The WWE Money in the Bank match countdown continues with the fifth Money in the Bank ladder match. Check out the Money in the Bank archive here.

Who: CM Punk, Christian, Finlay, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, Montel Vontavious Porter and Shelton Benjamin

When: April 5, 2009

Where: WrestleMania 25 @ Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas

 

Thoughts Before The Match

It was back to eight wrestlers for the Money in the Bank match in 2009. It was an interesting group with some more athletic guys and then the power guys like Kane and Henry there. They loved putting Finlay in these matches even though I doubt anybody watching believed he was going to win. It’s just that Finlay has a great mind for the business that was going to make the match better because he was in it.

They put the match in the opening spot on the card, which was a smart move that they had done in the past. Fans love Money in the Bank, so when you put the match on early, the crowd will be really into it.

I can’t remember who my prediction was for this one, but I really wanted Christian to win because he had just returned to WWE after a three year run in TNA/Impact, so I was hoping maybe he would get the briefcase leading to a big push. Kane was a possibility since he was always pushed a lot, but he didn’t really “need” it. CM Punk winning didn’t really cross my mind since he won it the year before.

My review of this match is not detailed in my WrestleMania 25 review, so this will be the first time where I cover it more in-depth.

 

Money In The Bank Ladder Match: CM Punk, Christian, Finlay, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, Montel Vontavious Porter and Shelton Benjamin

CM Punk, who won Money in the Bank the previous year, entered to a good pop. Mark Henry was accompanied by Tony Atlas and Henry was booed. The announcers for this match were Michael Cole, Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler. Montel Vontavious Porter got a solid ovation as the United States Champion. Finlay was next with his “son” Hornswoggle joining him. Shelton Benjamin was in the MITB match for the fourth time in the five-year history of the ladder match. Kofi Kingston was next in his first WrestleMania. Christian got a good pop as a veteran of ladder matches. Kane was the last man to enter and this was when he was without a mask.

Kane and Mark Henry used their power advantage to clear the ring at the start of the match. Henry hit a splash on Kane against the turnbuckle. Benjamin and Christian worked together to hit Kane and Henry with the ladder. Kingston dropkicked the ladder into them followed by a boom drop leg drop on the ladder. Finlay tossed Kingston out of the ring. Kane with a boot to knock down Finlay. Kane and Henry tried to climb, but the other guys brought them down. The big guys were both kicked out of the ring. Two ladders were set up, four guys climbed and Kane and Henry went back in to knock them all down. Kane knocked down Henry with a boot to the face. Kane tried to climb a ladder, but Henry sent Kane crashing into the top rope. Finlay with a drop toe hold on Henry followed by a low dropkick. Finlay with a suicide dive on Kane and Benjamin. Christian hit a springboard cross body block on Kane and Finlay. MVP hit a somersault dive off the apron on Kane, Christian and Finlay on the floor. Kingston and Punk each hit suicide dives on the guys on the floor. That set up Benjamin to climb a 15 foot high ladder and he hit a somersault dive off the ladder onto the four wrestlers on the floor below. That was huge! Very impressive move by Benjamin that led to a big ovation from the crowd. There were “holy shit” chants as well. Benjamin landed on five of the superstars. Even though Kane wasn’t hit by it, he sold it anyway. What a nice guy, Kane.

Mark Henry climbed the ropes to tease an attack, but Finlay hit Henry in the head with a shillelagh. Hornswoggle brought a step ladder into the ring. Finlay grabbed Hornswoggle, put him on Henry’s back and Hornswoggle hit a Tadpole Splash on the wrestlers on the floor. That was funny. Finlay hit Henry with the step ladder to knock him down. Finlay battled with Kingston, who connected with a dropkick (by going in between the standing ladder) to knock Finlay down followed by Kingston sending a ladder face first into Finlay. When Kingston charged, Finlay hit him with the step ladder. Finlay knocked Christian and Kane down thanks to using the step ladder as a weapon. Finlay tried to climb, so Kofi hit him with a Trouble in Paradise kick. When Kofi tried a climb, Henry pushed the ladder over. Henry tried setting up the ladder, Kingston climbed it and Henry caught Kingston leading to the World’s Strongest Slam on a ladder. Ouch. MVP used a ladder to hit Henry in the ribs to slow the big man down. MVP set up a bridge between a ladder and the ropes. Benjamin jumped off the ladder bridge and MVP caught Benjamin with a Powerbomb. MVP tried to climb the ladder, but CM Punk went after him. Christian pulled MVP down and hit a clothesline. Christian went up the ladder bridge to stop Punk’s climb. Christian hit the Unprettier on Punk b jumping off the ladder bridge and they went crashing to the mat. Benjamin with a spin kick on Kane. MVP climbed the ladder, Benjamin climbed a ladder on the floor, onto the bridge and he quickly got to MVP on the ladder. That was a nice spot. Benjamin went for a sunset flip off the ladder, but he lost his grip of MVP and they went down at the same time. Neither guy was hurt, but it was a botched spot. They followed up with Benjamin picking up MVP and tossing him over the top onto Henry, Atlas and Kingston on the floor, so that’s the spot they intended to do off the ladder. Henry did a great job of catching MVP. Benjamin and Finlay climbed up on opposite of ladders with Benjamin punching Finlay down. Christian and Benjamin each climbed ladders, then Shelton went tumbling down while Christian kept his balance on the ladder after bouncing off the ropes. The crowd really wanted Christian to win. Punk stopped Christian briefly until Punk’s leg was caught against a ladder. Kane went up with Christian and dropped him with a Chokeslam. Punk kicked Kane, so Kane grabbed him by the choke and Punk kicked Kane down. Punk reached up and grabbed the Money in the Bank briefcase for the win at 14:32.

Winner: CM Punk

Analysis: ***1/2 It was a good match like most MITB matches although they lacked the big spots to make it stand out. There weren’t as many crazy bumps aside from Benjamin’s insane dive off the ladder. Kofi Kingston had some cool moments too. Instead of guys doing wild bumps onto ladders, most of the bigger spots involved guys doing dives and then being caught by other wrestlers. That’s a lot safer.  I had forgotten how much the crowd wanted Christian to win until I watched it again. When Punk won, I was surprised because he did it the year before, but as it turned out it was the right call.

The timing of the match was just under 15 minutes, which was around what the usual Money in the Bank match was.

If you want to read about the rest of WrestleMania 25, check out my review here.

 

The Cash-In Moment

CM Punk held the Money in the Bank Contract for 63 days when he decided to cash it in. That’s one month shorter than the previous year.

Extreme Rules on June 7, 2009

The main event of the inaugural Extreme Rules PPV in 2009 was a Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Title with Edge defending the gold against Jeff Hardy. When Edge was about to grab the title to retain, Jeff pulled Edge between two rungs on the ladder to trap him there. That led to Jeff climbing the ladder and grabbing the World Heavyweight Title while Edge was helpless. It looked the end of this long feud.

There were replays of the key spots in the match. Hardy celebrated with the title with Jim Ross in the ring ready to interview him to close the show…until CM Punk showed up with his Money in the Bank briefcase. Punk had referee John Cone with him.

Punk made it clear that he wanted to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Hardy was down in the corner selling exhaustion after a grueling 20-minute match.

The bell rang, Punk grabbed Hardy and hit a Go To Sleep knee to face for a two count. That drew a big pop from the crowd. Hardy got an inside cradle for two. Punk hit a roundhouse kick to the head of Hardy. Punk hit another Go To Sleep, he hooked both legs of Hardy and covered for the pinfall win. The match went 1:02. The World Title reign of Jeff Hardy lasted about four minutes.

Punk celebrated with the World Heavyweight Title with Jim Ross proclaiming that CM Punk has ruined Jeff Hardy’s party. Punk continued the celebration as the show went off the air while Jeff Hardy was down on the mat.

Analysis: I thought it was a great cash in that led to Punk’s awesome heel run. When you pay attention to things like JR saying that Punk has ruined Jeff Hardy’s party, that let you know that Punk was going to be positioned as a heel. Yeah, Punk “ruined” it, but when he did it a year earlier as a face on a heel champion like Edge, people cheered it. It also made Jeff Hardy a more likable, sympathetic top face because his championship reign lasted only a few minutes.

 

Title Reign Reflections

We didn’t know it at the time, but it would be the start of an outstanding feud between Punk and Hardy. They wrestled at the next three PPVs with Hardy winning by DQ at The Bash, then Hardy won back the World Heavyweight Title at Night of Champions and Punk regained the World Heavyweight Title at SummerSlam in a TLC match that was the main event of the show. I gave that SummerSlam 2009 match a rating of ****1/2 out of five. It’s one of the best PPV main events ever and one of the best SummerSlam matches ever.

After a Steel Cage rematch on Smackdown where Punk retained the gold, Hardy’s contract with WWE was up and he chose to leave. Hardy would not return to the company until WrestleMania 33 in 2017. CM Punk, as most of you know, quit WWE in January 2014 and it’s possible that he never comes back.

The feud took place on Smackdown at a time when it was clearly the “B” show, but thanks to this rivalry, it was a lot better than Raw. Punk was the cocky heel that was proud of being straight edge while mocking Hardy for doing drugs, drinking and getting suspended multiple times by WWE for it. Hardy was the babyface that stood up for himself, admitted his mistakes and the fans respected him for being one of the most exciting superstars in WWE history.

I think when you look back on their careers in WWE, Punk vs. Hardy was the best rivalry in each man’s career. Punk may have had some bigger matches with John Cena, but I think Punk vs. Hardy was better as a traditional wrestling feud.

In my 2009 WWE Johnny Awards column, my pick for Best Feud was Punk vs. Hardy. They also finished second and third behind Chris Jericho in the Wrestler of the Year award. I’ll always have a lot of love for Punk vs. Hardy and it’s fun to re-watch that rivalry again.

 

Final Thoughts

CM Punk winning the Money in the Bank match for the second year in a row was a surprise because we were used to seeing somebody new getting the win leading to a big push. When you look back on it all these years later, Punk was clearly the best choice because WWE likely had the heel turn plan in mind.

I remember in the great CM Punk DVD documentary that WWE did where he and Michael Hayes told the story about how Vince McMahon wasn’t sure about Punk as a heel, but when Punk found out, he was so excited. Punk was great as a heel in Ring of Honor, so when he did the turn, I had no doubt that he would be a huge success.

This wasn’t the best Money in the Bank match (in fact it is the worst in my rankings so far), but due to how they followed up on it with the Punk heel turn, I think it was pretty important.

 

Money in the Bank Ladder Match Rankings so far

  1. WrestleMania 21 (2005) won by Edge – ****1/2
  2. WrestleMania 23 (2007) won Mr. (Ken) Kennedy – ****
  3. WrestleMania 24 (2008) won by CM Punk – ***3/4
  4. WrestleMania 22 (2006) won by Rob Van Dam – ***3/4
  5. WrestleMania 25 (2009) won by CM Punk – ***1/2

In addition to that, I wrote a ranking of the Money in the Bank cash-in moments over at The Comeback in 2016. I don’t write there anymore. It doesn’t include the last two years, but it’s comprehensive.

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Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton

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