"Money in the Bank" was a cool concept introduced by the WWE in 2005, at WrestleMania 21. It is a unique match because the contest does not end via pinfall but rather when one of the participants climbs a ladder and successfully retrieves a briefcase that's hanging over the ring (say what?!). Non wrestling aficionados are probably wondering; what's so special about a briefcase? Very simple, there is a contract in the briefcase that entitles the winner to receive an immediate title shot within the year, whenever they so choose to cash it in. We've seen various superstars carry this briefcase around for the better portion of a year before cashing it in, sometimes comically even using it as a weapon.
This type of match rose in popularity over the years and became a mainstay at WrestleMania. It was popular because it was a change of pace to the standard Mania type matches. Instead of seeing hip-tosses, drop-toe holds and Russian leg-sweeps for 20 minutes, you'd be treated to 16-foot ladders tipping over and wrestlers getting slammed through them. The popularity of the match continued to grow, so naturally the WWE decided to schedule a pay-per-view on July 18th called "Money in the Bank". The pay-per-view typically has two Money in the Bank matches, one for the Raw brand and one for the SmackDown brand.
As of 2011, WWE decided that they would scrap Money in the Bank matches at WrestleMania and only hold them at the annual pay-per-view event. These types of matches were quite enjoyable at Mania because as mentioned earlier, it was a nice change of pace. However, it's understandable from the WWE's perspective, as the match's growing popularity made it good business to have its own pay-per-view. Lets have a look at which "Money in the Bank" pay-pew-views had the most buys.
5 Inaugural "Money in the Bank" 2010, 162,000 Buys
The Raw edition of this match featured Randy Orton, John Morrison, Chris Jericho, Edge, Evan Bourne, Ted DiBiase Jr., The Miz and Mark Henry. There was some interesting choices for this match because most often they use wrestlers who are nimble and keep up a quick pace, so it's fair to say that the selection of the 400 pound Henry kind of stuck out. Nevertheless, he had some entertaining spots in the match by demonstrating his raw power. The Miz won the match as he bolted up the ladder while everyone else was incapacitated, snatching the brief case as commentator Michael Cole lost his mind at ringside.
The SmackDown version of the match lasted 26 minutes and 18 seconds, which is the second longest Money in the Bank match to date. The participants were Drew McIntyre, Kane, Christian, Matt Hardy, Big Show, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes and Kofi Kingston. Kane ended up victorious in this one but caught everyone by surprise later on that evening. Rey Mysterio had just defended his World Title against Jack Swagger until Kane came to the ring and successfully cashed in his title shot. He is the only superstar to ever successfully cash it in on the same night as he won it.
4 "Money in the Bank" 2012, 188,000 Buys
The SmackDown contest was arguably the weakest in terms of notable superstars taking part in the match. It consisted of Damien Sandow, Cody Rhodes, Christian, Tyson Kidd, Sin Cara, Tensai, Dolph Zigger and (gasps) Santino Marella. It was actually a better match in practice than on paper. Ziggler ended up winning and had quite the dramatic 267 days with the briefcase as he had to defend the contract twice. He ultimately successfully cashed in his contract and won the title from Alberto Del Rio, after Del Rio had just completed a handicap match against Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger.
The Raw version, in contrast, had tons of star power as John Cena, Kane, The Miz, The Big Show and Chris Jericho went to war. Cena ended up prevailing as he and The Big Show battled atop of the ladder with Cena ultimately pelting Show over the head with the briefcase after he grabbed it. The honorable Cena did not choose to cash in the contract while the champion was in a vulnerable state, but instead chose to formally challenge CM Punk to a match on the 1000th episode of Raw, which got interfered with by The Big Show. The inference resulted in a disqualification and since the title cannot change hands via disqualification, poor Jojn Cena got shafted again. How original.
3 "Money in the Bank" 2011, 195,000 Buys
The SmackDown match was pretty entertaining and provided a solid list of wrestlers including Wade Barrett, Kane, Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Sin Cara, Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater. There was a lot of acrobatic maneuvering in this match, particularly Sin Cara and Justin Gabriel who clearly have no fear of heights, as they dove and flipped off ladders like it was going out of style. The ending involved Barrett attempting to throw Bryan off the ladder, which Bryan reversed and proceeded to deliver a head-kick to Barrett's cranium, ultimately winning the match. Bryan went on to cash in on his title shot at the Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view, attacking The Big Show after he had defended the title against Mark Henry...Love those post-match attacks!
The Raw boys put on a considerably shorter match at 15 minutes and 44 seconds but it was not without hits high-spots. The Miz, Rey Mysterio, Jack Swagger, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Alex Riley, Evan Bourne and Alberto Del Rio were involved in this one. At one point, Bourne did a backflip off the ladder outside the ring and took out four people. The match ended with every participant struggling for position on two ladders with Del Rio eventually prevailing.
2 1. "Money in the Bank" 2013, 199,000 Buys
The SmackDown contest was a wild one. It involved Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, Damien Sandow, Fandango, Antonio Cesaro, Dean Ambrose and Jack Swagger. As you can see, it was quite the populated edition of Money in the Bank. The ring got even more jammed when The Shield came in to help Ambrose, followed by the Uso brothers joining the fray to attack The Shield. It went from 0 to 100 very quickly. To quote Ron Burgundy, fans were sitting there thinking: "Boy, that escalated quickly". It looked like Rhodes was home free as he made his way up the ladder, until Damien Sandow came out of nowhere and tipped the ladder, knocking Rhodes out of the ring, taking out every single participant in the process (including The Shield, and the Uso's). It was a bit of a dry ending to a great match, as Sandow did the least, and ended up winning. Even the way he unsuccessfully cashed in his contract was lame, as he casually interrupted a John Cena promo and proceeded to get beat down for his troubles.
The Raw match wasn't nearly as good, so Will Ferrell quotes will be spared for this one. At 28 minutes and 48 seconds, it was also the longest Money in the Bank match in history. Participants in this match included Randy Orton, Christian, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, CM Punk and the returning Rob Van Dam. People were really ramped up for the return of RVD but it was the same old routine; Rolling Thunder, Van Terminator etc... Orton delivered an RKO as Van Dam was attempting to climb the ladder and snatched up the briefcase. Orton held on to the contract for 35 days and cashed in at Summer Slam after Daniel Bryan had won the title off John Cena. With the help of Triple H, Orton was able to pin Bryan and win the gold, absolutely obliterating the feel good moment.
1 Future of "Money in the Bank"
This annual-pay-per-view will be around for the foreseeable future. Even though wrestling purists sometimes criticize these types of matches because they're considered "gimmicky", interest is only rising for the concept as the 2013 edition was the most watched ever. If the WWE were to eliminate a pay-per-view, it would be a more conventional show such as "Survivor Series," which has been a mainstay in WWE since 1987. Sadly, interest is steadily declining for Survivor Series as it's dropped from 450,000 buys to 179,000 buys in the past decade. The briefcase is here to stay!