Sunday, June 13th at the sixth edition of the PPV that bears its name, will be the 16th edition of the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. A tradition that goes back to April 3rd of 2005 when it debuted at WrestleMania 21. While in general, much like the Royal Rumble, the actual match itself is pretty much a Your Mileage May Vary case-by-case situation when it comes to multiple person ladder matches, the true story of the matches are in what the winner eventually does with his briefcase that does contain an legit For Entertainment Purposes “contract.” It is after a working briefcase! And not just to be used as an in ring weapon. And all of the first six years the black briefcase was good for any of the Heavyweight Titles (even the ECW one during the years of its existence) in the WWE for a single year period. The full year portion of the gimmick is still in play, even with the two briefcase format from 2010-2012.
Much of the template that would be the match and how the winner cashes in their case was set that very first year. The match was placed early in the card, which was the usual for the six years that it was on WrestleMania, in order to be a good way to get the crowd off to a hot start. In the early days of his Rated R Superstar heel turn, Edge came out victorious over Chris Benoit, Christian, Chris Jericho, Kane and Shelton Benjamin, with the match runtime being 15:17.
Leading the way for briefcase holders to come, Edge would bide his time before cashing in his shot, even earning a second title shot to go along with his case with Smackdown’s Gold Rush tournament, but he would lose in his match against the champion Batista. It would not be until 280 days later (would is still the record for time between winning the briefcase and official cash in attempt) that Edge would finally cash in on the New Year’s Revolution PPV, January 8th, 2006. After surviving an Elimination Chamber match, WWE Heavyweight Champion John Cena was ripe for the picking, and earning his nickname as The Ultimate Opportunist, Edge picked that moment to strike, and he was able to capture his first heavyweight title. The win would also ignite one of the hottest feuds of the latter half of the decade.
Year two would bring some tweaks to the concept. It would be the first time a babyface would be the winner, with Rob Van Dam winning the six-man match in 12:21, which is still the record for shortest ever Money in the Bank match. Van Dam would also call his shot, by announcing his intention to cash in on WWE Champion John Cena at the ECW One Night Stand PPV on June 11th of 2006. Van Dam would get the win, thanks to some help from Edge, and in doing so helped jump start the new WWE version of ECW as he would be presented with a new ECW Heavyweight Championship. But unlike Shane Douglas in 1994, Van Dam decided to be a duo champion, and would lose the WWE title to Edge in early July in a three-way match that Cena was also in.
The following year would again lead to another new wrinkle to the winner’s angle. Mr. Kennedy would get the win in an eight-man match that lasted 19:05. But due to a legitimate injury, Kennedy would have to relinquish the briefcase, and this was done by losing a match to Edge on the May 7th edition of Raw. That week on Smackdown Edge would appear, and cash in on the World Heavyweight Champion, The Undertaker following Undertaker being severely weakened following a cage match with Batista and a post-match beat down by Mark Henry. This would be Edge’s first run with the World belt, and it would ignite a great rivalry with The Undertaker.
While Edge does count as a double Money in the Bank briefcase holder, to date CM Punk is the only two time winner of the match, and he did it in back-to-back years. The first coming in 2008, winning a seven-man ladder match in 13:55. Punk, though a babyface, would use the same “pick the spot when the champion is at his weakest” way of finally cashing in on the June 30th Raw. World Champion Edge would be decimated by Batista following a scathing promo by the Smackdown bound Champion, and Punk would then use that moment to cash in.
Punk’s run with the title would end in September due to a kayfabe injury. In 2009 he would win the Money in the Bank Ladder match again, this time in an eight-man match in 14:24. Though still a babyface, Punk still used the opportunistic way of cashing in. On June 7th, at the Extreme Rules PPV, following a grueling ladder match against Edge, Jeff Hardy would win the World Title. His reign would be short lived as this would be where Punk cashed in his briefcase. It would also ignite one of, if not the best feuds of 2009, as well as Punk’s heel turn that would pretty much pave the way for the rest of Punk’s WWE career. But more on that a little later.
Jack Swagger would outlast the largest, by amount of participants with 10, match to date in the final Money in the Bank Ladder match to be held at WrestleMania. In February it was announced that the July PPV would be dedicated to the gimmick, and that there would be ladder matches for both the Raw and Smackdown brand’s title (ECW was cancelled, and title discontinued around the same time). The All-American American would ensure that there would not be three briefcases being carried around at the same time by cashing in his the very next night on Raw following Edge (other than being in the Raw brand’s match in July, this would be his final involvement in the gimmick’s angles) decimating World Champion Chris Jericho. One could point to this reign though as when the briefcase started to lose little of its luster as an important angle prop as Swagger holds it through June, dropping it to Rey Mysterio, who gets cashed in on at the actual Money in the Bank PPV.
July 18th of 2010 saw the debut of the Money in The Bank PPV event. The Smackdown brand’s blue briefcase was fought for first in the first match of the night. Kane would outlast seven other men in the PPV opener that lasted 26:18. In an attempt to add an “anything can happen” element to the PPV’s proceedings, The Big Red Machine cashed in on Rey Mysterio, following the World Champion’s defense of the title versus former champion Jack Swagger later that night. Kane’s run with the belt would last through most of the year, but the Smackdown brand’s title storyline did seem greatly diminished by what was happening on Raw with the Nexus storyline and the WWE title. So it would appear already that adding the second briefcase was starting to create a too much of a good thing scenario.
One could make a point that The Miz being the Raw brand’s red briefcase holder also played a hand in devaluing the concept. Winning an eight-man match in 20:26 in the second to last match of the evening, Miz would hold his case, despite several teases, through the November 22nd Raw. Cashing in on champion Randy Orton, following a successful defense Orton had against Wade Barrett. Miz’ reign, often cited as one of the weaker ones for the WWE title would last until May 1st, 2011, when he dropped it to John Cena.
The PPV’s second outing, held on July 17th, 2011 marks the start of the PPV being considered on the level of WrestleMania and the Royal Rumble as being the most important shows in the WWE’s year. Though a good portion of that is on the John Cena-CM Punk title match that night, Daniel Bryan’s Smackdown match win is also a big contributor to the PPV’s historic context. Following a 24:26 eight-man match that opened the show, Bryan would promise waiting until WrestleMania to properly cash in his shot. This would not come to pass as Bryan would turn heel during the Tables, Ladders & Chairs PPV on December 18th, cashing in on a prone Big Show following his World Title win over Mark Henry. The Honky-Tonk Man-esque heel run would last through WrestleMania where the Royal Rumble title shot winner, Sheamus defeated Bryan in the infamous 18 seconds match. Bryan’s time as a marketable star though continues, despite long injury related absences, and the lack of a consistent top of the card push, to this day.
Alberto Del Rio would win the Raw briefcase in a 15:52 (shortest time for a match since the dedicated PPVs started) 8-man match. Following CM Punk’s defeat of John Cena, roughly an hour or so before his contract was set to kayfabe expire, Mr. McMahon in a last ditch effort to wrest control of the WWE Title ordered Del Rio to come out and cash in the briefcase. He wouldn’t get the chance as Punk got the jump on Del Rio and headed into his hometown Chicago crowd before any bell could sound.
Punk would return a few weeks later, and a Punk-Cena match to determine the true champion (Cena having won a tournament on Raw to crown a replacement champion) was set for SummerSlam on August 14th. Punk would win the match, get power bombed by Kevin Nash, and this would be the point where Del Rio successfully cashed in his case. For most of the fall Del Rio would hold the belt, though Cena would hold it for 14 days in late September after trading wins. But in effect, this was just a place holder for Punk as he would win it from Del Rio at Survivor Series on November 20th, starting the PPV era record 434 day reign.
2012’s event continues the mixed bag trend that the briefcase holder seemed to be on by this point. Again the Smackdown case was fought for first, with Dolph Ziggler picking up the win in an eight-man match that lasted 18:27 to lead off the PPV. Ziggler’s time with the case would help increase his popularity and he would hold the case through the night after WrestleMania, cashing in following a prone Alberto Del Rio’s successful title defense to win the World Title. While Ziggler’s reign was cut short due to concussion injuries, he would turn babyface in the process, and remains one of the hottest acts on the WWE roster.
The Raw briefcase though, would be used more as a storyline prop than a star making vehicle. CM Punk had turned heel in the weeks prior to the event, and John Cena decided he’d be the one to end Punk’s reign on the 1,000th episode of Raw later in the month. The ladder match would go 20:03, and with five men it is the smallest field in the history of the gimmick. Cena also became the first case holder to lose the match of his cash in attempt, as Punk retained via a DQ in the match. The two would have a feud through most of the remaining summer PPVs and into the fall.
2013 would also be the final time two briefcases would be fought for. It was probably for the best considering it continued the mix bag trend, and considering how things would play out, this and 2010 are probably neck-and-neck for the worst year of the gimmick’s history. Once again the Blue case would be defended first, but by this point the unique branding of both shows and titles had ended, actually it was during Ziggler’s run with the briefcase that the uniqueness of Smackdown all but faded. This time Damian Sandow came out the winner on the first match of the PPV. Winning a seven-man match in 16:24, Sandow seem set for the same push that Bryan and Ziggler enjoyed. But this was not to be as by the middle of the fall things were starting to fall into place for the elimination of the World Title belt as an entity. This would be crystalized as Sandow would lose his cash in attempt to the World Champion John Cena on the October 28th edition of Raw. Sandow would never reach this height on the card again, though his “imitations” gimmick has gotten over as comedic segments on WWE programming.
Once again the Red case would be used more of a storyline prop than building up a new potential main event player. Randy Orton won a six-man match in 26:38, which was the main event of the card, to date the only time the Money in the Bank Ladder Match has closed out an event. And once again a SummerSlam match would be the moment that the opportunistic case holder would use to, pardon the Viper based pun, strike. This time Daniel Bryan had defeated John Cena for the WWE Title, but would be laid out by a Triple H Pedigree, leaving Bryan easy pickings for Orton to cash in for the title. Orton and Bryan would have a pretty good feud, even if it was dominated by the heel Orton and The Authority. The reign would lead to Orton unifying the WWE and World titles into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that the main strap is called today on December 15th following a Ladder match against World Champion Cena.
2014 would see a return of the single briefcase, though there was a second multiple-man Ladder Match as the main event for the vacated heavyweight title, and coincidentally enough that trend of having two ladder matches on the show continues this year with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in a Ladder Match for Rollins’ title. Now a gold colored case, the angle of the winner would return to being a star making vehicle as the new Golden Boy of the Triple H and Stephanie McMahon Authority, Seth Rollins, walked away the winner in a 23:12 six-man match. Oddly enough, Rollins would be the first case holder since Edge’s first run to actually have a title match independently of being the case holder as he was in a Triple Threat match along with John Cena against the champion Brock Lesnar on the Royal Rumble PPV on January 25th, 2015. Rollins would carry the briefcase through WrestleMania on March 29th, being the first case holder to cash in while a match was in progress! Turning the Brock Lesnar-Roman Reigns match into a Triple Threat match for the title. Rollins would come out the winner, doing it by pinning the challenger Reigns.
So, where does the gimmick go from here? While no one says using the same cash-in technique is a bad thing, but short of going to the old Hardcore Title’s 24/7 rules, they’ve pretty much exhausted the ways an anytime, anywhere cash in match can occur. That being said, with the Rollins run with the case, and his eventual title reign, its does seem that the gimmick is back to being about building up a new main eventer, or at least cementing one’s case (no pun intended) for main event status (assuming Roman Reigns is to be the winner this time around). It is clear though that the Money in the Bank is still treated as an important tool for the major story lines, and isn’t in danger of going away anytime soon. Which is a good thing as despite the up and down nature of the story lines that the case holders have had since the start of the dedicated PPV events, they are still a good way to provide excitement in the lead up to SummerSlam and the time in-between SummerSlam and the Royal Rumble that had been a dark hole for WWE story lines for much of the 2000s (to the point where the Survivor Series was even in danger of being dropped as a concept and the PPV renamed). So, here’s to 10 years and 15 matches of the gimmick! And here’s to many more successful cash-ins by future main eventers!
Finally, a few interesting statistical tidbits. This year Kane will continue compiling WWE records with his seventh match as an official participant, breaking the tie he had with Christian. Christian’s six though has the dubious distinction of being in the most matches without a win through the years, Kofi Kingston is slated to equal Christian’s appearance mark this year, and quite possibly will equal him in the most appearances without a win category. Kingston would break his tie he has with Shelton Benjamin for 2nd in all-time appearances. CM Punk of course is still the only multiple time winner of a Money in the Bank match, and the only back-to-back winner as well. Punk though is part of a 6-way tie for third in most all-time match appearances with Chris Jericho, Matt Hardy, Jack Swagger and Cody Rhodes. Also in that scrum is Dolph Ziggler, who will be looking to break out of the tie with his 5th appearance this year. Randy Orton will be making his 4th appearance, and Sheamus will be making his 2nd appearance in the match.
Other interesting statistical tidbits include Christian, Kane, Ziggler, Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, and Drew McIntyre being the only wrestlers to take part in multiple Money in the Bank matches in a year. Though oddly enough, all six were thanks to the institution of the Money in the Bank PPV in 2010 to go along with the one at WrestleMania XXVI. It does seem odd though that during the stretch between 2010 and 2013, that there was never some opportunistic heel getting himself into the second match on the card.
Kane also has the distinction of appearing in at least one match for 4 straight years, from 2009-2012, this has since been equaled by Cody Rhodes who was in at least one match from 2010-2013. Benjamin (2008-2010), Punk (2007-2009), MVP (2008-2010), and Miz (2010-2012) had streaks of three years in a row. Interesting thing about MVP though, in an official WrestleMania 30 Magazine it listed all of the various WrestleMania participants through the years, and due to the embargo on mentioning Chris Benoit, MVP’s US Title win over Benoit in 2007, his only singles match, had been eradicated; and only his three Money in the Bank appearances are listed.
Going in the opposite direction, Rob Van Dam has the most years in between match appearances with 6 years from 2006-2013. A little more modest are the three behind him with 3 years; Christian and Kane (2006-2009) and Punk (2010-2012).
And finally, Neville and Roman Reigns will be appearing in their first Money in the Bank match, and they will be the 49th and 50th wrestler to do so. Odds are Reigns will join Rollins, Cena, Del Rio, Bryan, Kennedy, Miz, Van Dam, Edge and Swagger to win in his first attempt. Though only Rollins, Cena, and Del Rio can claim an unblemished record in match competition.