The next WWE pay-per-view is Money in the Bank on May 19th. In order to celebrate Money in the Bank’s 14-year history, I have decided to set up a special Money in the Bank match section here on TJRWrestling just like I have done for Royal Rumble matches and Elimination Chamber matches.
How did the Money in the Bank ladder match begin? It came from the mind of Chris Jericho, who wrote about it in his 2011 book called “Undisputed.”
“The concept of the match was that the winner would get his dream of anything he wanted fulfilled, which in turn would lead to RVD winning and bringing back ECW. Brian (Gewirtz) told me that Vince thought the Hollywood Dream match was a stupid prize for the winner and wanted something else to be at stake. We kibitzed for a few minutes until I suggested, ‘Why don’t we make the match for a contract that guarantees a title shot the next night on Raw?’ Brian took it one step further and proposed that the contract would be valid for one whole year and could be used at any time. Vince approved with his sole modification being that the contract had to be in a briefcase, and the Money in the Bank match was born.”
What I’m going to do is put in my play by play review of the 22 Money in the Bank matches. When we get to the ones where there are Money in the Bank PPVs starting in 2010 and there were multiple MITB matches, I’ll insert both of them in the same review.
In addition to the review, I’ll also cover the moment on WWE TV or PPV where the wrestler cashed in the briefcase. Most of them were successful cash-ins leading to new champions, but it didn’t happen every single time.
Let’s get to the first Money in the Bank match that took place at WrestleMania 21. I’ve already written about this match in my original WrestleMania 21 review right here and then I wrote about it also in my column about WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches and I listed this match at #15 when I did my countdown in 2017.
Who: Edge vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Kane
When: April 3, 2005
Where: WrestleMania 21 @ Staples Center in Los Angeles, California
What I Thought Back Then
I liked the choice of wrestlers of the match. Three of them (Jericho, Benoit & Kane) were former World Champions trying to get to the top again while the other three guys were rising stars hoping to get to that next level. Plus, they had a really athletic guy like Shelton Benjamin to do some cool spots and Kane was there as the big man in the match.
Any time you try out a new match for the first time there’s a concern that it might fail. However, in this case, everybody involved was very talented, so I feel like I was justified in expect an awesome match.
I’m not sure who I thought was going to win. Edge made the most sense as a guy that was on the brink that was at the main event level that could benefit from a win. Christian and Benjamin seemed like they were there to just do some cool spots. Kane, Jericho and Benoit all had a shot at winning since they were former main event talent.
This was originally written in 2012.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian (w/Tyson Tomko) vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Edge vs. Kane
There are ladders in the entry way. When Kane comes out, they are all on fire. All the guys attack Kane when he comes out. Benjamin and Benoit suplex Kane on the floor. Christian hit a springboard plancha on the guys on the floor. Then Benjamin does a no hands plancha over the top. Now Kane goes up and hits everybody with something off the top that I guess we can call a cross body attack. Tomko’s out there with Christian, so he gets knocked down too. Kane’s the only one standing. He sets up a ladder and drills Edge with it and then Christian. Jericho dropkicks the ladder into Kane’s face. He then drills Benjamin with it in the head and then he hits Edge in the ribs with it. Benoit comes in with a German Suplex, taking out the ladder also. Benoit climbs up, Kane goes to Chokeslam him and Benoit counters with a Crossface. Slick counter. Edge gets up, but he is met with a Crossface too. Kane spears him with the ladder while he’s got Edge in the Crossface. Kane puts the arm of Benoit in the ladder and rams it several times. Vicious yet smart. Edge spears Kane. Christian brings in a ladder. They sandwich Kane with a ladder. Benjamin in the ring with a springboard clothesline. Benjamin goes to kick Edge, but he blocks it and Benjamin dragon whips Christian into the ladder. Edge whips Benjamin spine first into a vertical ladder. Spear attempt countered into a flapjack into the propped up ladder. Benjamin gives Edge a Stinger Splash onto the ladder. He climbs but can’t reach, so Jericho gets up and fights him. Christian sets one up. Benoit with one arm climbs. Edge sets up another one. Everybody climbing except Kane. They chop the shit out of eachother. Benoit and Christian go down and then Jericho falls on the back of his head. Edge and Benjamin up top. T-Bone suplex by Benjamin off the top of the ladder! Damn. That has to hurt.
Everybody is out as the match resets. Jericho goes to climb, but Christian stops him. Jericho kicks Christian’s back of the head into the ladder. He does the slow climb and can’t reach it. Benjamin climbs a ladder that was set up diagonally and clotheslines Jericho off the top. Wow, Benjamin’s athleticism is awesome. What an epic spot that was. Kane comes in, goes to Chokeslam Benjamin to the floor, but Benjamin’s foot is caught in the ropes. Damn, that can’t be good. Tomko decks Kane. He sets up a ladder and helps Christian climb. Kane takes Tomko out to the floor. Christian’s at the top, Kane shoves him off and he lands on Tomko. Kane climbs, he’s at the top, Jericho gets there quick and he pulls Kane off with Jericho going over the top to the floor while Kane got stuck on the top rope and went back in the ring. Benoit, selling that left arm still, comes in. He doesn’t even use the left arm. He sets up the ladder by the ropes. The crowd goes nuts because they know it’s headbutt time. He climbs, the crowd is standing, throat slash and HEADBUTT! Damn. They show a wide shot of it and it’s just amazing. Benoit climbs, Kane goes up with him. Benoit headbutts him off the ladder. Benoit’s all alone up top. He can only use one arm. Edge gets up with a chair and drills Benoit on the arm. Edge climbs up and wins it at 15:17.
Edge celebrated by hugging the black briefcase as if it was the greatest gift he had ever received.
Analysis: ****1/2 This was awesome. They had the crowd in the palms of their hands from the moment the match started right until the end. The bumps were sick. The spots, especially Benjamin’s, were innovative. Benoit’s selling was awesome throughout the match. This was outstanding. Simply fantastic. Props to all men involved and the booking was perfect. Edge won, but it came off as cheap and opportunistic, so it works. Five of the six guys would hold the WWE or World Title in their career. The only one that didn’t was Shelton Benjamin, who you could argue was the star of the match. Edge would hold onto the briefcase until New Year’s Revolution 2006. There have been several MITB matches over the years, but I would argue that this is the best of them all.
There are ladder matches sometimes where people miss spots or the timing is just off. In this case, they seemed to execute everything perfectly. There was a small error when Kane hit Benjamin with a Chokeslam and Benjamin’s foot was trapped between the ropes, but other than that it was great. When guys were climbing the ladder to get the briefcase, the guy to take them down was usually right there. It made sense that Benoit was slow on the climb at the end because of the selling he had done earlier in the match.
I also think the timing of it was just right at around 15 minutes. Another five minutes may have hurt the match. That’s such an important factor when it comes to determining if a match is a classic or just very good.
Despite not winning the match, Benjamin impressed a lot of people with his athleticism. Some of the things he did in the match were moves we had never done before, which is pretty amazing considering some of the talented fliers that had ladder matches in WWE. The spot where he ran up the ladder to hit Jericho with a clothesline at the top of the ladder is one of the coolest spots ever. I’ll never forget it.
Benoit’s selling was fantastic. It was one of the best things about him. His selling was so good that I remember thinking it may have been legit. It wasn’t real, but he sold it so well that it was easy to buy into it.
Kane was on the floor for quite a bit of the match. The other guys worked together to slow him down, but when he got back in there he was booked in a dominant way. It’s not like Kane was much of a flier, so he couldn’t do much in terms of bumps. It was about him using his power.
The ending was perfect for the way Edge was as a character. He didn’t win because he outwrestled the other guys. He won because he took a chair to the arm of Benoit. Nobody else used a chair in the match. It was Edge outsmarting everybody by using the chair when he knew it would help him.
The Cash-In Moment
John Cena had just won a grueling Elimination Chamber match at New Year’s Revolution 2006 (read my review here) when this happened…
Vince McMahon appeared on the stage while a bloody Cena was handed the WWE Title. McMahon said this night is not over and told them to raise the cage. McMahon congratulated John Cena for retaining the WWE Championship. McMahon announced that Edge was there to cash in the Money in the Bank contract/briefcase that he won at WrestleMania 21. The crowd was going wild for this because as I mentioned all match, they did not like Cena. Edge walked out with Lita for the cash in.
WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Edge (w/Lita)
When Cena got back to his feet against the turnbuckle, ref Mike Chioda called for the bell. Edge unloaded on Cena with punches and got a two count. Edge set up for a Spear, Cena stumbled around and Edge nailed a Spear. Edge covered for a two count. Great nearfall that the crowd thought was the end of the match. Cena got back to his feet and Edge hit another Spear. Edge covered Cena, the ref counted and Edge won his first WWE Championship after eight years in WWE. It went 1:46.
Winner by pinfall and new WWE Champion: Edge
Analysis: * It was obviously just an angle to get the title onto Edge by using MITB at the right time. This set up the Cena vs. Edge feud that dominated much of 2006 and was one of the best feuds in the careers of both men. The way this Money in the Bank cash in was booked was brilliant. It was the first MITB that WWE did and to have Edge cash in right after a bloody Cena won a grueling match was the perfect time for it. A great moment that set the standard for what we would come to expect from MITB cash-ins in the years that followed. I think this is probably the second best cash in ever after Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 31 in 2015, which means that this was the best for nearly a decade.
Edge celebrated with the WWE Title with Lita there to celebrate with him. A bloody Cena looked on from the ramp. You could even see tears in Edge’s eyes as he celebrated and the show went off the air.
Analysis: The next night on Raw, the celebration continued with the memorable “Live Sex Celebration” by Edge and Lita in the ring.
This might have been the best Money in the Bank ladder match AND the best cash-in ever. I think a lot of people might think that way. If you look at Edge’s career, both of these moments were huge for him and helped to set him on the path to becoming a main eventer after being in WWE for about seven years before he won Money in the Bank. It really launched his career to help him get to that next level.
Looking back on it, the fact that the ladder match was so great and the cash-in was so memorable, it certainly helped make Money in the Bank feel like a big deal right when it began.
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