JC’s Top Rope Report: Ranking Every Money in the Bank Winner

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The Money in the Bank PPV/Ladder Match has possibly become the most anticipated gimmick match in the WWE. I think a lot of people would argue that it has surpassed Survivor Series and is the #4 PPV in the WWE PPV Line-up. Of course, that has as much to do with the WWE not treating Survivor Series like a big deal anymore. But that is another topic all together.

Since its inception in 2005, there have been a grand total of 14 Money in the Bank ladder matches. The first six happened at Wrestlemania and the remaining eight since then have taken place at the Money in the Bank PPV. The concept worked as a PPV when there were two titles and two separate ladder matches. I thought it would have made sense to have the ladder match go back to Wrestlemania with just one title now. Of course it looks like things may work out for the WWE this year if they decide to do two separate ladder matches, one for the Title and one for a briefcase.

So with that brief intro out of the way, I figured I would take the time to look back at all of the previous Money in the Bank winners and rank them. What determined these rankings? Here’s the criteria:

-Were they the right person to win at the time?

-How memorable was their cash in?

-Did Money in the Bank help elevate their career?

-Was momentum maintained after the Money in the Bank win?

So with the criteria out of the way, lets get to the rankings!

(For the purposes of this list, I am counting both of CM Punk’s wins separately.)

14. Mr. Kennedy- 2007

-Mr. Kennedy kind of gets this spot by default. That’s because he is the only Money in the Bank winner to never cash in the contract. He lost the briefcase to Edge because of an injury, which actually ended up not being as bad as originally thought. Mr. Kennedy always seemed to just run into the worst luck possible in his WWE career. An injury forced him to vacate the Money in the Bank contract. Then it seemed like he was going to be revealed as the missing McMahon son during that angle. But his name came out in the Sports Illustrated article as someone who received steroids, so he was suspended. I always thought Mr. Kennedy could have been a top guy on the Smackdown brand as World Champion. There’s always a lot of debate about what Mr. Kennedy’s ceiling could have been in the WWE. I would have liked to see him get a brief run as World Champ on Smackdown, so it was disappointing to see him lose the briefcase. I think Mr. Kennedy was the right guy to win the match, but his string of bad luck lead to his failures in the WWE.

13. John Cena- 2012 (RAW/WWE Title)

-There were a lot of people dreading the RAW Money in the Bank match in 2012 because they saw this result coming. When you have a ladder match with John Cena, Chris Jericho, Kane, Big Show and Miz the dread is justified. Some people might have found a glimmer of hope when Miz was added to the match late. But in the end, the match was John Cena’s way of getting back into the Title picture. The problem was, however, that storyline wise Cena didn’t take advantage of Money in the Bank. Because he is good guy John Cena, he gave CM Punk one week to get ready. And that rendered the Money in the Bank stipulation useless. This was a situation of Money in the Bank not really doing anything at all for John Cena, other than being the first person to not successfully cash it in. Cena winning was done more to add another accolade to his Hall of Fame career rather than to use the stipulation itself properly.

12. Damien Sandow- 2013 (World Title)

-Last year’s World Title Money in the Bank match was a fun one. It was essentially billed as a “young guns” match with a lot of people in the mix. You could have made a case for all seven men involved in the match to win. Damien Sandow ended up winning the briefcase, but the result was somewhat disastrous. Many people thought this was the next step for Sandow in his push to become a possible main event player. But Sandow ran into the unstoppable force known as John Cena. Cena, despite having an injured arm, was still able to fend off Sandow’s cash in attempt and retain the World Title. Since then, Sandow has been reduced to nothing more than a low card jobber/comedy act. Sandow deserved better than what he has received. To this day I still wonder what the point of giving Sandow the briefcase if a Title win and/or better push wasn’t the result.

11. Kane- 2010 (Smackdown/World Title)

-I feel like most wrestling fans would agree with the bottom three on this list. After that there is more debate, but some of the lesser ones I still think are a bit obvious. Kane’s win comes to mind. There were a lot of better options in the match compared to Kane. There were a handful of young guys in the match that could have been elevated with the win, like Drew McIntyre and Kofi Kingston (who still had some hope back then). Instead, we got a Kane win which lead to another long Undertaker/Kane feud when it was revealed that Kane put Undertaker in a vegetative state. I tend to be a little bit harsher on the Smackdown/World Title cash ins because you always knew the WWE treated it as secondary to the WWE Title, and the WWE should be willing to take more chances with it. They didn’t here, and it is another example of wasting a potential push for young talent.

10. Jack Swagger- 2010 (Wrestlemania 26)

-First of all, this match had WAY too many people involved. Ten wrestlers in one ladder match leads to way too many rest spots and not everyone involved in the match at the same time. But here was also a time where the WWE decided to take a chance with the Money in the Bank winner. I think a lot of people pegged a potential Drew McIntyre win here, or even a win for Christian. But the WWE decided to go all in on Jack Swagger. And I’m not saying it was a bad move. Here was the WWE decided to take a risk with the World Title, like I talked about above. But the WWE didn’t book Jack Swagger the right way at all. First they tried to change his character, then they didn’t properly book him as Champ. He delivered one good promo talking about his life (which I saw live and liked, who didn’t want a Swaggie after that!) and that was it. Swagger never recovered after this, and then did himself in during his push building to Wrestlemania 29.

9. Rob Van Dam- 2006 (Wrestlemania 22)

-This one may be the most wasted win of them all. RVD is someone who has always been popular with wrestling fans. You can trace it all the way back to his days in ECW. Fans liked his wrestling style and his care free, “whatever dude” type attitude. When he finally came to the WWE the fans were still behind him. He was cheered pretty well when he was part of the Alliance. And he remained over after that. Finally, the WWE decided to pull the trigger on RVD and gave him the Money in the Bank contract. Similar to John Cena, he gave his opponent notice when he was cashing in. But at least with RVD, he kind of had a “home court edge” from a storyline perspective when he decided to cash in at One Night Stand. After RVD’s win, many thought the sky was the limit for him. Instead, RVD was busted with drugs and suspended for 30 days. As a result, RVD lost the WWE Title and the ECW Title that he was awarded when the brand relaunched. This one would have been higher up the list had RVD not screwed it up for himself.

8. CM Punk (2008- Wrestlemania 24)

-As I said above I’m counting both of CM Punk’s wins separately because both ended up having a different end result. Punk’s first win was a big shock. The cash in itself was also a good one. But despite being the World Champion, Punk was never really treated as “the guy” during his first World Title run. Punk didn’t main event any PPVs as Champ. He also never really lost the World Title. He was taken out by a boot from Randy Orton and was never beat for it. The WWE wanted to get the Title into the Jericho/HBK feud. I never got that decision because that feud was hot enough on its own that I don’t think it needed the Title (although we did get a really great HBK/Jericho Ladder Match for the Title.) So while CM Punk’s first win was a great moment, it was any real sign of what was to come for him.

7. Dolph Ziggler (2012- Smackdown/World Title)

-In a case similar to RVD, here is where someone the fans got behind finally was given the keys to get to the top. Dolph Ziggler had grown a good following over the year leading up to this match. The fans liked his in ring work and had seen a lot of improvement since he was just going up to guys with the “Hi, I’m Dolph Ziggler” shtick. Ziggler teased a cash in on the first night but the match never started. After carrying around the briefcase for quite some time, Ziggler finally cashed in the night after Wrestlemania on an injured Alberto del Rio. Many felt Ziggler’s time was upon us. But Ziggler suffered a concussion and the WWE lost any faith they once had in him as a top guy. Ziggler met all of the criteria for the rankings except the last one: He wasn’t able to keep the momentum going forward. Ziggler’s fanbase hasn’t left him yet. He still has all those fans he gained in his push to the top. But I don’t think Ziggler will get back there any time soon. Similar to Mr. Kennedy, Dolph Ziggler has suffered some bad breaks during his career. But at least he was able to enjoy some time at the top first.

6. Alberto del Rio (2011- RAW/WWE Championship)

-Many people, myself included, assumed that Alberto del Rio was going to become World Champion at Wrestlemania 27. That didn’t happen and when it didn’t happen again at Extreme Rules, a lot of people wondered what was up. Del Rio moved over to RAW and it seemed like hope was saved for him. He immediately became the top contender to win the Money in the Bank briefcase and sure enough, he did. He cashed in successfully and ended SummerSlam as Champion. But here’s the problem with Del Rio, similar to CM Punk’s first reign: He wasn’t treated as “the guy” as Champ. Del Rio played second fiddle to a number of things. Those things included: John Cena, the HHH/CM Punk story, Miz and R-Truth, and The Rock’s return. Del Rio never really got a fair shake. Even when Del Rio won the World Title as a face, people were more concerned about a Dolph Ziggler cash in then Del Rio. Del Rio has failed in part because his Title reigns weren’t booked as big deals. But his MITB win here helped him out at least for a little bit.

5. Randy Orton (2013- WWE Title)

-Some people might not like that I have Orton’s win this high. But when you really take a look at it, Orton did a lot more with his MITB cash in than most people did. Was Orton the right guy to win at the time? Yes. Daniel Bryan’s story was always winning in a one-on-one match, not a cheap MITB cash in. Was Orton’s cash in memorable? Yes. He did it on the second biggest PPV of the year and crashed Daniel Bryan’s victory celebration. Did the win help elevate Orton’s career? He was already a main eventer, but you could argue that it boosted his status a bit after being down. He became the top heel in the company. And Orton kept the MITB momentum all the way to Wrestlemania where he lost the Title. While it may not have been a direct path there, the Orton MITB  cash in helped start the story of Daniel Bryan getting his Title shot at Wrestlemania. Orton’s cash in triggered a lot of things and that is why it gets a high spot on the list.

4. The Miz (2010- WWE Title)

-Here’s an example of someone who got hot just at the right time. The Miz was gaining a lot of momentum heading into the summer of 2010, and Money in the Bank just happened to be right around the corner. Miz won the match, and would go on to win the WWE Title in the fall of 2010. There are a lot of people who hate on The Miz right now, and rightfully so. But his run building up to the WWE Championship win was great. His cash in helped to somewhat deal with the poor booking of the Nexus, as he was the next hot heel act to take over the reigns on top. Miz’s problem, just like Alberto del Rio, was that he played second fiddle to The Rock and John Cena in the build to Wrestlemania 27. Despite winning at Wrestlemania, he would go on to lose the Title the next month and lost all of his momentum afterwards. And he lost all of his supporters in the process.

3. Daniel Bryan (2011- World Title)

-When I was putting together this list, the bottom three and top three were pretty obvious to me. I think there is room for debate in between. But I feel confident in saying these next three should be the top three. Bryan’s win was certainly unexpected. I can remember going in and thinking Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes were the favorites. But Bryan shocked us all, and he won it in front of a great Chicago crowd. Like a handful of winners, Bryan struggled after winning the briefcase. But his cash in helped launch his main event run. Bryan was always considered a great technician in the ring, but not someone who could be a top guy. Well, his run as World Champ helped change things. Even after his quick defeat at Wrestlemania, the crowd was still firmly behind him. The fans wouldn’t let Daniel Bryan go away. Not only that, but Bryan developed more as a character during his World Title run. This was the start of the ascension of Daniel Bryan.

2. CM Punk (2009- Wrestlemania 25)

-There’s a reason I wanted to separate both of Punk’s MITB wins. As I said earlier, the first one just didn’t really do anything for Punk. While it was a great moment, it didn’t help elevate him in the end. This win, however, did just that. Punk cashed in on an unsuspecting Jeff Hardy. And that launched the beginning of CM Punk’s run towards the top of the WWE. His program with Jeff Hardy was the best of the summer and lead to a great ladder match at SummerSlam. Punk then worked with The Undertaker. After that he went on to his great work with the Straight Edge Society. Then in 2011, we were treated to the launch of the Summer of Punk. I don’t think Punk lost any momentum after his win at Wrestlemania and his following cash in. Not many people expected Punk to win this match two years in a row, and some people may have even been upset about it. But without the win, we may not have been treated to the main event run CM Punk got after it.

1. Edge (2005- Wrestlemania 21)

-Lots of times in life, no matter what it is, the original is usually the best. And the same can be said for Edge winning and cashing in the Money in the Bank contract. No one really knew what to expect when the Money in the Bank contract was announced. How would it work? The briefcase did exactly what everyone thought it would for Edge: It elevated him to main event status in the WWE. You could even say that it set the bar too high for winners in the future. Edge cashed it in at the perfect opportunity against John Cena. Even though he lost it less than a month later, he kept his main event run going into a big program with Mick Foley at Wrestlemania. Edge went on to win multiple World Titles in the WWE, and winning the MITB contract helped launch his career into stardom. Edge set the bar so high for MITB winners that you could say he set every other winner up for disappointment.

So what are your rankings like? Anything different? Let me know in the comments!

Until Next Time,

Justin C

Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka