With the 2013 version of Money In The Bank just around the corner, what better time than now could there be to look back at the previous TWELVE winners of the briefcase and see what success they had and whether their win was indeed the big breakthrough that the WWE likes us to believe it always is. I’m not looking at the quality of the matches themselves, more the impact that the winners and/or cash-in’s had.
2005 – Edge
At the time of the original Money In The Bank match at WrestleMania 21, there was a buzz simply because this was a new concept (introduced both on-screen and off by Chris Jericho, apparently) which promised both a great match and a stipulation never before seen in the WWE. Edge had been a promising talent for a number of years and had threatened to shatter through the glass ceiling only to never quite get the support that he needed.
Although it was a long time coming (and at 280 days, Edge is still the man who has held off the longest for his “cash-in”) the wait merely amplified the anticipation for his big moment and his victory over John Cena at 2006’s New Year’s Revolution, minutes after Cena had survived an Elimination Chamber match, was superbly time and really played up to Edge’s character.
Of course such were the long-term plans in the WWE’s mind at the time, even sky-rocketing TV ratings during Edge’s subsequent reign couldn’t halt the juggernaut that was HHH/Cena at ‘Mania 22. But whilst the title reign that resulted from Edge’s cash-in was short, it set fire to his character and marked him out as a man who could succeed at the very top of the WWE.
2006 – Rob Van Dam
The cash-in match for Rob Van Dam was arguably the most memorable in the short history of the gimmick. Rob gave notice that at the “ECW” One Night Stand pay-per-view that he would challenge John Cena, win the belt and rename it the ECW World Heavyweight Title. That he ultimately did, in a match that had the white-hot atmosphere that is extremely rare in professional wrestling. From that point of view, and with RVD naming himself both WWE and ECW Champion, the cash-in was successful.
However, it is very clear that this was only designed to push the new version of ECW, with Van Dam earmarked to lose the WWE version of the title even before his unfortunate drug arrest. That put the nail in the coffin for his ECW title reign as well and the WWE management probably made a mental note never to trust Van Dam with a World Heavyweight Title run ever again. So whilst the cash-in was very successful, circumstances beyond the WWE’s control meant that ultimately there was no long-term benefit.
2007 – Mr. Kennedy
Truth be told, I never saw anything in Mr. Kennedy. But someone of importance obviously did with his win in the match at WrestleMania 23 and his subsequent proclamation that he would cash-in his title shot at ‘Mania 24. Alas, we will never know if that storyline would have propelled him to genuine super-stardom. An injury forced a change of tack, with Edge winning the MITB briefcase off Kennedy in a move that took away any credibility that Kennedy had. Ironically, if the WWE had held fire just a week or two, Kennedy’s injury was not as bad as the first prognosis had suggested, but by then it was too late.
Edge’s subsequent cash-in was another feather in his character’s cap, but Kennedy’s win is one of those best forgotten storylines.
2008 – CM Punk
As hard as it is to imagine now, this was a quite a shock at the time with even Punk himself admitting he thought he was more likely to be fired than get a shot at the World Title in this period.
The win was welcomed by the crowd at WrestleMania 24 but in what would become a disappointing regular occurrence for MITB winners, Punk was hardly pushed as a genuine World Title contender in the weeks and months afterwards.
Punk’s win was anti-climatic as it was Batista’s rampage that softened up then champion Edge for Punk’s win, hardly an auspicious start for a babyface champion, and his subsequent title reign was portrayed as one where he was out of his depth and “lucky” and culminated in him not even being allowed to lose the title in the ring, instead being attacked prior to his match at 2008’s Unforgiven and forfeiting the title.
Punk is a genuine star now, but 2008’s MITB win made little difference to his prospects.
2009 – CM Punk
Things were much better second time around for CM Punk. Although still a babyface when he won the MITB match at WrestleMania 25, and indeed still nominally a babyface when he cashed in against then champion Jeff Hardy at Extreme Rules 2009, the title win was used as a springboard for a Punk heel turn and this gave him a chance to show what he could REALLY do in front of the WWE audience.
Punk would probably have turned heel without the impetus of his MITB cash-in, but because his victory over Hardy, after Hardy had fought an epic ladder match with Edge, was timed so well it fired up his heel character so I would have to consider this a success.
2010 – Jack Swagger
Jack Swagger’s 2010 “main event” push was eerily similar to his 2013 one. It’s no coincidence that both fell well short of establishing him as a genuine headliner. He cashed in two days after his WrestleMania 26 win, but this was more to do with the fact that the WWE had decided to add a Money In The Bank pay-per-view to it’s annual line up than being any great sign of Swagger dominance. (The WWE couldn’t very well hold a MITB ppv with the last cash-in outstanding could they?). Swagger’s win was underwhelming, and so was his subsequent cash-in and title reign. Definitely not a success.
2010 – Kane
At the first ever Money In The Bank ppv, Kane won the Smackdown match and “made history” by cashing in his title shot the very same night against Rey Misterio Jr. The novelty of that certainly made the cash-in a success and whilst Kane was in no need of the help of MITB to cement a top-line push it was relatively well received and at least gave a reason for Kane to be back on top. And hey, the very fact that some of the booking squad were pushing for Drew McIntyre to both win this match AND cash-in on the same night should at least make us thankful that it was indeed the Big Red Machine who got the honours.
2010 – The Miz
In what would become a familiar development, The Miz may have won the Raw MITB match but it made little difference to his on-screen fortunes. Perhaps the WWE bookers thought that having him win the Briefcase was enough to make Miz a threat and that he didn’t, you know, have to win many matches to keep his momentum going. His eventual cash in against Randy Orton got that initial pop but he struggled to maintain the momentum and the lack of support from the company was evident when he couldn’t even defeat the 147 year old part-timer Jerry Lawler without outside help. On paper his reign was a success as he gained oodles of mainstream press and went onto headline WrestleMania opposite John Cena, actually retaining the title there. But the very fact that The Miz has got nowhere near regaining the World Title since these days should say it all. A clear sign that wining the MITB match in of itself is not enough to turn someone into a true headlining superstar.
2011 – Daniel Bryan
Much like the Miz a year earlier, the MITB win did little to change Bryan’s immediate fortunes. He lost more than he won and couldn’t even make it onto PPV cards at times in the months following his win. Indeed there was a fear from many fans that Bryan was being set up for a fall in becoming the first man (ignoring the Kennedy farce) to not successfully cash-in his title shot.
Thankfully that didn’t happen, even though there was one false cash-in against Mark Henry that was overturned. Once he did grab hold of the belt against The Big Show, Bryan proved that he had the skills to compete at the top of the card, even in there with the twice his size Mark Henry and Big Show but even then it seemed as if he was merely “holding” the title until someone judged more suitable could grab it.
The strangest thing happened though as his 18 second loss to Sheamus at WrestleMania, which might have been seen as a clear-cut way of cutting Bryan off completely, actually led to a huge upswing in support for him and if it took the WWE by surprise you can only commend them for capitalising on it and helping Bryan become a bigger star than ever.
Although you could argue about how much his MITB win had to do with his upswing in popularity, it’s probably safe to say that without the storyline possibilites of his win there Bryan may never have been given the chance to win the World Title and his subsequent reign did propel him to all new heights.
2011 – Alberto Del Rio
Earmarked as a star by those in power even before his debut, not even a Royal Rumble win in 2011 made Del Rio a genuine star as he failed to defeat Edge in his WrestleMania 27. Still, Del Rio had the support within management and so was picked as the winner of the 2011 Raw MITB match at the now established PPV. He cashed in at SummerSlam that year against CM Punk, but subsequently traded the title with John Cena before dropping it back to Punk at that year’s Survivor Series.
His Briefcase win certainly gave storyline impetus for him chasing the World Title again and it was the kind of thing that was logical and gave Del Rio a boost of credibility when he most needed it. That said, whilst Del Rio has most definitely made it to a certain level of stardom, he still hasn’t quite managed to fully cement himself as a true headlining superstar. The MITB win though certainly played a part in him becoming a credible wrestle at the world title level.
2012 – Dolph Ziggler
See Punk (2008), Miz (2010) and Bryan (2012). Like that trio, Ziggler’s MITB win made little difference to his immediate fortunes as he continued to be on the losing side of most of his biggest matches and generally could only beat top-line stars after interference. That’s not necessarily the bad thing, he was a heel after all, but he was continually made to look weaker than those above him in the food chain. The WWE’s reasoning is that there will be enhanced interest in his title defences, once he cashed in, if he’s up against former opponents who had already defeated him. Sadly we will never know if that battle plan was one that would have worked. His cash-in, in front of the legendary post-Mania crowd in April 2013, was well executed and received but before he could really get going as champion a concussion injury put him on the shelf and although he was allowed to keep the title rather than forfeit it, he lost it pretty quickly upon his return to the ring.
2012 – John Cena
Essentially this MITB match up was used to hype a match for the Raw 1000 show. So what could be a career changing match for someone was used to heat up THE established headliner for a title match on free TV. The only good thing to come out of this was at least Cena became the first man to lose his cash-in match. To see the MITB gimmick reduced to being a free-TV set up was disappointing. Hopefully that won’t happen again any time soon.
So there you have it; despite the fact that a lot of the people who won their Money In The Bank matches didn’t go on to set the headline scene on fire, at least initially, the matches themselves remain among the most anticipated on the yearly calendar and whatever the fate of the winners of the MITB matches each year, we can usually rely on the matches themselves delivering within the squared circle. Most fans genuinely still want to believe that they are the kind of matches that can make careers in one night and whilst that may not be strictly true, I’m sure we will all be watching 2013’s version with a keen eye on seeing just who next will be in line for the Money In The Bank rewards…
– By Matthew Roberts