Tonight, one of seven men will climb a ladder and grab a briefcase with a contract for a WWE world heavyweight title shot at any time inside it. How he capitalizes on that chance will remain to be seen. Fifteen men have already had such opportunity and it has ranged from a dud, leaving the man no better than before cashing it in, to an incredible moment, leaving a lasting impact on the man's career.
Now is as good time as any to do what the Internet does best and rank every Money In the Bank contract match ever. Here's what I'm taking into account in my rankings:
- The moment itself
- The title reign that followed
- What it did for the career of the man cashing in.
Let's see how each opportunity stacked up:
15) Damien Sandow loses to John Cena
Far and away this is the worst of the contact cash ins, failing on all three criteria. Sandow's star had been growing since his arrival in WWE, culminating in winning the Money in the Bank. Cena had just won the world title from Alberto Del Rio, who had caused some damage to Cena's arm recently. Sandow thought he could exploit the damaged arm to win the title.
The only thing damaged was Sandow's career.
He became the only man to lose the contract match and never recovered from the loss. This moment was the definition of "being fed to SuperCena." Cena did not need to look any stronger and Sandow ended up looking weak after the fact.
To illustrate that, just look at him now: Sandow's gimmick is pretending to be Randy Savage, and he is occasionally on pay-per-view pre-shows.
14) John Cena defeats CM Punk via disqualification
John Cena challenged CM Punk for the title at Raw 1000, being one of the few people to announce the move in advance. During the match, the Big Show ended up doing what he does best and that is interject himself into matches he doesn't belong.
The only thing of note from this cash in is when the Rock tried to aid Cena in the Big Show attack, CM Punk hit his Go To Sleep finisher on the "Brahma Bull", turning Punk heel. Punk as heel would breathe new life into his long title reign, but they certainly didn't need the briefcase to do so.
CM Punk defeated the Big Show and Cena to retain his title at SummerSlam. It was a wasted use of the Money in the Bank briefcase.
13) Jack Swagger defeats Chris Jericho
Jack Swagger was always a disappointing Money in the Bank winner. At the time there was only one winner a year and I know I was dejected that he was that year's winner. He cashed it in within a week on World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho, who had just been in a brawl with Edge on SmackDown.
Swagger's reign was disappointing to say the least, including a pretty terrible feud with the Big Show. He would lose it soon at Fatal Four Way to Rey Mysterio (who himself would lose in a couple months to MITB Contract holder Kane.) Swagger's reign did nothing for Swagger nor the title itself.
12) Kane defeats Rey Mysterio
Jack Swagger's reign was so dull that WWE decided to start the Money in the Bank PPV later that year to try again. (OK, that's probably not why they added the PPV that year.) That night, Kane won the blue briefcase for a shot at the World Heavyweight Title. And that night, he cashed in against Rey Mysterio who just successfully defended against JackSwagger. As of now, Kane is the only man to win it and cash it in on the same night.
This did lead to a pretty good feud with the Undertaker, including the return of Paul Bearer. The following feud with Edge, which included Edge (the face) stealing Paul Bearer and running around with him in a wheelchair, was pretty bad. The feud with the Undertaker was the best thing to come out of this cash in.
11) Edge defeats Undertaker
This was all because of injury. Edge did not win this briefcase. Mr. Kennedy did. But when a tricep injury could have been severe (it wasn't), they had Kennedy lose the briefcase to Edge. Soon after, Undertaker needed to give up the title due to injury and Edge cashed in after Taker was beat up by Mark Henry.
The moment was rather exciting due to how new the MITB concept was. (This was before the days of two a year.) It did help to cement Edge's "Ultimate Opportunist" persona. Unfortunately, Edge had to relinquish a title reign due to a pectoral tear, which is ironic given how many injuries lead him to become the champion in the first place.
10) CM Punk defeats Edge
While I don't have confirmation, I always had the belief this was supposed to be Jeff Hardy's contract. However, Jeff was suspended for violating the wellness policy and was taken out of the match. Instead Punk won and cashed in against Edge who was just destroyed by Batista on Raw. This was an enjoyable one for me because I was already a big Punk fan at the time, but it doesn't stand out amongst the best.
Punk's reign was average length and not too impressive. He had some wins over JBL but anytime he faced Batista, he was clearly the weaker opponent. Punk never lost the title, getting taken out by Orton prior to a Championship Scramble match and not able to defend his title. Punk would win the tag titles and Intercontinental title afterwards that year, but would find himself back where he started: In the ladder match the following WrestleMania, which he would win again.
9) Alberto del Rio defeats CM Punk after Kevin Nash gets a text from himself
The Summer of Punk derailed the rise of del Rio. del Rio won the Royal Rumble already that year and then the briefcase. He cashed in at SummerSlam after CM Punk retained his title against John Cena, only to be taken out be Kevin Nash. Perhaps the moment was cooler at the time, but in retrospect of how bad the Nash story was, it takes a lot away from it.
del Rio would have a back and forth feud with Cena, which he would eventually win. He lost the title back to Punk at Survivor Series and never held it again. While Alberto would hold the World Heavyweight Title, he never was able to truly benefit from a run as the WWE champion and his stock would continue to drop over time.
8) The Miz defeats Randy Orton
The thing that stands out to me the most about this one was the actual cash in. I really enjoyed the fact that Miz and Orton, who just defeated Wade Barrett, had a good mini-match before Miz captured the gold. Normally, unannounced Money In the Bank matches are a minute or two but this was closer to five.
This lead to an interesting and fairly lengthy top title run for the Miz. He had an early feud with Jerry Lawler before going towards WrestleMania to face John Cena in the main event... and win.
It's not as good as it sounds though. WrestleMania was already about Cena vs. the Rock, leaving the WWE champion Miz an afterthought. The Miz eventually would lose the title to John Cena and never felt any long term benefit from the title run. It was enjoyable seeing how far the Miz had come since his Diva Search days.
Plus that title win gave us Angry Miz Girl
7) Rob Van Dam defeats John Cena
RVD was the second man to win the Money in the Bank contract. As a face, he called his cash in in advance, telling John he would do it at the One Night Stand ECW show. Located in Hammerstein Ballroom, that was an already hot event with an even hotter crowd. Even though Van Dam ended up getting an assist from Edge, that didn't take away from the excitement of the moment.
And it looked like RVD was getting a huge push. Not only was he WWE champion, but Paul Heyman awarded him the ECW championship as well. Unfortunately, Rob Van Dam was soon suspended after a drug possession arrest, derailing all his momentum. Who knows how much higher this would have been if he weren't suspended.
6) Edge defeats John Cena
This first is always a special moment. John Cena has just defended his title in the Elimination Chamber at New Year's Revolution in a match where all the legitimate competition was eliminated early and he was left facing Chris Masters and Carlito. Clearly, he persevered. But then the Chairman himself, Vince McMahon, came down and informed us all that Edge was cashing in his Money in the Bank. Edge had never been WWE champion before and this was special.
This would be the catapult for Edge's career, the first of numerous world championships. His Money in the Bank win inserted him into the upper tier of WWE and he never looked back.
Unfortunately, the reign itself was short, seeing Edge lose the title back to Cena at the Royal Rumble. But the clip above with RVD was only months later and after RVD's suspension, Edge would be the the one who wins the title off of Van Dam.
5) Daniel Bryan defeats the Big Show
I'll be honest, I re-watched this months ago and was surprised how lukewarm the the crowd was for Bryan's victory. I remembered them being hotter, though in comparison to Bryan's receptions in the last year or so, anything seems lukewarm. As matches go, it wasn't anything spectacular. But this started the rise of Daniel Bryan.
Bryan would turn to a cocky heel as he held this title, getting heat from some fans but love from others. It was during this reign, a reign that would last until WrestleMania 28, that he started his "Yes" chants, the rallying cry that fans used when upset at his 18 second title loss to Sheamus. A rallying cry that would use from then on out to support their man.
It is possible that I'm being to generous and I can easily understand someone putting this much lower. But for me, it's the first step in his long journey to WrestleMania 30. Ever since the cash in, he was in high profile feuds, title matches with Punk, Team Hell No with Kane, all the way to his match with John Cena at SummerSlam, which we'll touch on really soon.
4) CM Punk defeats Jeff Hardy
It is likely becoming clear that I am putting a bit more weight on how the briefcase helped make a star more than the moment itself. (Except for one of the ones coming up.) Jeff Hardy just had a grueling ladder match with Edge for the World Title which he won. That's when CM Punk would decide cash in his second contract.
CM Punk would soon start playing a straight edge heel to Hardy's free spirit. They would trade the title back and forth, with Punk claiming it for good when Hardy left the company. Punk as a heel was Punk on another level and the cash in was the start. Looking back on Punk's career, his feud with Jeff Hardy is one of his bests.
Punk would eventually lose the title to the Undertaker. However, he would turn his straight edge character into the Cult leader of the Straight Edge Society, making Punk one of the top heels in the company for a long time.
3) Seth Rollins defeats Brock Lesnar
The jury is still out on this one since Rollins is still champion. He's doing rather well, though his Authority angle is dragging its feet and the last 2 weeks, he hasn't even been possession of his own title.
The cash in itself was awesome. Cashing in during the main event of WrestleMania is a huge moment and it delivered. In front of a crowd who loved it, this crowned Seth Rollins a top guy which was a spot he had been earning since he betrayed his Shield brethren. In that sense, much of the work had already been done unlike some guys like Swagger who had to sink or swim after they got the title, not before.
What happens when a rabid Brock Lesnar returns will easily help decide where this moment will finally falls on this list.
I cannot find a WWE video of the cash in but here's a video of the awesome fall out from it the next night:
2) Dolph Ziggler defeats Alberto del Rio
Remember how I said I would put one up high due to the excitement of the moment? This is the one. If I were ranking Money in the Bank moments, this would be number one with a bullet. The night after WrestleMania, in front of one of the hottest crowds of the year, Dolph Ziggler cashed in and defeated a weakened Albert del Rio. del Rio had just had his leg injured by Jack Swagger and Ziggler would capitalize.
And the crowd went wild.
Ziggler was a heel but that didn't matter. This was like watching the biggest baby face getting a signature win over a top heel. Crowds were coming around on Ziggler, despite his character's alignment and to smarky post WrestleMania crowd, he was the babiest of baby faces.
Unfortunately, a concussion derailed Ziggler's momentum, causing him to miss a month of television. He lost the title to del Rio in a match that served a double turn for both men. Unfortunately, asides for his face turn, Ziggler was not on top for long after his cash in.
1) Randy Orton defeats Daniel Bryan
This is the blueprint on how to use the Money in the Bank briefcase. Daniel Bryan had won the WWE title for the first time against John Cena, with Triple H as referee. Orton, who was face, came down afterwards to tease cashing it in. While he did that, Triple H delivers the Pedigree to Bryan and Randy cashes in to win the title.
This one moment did many things. It turned Randy Orton heel as the authority man who hid behind the bosses. As face, Orton's character was becoming dull. But Orton would own his new role, doing some of his best work during a lengthy title reign (minus some abeyance time). It created the Authority as the major antagonists to Bryan. And it made Bryan a bigger star than he already was, kicking off the Authority/Bryan angle that would pay off for him when he defeat Orton and Batista at WrestleMania.
This cash in didn't just help Orton's character, it helped Bryan's as well. Multiple beneficiaries from one cash in? That's how it's done.
Well there you have it, worst to first. This being the internet, it's now you're job to take to the comments and tell me why I'm wrong. Just try and be nice about it.