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The 3 Best & 2 Worst Money In The Bank Ladder Matches

Mishal takes a look back at the best–and worst–in the marquee match’s history!

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Daniel Bryan Money In The Bank

This Sunday we are treated to yet another WWE special, the 7th offering from the main roster this year and our final stop before the ‘Biggest Party of the Summer’ Summerslam rolls around in August.

In previous articles I’ve discussed the importance of Money in the Bank as the modern-day version of the King of the Ring tournament, an opportunity to shed light on the stars of today and build on future main eventers who can potentially carry the product into the foreseeable future. Aside from that Money in the Bank always provides some terrific action, high octane and filled with insanity that will get any WWE fan out of their seats.

However, like any form of entertainment, we have the good and the bad.

Money in the Bank has been filled with classic moments, such as CM Punk’s historic victory over John Cena in 2011, Kane winning his 1st World Heavyweight Championship in 2010, RVD returning to the WWE in 2013 & Dean Ambrose claiming his 1st WWE Championship in 2016. The show however is obviously centred around the Money in the Bank ladder match itself, the topic of discussion for today.

Let’s take a dive into the past and look at the 3 best, and the 3 worst Money in the Bank Ladder Matches in WWE history.

BEST: Money in the Bank Ladder Match, WrestleMania 21

Participants: Chris Jericho, Kane, Shelton Benjamin, Edge (Winner), Chris Benoit & Christian

Little known fact, Chris Jericho came up with the concept of the Money in the Bank ladder match, is it any wonder it turned out as good as it did in 2005?

Having this match on the list may feel a little shoehorned due to its historic implications and being the first in a long line of these kinds of matches, but it is far more than being the first in a long series of wild matches.

This match presented an opportunity never seen before in the WWE landscape, the chance for a title change anytime, anyplace & anywhere imaginable to whomever claimed the briefcase above the ring. Champions were put on notice from the get-go and adding ladders to this chance of a lifetime only fuelled the anticipation for a match that had already established itself as a history making moment.

The participants here contain some of the WWE’s all-time best, and the WWE’s most underrated of the modern-era, with Shelton Benjamin being the standout here after a stunning performance that is exactly what you need to make a star under rules such as these. Ladder match veterans such as Edge, Christian & Chris Jericho were obvious fan favourites from the bell due to their experience in this match style, adding brutality and a severe sense of urgency which further pushed this match into classic territory.

While the mans name has been scratched from the face of WWE history however, it is worth noting the matches arguable highlight came in form of Chris Benoit’s headbutt from the top of a ladder onto Kane, which remains one of my favourite Money in the Bank match moments to date.
Having Edge win this initial outing was the icing on the cake of the perfect booking the WWE had done with this match and when the initial cash-in occurred almost 10 months later the following year, all of this destruction was worth the moment that occurred.

WORST: Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match, Money in the Bank 2017

Competitors: Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Tamina, Natalya & Carmella (Winner) w/James Elsworth

It’s quite rare that WWE books the opening match of a major show so poorly that it utterly tanks the pacing for the rest of the show that follows it, and that happened with this bizarre moment in professional wrestling history.

In the midst of the women’s revolution the WWE decided to present us with a match that was long overdue in most people’s eyes, a Money in the Bank match for a shot at the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Women by 2017 had risen to new heights in the business, main eventing shows, receiving prolonged build for their matches, gaining proper character development and were no longer treated as sex objects which was all reflected when this match was announced.
But then, the booking happened.

A first-time match such as this one has the potential to set the standard for any female competitor in the future, give them a bar to live up to and only grow further from there. Instead we got one of the most bizarrely booked matches in quite some time, one that instead of focusing on the women involved, came out with one striking result we will always remember: James Elsworth, a man, won the first ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match.

Now much like the male focused Money in the Bank matches, I have nothing against the opposite sex being involved at points to showcase their talents but at no point should that overstep its boundary. This match was hyped for the women, built for the women & was meant to increase the focus on women, all of which was thrown out the window in the matches closing moments. Elsworth, on behalf of Carmella, climbed the ladder and retrieved the briefcase granting her a championship match to the absolute shock of everyone in attendance.

Shock value is something wrestling should strive to create but in no way should it insult those who invest time in a division as important & lucrative as the women’s division, and instead of giving momentum to a star in need of it, shy away from her and shine the light onto a ringside manager instead.

It’s a shame this match ended how it did as well, because it was actually shaping out to be quite entertaining until the booking completely squandered any efforts the ladies had put on. Fortunately, we were granted a rematch to this contest 9 days later on an edition of SmackDown, where Carmella won her briefcase fair and square without the assistance of Elsworth, but the damage had already been done and sadly this is going to be the first thing that comes to the minds of wrestling fans when we think about this inaugural match.

BEST: Money in the Bank Ladder Match, WrestleMania XXIV

Competitors: CM Punk (Winner), MVP, Chris Jericho, John Morrison, Shelton Benjamin, Carlito & Mr.Kennedy

One of the more overlooked matches that I rarely see people discuss, and I have no clue as to why that is.

Wrestlemania XXIV is one of the best shows the WWE has ever put on, a magnificent spectacle filled with countless memories for fans to remember and failed to produce one match without a noteworthy event. It’s highlights are generally relegated towards the retirement of Ric Flair, Floyd Mayweather knocking out the Big Show or The Undertaker recapturing his World Heavyweight Championship after almost a year, this shouldn’t mean we forget a classic that took place 2nd on the shows main card.

This Money in the Bank ladder match was a beauty to sit through, providing all the thrills of the inaugural one 3 years prior to this, boasting star power with the likes of Chris Jericho once again present & the first of 2 victories for CM Punk, the only back-to-back winner of the match to date.

What made this match even more special was that there wasn’t one sole standout, every single star had a moment to shine. John Morrison hit a moonsault to the outside while grasping a ladder, Matt Hardy returned to attack bitter rival MVP, Jericho hit a Codebreaker on Punk with the assistance of a ladder and Benjamin had a near death moment when he was plunged off the top of a ladder through another ladder placed across the ringside barricade. This match truly had countless moments to talk about.

The matches winner was also a fantastic decision on the part of WWE, giving CM Punk the moment that was stolen from him almost one year prior to this event at Wrestlemania 23. Not only did his victory receive a thunderous ovation but gave us a glimpse into the star the man would one day end up being down the line. Sadly, this victory wouldn’t receive the best follow-up as the initial championship reign he achieved was fairly one-note and received nothing but a resounding ‘meh’ from those that watched it pan out.

Aftermath aside, this was more of what made Money in the Bank so special in the first place and is an overlooked match that deserves more attention.

WORST: Money in the Bank Ladder Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Money in the Bank 2014

Competitors: Roman Reigns, John Cena (Winner), Kane, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Sheamus & Bray Wyatt

I never thought I’d live to see the day a Money in the Bank match actually came across as nothing but by the numbers, and that happened at the 2014 event in a match that actually had a lot of potential on paper.

Unlike previous editions of this match, the winner here would receive the prize of Daniel Bryan’s vacated WWE World Heavyweight Championship as opposed to the traditional briefcase for a championship match down the line. With the stakes being set higher than ever, you’d expect this to be a potential classic and one that could provide more drama than even the general Money in the Bank match would.
None of this potential came to a head though, as we were instead treated to the most one-note ladder match in recent memory.

The talent was certainly here, a good blend of the veterans (Cena, Orton, Kane & Sheamus) and new blood (Reigns, Wyatt & Cesaro) but sadly there wasn’t a single moment in this match where the audience in attendance or at home, thought the anybody but John Cena had a chance here. This came in part with the booking leading up to this match which positioned Cena at the forefront and left no credibility for any other competitor.

We had a few solid bursts of excitement, including a tease of the inevitable match between John Cena & Roman Reigns, aside from that nothing really seemed to pull the match out of 2nd gear. Anyone who saw the 2014 show also understood this match had to follow the classic that occurred earlier in the evening with the actual briefcase on the line, a match that stood head and shoulders above this one.
At the end of it, John ‘Super’ Cena unsurprisingly came out on top in typical fashion, defying the overwhelming odds placed in front of him and once again making it to the top of the mountain in the WWE.

Just to be clear, we have yet to have an actively awful Money in the Bank match thus far into its existence, but this one came the closest to being categorized as ‘bad’. It was by no mean a disaster, just painfully uneventful aside from the crowning of a new champion.

BEST: Money in the Bank Ladder Match for a World Heavyweight Championship Contract, Money in the Bank 2011

Competitors: Daniel Bryan (Winner), Sheamus, Sin Cara, Cody Rhodes, Kane, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater & Wade Barrett

Very few wrestling shows provide the excitement, noise & incredible sequence of events that unfolded at the 2011 Money in the Bank event, and duplicating its success is yet to be seen since that faithful day in Chicago.

The 2011 epic is one I personally revisit frequently, boasting a stacked card from top to bottom, 4 classic headline matches & some of the best samples of storytelling a wrestling fan came come across in the 21st century. While most remember the evening for the classic CM Punk vs John Cena match that headlined the card, the opening contest deserves its rightful place in the history books as arguably the best Money in the Bank match to date.

In terms of line-up this card primarily showcased and gave way to the stars of tomorrow, the likes of Bryan, Rhodes, Gabriel & Slater all provided a fresh new face to the match itself while veterans such as Sheamus & Kane did their jobs of flattening the bodies in their path for the most part. Admittedly though we can’t give the match full credit for just its in-ring action, which was superb, but also the raucous Chicago crowd who came to the arena with passion I wish every wrestling show had behind it.

Every single superstar in this match came across as a star because of the audience’s investment, never seeming like simple ‘mid-card players’ and coming across as larger than we could have ever imagined. Daniel Bryan was the clear favourite here, due to this history on the independent scene in a city that is known for its history in that field and his ovation following the inevitable victory he achieved was a clear sign of how popular he would one day become.

The matches countless highlights are endless to list, but the most noteworthy moment (outside Bryan’s victory) came in the form of a powerbomb from Sheamus on Sin Cara, who in turn was driven through the ladder setup at ringside, splitting it in two pieces and scaring countless fans to death. Moments like these make Money in the Bank what it is and remind us of the stakes it holds to those competing in it and was a reminder of how vital the match at hand was.

Obviously, these choices are subjective, but the 2011 Money in the Bank opening contest is a firm reminder of what a brilliant concept this match was back at its inception. This match accomplished phenomenal in-ring action, star making performances & the rise of one of the most popular figures in the industry today. Beautiful stuff all around.


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Becky Lynch Is A Heel Whether Fans Believe It Or Not

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Becky Lynch is the hottest heel in WWE today. That statement can be denied, it can be argued and it can be dissected from start to finish. In fact it has been and that will likely continue for the duration of her current run on SmackDown Live.

Many fans want to believe that heels and babyfaces do not matter anymore in pro wrestling and especially in WWE. They feel that it’s an outdated concept, best kept for the smoke-filled arenas of the territories in the 1980’s. To them, the hero and villain dynamic is pointless and has no place in today’s modern era of professional wrestling. 

But no matter how often critics want to dispute the validity of good versus evil and right versus wrong, the truth is that the foundation of it is still there. It will always be there and if it wasn’t, this would no longer be pro wrestling. That’s because when everything else strips away, the business is about good versus evil and right versus wrong. Even shades of gray are not enough to change that.

This is evident in Becky’s case, as her story is still unfolding. She was Charlotte Flair’s best friend and the two supported each other through thick and thin. In spite of all the drama happening around them or to them individually, Flair and Lynch were in this together.

But then Charlotte returned to SmackDown Live and was added to Becky’s title match at SummerSlam. In that moment, Becky’s heel turn began. She believed that Charlotte’s ego had taken over and suddenly their friendship meant nothing. Becky saw this intrusion as a betrayal and she wouldn’t let it go unanswered.

Of course common sense says that in the reality of pro wrestling, it’s every woman for herself. If a Superstar wants to get to the top, then she has to take every opportunity given to her and make the best of it. If Charlotte had declined the opportunity to compete for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam and Lynch had lost, then what? Would Becky still be a babyface right now?

In Becky’s mind, Charlotte crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed. Charlotte simply did what anyone in her position would have done but that’s of little consequence now. Becky Lynch is a heel and a heel’s perspective is much different than everyone else. 

Fans know all of this of course, just as they know that WWE is using the whole FairPlay point to bolster Charlotte as the babyface of the story but to no avail. In fact it really doesn’t matter what Flair says at this point, she’s going to be hated. She is hated and that’s okay.

The WWE faithful has its favorites and that’s just how it is. Becky is a huge favorite and that’s understandable. She was also a favorite before she turned on Charlotte and she’s even more relevant now that she ever has been. But for anyone to believe that she’s not a heel perhaps is not paying attention to the way WWE is booking her.

She sneak attacks Charlotte. She mocks her and she belittles her on TV. Becky Lynch had the opportunity, just as Flair did, to compete for the title and just like Charlotte before her, Becky won. Lynch could have taken that victory and moved on to the next opponent, leaving Charlotte far behind. 

But instead Becky keeps provoking Flair. Lynch has beaten Charlotte and Charlotte has every reason to keep chasing the gold but it’s Becky that keeps coming back for more. Lynch proved her point when she beat Charlotte at Hell in a Cell and that could have been the end of it. But it’s not, because Becky’s obsession is proving that she’s better than Charlotte. 

It’s gone far beyond the championship now. For Becky Lynch, this feud is about disgracing Charlotte and leaving her for dead as often as possible. Becky had the title in her sights, she won it and she’s on top now. She has everything she wanted and she could be spending her time proving she’s the best against every single female Superstar on the blue brand. But she won’t do that because she only cares about taking down the woman she’s already beaten. This is the definition of a heel, pure and simple.

This is how the company books Becky and to further prove that point, even WWE Hall of Famer Edge himself could not get through to her. Edge, who has the respect of fans and who typically never receives criticism for anything, could not convince Lynch that she’s doing the wrong thing. The crowd did not turn on Becky for mocking him and in fact, she was cheered during The Cutting Edge.

But just because WWE made the effort to heel Becky out again does not mean it was the most ideal effort. Edge was one of the most notorious heels in WWE history. He was the ultimate opportunist and he took every avenue available to get to the top. He was as devious as any heel on the roster and this is the man that WWE brought in to talk some sense into Becky Lynch?

However despite how many times the company tries to salvage Lynch’s heel turn and fails, the point is that the work is taking place. WWE wants the fans to hate Becky. That was the plan from day one and everything the company has done proves that. Fans may not want to play along, but that does not change the facts. Becky Lynch is a heel and that’s just how it is.

But fans want to love her, so that truth is denied. Fans want to hate Roman Reigns so they lie to themselves and claim that he’s really a heel anyway. Charlotte is the daughter of The Dirtiest Player in the Game but she does nothing to heel out against Becky. Yet, fans hate her anyway. Just like Roman, fans believe WWE is pushing Charlotte as a face on them and they don’t want that. Once again, the audience disregards the truth in favor of controlling the narrative.

The point is that WWE is not going to change the way it does business. Fans can believe whatever they want and the company itself can suggest anything it wants. But it’s all in the execution and the timing. It was not the right time to turn Becky heel, just as the time came and went to turn Roman heel but WWE did nothing. 

The fact that fans can’t determine which way is up should be no mystery. The most well-laid plans tend to fail when WWE does not establish the most basic elements from the very beginning. That’s not on the fans, it’s on the company. No matter who’s right in this scenario, the truth is that fans are enjoying the ride and that’s what matters the most.


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Opinion

Bianca Belair Overrated?

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This weeks NXT had a double main event of Undisputed Era  vs the War Raiders for the Tag Team Titles and a rematch between Nikki Cross vs Bianca Belair.

It would be Belair vs Cross that ultimately closed the show which is nothing new as NXT have always put the spotlight on their women’s division. It was a good match which ended when Black returned to demand Cross tell him who attacked him.

I’ve already talked about who might have attacked Black so I don’t want to talk about that much more instead I want to talk about Belair.

Despite losing in the second round of the first Mae Young Classic to Kairi Sane, Belair has been undefeated on NXT TV. She’s good in ring despite only being a year or so into the business helped by her athletic background. Her whip sets her apart and she plays a good heel.

My question is though: Why am I not interested in her?

Every time I see her I think she’s not as good as the commentators make her out to be and for a while I thought she was overrated. Maybe she plays that good of a heel that I’ve worked myself into not liking her. I don’t think having an undefeated streak helps her either. It’s a trait we see too often with NXT when a new person comes in. So far they’ve done a good job of protecting her and finding ways to have her lose and keep her streak like in her first match with Cross.

Eventually she will have to lose because the longer a streak goes on for the more it begins to hurt the persons opponent and story telling. Especially if she wins the Women’s title will undefeated like Asuka did. I think she will be champion eventually because she would a great heel champion lording it over everyone.

I thought when she did that sit down interview a while back talking about her upbringing I would be more invested in her but I’m not. It just reinforced that her gimmick is simply I’m better than you at everything.

A gimmick that’s worked in the past but I think we need more than that now. It’s like how just having the gimmick of just being a good wrestling is not enough anymore since the quality of wrestling has vastly improved. She strikes me as a female Mr Perfect.

I also get vibes of what Sasha Banks was when she was in NXT and we’ve seen what’s happened to her since she went to the main roster. If I’ve seen that there’s a chance main roster officials might see that which would not help her at all.

Hopefully my opinion of her changes in the near future as Belair continues to develop. She’s going to be in NXT for at least another year or so considering she’s still very young. With some small improvements to her character along with how good she is in the ring Bianca Belair could be a figurehead in the women’s division for years to come.


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Opinion

While You’re Distracted, Drew McIntyre Is Taking Over

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WWE NXT Drew MyIntire

There’s been a lot going on this week. Much of our attention has been taken by the developing situation in Saudi Arabia, which has led to some backlash towards WWE due to their relationship with the Saudi regime. Every part-time star & legend that we can think of has come back in recent weeks. Oh, and there’s everything else going on in the world. It’s a lot to take in.

Sometimes, things fly under the radar. We don’t take proper notice of events that end up shaping the future of the wrestling business. Steve Austin adopting the nickname “Stone Cold” didn’t garner much attention when it happened. Most of The Rock’s catchphrases didn’t immediately catch fire the first time he used them. Heck, it took a few months after Mankind got tossed off of Hell in a Cell for people to realize how big a deal it was.

Raw on Monday was one of those shows that we barely noticed while it was happening. Much of our attention was focused on Saudi Arabia, along with the SmackDown 1000 show the next night. Raw’s main event pitted The Shield, who have been fighting off rumors of dissention for weeks now, against Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre. While Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins had their moment of unease, it was Braun Strowman’s alliance that broke apart at the end of the night.

Braun’s logic in associating with Dolph & Drew was always flawed. He thought he was getting two guys to watch his back, to stay in the shadows and handle Roman Reigns’ friends while he set about his goal of obtaining the Universal Championship. He wanted a couple of flunkies. If Braun had paid any attention to the careers of the men he was trying to put in these roles, he would have seen all of this coming.

Dolph Ziggler’s best quality as a professional wrestler is his ability to serve as cannon fodder. He has the ability to make almost anybody across the ring from him look like a million bucks. When you enlist him as part of your group, you do so with the understanding that he’s going to be taking a lot of pinfalls. It isn’t ideal, but hey, it keeps you from taking the fall. Getting mad at him over it is counterproductive. It also has the side effect of getting his tag team partner really mad at you. That’s the last thing you need right now.

Which one of these guys is supposed to be the star?

In case you haven’t noticed, the Drew McIntyre that’s emerged onto the Raw scene in 2018 isn’t the same Drew McIntyre we remember from back in the day. It was almost a decade ago when he debuted on SmackDown as the Chosen One. He was a pretty young Scottish fella with Vince McMahon’s stamp of approval as a future world champion. Getting Vince’s endorsement is a big deal, but as some of our top Superstars have learned over the years, it makes it tougher for the fans to buy into you.

Drew showed a ton of potential early on, but something was missing. A reign as Intercontinental Champion & with Cody Rhodes as SmackDown’s Tag Team Champions didn’t quite click. There was also the business with Drew’s marriage to Taryn Terrell blowing up & the fallout souring WWE higher-ups on him. He didn’t do too much of note after that, except form 3MB with Heath Slater & Jinder Mahal. Don’t get me wrong, 3MB definitely had its entertaining moments, and the group has already seen one of its members become WWE Champion. It was, however, a huge step down from being the Chosen One and a future world champion.

Drew got released in June 2014. Some guys get released from WWE and are never heard from again. Others take their new status as an opportunity to reinvent themselves & step their game up to another level. That’s exactly what Drew did. He dominated EVOLVE Wrestling from his first night in the company, winning their championship in his first match there. If that wasn’t enough, he was one-half of their first Tag Team Championship team. He went to TNA/Impact Wrestling and won their top two championships. He tore a path through the United Kingdom wrestling scene, winning titles wherever he went.

While doing all of this, Drew developed his persona and became a more effective talker. He got bigger & more effective in the ring. Basically, he improved everything about himself as a wrestler & sports entertainer. By the time he returned to WWE, via the NXT brand, Drew McIntyre was ready to be the top star we thought he could be. The only thing keeping him from dominating NXT for longer than three months was a torn bicep. Once Drew recovered from that, it was time to hit the main roster.

His run on Raw since the Superstar Shakeup hasn’t seen a lot of bumps in the road. His teaming with Dolph Ziggler has made the Showoff relevant for the first time in a long time. McIntyre has yet to take a pinfall loss while on the Raw roster. There have been some disqualifications for kicking too much ass & things like that, but Drew has been portrayed as an unstoppable force since his return. To the point where he can lay out Braun Freaking Strowman with a Claymore kick and it doesn’t surprise anybody. Well, except Braun, who actually thought that McIntyre would serve as one of his toadies. Silly Braun. If the Monster Among Men wants to keep this alliance going, it’ll be on the Scottish Psychopath’s terms.

We all know that the Saudi Arabian quagmire is going to disappear in the rear view mirror at some point. WWE (and professional wrestling in general) has withstood every crisis that people thought would bring its demise. Publicly revealing that wrestling was predetermined didn’t kill the business. The sex & steroid scandals of the early 90s didn’t end it all. Chris Benoit killing himself & his family didn’t derail the industry. These issues were big bumps in the road, but pro wrestling survived.

When Saudi Arabia is far off in the distance, Drew McIntyre will be standing in front of your windshield. Probably with somebody’s head hanging from his hands, and maybe the Universal Championship over his shoulder. While you were distracted, he was making his mark. Bring in all the part timers & legends you want. The future is here, and ready to kick your head off.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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