The Money in the Bank ladder match is a chance of a lifetime for WWE superstars. For the winner, it creates a launchpad from the mid-card (or just plain obscurity) straight to the main event. Whoever reaches the top of the ladder and pulls down the briefcase first wins a contract opportunity to cash in on the champion of their choosing at any time and any place! Not everyone has been successful in their attempts to cash in, but for those who were, it created unique and memorable moments that have lived on in infamy for the fans. But for every time WWE creative got it right, there has been notable gaffes we very much would like to forget. Let’s dig in…
The Money in the Bank ladder match – Whose idea was it?
Chris Jericho is a seasoned veteran who has wrestled for multiple organizations across the globe, from CMLL in Mexico, Jim Cornette’s Appalachian Smokey Mountain Wrestling, WAR in Japan, Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, World Wrestling Entertainment, New Japan, to presently All Elite Wrestling. Jericho is a nine-time Intercontinental Champion, a multiple-time Tag-Team Champion and most impressively, the first-ever Undisputed Champion, holding both the WWE Championship and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at the same time! Jericho has had many exceptional matches throughout his storied career which is why it comes as no surprise that he was the genius behind the Money in the Bank ladder match.
In an interview with Jonathan Coachman on ESPN’s WWE Off the Top Rope, Jericho recalled his idea came when he was having a discussion with former WWE head writer and executive, Brian Gewirtz.
According to Jericho, many wrestlers had nothing penciled in for the upcoming WrestleMania 21 pay-per-view, so the writing team came up with the idea of throwing them all together in a big ladder match. A unique idea, right? The primary concern that arose from this though was that there was nothing for them to battle for. Fortunately, Y2J had the solution to the problem.
“It was for WrestleMania, and there were a bunch of guys with nothing to do, and some pretty big names, Kane, Edge, Christian, [Chris] Benoit, Shelton Benjamin, who was getting a push at the time,” Jericho explained. “[WWE] didn’t know what to do with us so they were trying to come up with a bunch of ideas. Then they said, ‘Well, maybe a multi [person] ladder match!’ Brian said, ‘Well, there’s nothing to go for.’ And I said, ‘What if we went for a piece of paper, like a contract, where you would get a title match the next night?'”
Vince McMahon was entirely on board and loved the concept, but he had only one demand.
The original idea Jericho came up with was to have the victor be given a title shot the following night on Monday Night Raw.
The CEO of WWE Vince McMahon was entirely on board and loved the concept of a ladder match where competitors fought for a contract leading to a future championship match, but he was insistent on only one demand. “The contract for the world title shot must be kept inside of a briefcase, damn it!”
Vince would later also revise Jericho’s original idea stating that the winner would have a full year to make their move and cash in rather than have to cash in their contract the following night on Raw. To date, no wrestler has gone a full 365 days with the briefcase in hand, but some have come close!
The first-ever Money in the Bank ladder match
The Money in the Bank ladder match debuted at WrestleMania 21 on April 3rd, 2005, and was exclusive only to Raw superstars. The inaugural match featured Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjamin, Edge, Kane, and Christian with Tyson Tomko at ringside.
Many memorable moments unfolded during this match, including Jericho, Christian, Benjamin, and Kane all jumping over the top rope to the outside of the ring to knock down multiple opponents at the same time. Another notable spot saw Benjamin performing a T-Bone Suplex on Edge off a ladder and later using an inclined ladder as a ramp to run up and perform a clothesline on Jericho. Benoit also executed a diving headbutt off a ladder onto Kane.
In the conclusion of the match, Benoit climbed a ladder to attempt to claim the Money in the Bank briefcase but was stopped by Kane, who had also climbed the ladder. Benoit used repeated headbutts to knock Kane to the floor and attempted to retrieve the briefcase once more but was knocked down by Edge, who struck him with a steel chair. Edge then climbed the ladder and successfully retrieved the briefcase to win the match and become the first-ever owner of a Money in the Bank briefcase.
The Money in the Bank match would go on to be held at the next five WrestleMania events, after which the stipulation match was spun off into its own pay-per-view beginning in 2010.
Did you know?: Money in the Bank is the only WWE pay-per-view event with a regular theme song, as all but the first event have used “Money in the Bank” by former in-house WWE composer Jim Johnston as its theme song. Before the invention of the pay-per-view, the “Money in the Bank” song was used as the entrance music for future U.S. President Donald Trump for his numerous guest appearances on WWE television.
Money in the Bank – The Best and The Worst
Seth Rollins, CM Punk, “The Rated R Superstar” Edge, and Dolph Ziggler (just listen to the huge crowd reaction he got!) are but a few who have seized their opportunity and successfully cashed in their Money in the Bank briefcases to become WWE Champion.
Unfortunately, though, some superstars have been unsuccessful in their attempts at cashing in and becoming the top champion of their brand. Baron Corbin, at the time of this writing, is the latest to experience a defeat after cashing in against “The Modern Day Majaraja” Jinder Mahal back in 2017. Corbin marched down to the ring and attempted to take advantage of the situation, however, a distraction from John Cena allowed Mahal to roll up Corbin up for the pin.
Damien Sandow is another example of a superstar attempting to cash in his Money in the Bank contract but ultimately failing. This occurred after he failed to defeat a weakened Cena after defeating Alberto Del Rio at 2013’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. Sandow lost not only his title shot but also dropped to lower-tier status thereafter in the company. He was gone from the company (and ultimately wrestling) just a few short years later.
Time for the ladies to shine!
By 2016, a full-on #WomensRevolution was happening in WWE where the Raw brand would see Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair make history by headlining a pay-per-view for the first time in the first-ever women’s Hell in the Cell Match. On the “Land of Opportunity” of SmackDown Live, we would see Alexis Bliss and Becky Lynch breaking barriers, too, battling in steel cage matches and the first-ever women’s TLC match in company history.
The momentum didn’t end there. In 2017, we witnessed history with the first-ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match, where Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Natalya, and Tamina strived to make history.
“The first-ever women’s Money in the Bank match left a bad taste in the mouths of many.”
Unfortunately, Carmella’s partner-in-time James Ellsworth interfered in the match and climbed the ladder himself, pulling down the briefcase and dropping it down to Carmella who took the win. The match finished in controversial fashion and left a very bad taste in the mouths of many. Fans took to social media to voice their displeasure with this outcome directly after. What should have been a moment for the ladies the shine ended up being ruined by a terrible creative decision in the back. WWE, attempting to right their obvious wrong, granted the ladies a second opportunity for a Money in the Bank match on SmackDown Live two weeks later. This time, rightfully, the five women stole the show. Carmella won again, but this time completely on her own.
Money in the Bank has presented many unbelievable (and forgettable) moments with high-risks and exciting performances over the years. When you’re watching this year’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view, impress your friends with details on how far it has come since its inaugural debut in 2005!
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