regular match through. I think Truth’s antics of trying to escape kept this thing going through Lashley’s relatively uninteresting offence.

That said, it was still a standard squash match, so I can’t bring myself to put it any higher than this.

6 – Bayley(c) def. Tamina
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

I really wanted to be optimistic about this one, but it just didn’t work.

It had it’s moments, mostly involving Bayley heeling it up, but the match ended up being quite slow for the most part and wasn’t able to carry the 10 minutes it got. I wish I could be positive about Tamina here, but there really wasn’t anything to like from her here. Her wrestling style is that of your standard “big-guy” in wrestling only she seems to have even less mobility than many of her counterparts. She can do a good superkick though…so there’s that I guess? Bayley didn’t seem to be at her best here either. I enjoyed her taunting Tamina throughout, and that aspect of her character has remained consistent, but something about her in-ring stuff just felt a bit flat to me; not to mention one of the worst knee-bars I’ve ever seen.

As for the finish, it’s about what I expected. It would’ve been nice to see a bit more of something between Sasha and Bayley (if that’s where we’re headed…it bloody well should be). Although, I understand that subtlety isn’t exactly WWE’s strong suit and they’re probably looking to keep this building until Summerslam, so maybe it’s a bit early. If Tamina does carry on pursuing this title, I can only hope it’s in the form of a multi-woman match, because I really don’t fancy sitting through another singles match between these two.

5 – Jeff Hardy def. Cesaro
(Kickoff Show)

You know, given that they spent a month hyping up his return, I really would’ve thought they’d have put this match on the main show…

As it stands, I enjoyed this one. Admittedly there’s not really all that much to say about it, as it generally filled the role of being a slightly above average TV match than anything else. I don’t wonder with matches like this whether I would’ve enjoyed it more if there was a crowd to react to stuff, even if I feel I’ve gotten used to the lack of background noise by now. I don’t really know what else to say here, there was no story going into this match since Cesaro and Sheamus have now disassociated from each other.

It was an enjoyable match from two great wrestlers, and I’d love to see more of this from both of these guys going forward.

4 – Braun Strowman(c) def. Bray Wyatt
(Universal Championship)

The fact that the lack of a crowd means we can very clearly hear the wrestlers talking in the ring is something that I don’t think has been taken advantage of nearly as much as it could’ve been up until now. Bray Wyatt was the perfect character to play to this, and he did an excellent job. From his ramblings to commentary and the camera during his entrance, to his comments to Braun throughout the match, Wyatt was able to tell the story absolutely perfectly.

I wasn’t actually all that interested in the story going into this one, but thanks to the work done between the two of them in the ring, I came away more invested than I came in. The injection of the puppets was the only thing that didn’t quite land for me. I know they’re supposed to be Wyatt’s tools for indoctrinating people into the funhouse, but they’re so disconnected from what Wyatt and Strowman had in 2015/16, that they felt a bit out of place. Everything else was really well done though, from Bray’s pleading with Braun, to Braun’s tricking of Wyatt, making him believe that he had actually convinced him to come back. In a way, this even justified the decision to had Funhouse Bray wrestle the match rather than The Fiend.

When it comes to the action, it wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was entertaining enough and served the story like it was supposed to. This wasn’t much of a competitive match, which tends to be where Wyatt shines best, so there was only so much interest it could have. That said, his more reactionary role in the pacing made for a more compelling story.

3 – The New Day(c) def. Lucha House Party, The Forgotten Sons, The Miz & John Morrison
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)

Multi-team tag matches are always great.

This match followed the simple, yet effective, formula that most matches of this elk do. That being it started out pretty slow, with standard action between the two legal men, throwing in the occasional tag and double-team move. Then about 5 minutes in all hell breaks loose and the following 10 minutes of the match is a barrel of fun.

Lucha House Party ended up being the MVPs of this match if you ask me, one of them was almost always involved in the action, and they did a really good job of it too. This kind of chaotic and fast-paced match is perfect for their style, so everything they did felt very natural and compelling. Miz & Morrison were great too. It wasn’t quite as overt as it was in their previous matches, but they filled their role of picking their spots and only getting involved when they stood a chance of gaining the advantage to great effect.

The Forgotten Sons were, unfortunately, who I was most disappointed. They got a few notable spots in there, but nothing all that consequential. They’re one of those rare cases where I don’t think we saw their full potential in NXT and I was really hoping that we’d start to catch glimpses of it here. The New Day was great though, and I think the match was structured in such a way so that you really felt they deserved the win by the end. Kofi took a battering like he always does, and Big E ran through the whole thing with a head of steam in the way that only he can.

I’m not entirely sure where the feuds will go from here. My guess would be a regular two on two match between New Day and Miz & Morrison just to finally put the cap on that, but The Forgotten Sons may get that featured spot instead. Either way, I think we’re in for a good match at Backlash.

2 – Drew McIntyre(c) def. Seth Rollins
(WWE Championship)

Ok, when it comes to regular wrestling matches, this was far-and-away the best match on the show, but come on…

It seems Money in the Bank is just going to be the show where Seth Rollins had a brilliant singles match for a world title, his brilliant match with Styles was at last year’s show too. Given how dominant a champion Drew has been over the past month, there was a risk that making this too much of a competitive match might take away from some of that aura, but I think they did a great job of balancing it. Drew felt like he was in control for large swathes of the match and even in his more vulnerable moments, he never felt diminished because of it.

Rollins meanwhile has done an amazing job of making his fast-paced, high-flying offence – a style that typically only works for faces – into something quite methodical and heelish. The sequence where he did a bunch of flying knee strikes to Drew on the outside, in particular, felt very heavy and brutal, even though it’s usually a crowd-popping and exciting move.

Everything in this match worked to the benefit of both men. Rollins shows once again how he’s able to continually adapt and evolve his style for what his role is, and he genuinely looked like a credible threat to Drew’s championship. Meanwhile, Drew was able to look vulnerable without ever looking weak, and the handshake at the end solidified him as the top guy on Raw. Partly because it makes him look noble and honourable, but Rollins accepting it gives Drew a boost too, because Rollins’ whole point in this feud was his belief that Drew wouldn’t be able to handle leading Raw.

Combine all of that stuff with a sizable helping of exciting back-and-forth action, and you’ve got yourself a match of the year candidate right there.

1 – Otis and Asuka won the Money in the Bank Ladder Matches

Ok…ok. Let’s all take a breath…now let’s break this thing down.

First thing’s first, this whole thing was so incredibly dumb, but it was also absolutely brilliant. Let’s be honest here, the idea of a race through an office block to grab a prize on the roof is an absolutely ridiculous concept, so leaning all the way into that ridiculousness was the perfect way to play this match.

Things started off silly as Asuka did a dance on the balcony before leaping off of it onto all of the other women, meanwhile, the men fought in the gym, a sequence which featured Corbin being absolutely traumatised when he accidentally broke one of the mirrors. Then Asuka got into an elevator and seemingly danced the whole way up in it as the men ran past a bathroom, in which Brother Love was taking a piss for some reason.

Next up, then men fought into an elevator, which opened in the exact same place where the women had just started fighting. Some great spots included Asuka and Aleister Black doing shifty eyes like they’re in a Scooby-Doo cartoon before sneaking off. Meanwhile, Otis got carried away, cheering along with Daniel Bryan’s “Yes!” kicks and also…there was a clown…I don’t know why there was a clown, but the was a clown.

Moving on, the women fought their way into a conference room that, for some reason, had a fake Money in the Bank briefcase hanging from the ceiling. After all the other women were laid out, Dana Brooke, for some reason, thought that the briefcase above the conference room must be the real one, despite every advert for the past month saying it would be on the roof. At this point, Stephanie McMahon appeared in one of the worst editing jobs I’ve ever seen (it didn’t even slightly look like Stephanie was actually in the room with Dana) to tell Dana that the real briefcase was on the roof.

We then revisit AJ Styles, who’s hunting down Rey after Rey left him trapped under a set of weights in the gym and we get a rare bit of continuity in WWE as AJ becomes traumatised by a photo of The Undertaker. Which makes sense when you consider The Undertaker buried AJ alive last month…you would’ve thought that would’ve come up a bit sooner, but oh well.

Then we get to the stupidest, but also the best part of the match. As Paul Heyman was sat down at a table full of food, both the men and the women ran into the room and stared each other down. Otis then picked up a sandwich and started having a fit. Everyone else in the room put on their best melodramatic “oh shit” faces until Otis called for a food fight and chaos ensued. Some of the highlights of this segment include Rey Mysterio being choked out by Shayna Baszler, then literally squashed by Nia Jax and the music being absolutely perfect. That isn’t the end of the food stuff though, as Otis went into the kitchen and found a row of pies laid out. At which point, MOTHERFUCKIN’ JOHNNY ACE rolls in on a scooter and takes a pie to the face.

Dana then manages to slip on a wet floor (we never see her again in the match after this) and Nia throws Shayna into a wall, we’d never see Shayna again in this match either. The men have managed to fight their way into the main conference room, and after a small skirmish, Styles and Bryan stumble into an office that just so happens to have Vince McMahon writing on a clipboard. Styles and Bryan then look at each other like school children that have been caught messing around and leave the office with their tails between their legs. After that, another skirmish happens where Corbin comes out on top and declares “I’m going to the roof!” to absolutely no-one.

We finally get to the roof, and this is where things get a bit more tense and series. The women get to the roof first, and there aren’t any major ladder spots on the roof, just vague fighting and attempting to prevent each other from climbing the ladder. After Asuka and Lacey fought on the ladder for a weirdly long time, Asuka was climbing to the top. Corbin appeared and tried to stop her from grabbing the briefcase for some reason. Seriously, WHY did Corbin give a shit about Asuka winning the women’s briefcase? The men’s briefcase was RIGHT THERE, if he had just left Asuka alone, he could’ve won the match in seconds. Anyway, Asuka kicked him in the face and retrieved the briefcase.

We’re not done yet, though, as now the rest of the men emerged onto the roof. Corbin decided that the best course of action would be to launch both Mysterio and Black off of the roof (I know there was actually a crash pad about 10 feet down, but they shot it to look like they went off the roof). The men fought for a bit and eventually Styles and Corbin found themselves at the top of the ladder, the briefcase came off of the hook with both of them holding it until Elias of all people showed up and smashed Corbin in the back with a guitar. That left AJ with the briefcase and the win, right? WRONG. Instead, AJ managed to fumble the briefcase, which knocked it perfectly into Otis’ hands. Seriously, they showed the slow-motion replay, and it’s the most perfect fumble I think I’ve ever seen.

GOD, this was brilliant. The Boneyard and Funhouse matches were great because of their uniqueness and the cleverness of the writing and filming involved. This was great in the way that it’s so bloody stupid I can’t help but love every second of it.

As for the winners, as much as I would’ve preferred Shayna to win, giving it to Asuka is still a great choice and I hope they make something good of it. In regards to Otis, it’s certainly not who I would’ve picked, but given that this was a comedy match, why not have the comedy wrestler win it? I don’t think he’ll ever actually get to cash-in as I stand by my belief that there is no world championship in his future. However, right now, I can’t help but smile at it. Like the match as a whole, it’s incredibly dumb, but also beautiful.

That’s all folks! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this article, please let me know what your thoughts on the show are, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back this time on Saturday, where I’ll be releasing the second part of my Minecraft Updates list!

WWE Money in the Bank 2019: Every Match Ranked

Hmm, alright then.

This was definitely the most mixed WWE PPV of the year so far. It had some really good point, but it also had a fair share of it’s weird/bad moments too, so I’d understand if you came away with a negative overall view of the show, but personally, I still thought it was a pretty good overall product. Granted, it didn’t seem like it for the first hour and a half or so, but once the show picked up I think it kept a pretty consistent quality.

Every match has its place, however, so let’s take a look at where those places are, as I rank every match from WWE Money in the Bank 2019.

11 – Roman Reigns def. Elias

I would’ve never criticised WWE ever again if Reigns had just turned around and smacked Elias in the mouth right then.

As was to be expected with a 10 match card, we got a couple of really short matches last night and I generally find it pretty hard to put super short matches any higher than last unless they served a real purpose (like Seth vs Brock from Wrestlemania).

So why did I rank this one lower than the other one? Because it was shorter is pretty much the only reason. Elias’ cartoonish sneak attack on Reigns made it pretty obvious this was going to be a squash too, especially when Elias came down to the ring anyway and busted out his electric guitar. As could be predicted, Reigns’ music hit just as Elias was walking up the ramp, Reigns got some payback, then he rolled Elias in the ring and 7 seconds later Reigns had won. Pretty much right on the hour for when Game of Thrones started, which I’m sure was just a coincidence but I’m going to pretend it wasn’t for comedic purposes.

It’s not entirely clear what Reigns is going to be doing over this summer so it wouldn’t surprise me if this feud kept going for another match at Super Showdown, although they’ve got to fill out the numbers in that 50 man battle royal somehow.

10 – Rey Mysterio def. Samoa Joe(c)
(United States Championship)

Apparently, all the referees were just completely blind tonight.

So, the current story is that this match was cut short once Joe started bleeding quite heavily thanks to a broken nose, which I’m fine with, the wrestlers’ safety should always come first after all, but I’m not a huge fan of the way they did it.

Sometimes, when they have a “botched” finish like this, where the referee doesn’t see something and ends up declaring the wrong winner, it makes sense. The situation of where the competitor was compared to the referee means you can believe that the ref might not have been able to see the ropes or a shoulder off the mat, but there was really no excuse on this one. Not only was the referee looking almost directly at it, but Joe’s shoulder could not have been higher off of the mat by the time the three hit.

Not only that, but it’s been established in recent years that in a situation like this, they will show the replay on the arena screens, or a second referee will run down and correct the mistake of the original referee, which only makes things all the more confusing in situations like this where that doesn’t happen. The commentators can clearly see it right in front of them, and they’re literally 10 feet away, can the referee not just check the video? It seems so non-sensical.

Either way, I liked the post-match beatdown, and I really hope it’s building to Dominick getting involved physically sometime soon because it’s really weird just having him stand there and watch his father get destroyed and not even try to stop Joe.

9 – Becky Lynch(c) def. Lacey Evans
(Raw Women’s Championship)

Well that was exactly what I was expecting it to be.

This is one of those matches, where I don’t really have much bad to say about it, but I also don’t have a great deal of praise to dole out either. If this had taken place on an episode of Raw, it would’ve been classed as really good, but on a PPV? It’s fine, but nothing special.

I understand, of course, Becky had to wrestle two matches, so she didn’t wanna go crazy in this one, and as much as Lacey is better than we give her credit for, she’s still got a ways to go before she cracks that upper tier of brilliant matches. As I’ve said, this match was perfectly serviceable, but there really wasn’t any moment that stuck out to me as being particularly great or awful. I do think it was a bit short though, I know Becky’s got to wrestle two matches, but you couldn’t have let this one go just a little bit longer? The finish felt way too sudden.

Hopefully, Lacey Evans fades to the back of the line for a little bit, partly because I want to see Becky face a variety of opponents on Raw, but also as much as she lost pretty decisively here, her stock has been raised by competing in a high profile feud with Becky like this; a lot more than walking up and down the ramp every week did at least. That raising of stock for Lacey would almost certainly be undone if she had to take another loss from Becky-Not-Actually-2-Belts-Anymore-Hope-You-Didn’t-Buy-That-Shirt.

8 – Bayley wins the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match

With the exception of the finish, there really wasn’t much to be excited about in this one.

For one thing, it went really short for a Money in the Bank ladder match going a mere thirteen minutes, which was shorter than both World title matches and the same length as Shane vs Miz, which takes away from a lot of the drama and excitement you can get out of the match. Secondly, there was a real lack of big and impactful spots throughout the match. Naomi’s stuff was fun, and the matrix dodging of ladders was something we haven’t really seen before, but none of the ladder spots we saw here were anything worth shouting about.

Carmella’s “injury” also didn’t really seem like the best touch, partly because it was pretty obvious it wasn’t real and also because they drew almost no attention to it barring a couple of quick cuts when there was a split-second break in the action. I also don’t really feel like anyone outside of the winner got a chance to really shine during the match, Ember Moon’s eclipse from a ladder was awesome but when you take a look at the rest of the match she’s basically a complete non-factor for most of it.

All that said, I really liked the finish. Sonya literally carrying Mandy to the top of the ladder looked great, and it was only made better when Bayley sprinted up the ladder and stared at Mandy will all of hell’s fury behind her eyes. It felt like such a cathartic character moment for Bayley, like after all the crap she’s been through for the past two years she’s finally had enough and won’t let anyone take her opportunity from her. Honestly, that finish alone pulled this match up a whole place.

7 – Tony Nese(c) def. Ariya Daivari
(Cruiserweight Championship)

Well, wouldn’t you fancy that? When you give the cruiserweights a chance to shine, they actually shine.

It’s at this point that I realise I actually like this show a lot more than I thought I did, because from here on out I pretty much only have good things to say about the matches. Once again, the cruiserweights got their once in a blue moon to put on a killer match on the main show of a WWE PPV, and while it wasn’t as good as Murphey vs Ali from Survivor Series last year, it was certainly still a great match to watch.

Daivari played a great heel, but not one that looked weak and had to cheat every 5 seconds despite what his character seems like. The action kept up a pretty fast pace throughout and there were almost no wasted motions between the pair. It never quite reached that higher gear of amazing spots and intense back and forth, but it certainly outperformed your average WWE PPV match, and proved that Tony Nese is a legitimate champion.

I’m not entirely sure what’s next for Nese, but there’s no shortage of opponents for him on 205 Live. If Nese carries on having these great one-and-done feuds with the whole 205 roster, he’ll be a very good champion indeed.

6 – Shane McMahon def. The Miz
(Steel Cage)

I know, I’m as surprised as you are this was good.

I honestly don’t understand how this happened, it’s one of the most boring stipulations in WWE, with a non-wrestler and a wrestler who doesn’t do well in hardcore matches, and somehow it was great. My world has been torn asunder.

Shane plays such a good heel in matches like this that it’s a wonder he was ever a face, to begin with. The way he sprints up the cage wall at every available opportunity adds this sense of urgency to the whole match and creates a great dynamic where The Miz is desperately trying to ground Shane and keep him down at every opportunity because Shane won’t hesitate to make a break for it if he has the chance.

There was so much back and forth between these two and the chemistry between them seems to be so tight at this point I honestly don’t think they could put on a bad match. We had plenty of exciting spots, like Miz catching Shane off of the coast-to-coast, Shane falling from almost the top of the cage flat onto his back, the figure 4 where Shane almost escaped, and the Skull Crushing Finale onto the chair where Shane got his foot on the ropes despite the fact that there’s no rope break in a cage match. Well ok, maybe not that last one.

I’m also ok with the finish because it makes Shane seem lucky without making Miz seem stupid, and I imagine we’ll probably see one more match between the two at some point over the next month to wrap things up. I hope so anyway because this feud has been surprisingly good the entire time.

5 – Charlotte Flair def. Becky Lynch(c)
Bayley def. Charlotte Flair(c)
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

I’ve lumped these two together since there’s not enough to write about them both individually, and they run into each other pretty heavily.

I honestly didn’t think they were going to do the matches back to back like this, but the way everything turned out really made the best of that situation. Charlotte looking super pleased with herself was a great touch as she came out, and it was clear she didn’t want to give Becky a moment to recover after the first match.

So this match was only about five minutes long, but it worked for the story that they were trying to tell, it lasted long enough that you thought Becky was going to be able to pull a fast one on Charlotte, only for Lacey Evans, who we all forgot about, to give Charlotte the advantage and hit a big boot (which completely missed, but let’s ignore that) to win the match.

Charlotte winning the title here made it so that I think we all instantly knew how this was going to end. A quick beatdown on Becky followed by Bayley’s music hitting and the crowd full on exploded at that moment. Considering it feels like only a few months ago she was being booed out of arenas for being scared of a stick, I’m so glad this move to Smackdown has done her well and hopefully, this reign lasts longer than 48 hours and she gets a chance to put on great matches defending the title all summer.

4 – The Usos def. Daniel Bryan & Rowan
(Kickoff Show)

The words “kickoff show” have no meaning to Daniel Bryan.

I thought this match would still be awesome despite being on the pre-show, but man, these guys really put their working shoes on. Sure, the match had no steaks and really had no reason to exist in the first place, but that doesn’t stop it from being full of exciting moments and fast-paced action from some of the best wrestlers in the world.

All four men put on some great work here, Bryan & Rowan’s teamwork continues to develop in every match they have, and honestly, it looked at points like Rowan could’ve taken both Usos on his own. Bryan, of course, did the great work he always does, grounding the Usos at every opportunity and continues to make every single opponent he wrestles look like a million bucks.

The Usos were no slouches either, they wouldn’t stop flying all over the place and doling out superkicks like there’s no tomorrow. They aren’t the team I’d have picked to win this match, but given how much fun this match was to watch, I don’t really mind. Not to mention, Daniel Bryan’s post-match promo on WWE.com could lead to a great story, so right now, I’ve got nothing but positives about this one.

3 – Kofi Kingston(c) def. Kevin Owens
(WWE Championship)

More of this, please.

I know the crowd weren’t as into this as they could’ve been thanks to the Universal title match that came before it, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this match rocked.

It was a little slow to start, with Owens mostly playing the heel role of wearing Kofi down for a while, but once this thing got going, it told such a brilliant story. This whole year with Kofi has pretty much been a story of him absolutely refusing to say die, no matter what is thrown his way and no matter how much of a beating he takes he just won’t stay down, and that was all this match needed to run with, and Owens showed the effects of it all over his face.

Once Kofi started to come back and we got into a more back and forth pace, Owens’ performance was absolutely pitch perfect for the story of the match. Every single time Kofi kicked out or got back up he would slowly begin to lose his shit more and more, lashing out at the crowd, at the commentators and at Kofi every single time Kofi got back up. It created this brilliant sense of urgency towards the end of the match where Owens was becoming more and more vicious and trying absolutely everything he could think of to keep Kofi down, and Kofi just bided his time and waited for the opportunity to strike.

I don’t know if this is the end of the feud considering it was a clean finish, but I really hope there’s more of this to come, I think there’s so much great storyline opportunities to be had with Owens getting so unbelievably frustrated at how he can’t put Kofi away that he has to resort to some sort of drastic action, and I have the faith in the Smackdown creative team to pull it off.

2 – Brock Lesnar win the Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match

Oh…ok.

We’ll talk about…that in a moment, but before we get bogged down, let’s take a look at the rest of the match because it was awesome.

First off, we need to give the man of the match award, and a giant ice pack to Finn Balor because holy crap he damn near killed himself in this match for our entertainment last night. Not only did he take that incredible sunset flip from the top of a ladder, onto another ladder which bounced making him land on it a second time which might be the greatest ladder spot I’ve ever seen, he also was dropped multiple times onto other ladders around the ring by Drew Mcintyre which were probably even more painful with the force he landed on some of them.

On top of that, we had Ricochet and Ali flipping around each other the whole time which was so much fun to watch, even when Ricochet was just lobbed straight through a ladder by Drew. Drew and Corbin’s partnership was a nice touch, it gave the match a back and forth and proper structure in amongst all of the chaos that was going on around the place, and even better when it inevitably imploded.

Then of course…there was the finish. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it if I’m honest. For one thing, it made Ali look like an idiot because he could’ve unhooked the briefcase and been out of the ring by the time Brock got to him, but that’s a minor detail, the most important thing is that Brock Lesnar is the Money in the Bank briefcase holder. I’m not pissed off by this decision, and I’m not all that upset that Brock has the briefcase, however, I would’ve prefered anyone else in that match (except Orton) to win instead of Brock.

I think this mostly because it seems really obvious what’s going to happen. I absolutely love the idea of a guy like Brock with Money in the Bank, a dude who can run you through in seconds when you’re at 100% having the opportunity to pounce on you when you’re at the weakest is a brilliant threat, and watching whoever is champion at the time absolutely shit themselves whenever his music hits would be great; but that’s not what’s going to happen.

All that’s going to happen is Heyman will announce the cash-in for an upcoming PPV, be it Super Showdown or Summerslam, that’s all it will be and quite frankly did Brock really need Money in the Bank to do that? All Brock needs to do to get his rematch with Seth is show up, throw a few dudes about and demand it, meanwhile, you could’ve given the briefcase to someone like Drew ready for later in the year.

At the end of the day, I don’t think Brock winning Money in the Bank is a bad thing, but it was certainly the worst of the present options; the match was still awesome though, so second place it stays.

1 – Seth Rollins(c) def. AJ Styles
(Universal Championship)

Oh, thank God it was good, really really good.

You have no idea how paranoid I’ve been this past month that this match was going to underwhelm and disappoint compared to its expectations, AJ Styles matches have a history of that in WWE after all, but my paranoia was baseless because this match was a sight to behold.

It was paced to absolute perfection to start with, the feeling out process lasted just long enough to get your mouth watering for them to pick up the pace and that’s exactly when they did. Watching these two go back and forth was so much fun, and seeing AJ being able to outwrestle Seth for a large part of the first half was an interesting way to tell the story of the match because it meant Rollins had to rely on his killer instinct to make a comeback.

The final 5 minutes were fever pitch and an absolute blast to watch, that Curb Stomp into Styles Clash counter was a thing of beauty, I’ve watched it so many times now and I’m still not entirely sure how they managed it so seamlessly. It was able to suspend the disbelief of the result as well because there was no way Seth was ever going to lose this match, but goddamn if I didn’t doubt that fact during a couple of the near falls.

This is everything I had hoped for both from a Seth vs AJ match and Seth Rollins as Universal Champion, if all his matches are going to be like this, we might need a separate list at the end of the year just for Seth Rollins matches because right now, this is tied with Kofi vs Bryan for my favourite main roster match of the year. Please, sir, I want some more.

So there you have it! That’s what I thought of every match that took place at Money in the Bank 2019! Having written the review now, it was actually a lot better of a show than I gave it credit for at the start, there were some weird moments, but ultimately almost every match was good to great from top to bottom.

Still, what do you think? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. I’m away next week so there won’t be any posts, but the following Friday you can expect my rankings of Doctor Who Series 2!