Cashing in Money in the Bank: Part 1

Baron Corbin and Carmella are the most recent Mr and Miss Money In The Bank – but what about their predecessors? Here’s part 1 of our look back at the previous winners and how they cashed in

Way back in March 2005, Chris Jericho pitched an idea to RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff for a six way ladder match at Wrestlemania 21. But rather than just a regular ladder match however, the briefcase  hung above the ring contained a contract for a World Title opportunity that could be redeemed at any time: Money In The Bank was born!

Just last weekend WWE crowned their 18th Mr Money In The Bank in Baron Corbin and their first Miss Money In The Bank James Ellsworth Carmella. But while the Money In The Bank ladder matches have had their fair measure of thrills and spills, cashing in that briefcase has led to some of the most memorable moments of the last decade. We’re going to take a look back at those cash-ins, and see what effect they had on the individuals involved and the WWE as a whole.

We’ll start at the very beginning…

The Historic First Cash-In – New Year’s Revolution, Sunday 8th January 2006
EDGE cashes in on WWE Champion John Cena

EdgeFirstMITBCashIn

The one that started it all. Edge won the first Money In The Bank ladder match at Wrestlemania 21, beating Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Christian, Shelton Benjamin, and Kane. He beat Benoit in a Last Man Standing Match at Backlash a month later, before Kane’s wife Lita joined him in forming a memorable partnership. Kane wasn’t too happy about this and the two had a feud that lasted through to July, when Matt Hardy shocked the wrestling world by returning to RAW. Hardy had been fired months previously and his real life girlfriend Lita had started a relationship with Edge. This blurring of the lines between reality and wrestling brought Matt Hardy a whole new level of popularity, and when beating him at Summerslam and then in a Loser Leaves RAW match in October, Edge reached uncharted degrees of notoriety.

An injury took Edge out of the action for a few months, but also brought us his Cutting Edge “talk show” and the birth of the moniker “The Rated R Superstar”. He returned to in ring action after goading Ric Flair into an Intercontinental Championship match at New Year’s Revolution. Edge lost by disqualification, and in the main event John Cena retained his WWE Championship in a brutal Eliminiation Chamber match. Edge had finally found his perfect moment, and cashed in on a bloody and battered Cena. After two spears, and 280 days of waiting, Edge was the WWE Champion!

What happened next? The Rated R Superstar celebrated as only he could, with a “Live Sex Celebration” the next night on RAW with Lita. Ric Flair interrupted the happy couple, leading to a WWE Championship TLC match between Edge and Flair, which Edge won. At the Royal Rumble though, John Cena won the title back in his rematch at the Royal Rumble. 

In Edge’s mandated rematch, Cena was successful in a match guest refereed by Mick Foley. Edge blamed the Hardcore Legend for his lose, and this lead to a memorable match between the two at Wrestlemania 22, which ended with a Spear through a flaming table. Edge then returned to the Championship picture, just coming up short in a Triple Threat match involving Cena and Triple H. Edge had earned the respect of Mick Foley though, and got involved with Tommy Dreamer, another ECW superstar, leading to a match involving Edge, Foley, and Lita against Dreamer, Terry Funk, and Beluah McGillicutty at ECW One Night Stand, another famous night in MITB history.

Cashing in Money In The Bank finally gave Edge the chance to break into the main event picture. He only held the WWE title for a few weeks, but it was the first of ELEVEN world title reigns. Edge had actually been a singles wrestler for 5 years by this point, and although he had some high level feuds with the likes of Shaun Michaels and a great run as part of the SmackDown Six, there were doubts that he would ever reach the very top, despite his obvious potential. That first brief title run though showed the audience that Edge could be a proper champion. The Catch-22 situation (like the entry level job that requires years experience, how do you prove you deserve a run as a true main eventer if you never get a run as a true main eventer?) was resolved. It was the final piece of the puzzle that made the Rated R Superstar, and it showed what Money In The Bank could do for a Superstars career.


The Rise of Extreme – ECW One Night Stand, Sunday 11th June 2006
ROB VAN DAM cashes in on WWE Champion John Cena

RVDMitb

After the success of One Night Stand the year before, by early 2006 there were rumours that WWE was considering reviving ECW as a third distinct brand alongside Monday Night RAW and Friday Night SmackDown. When it was announced in May 2006 that the show would be revived, starting after the second ECW One Night Stand in June, naturally Rob Van Dam was the first choice by Paul Hayman to join his roster – and especially when he was carrying the Money In The Bank briefcase.

Rob Van Dam was in most people’s the most talented original ECW alumni, and had been a long term ECW TV Champion before ECW’s closure in 2001. He had become incredibly popular during the WWE/WCW/ECW InVasion storyline, one of the few non-WWE stars to benefit from that huge missed opportunity which ran through most of 2002. He had a few Intercontinental Championship reigns, and a very fun tag team alongside Kane. However, an injury in January 2005 put him on the shelf for a full year, before a storming comeback at the 2006 Royal Rumble put him back into the upper midcard. Van Dam then rode this wave of success right up to a number 1 contenders match to face John Cena at Wrestlemania 22, where he lost to Triple H. He did manage to qualify for the second Money in the Bank ladder match, and at Wrestlemania, he claimed the briefcase in a match featuring Shelton Benjamin, Ric Flair, Finlay, Bobby Lashley and Matt Hardy.

So, with Mr Money in the Bank being an ECW icon, and an ECW PPV being on the horizon, Rob Van Dam did almost the polar opposite of what Edge had done the year before: he announced almost a full month in advance that he would take on John Cena at the upcoming One Night Stand event. It was to be held at the legendary Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, one of ECW’s most famous regular arenas. Paul Heyman informed John Cena, even in 2006 the poster boy for all things WWE, that he was in for one hell of a reception, and the ECW fans “couldn’t wait to boo him out of the arena”.

In front of one of the most raucous and hostile crowds in modern wrestling (“If Cena Wins We Riot” said on famous banner), John Cena and Rob Van Dam had a great battle. Since he became the face of WWE, John Cena has never fully gone back to the bad guy persona that brought him his initial success, but this was one of the nights when he embraced the crowd’s animosity towards him. And, like his TLC match with Edge in Toronto and the famous match with CM Punk in Chicago, playing to the crowd upped the ante, pushing it to an even higher level. After Cena laid out the ECW referee when Rob Van Dam managed to get to the ropes after Cena’s STF submission, a WWE official came to the ring with Cena seemingly on the verge of victory. With RVD on the floor, a figure dressed in black wearing a motorcycle helmet arrived and speared Cena through a table set up in the corner. The man in black then punched out the second referee, then revealed himself to be Edge. A revived RVD hit a huge 5 Star Frog Splash, and with no referee, Paul Heyman made his way down the aisle and counted three in the middle of the ring, in the middle of Hammerstein Ballroom, to make Rob Van Dam the WWE Champion in a truly remarkable moment.

What happened next? Rob Van Dam was named ECW World Heavyweight Champion on the first episode of the revived ECW on Tuesday 13th June. Rob Van Dam retained against number one  contender Edge at the next PPV Vengence, and also beat Kurt Angle on ECW the next Tuesday. However, a few short weeks later, RVD lost his WWE title to Edge on RAW and then his ECW to The Big Show when Paul Heyman turned on him.

What caused this sudden fall from grace? Rob Van Dam was caught speeding (along with Sabu) and found to be possession of marijuana. He was suspended for 30 days after dropping the titles, and his career at the top level was finished. He returned and got back into the ECW title picture, but with Paul Heyman losing his influence over the brand, Bobby Lashley was positioned as the conquering hero to take the title off Big Show, and RVD never won any of the multiple title shots he received.

RVD’s contracted ended in the middle of 2007, and citing burn-out he decided to leave the company. He cherry-picked some big independent dates for a few years, set up a radio show (basically pre-empting the surge in wrestling podcasts) and made a couple of cameo appearances back in WWE, before signing for TNA in 2010, were he flourished in the more relaxed environment with its easier taping and touring schedule. Hulk Hogan had long wanted to build a company around Rob, and he became the TNA Champion, before some usual TNA nonsense reared its ugly head (RVD ran out of performances on his contract) and so vacated the title on injury grounds after and attack by Abyss.

A one year return to WWE followed in 2013, and after a brief run of success (including earning a title shot against Alberto Del Rio) after signing it was clear that time, and maybe the limitations of WWE’s style, was taking its toll, and watching RVD wrestle at half speed (and worst of all, making his opponents wrestle at half speed) soon lost its appeal. The door remains open for him to return, but with no ECW revivals on the horizon, and no great clamour to see RVD, anything more than a Royal Rumble cameo seems unlikely. 

There is one good thing to come out of this mess – between leaving WWE and signing for TNA Van Dam made a film called Wrong Side of Town, which also gave Dave Bautista one of his first films roles. It is an action film so cheesy it almost makes up for December to Dismember. 

A quick note on ECW – with Heyman in charge, the plan had been to use Kurt Angle as a hybrid shoot fighter to become the face of the company alongside RVD. However, the injury and addiction problems led to Angle leaving the company meant that he wasn’t in a good place when Rob Van Dam was arrested, so The Big Show became champion, a move that solidified the shift away from the original ECW spirit in many fan’s eyes. When Bobby Lashley won the title at the appalling December to Dismember PPV, Paul Heyman and WWE parted ways, and after Lashley defended the title against all of the ECW originals and beat them handily, ECW became basically a glorified developmental league for WWE. There were some good moments, such as Johnny Nitro turning into John Morrison, and CM Punk’s final chase for the title, and Mark Henry, Matt Hardy, Christian and Jack Swagger all got some very good ECW title runs, but it was no longer anything like Extreme Championship Wrestling, and was cancelled in 2010 (incidentally, just after RVD signed with TNA) and replaced by the first, reality-show based incarnation of NXT.


The One That Didn’t Quite Work – SmackDown (Episode 403), Friday 11th May 2007
EDGE cashes in on WWE Heavyweight Champion The Undertaker

Mr Kennedy Edge MitB
Ahh, Mr Kennedy… Kennedy. While King Booker ruled SmackDown and Batista chased him down to get back his title (a period that actually saw SmackDown beat Raw in the ratings), the midcard seemed to be developing some future stars. Bobby Lashley was a phenomenal physical specimen with a legit athletic background, and was also a military veteran who got injured stopping a bank robbery. MVP had a great character as a premiere, entitled athlete, and had a great redemption story after having spent him in prison as a troubled teenager. And then there was Mr Kennedy. The cocky newcomer made a connection with the audience through his good look, brash style, and gimmick of repeating his name during his introduction like the old boxing announcers at Madison Square Garden. After debuting in 2005, he picked up victories over 7 world champions over the first year or so of career, and had the gift of the gab to keep reminding the audience of that fact! That spell of success did include a period of six months out with injury, something that would come back to hurt Kennedy.

Winning the US Championship and a feud with The Undertaker in the winter of 2006 seemed to be moving Kennedy further up the card, and his potential as a future world champion was underlined with a main event title match at the 2007 Royal Rumble against Batista, and an unsuccessful attempt at the ECW Champion Bobby Lashley.

At Wrestlemania 23, Mr Kennedy won the third Money In The Bank ladder match, beating CM Punk, Finlay, Jeff Hardy, King Booker, Matt Hardy,  and Randy Orton. After a few weeks of speculation, at the end of April, Mr Kennedy announced he was going to cash in his World title shot at Wrestlemania 24. A huge marker was put down – Mr Kennedy was going to be a star.

And then… it all went wrong. World Heavyweight Champion The Undertaker suffered a bicep tear in a Wrestlemania rematch against Batista, an injury so bad that the muscle had visible rolled up towards his shoulder. The time was ripe for Mr Kennedy – until he also suffered an injury that was going to out him on the shelf for months. Needing an immediate solution, the Ultimate Opportunist Edge stepped up to the plate – goading Mr Kennedy into putting his briefcase on the line on Monday Night Raw, smashed him in the face with a monitor and pinned him 6 seconds into the match after devastating Spear.

The very next night on SmackDown, The Undertaker retained his title with a draw in a Steel Cage match against Batista, and after a returning Mark Henry left Taker a broken, bloody mess, Edge cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot and won the World Heavyweight Championship.

What happened next? Beating The Undertaker really pushed Edge over the top. He retained against Batista for the next few months, before a feud with Kane ended early after an injury. He came back from injury to prevent Taker beating Batista, and with the help of The Edgeheads (Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder) regained the title at Armageddon. He would add Chavo Guerrero to his Familia in January, before going on to face Taker at Wrestlemania 24. The Money In The Bank holder did main event WM24 after all.

Edge remained at the top of the card for the rest of his career, before being forced to retire early due to a long standing and worsening neck injury. He went into the Hall of Fame as an eleven time champion in 2012.

Mr Kennedy’s career never reached the heights of that early promise. I’ve never been totally sure whether the reported injury that cost him the Money in the Bank briefcase was fully legit or storyline – he returned just a few weeks later after it was found to be just a hematoma rather than muscle tear – but he never crossed paths with Edge again, despite what seemed to be a logical, ready-made future feud. He was caught up in a steroid scandal that got him suspended, and faced off with Jeff Hardy and Shawn Michaels. He was also meant to be the son of Vince McMahon before his suspension, an angle that ended up as comic relief when Hornswoggle was revealed as McMahon’s son. Injuries took him out of the ring for almost a full year, and on his big return he hit a move that injured Randy Orton, resulting in his release from the company in 2009. He spent 6 years in TNA and was a major player there at times, becoming a two-time world champion and feuding with fellow MitB winner Rob Van Dam, but never returned to WWE. Twice in a row, the Money In The Bank ladder match winner ended up leaving the company under a cloud.


The Rise of Punk – Monday Night Raw (Episode 788), Monday 30th June 2008
CM Punk cashes in on WWE Heavyweight Champion Edge

Punk MitB

Going into Wrestlemania 24, CM Punk was a young rising star. He had been a very popular ECW Champion, but after dropping the title to Chavo Guerrero (due to Edge’s interference, I wonder if that will come back to haunt him?) he had done pretty much all he could in the Land of Extreme. He was appearing on Raw and Smackdown as a special attraction before becoming Mr Money in the Bank, beating Carlito, Chris Jericho, John Morrison, MVP, Mr Kennedy, and Shelton Benjamin. He then threatened to cash on both champions, until he was drafted to RAW permanently on 23rd June. This draft took WWE Champion Triple H to SmackDown, meaning that if Batista couldn’t beat World Heavyweight Champion Edge at the Night of Champions pay per view, RAW would be without a major champion. Edge won after interference from Curt Hawkins, Zack Ryder, and Vickie Guerrero, a belt shot to the back of the head, and a count from replacement referee Chavo Guerrero.

The next night on RAW, despite being SmackDown-based, champion Edge came out to gloat about his victory. This led to a furious Batista beating down Edge all over the ringside area, before a huge Batista Bomb from The Animal left the Rated R Superstar flat out in the middle of the ring. CM Punk seized his chance, sprinting to the ring with a referee by his side, and hurrying Lilian Garcia through her announcement of the match. One Go2Sleep later, CM Punk became World Heavyweight Champion for the first time.

What happened next? CM Punk fought JBL in the main event of that very episode of RAW, and after a distraction from John Cena and Cryme Tyme attacking JBL’s security, picked up his first win as champ. But the whole episode was symptomatic of Punk’s true position on the card: winning the title was the result of Batista destroying Edge on his first night on RAW to establish The Animal, and even as Punk pinned JBL the camera was just as focused on Cena as the actual champ.

After beating Snitsky and Kane on consecutive RAWs, Punk faced Batista at Great American Bash, which ended in a double DQ after Kane interfered, and a rematch the next night led to a no contest. Punk then feuded with JBL through Summerslam, where their match was fourth from the top, behind Triple H v Great Khali, Batista v John Cena, and Edge v The Undetaker in a Hell in a Cell match. Punk got an underdog victory, but at Unforgiven on 7th September, CM Punk was attacked before the Championship Scramble (I miss that match) by Randy Orton’s Legacy faction. Chris Jericho took Punk’s place and won the vacant title.

When Punk returned, he was defeated by Jericho in a Steel Cage match, but he got a modicum of revenge in October by beating Legacy’s Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes to win the World Tag Team Championship with Kofi Kingston. They lost the title to The Miz and John Morrison in  December, before Punk won a number 1 contenders tournament to face Intercontinental Champion William Regal. Winning that title made Punk the quickest Triple Crown winner in WWE history, but he lost it just before Wrestlemania to JBL (who went on to lose in record time to Rey Mysterio). At Wrestlemania 24, Punk seemed directionless when he was placed into the Money in the Bank match again… 


So, the first four cash-ins definitely set the template for the Money in the Bank. It’s a period of time that highlights the rise of Edge from midcard to main event, then from main event to future Hall of Famer. We also saw the WWE fumble the ball with both Mr Kennedy and CM Punk, while RVD led to a huge, memorable moment but cost himself the chance of superstardom.

We’ll be back next week to look at the next batch of Money in the Bank winners cashing in!

Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.

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