By Chris Slater
WWE’s most recent pay-per-view “Money in the Bank” is, for lack of a better term, in the bank. The two marquee matches are the MITB ladder matches, in which competitors climb to retrieve a briefcase containing a contract for either a WWE or World Championship match at any time of his choosing. The contract is good for up to a year.
In the storylines, Chris Jericho is given credit with creating the MITB concept. In real life, Jericho deserves partial credit. In his second autobiography, he writes about how he came up with the idea of a ladder match where the winner receives anything he wants. He pitched it to WWE writer Brian Gewirtz, and it was set. The winner was to be Rob Van Dam and he was going to request the ECW: One Night Stand pay-per-view become a reality. Then RVD got injured and it was changed to a contract for a title match. Edge won the first ladder match at WrestleMania 21, in 2005.
At this year’s event, the two winners were about as polar opposite as two wrestlers could be. Holding the World Title briefcase is Dolph Ziggler, a cocky heel that fans have been waiting to break into the upper echelon for at least the last 15 months. The WWE Title briefcase holder is none other than the face of WWE, John Cena. Already a 10-time WWE Champion, he has announced that he is cashing in his match this coming Monday, July 23, at the historic 1000th episode of Monday Night Raw.
Cena will be the eleventh man to cash in his briefcase. The odds are in his favor, as the previous 10 cash-ins have resulted in championship victories. With this space, I’m going to look at those MITB cash-ins and rank them according to the following system: unpredictability, match quality, overall impact and aftermath (in addition to my biased opinion as a fan).
But, first, some trivia:
Edge and CM Punk are the only people to cash in MITB on more than one occasion. Edge and Punk are also the only two people to both cash in MITB and have it cashed in on them. John Cena has been cashed in on twice. The World Championship has been cashed in the most, with 6, including 5 straight. Rob Van Dam (and as of now, John Cena) is the only competitor to announce his title match in advance. All others took advantage of a loophole that allowed them to cash in at any time, including on an unconscious competitor. Ken Kennedy (now Ken Anderson in TNA) is the only competitor to lose the briefcase before cashing it in. He lost it in a match to Edge.
Now, the list:
1) Rob Van Dam versus John Cena, One Night Stand, 2006: RVD announced he was cashing in at the second ECW PPV, and it led to arguably one of the top 5 moments of the last decade. Cena, the epitome of the cartoon WWE world at the time, walked into the nostalgic ECW crowd and received the loudest gathering of boos and obscene chants he’s ever had. He threw his shirt into the crowd and they threw it back at him. Five times! RVD won, which led to him simultaneously holding the WWE and ECW championships for a short period. It also led to the rebirth of ECW as a permanent brand.
2) Edge versus John Cena, New Year’s Revolution, 2006: The original cash-in and one of the most unpredictable and exciting. Cena had just defended the title in a bloody, half-hour plus Elimination Chamber match. As the cage was ascending, Vince McMahon came to the stage and told the audience to stay in their seats because he had an announcement. With that, Edge came out and Mr. McMahon announced that he was cashing in. Edge went on to win his first WWE Championship and was well on his path to greatness.
3) CM Punk versus Edge, Raw, 2008: The tables were turned. Edge, who had cashed in twice on unsuspecting opponents, finally received his comeuppance as the same thing happened to him. Edge had been drafted to SmackDown and was taking his World Championship with him. He had one final chance to gloat on Raw before the flagship show was left without a title. This brought out Batista, who had been feuding with Edge, who proceeded to beat him unconscious around the ring for a few minutes. Enter Punk, who won his first World Championship. It was the beginning of big things for the “Best in the World.”
4) Miz versus Randy Orton, Raw, 2010: By this point, MITB had become somewhat predictable. Every time the champ is down in the ring, the crowd waits to see if the briefcase holder will come down. That night’s Raw was built around Orton defending his WWE Championship against Wade Barrett. The Nexus interfered and injured Orton’s leg. What followed was a great match in front of a hot crowd that saw Orton win. Then, Miz came out and ruined it. Watching his celebration, it was obvious that he was genuinely happy, as he pounded his fists on the mat and teared up. Watching the crowd, it was obvious they hated him. Check out “Miz Girl” on YouTube if you haven’t seen it yet.
5) Edge versus The Undertaker, SmackDown, 2007: Somewhat predictable, in the sense that we knew going in that Undertaker had injured his arm and needed surgery, so people were waiting for him to lose the World Championship on this episode of SmackDown. Ken Kennedy was slated to win his first title, but had injured his arm over the weekend and it was thought he needed surgery. They got the briefcase off of him on Monday, then Edge cashed it in on Tuesday. On further review, Kennedy was only going to be out for about 3 weeks. Good drama to this. Undertaker survived a long, brutal, bloody cage match against Batista, then was ambushed by Mark Henry, then got cashed in on by Edge.
6) CM Punk versus Jeff Hardy, Extreme Rules, 2009: Punk was the first man to win consecutive MITB matches and cash in both. Hardy had just won the World Championship from Edge in a TLC match. As Jim Ross entered the ring to interview Hardy on his first World Championship victory, Punk’s music hits and he cashes in. Punk and Hardy were both faces at the time, so there was some questioning of Punk’s motives here. This was the slow build to Punk’s first WWE heel turn, as his straight edge philosophy clashed with Hardy’s care-free attitude.
7) Daniel Bryan versus Big Show, TLC, 2011: The quickest of all MITB cash-ins, as previously the referee would make the other competitor get up to his feet before starting the match. This time, Bryan came down to the ring and pinned Show while he was still on the ground. Similar to Punk, this was the start of the slow build to the heel turn for Bryan. While the match wasn’t much, it has led to Bryan becoming one of the top stars in WWE right now. Counting the cash-in, Bryan went on to compete in six consecutive World or WWE Championship matches on pay-per-view. Who woulda ever thunk it?
8) Kane versus Rey Mysterio, MITB, 2010: At the first PPV designed specifically for the MITB concept, Kane became the first person to win the briefcase and then cash it in on the same night. He defeated Mysterio only seconds after Mysterio had defeated Jack Swagger. This led to Kane’s last great heel turn, and possibly The Undertaker’s last stretch as an active wrestler, as he feuded with his storyline brother before injuring his shoulder and only competed at the last two WrestleMania events since then.
9) Jack Swagger versus Chris Jericho, SmackDown, 2010: WrestleMania was that Sunday. Swagger had shockingly won MITB. My bet was on Christian. Jericho had defended his title against Edge. On Monday Night Raw, Swagger attempted to cash in on WWE Champ John Cena, but the match was never official. The next night, during the SmackDown taping, he took advantage of an unconscious Jericho and became World Champ. They positioned him strongly for the rest of the summer, before seemingly giving up on him. His most recent losses are to Brodus Clay, Ryback, and Santino Marella. It’s actually been joked about by the announcers on WWE television that he is a former World Champion.
10) Alberto Del Rio versus CM Punk, SummerSlam, 2011: This is last for a couple reasons. First, reportedly the only reason he won the WWE Championship was because WWE had their first tour of Mexico coming up and wanted him as champion there. That wasn’t a good enough reason for me to disrupt the awesome Cena/Punk feud that had been going on. Second, the reign lasted only a month. Third, it was overshadowed by everything else at SummerSlam. Here was the crowd: “Punk is back in WWE! I can’t believe he just beat Cena! But, wait, did Triple H not see Cena’s foot on the rope?! Holy shit, Kevin Nash is back! Why does he have beef with Punk? Oh, hey, there’s Del Rio cashing in.” Just too much all at once.
So, where will Cena’s cash-in this Monday rank among the others? Will he be the first to lose in his opportunity? The Rock will be there and tweeted that he wanted the WWE Championship. What role, if any, will he play in the match. What do we want to see more – Rock/Cena II or Punk/Rock?
Will Dolph Ziggler decide to prey upon a fallen Sheamus and claim his second World Heavyweight Championship at the 1000th Raw?
Tune in this Monday at the new start time of 8 p.m. on USA Network and find out.