The WWE Money in the Bank match countdown continues with the second Money in the Bank ladder match. Check out the Money in the Bank archive here.
Who: Matt Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Finlay vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Ric Flair
When: April 2, 2006
Where: WrestleMania 22 @ Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois
What I Thought Back Then
I don’t think it was the best group of talent in terms of trying to pick guys that were believable winners. I think most fans knew Finlay, Shelton Benjamin and Matt Hardy really had no chance of winning the match. Finlay was there as a veteran, Benjamin was in there to do high spots and Hardy was a popular guy, but really wasn’t a threat to win.
It came down to either RVD, Flair or Lashley as the best choice to win. Flair may have been the favorite of the crowd because WWE did a good job of telling the story of Flair possibly winning this and becoming one step closer to winning another WWE/World Title. In Lashley’s case, it was probably too soon because WWE was still trying to establish him as a new guy that was a future main eventer.
Rob Van Dam had never been WWE Champion before, so this could be something that propelled him to that level after being in the company for five years prior to this. RVD was still popular with the crowd. Plus, there were rumblings that WWE might start an ECW brand a few months after this and RVD was going to be the centerpiece of that, so giving him a big push seemed like a good idea.
Money In The Bank Ladder Match: Matt Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Finlay vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Ric Flair
The announcers for this one were all four main announcers since there was a Raw/Smackdown mix. The Smackdown guys talked when their guys walked down to the ring while the Raw guys talked when the Raw men walked to the ring. Biggest pops went to Flair and RVD, I’d say. Lashley’s pop was pretty good.
Lashley clotheslines Finlay in the corner, then a press slam on Flair. Benjamin hits a huge kick on Lashley surprisingly. Hardy gets a ladder already. RVD baseball slides into the ladder crashing Hardy. Then a plancha onto Hardy as he’s holding the ladder. Benjamin beats on Finlay with the ladder a bit. He puts the ladder vertically on the top rope, climbs it like last year and hits a somersault plancha onto RVD, Lashley and Hardy. What a great move. Flair knocks down Finlay, then makes a climb. Hardy catches up to him and hits a superplex on Flair off the ladder. The refs check on Flair, then make the “X” sign meaning he’s hurt. The crowd starts a huge “Flair” chant as he holds his leg. It was probably just a work and everybody seems to know it, I think. In ring, Benjamin takes a drop toe hold on the ladder by RVD. Then RVD’s rolling thunder misses as Benjamin moves meaning RVD crashes into the ladder. Lashley slowly climbs up, Benjamin catches up and they throw punches. Benjamin goes for a flipping powerbomb on him, but Lashley holds on, so Finlay and Hardy help powerbomb him down. Crowd with a huge RVD chant now. Finlay rams Benjamin face first into a ladder. Finlay counters a Hardy charge, but throwing a ladder in his face. Then he throws it at Lashley and knocks RVD down with a gut shot. Not surprisingly, here comes Flair limping back to the ring. Finlay meets Flair, Ric chucks him into the barrier. Flair battles with Benjamin and Hardy sending Benjamin to the floor with a chop. Benjamin’s awesome. Flair’s a step away from getting the briefcase when Finlay comes in to crack him in the head with the shillelagh. The crowd was ready for Flair to win there.
Benjamin and Finlay exchange punches on top when Lashley uses the ladder to knock both down. Dominator by Lashley on Benjamin. Another RVD chant as Lashley climbs and there’s Rob dropkicking a ladder into Lashley’s back when he’s on top of the ladder. Another great spot. Hardy takes out RVD, then hits a legdrop on Lashley from the top of the ladder. Again, the announcers reference his history in ladder matches. Hardy’s close, but Finlay catches up and Hardy ends up giving the Side Effect on him from on top of the ladder. Damn. RVD climbs a ladder in the corner and hits a splash on Finlay. Not a five star frog splash because Finlay was too close to him, but still effective. “ECW” chant starts up. The crowd definitely likes Flair and RVD best. RVD’s close and Benjamin springboards off the ropes onto the ladder face to face with RVD. They slug away, Hardy climbs another one and now Benjamin slugs with him. RVD shoves them both off and Hardy and Benjamin go all the way to the floor. That leaves RVD on top to grab the briefcase! He wins! Cool. The match went 12:14.
Winner: Rob Van Dam
Analysis: ***3/4 It was not as good as the match the year earlier due to some of the participants, but it’s still a match with some awesome spots in it. I think the two stars were Benjamin and Van Dam who both showed just how awesome they are athletically. The highlights were the Benjamin spots as always, the RVD splash (although not a five star frog splash) and I loved the triple powerbomb on Lashley off the ladder. RVD and Flair were the most popular guys in the match. I thought the match was on the short side at just over 12 minutes. What they did was very good, but if they got another 5-7 minutes it would have helped a lot.
If you want to re-live the rest of WrestleMania 22, check out my review here.
The Cash-In Moment
On the May 22, 2006 edition of Raw, Rob Van Dam went into the ring with his Money in the Bank briefcase with WWE Champion John Cena in the ring. RVD did a promo saying he won the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania to earn a WWE Championship match. RVD told Cena he wanted to get his title match where he’s a lot more comfortable. RVD told Cena he’s cashing in the Money in the Bank on June 11, 2006 at ECW One Night Stand. You can watch the promo below.
That brings us to ECW One Night Stand 2006. It’s a great PPV and I have reviewed this one too. Read my review of the full ECW One Night Stand 2006 show here.
ECW One Night Stand
Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, New York
June 10, 2006
Rob Van Dam made his entrance. He greeted the fans all around ringside. Great ovation for the challenger, who was arguably the best performer in the history of ECW. Loud “RVD” chants for him.
The WWE Champion John Cena enters in his “Hustle Loyalty Respect” shirt. The crowd booed him almost unanimously. Plenty of fans giving him the middle finger on his way to the ring. There’s a closeup of the famous sign: “If Cena Wins We Riot.”
The crowd is really loud during the introduction for RVD. Loud “ECW” chants for him. Cena is announced at 240 pounds, which seems a little light. He tossed his hat and shirt into the crowd. They threw the hat back. Then they threw the shirt back. Cena tossed the shirt again and it was tossed back to the ring. Cena tossed the shirt to another section and the guy tossed it towards the ring again. It even landed on the top rope! Another toss by Cena and it was sent back again. Another fan tried to toss it back, but he wasn’t able to get it to the ring. A guy had the shirt, rubbed it against his ass and tossed it back. Then he gave the double middle finger salute to Cena! The crowd cheered it as Styles said he knows that guy – he had on some staff tag around his neck. RVD got in Cena’s face. Cena just dropped the shirt at ringside. There’s a toilet paper toss at Cena.
Analysis: That was one of the most memorable introductions I’ve ever seen. The t-shirt toss thing is pretty legendary in terms of something that doesn’t happen often and it was hilarious to see it.
WWE Championship Extreme Rules Match: John Cena vs. Rob Van Dam
The bell rings and a “fuck you Cena” chant starts up. More toilet paper tossed to the ring. They locked up and the crowd chanted “Cena Swallows” at the champ. Cena with a suplex as the crowd chanted “you can’t wrestle” at him. RVD with a spin kick sent Cena to the floor. They traded punches in the ring with RVD winning that battle while the crowd cheered for it. Cena with a powerslam gets two. Cena with a clothesline sent RVD to the floor with the crowd chanting “same old shit” at him. Cena jumped off the top with a punch to RVD’s back on the floor. RVD came back with a moonsault press off the steel steps to take Cena down. Cena sent RVD into the barricade. When RVD tried an attack, Cena shoved him into the crowd. There was a “Fuck You Cena” sign that Cena held in front of RVD’s face leading to a punch to the face. RVD hit his spinning leg drop off the apron onto Cena on the barricade and then RVD hit a guillotine legdrop on the apron.
RVD grabbed a chair from ringside. RVD with the corner dropkick into the chair for two. RVD with the Rolling Thunder onto the steel chair. RVD went for the split legged moonsault, but Cena got his knees and the steel chair up to block it. Cena with a DDT on the steel chair gets two. Fans chanted “you can’t wrestle” at Cena, which is a dumb chant in my opinion, but I know why fans do it. Cena with a slingshot into the chair that was wedged between the top and bottom ropes for two. Cena with the spinning slam. When Cena signaled for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, fans chanted “same old shit” at him and he hit the FKS fist drop. They even did an “asshole” chant as Cena saluted them. RVD fought out of the AA and hit a spinning dropkick. RVD with a boot to the face, then he went up top and Cena brought him down with a Powerbomb for two. RVD came back with a dropkick while Cena was on the apron to send Cena crashing to the floor. RVD brought a table into the ring. Fans chanted “Whole F’N Show” for RVD.
The table was set up in the corner by RVD. Cena recovered enough to trip up RVD with the STFU (the name before they went PG and it went back to the STF name). RVD got to the ropes. Cena was told to break the hold, he didn’t, so the ref jumped on him to break it. Cena argued with the ECW referee John Finnegan, the ref shoved him and Cena nailed him with a clothesline. Cena with a superplex off the middle rope. Cena brought the steel steps in the ring and nailed RVD in the head with them. Then he tossed the steps out. Referee Nick Patrick went into the ring, Cena covered and got two. Cena put RVD on his shoulder, then sent him over the top to the floor with a FU-like move that sent RVD crashing into the mat. When Cena turned around, somebody went into the ring with a leather jacket and a motorcycle helmet. That guy charged in and hit Cena with a huge Spear through the table that was propped up against the turnbuckle. In watching it again, Cena barely hit the table. The helmet guy knocked out ref Nick Patrick with a punch. The helmet was taken off and revealed to be Edge. Fans chanted “Thank You Edge” for him even though they hated him about an hour earlier. RVD went back in the ring, saw Cena prone on the mat and went up top. RVD hit the Five Star Frog Splash. He tried to revive the ref, but here comes Paul Heyman. RVD covered, Heyman counted the one…two…three and that’s it after 20:40 of action.
It was announced like this: “The winner and new ECW Champion: Rob Van Dam.”
Winner by pinfall and New WWE Champion: Rob Van Dam
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a really great moment and one of the best WWE Title changes in the 2000s for sure. It wasn’t a clean win for RVD because Edge was there, but I don’t think people cared too much. It was about creating a special moment that people would never forget, which is what they did. In terms of the match, it looked like they were off a few times, but I liked the creativity that both guys showed. Cena was outstanding in this match as he played off of the crowd well, acted like a heel during much of the match and did a lot of offensive moves that he normally doesn’t do. RVD did all of his signature spots that made him famous first in ECW and later in WWE. You could tell he loved everything about that match and that moment. Since Edge had an ongoing rivalry with Cena, his presence made sense. WWE didn’t like to have Cena lose clean, so it was a creative way to do a title change at a time where the title change made sense.
Post match, RVD went into the crowd to celebrate with the fans. Other wrestlers and ECW personnel went into the ring. RVD went up to the balcony where he got a hug from his wife. RVD made his way back down to the ring as the crowd went wild for him. Tazz put over how hard RVD worked to get to the top.
When RVD went back into the ring, he was met by hugs by guys like Big Show, Dreamer, Angle and the entire ECW roster was in the ring with him.
They showed replays of the finish with a camera angle that showed that Edge got into the ring after he was hiding out under the ring.
RVD was on the shoulders of Big Show and Balls Mahoney doing the RVD thumb point and holding up the WWE Title in the ring. RVD posed on the turnbuckle with the WWE Title.
Analysis: That was a good celebration. I’m glad that they had five minutes to let him go up to his wife, then celebrate with the other wrestlers and make it a big deal. I’ve always said that titles are there to be a part of the story. In this case, the story was RVD finally reaching the pinnacle of WWE by winning the biggest prize in the company and that’s what he did. Titles are not there just to be something for people to win. It has to be part of an overall story. In this case it definitely was.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match Rankings so far
1. WrestleMania 21 (2005) won by Edge – ****1/2
2. WrestleMania 22 (2006) won by Rob Van Dam – ***3/4
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