Since the Money in the Bank concept was launched in 2005 at WrestleMania 21, many a superstar has used the match as a stepping stone to superstardom. Many of them have, but that’s not to say all of them have.
The concept is simple: you win the match by scaling a ladder and claiming the briefcase that hovers over the ring. Inside said briefcase is a contract guaranteeing you a shot at the WWE Champion (or World Champion of your choice at one point in time).
From its inception, there’s been 16 MITB matches, with 15 different winners (a certain Second City Saint won the contract twice), but it’s vastly varied on how much of a launching pad the MITB win was for a superstar.
So, let’s take a look at the fifteen winners of this unique (if not now a little overplayed) match and just how successful they became as a result of their MITB win.
15. Mr. Kennedy
Poor Ken Kennedy. After playing rough with a couple of the WWE’s top stars, he found himself out on his ear and heading to TNA. And nobody wants to head to TNA!
At one point in time, Mr. Kennedy was seemingly a shoe-in to become a true main event player in the WWE, as highlighted by him winning the Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania 23. Unfortunately for Kennedy, what has him at the very bottom of this list is that, not only did he not go on to successfully cash-in the briefcase and become a World Champion, he didn’t even get to cash-in the MITB contract at all.
Kennedy would get injured in real life and lose the MITB briefcase in a match to Edge, with the Rated-R Superstar then cashing-in on The Undertaker for the World Heavyweight Championship.
14. Damien Sandow
Whereas Mr. Kennedy largely got by on his charisma, Damien Sandow had what seemed like the complete package; he was a great promo, was great in the ring, and he had a good look and a well-crafted character.
Unfortunately, despite him winning the MITB briefcase at the 2013 Money in the Bank PPV, it seemed that the WWE lost faith in Sandow and his cash-in attempt on John Cena would prove unsuccessful.
Up until that point, Cena himself was the only person to be unsuccessful with the briefcase, but that failure didn’t do him any damage – because, y’know, he’s JOHN CENA!
Sadly for Sandow, his failed cash-in was the start of the end. Restricted TV time and strange booking decisions saw his WWE career dwindle to an inevitable close earlier this year.
13. John Cena
As mentioned in the previous entry, John Cena was the first person to unsuccessfully cash-in his Money in the Bank contract.
Fortunately for Cena, he’s John freakin’ Cena, which means that the failed cash-in did absolutely no harm to the character in either the short-term or the long-term. Cena was already a huge superstar and has remained a huge superstar after he came up short in his cash-in on CM Punk.
Ever the ultimate babyface, Cena actually gave a week’s notice of his cash-in after winning the WWE Title contract at the 2012 Money in the Bank PPV. Unfortunately for Big Match John, The Big Show would return to screw him out of the belt on the 1,000th episode of Raw.
12. Jack Swagger
Remember Jack Swagger “World Champion”? No, neither do most people.
Swagger took home the MITB briefcase at WrestleMania 26 and would successfully cash-in and take the World Championship from Chris Jericho just two days after the Showcase of the Immortals. Then within a matter of months he was being accompanied to the ring by a mascot (Chavo Guerrero in an eagle outfit) and would find himself being Michael Cole’s trainer by the following year’s WrestleMania.
In fairness to Swagger, his near-three-month reign saw him get the best of big names like Chris Jericho, Edge, Randy Orton, and The Big Show, but upon losing the title he dropped off the charts where significance and relevancy were concerned.
Despite challenging for Alberto Del Rio’s World Championship at WrestleMania 29, Swagger’s career highlight still remains his MITB cash-in and brief title run.
The most recent Money in the Bank winner was Sheamus, but boy did he suck as the WWE Champion once he cashed-in.
The Celtic Warrior won the briefcase at last year’s Money in the Bank PPV and would tease cashing in for 161 days before eventually doing so against newly-crowned WWE Champion Roman Reigns at Survivor Series.
Nobody wanted to see Sheamus as the WWE Champ at that point, although many did cheer him on in his cash-in against Roman. For those not keen on the Irishman being at the top of the mountain, his WWE Title run would only last 22 days before he dropped the belt back to Roman.
Since then, Sheamus has reverted to being a semi-credible midcard act who audiences couldn’t really care less about. Still, at least he wasn’t stuck with a giant Eagle like poor Jack Swagger.
10. Alberto Del Rio
Unlike most people, I’m actually a fan of ADR. That’s not to say that I can’t see his failings, though. And his Money in the Bank win certainly felt a little flat.
After winning the briefcase at the 2011 Money in the Bank PPV, Del Rio would cash-in against CM Punk at that year’s SummerSlam. That was a Punk who had just defeated John Cena and was then attacked by Kevin Nash.
Del Rio would hold the WWE Championship for a month before dropping it to John Cena at Night of Champions. Whilst his brief WWE Champion run was merely ‘meh’, the talented Mexican would actually win the gold back at Hell in a Cell after besting both Cena and Punk in a triple-threat match.
9. Randy Orton
Randy Orton cashing-in on Daniel Bryan following D-Bry’s WWE Title win over John Cena at SummerSlam 2013 was one of the biggest heel moves of recent years.
Orton had won his MITB contract at the 2013 Money in the Bank PPV, and his SummerSlam cash-in saw him turn heel and join the nefarious Authority. What led to even more heat for Orton was the fact that the cash-in came on proverbial underdog Bryan following the former American Dragon having overcome the insurmountable odds of John Cena.
At that point in time, Orton was at a level where the MITB briefcase didn’t make him a top guy – he was already there – but it did freshen up his character and led to a 161-day run as the WWE Champion and then the WWE Undisputed Champion before losing the title to Bryan at WrestleMania 30.
8. Dolph Ziggler
Simply put, Dolph Ziggler cashing-in the MITB briefcase received one of the loudest pops in the past decade.
Ziggler won the World Heavyweight Championship MITB contract at the Money in the Bank 2012 PPV, and he’d wait until the night after WrestleMania 29 to finally make his move. Even though he was a heel cashing-in on the babyface Alberto Del Rio, the raucous post-Mania crowd lost their minds at the sight of The Show Off cashing-in and taking the gold.
Before you knew it, Ziggler and Del Rio had switched roles and it looked as if the WWE was set to finally give Dolph a decent chance with one of their World Titles. Sadly, though, Ziggler would only get to defend his title once, which saw him lose the belt back to ADR.
In reality, Dolph had suffered some nasty concussion issues and the WWE seemingly got itchy feet with having him as one of their top guys.
7. Rob Van Dam
When RVD was the first competitor to announce when and where he’d be cashing in his Money in the Bank contract, it led to a moment that lives long in the memory of many a longtime wrestling fan, particularly those of an ECW persuasion.
Cashing-in for a WWE Title match against John Cena at One Night Stand 2006, The Whole F’n Show finally won the big one and became the WWE Champion. Even more of a big deal, Van Dam would then be given the ECW Title and become the figurehead of the relaunched ECW brand, becoming the only person to hold and defend both the WWE and ECW Championships at the same time.
This was a huge deal, right? It made RVD one of the biggest names in the business, right? Well it should’ve but Van Dam was suspended for drug possession less than a month later, dropping both belts as a result.
Kane’s Money in the Bank win at the MITB 2010 PPV led to some of the best work of the Big Red Machine’s career.
Sure, the trigger should’ve pulled on the Devil’s Favourite Demon at several times over the previous years, but it looked as if the WWE had screwed up the character to such an extent that he could never be taken seriously again. Luckily, the MITB win helped to salvage The Undertaker’s baby brother.
Cashing-in his MITB contract on the same night that he won it, Kane became the World Heavyweight Champion by defeating Rey Mysterio. From there, despite the overuse of the term “vegetative state”, Kane went on to dominate Smackdown for five months.
What was most impressive was that this version of Kane actually defeated The Undertaker in No Holds Barred, Hell in a Cell, and Buried Alive matches.
5. Daniel Bryan
If given the chance, Daniel Bryan was always going to be a huge star in the WWE. Luckily for fans, Bryan successfully won a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship at the 2011 Money in the Bank PPV.
D-Bry would eventually cash-in and take the belt from The Big Show at that year’s TLC show, but it was in losing the World Heavyweight Championship that Bryan’s star really began to shine.
Having lost the belt in a shocking 18 seconds to Sheamus at WrestleMania 28, it was then the fans started to get behind Bryan and start the whole Yes! Movement; a move that eventually saw the former American Dragon forced into the main event of WrestleMania 30 and finally given a shot at being “the guy” by the WWE.
Unfortunately, Bryan would soon forfeit the WWE Title due to injury, and his final ever match would come just over a year after that fantastic ‘Mania 30 moment.
4. The Miz
Like him or not, there’s no denying that The Miz’s Money in the Bank win and subsequent cash-in was huge for the career of the former MTV star.
Having been a part of a highly-entertaining tag team with John Morrison, it was Miz’s second US Title run that marked him out as a brilliant heel. It was during this time, with Alex Riley at his side, that he’d capture the Raw MITB briefcase at the 2010 Money in the Bank PPV.
Miz would cash-in and take the WWE Championship from Randy Orton during a November edition of Raw, and he’d then go on to best Orton once more and, err, beat Jerry Lawler in a TLC Match. More impressively though, as well as holding his own verbally with John Cena and The Rock, The Miz would successfully retain his title against Cena at WrestleMania 27.
Whilst he’s never reached those heights sagain, The Miz is currently doing his best work since his WWE Title run right now.
3. CM Punk
Of all of the people on this list, CM Punk is the only person to win two Money in the Bank matches, walking away with the MITB briefcase at both WrestleMania 24 and WrestleMania 25.
Granted, Punk’s first cash-in resulted in a below average World Heavyweight Championship run that saw the Straight-edge Superstar treated like nothing more than an afterthought on WWE programming. His second cash-in, though, was the start of Punk’s rise to becoming a top guy in the company.
That second cash-in came on Jeff Hardy and led to one of the greatest feuds of the past decade. After sending Hardy packing from the company, Punk was thriving as the leader of the Straight Edge Society and became a must-see part of WWE TV.
It was only 2 years after his second cash-in that CM Punk delivered his infamous “pipebomb” and became the hottest name in the industry.
2. Seth Rollins
There’s no doubting that Seth Rollins had the most explosive cash-in of any of the Money in the Bank winners. It simply does not get any bigger or better than cashing-in during the main event of WrestleMania and walking out of the Showcase of the Immortals as the WWE Champion.
Out of the trio of Shield brothers, many saw Ambrose and Reigns as the likeliest members to become WWE Champion first, but The Architect shocked the world by becoming Mr. Money in the Bank and then successfully changing the game at WrestleMania 31.
After winning the WWE Title, Rollins became the focal point of WWE TV and PPVs, never actually losing the belt before unfortunately getting injured in November of last year.
Now back and hoping to reclaim the title that he never lost, Seth’s MITB cash-in cemented him as a big time player in the WWE for years to come.
Despite winning the inaugural Money in the Bank match, Edge would somehow manage to cash-in twice even though he only won just the one MITB bout. That, of course, would be due to beating the injured Mr. Kennedy for the briefcase in order to get a second shot of cashing-in.
The first winner of the MITB contract had to be made into a big deal to give the concept any credibility, and cashing-in on John Cena launched Edge to superstardom. At the time, Edge was on the cusp of the main event and his win marked him out as the Ultimate Opportunist and paved the way for him to end up as an 11-time World Champion by the time his career came to a premature close in 2011.
Edge is the prime example of the MITB match helping to turn someone from a superstar into a megastar.