Before SmackDown goes live with their version of the Money in the Bank PPV, it’s time to reflect on the briefcase holders from years past. The ladder match is brutal, has provided great moments and can even make a star. Each wrestler involved in the match worked their butt off in order to attempt to reach the top of the mountain. Over the years there have been many winners, some more valuable than the other. I’m here to rank the best of the best. Here are my top five Money in the Bank ladder match winners.
(My predictions for tonight’s PPV for those that were wondering: Men’s match – Baron Corbin, Women’s match – Carmella.
Daniel Bryan – Some would say that his Money in the Bank win in 2011 finally propelled the former Bryan Danielson to superstardom in WWE. Nobody expected him to win, but everyone wanted him to. Over the next few months after his win, however, he went on a losing streak that became standard to Money in the Bank holders. He cashed in his contract in December at WWE’s TLC PPV, but by then his losses exceeded his wins. His status as Mr. MITB was not as impressive as it could have been, but it had it’s moments. Bryan’s run after being champion would be his best yet, but nobody should forget when he first grabbed that brass ring.
5) The Miz
I’ll be the first to admit that I am a huge Miz mark. His work this past year+ has been phenomenal. He always had it in him, ever since he debuted in WWE in 2006. It wasn’t until 2010 after his tag team run with John Morrison where he really came out of his shell. He slithered his way to becoming Mr. Money in the Bank and began a run unseen before. He was already the United States Champion, and this only gave The Miz a true superstar status.
Mike cashed in on an injured Randy Orton on an episode of Raw to win his first World Title. In retrospect, he became champion at the wrong time. The reign was not as good as everyone hoped, and his match with John Cena at WrestleMania was a side show to get to the Rock/Cena match the next year. The one great thing to come out of that match was the fantastic preview video that will still give me goosebumps to this day.
This was the first major test for the Miz, and though it wasn’t the best, he’ll always remember his first time at the top as being… AWESOME!
4) CM Punk
It’s tough to rank Punk on this list, even though he is the first 2x winner of the match. His first reign after cashing it in against Edge in 2008, while a nice moment, didn’t raise any eyebrows. It did not help that he faced JBL, Batista and Kane during his run. He wasn’t even involved in losing his title at Unforgiven a few months later, as Randy Orton kicked him in the head and out of the short-lived Scramble match.
His second reign as Mr. Money in the Bank a year later was much more impressive. After Jeff Hardy won the World Title off Edge in a ladder match at Extreme Rules, CM Punk came out and finally pulled the trigger. He became a heel, using his straight edge lifestyle as a means to say he’s better than Jeff Hardy. And so began the Straight Edge Society. While he would lose the title to The Undertaker, his win propelled him back as a major player, especially with the SES.
Whenever you think of innovative MITB winners, you think of CM Punk.
3) Rob Van Dam
Put your thumbs up in the air, number three goes to Mr. PPV, Rob Van Dam!
Back when the Money in the Bank ladder match was a WrestleMania special, nobody was hotter than RVD. At WrestleMania 22, the master of the Five Star Frog Splash was in his element, providing some extreme action.
After winning the match, RVD’s portfolio grew. He won the Intercontinental Title to go along with the briefcase. As only the second ever winner, he made history by announcing when he was going to cash in his contract ahead of time. In the second edition of ECW’s One Night Stand PPV, RVD beat John Cena to win the WWE Title. His win also revived the ECW Title, as the brand was attempting to make a comeback under WWE supervision.
RVD’s momentum was cut short after an incident regarding marijuana. He lost the WWE Title, the ECW Title and was never the same again. Regardless, his win was just as important, as the concept of the match was still entirely new.
He truly became The Ultimate Opportunist during this spot fest; striking whenever he had his moment. Chris Benoit was close, but Edge took advantage of an arm injury and secured the briefcase for himself. From there, his legend grew. He scored Lita, had a bloodthirsty feud with Matt Hardy and started to compete in important matches. At WWE’s New Year’s Revolution PPV in 2006, Vince McMahon stopped John Cena from celebrating a win inside the Elimination Chamber. Edge was granted a match, and after two spears he became the first Money in the Bank holder to cash in and win a title.
While his title reign was cut short, he proved he could still hang. His Live Sex Celebration was the highest-rated segment on RAW in a long time, and he was truly made after his match with Mick Foley at WrestleMania 22. In 2007, Edge won the MITB contract from Mr. Kennedy and immediately beat The Undertaker for the World Title. Winning it twice was oh so nice, as he would win a few more titles while main eventing a WrestleMania and competing in dozens of big matches over the next few years.
The man is a Hall of Famer now, and if his Tag Title reign with Christian didn’t get him there, the Money in the Bank ladder match played a huge factor in him becoming a legend in the business.