Ever since 2005, Money in the Bank has become one of WWE’s greatest concepts. A multi-man ladder match with the winner claiming a briefcase that contains a contract that grants them a world-championship match anytime they wish within 12 months. With the wild-card factor having provided many great surprises over the years, crowned many new world champs, and wrestlers taking their rightful place in history.
Everyone has their favourite Mr. Money in the Bank (those who had a great run to prepare themselves for that inevitable cash-in), the MITB cash-in itself, and the run that follows afterwards.
Fans have many favourite cash-ins and subsequent world-title-runs but the THREE names that consistently get thrown into the hat for the DEFINITIVE title of Mr. Money in the Bank are…
Rob Van Dam.
All three had amazing victories in their respective matches, fantastic runs to prepare themselves for the main-event, AMAZING Cash-Ins that were booked perfectly, and subsequent great world title-runs. But which was the BEST of these three? Who truly was Mr. Money in the Bank? We – the court of SmarkDown – examine the evidence before reaching our verdict!
EXHIBIT A: Edge
Edge won what many people consider the greatest Money in the Bank ladder match of all-time. At WrestleMania 21, you had an all-star line-up featuring Chris Jericho, Kane, Christian, Shelton Benjamin and Chris Benoit in one of the best ladder matches EVER at a WrestleMania. Full of amazing spots, psychology, storytelling and a performance from six men who badly wanted to be the World Champion. No other MITB Ladder match has been able to top this one. Edge sneaked in at the last moment to snatch the briefcase after nailing Benoit’s injured arm with a steel-chair. Thus, establishing himself as the Ultimate Opportunist.
Run With The Briefcase
It was early 2005 when it came out that Edge had been having a real-life affair with Lita (who had been Matt Hardy’s girlfriend for years). With fans in the arena and online already (legitimately) despising Adam Copeland, Edge embraced the heat and used his time as Mr. Money in The Bank to prove that he was ready for the main-event. After winning feuds over Benoit and Kane, Edge had also become an on-screen couple with Lita to fan the flames even further as he feuded with Matt Hardy. Improving all-the-more as a performer and a wrestler, Edge finally found his main-event footing as the Rated-R Superstar as he feuded with Ric Flair. After nine wild & eventful months…it was now his time.
The Cash-In Itself
The primary reason why Edge’s cash-in at New Year’s Revolution 2006 ranks in the Top Three (at least) is because it was the first. No one could’ve predicted how and when Edge was finally going to strike, but when he did, it was revolutionary genius; setting the standard for virtually all MITB cash-ins going forward. After John Cena had barely retained the title in the Elimination Chamber main-event, Vince McMahon declared that Edge was finally going to challenge for the WWE Championship. With Cena bloody and spent, Edge nailed the Champ with two-spears to finally get to the top of the mountain. It was shocking and brutal, and the fans rejoiced because of A) the booking, B) they were tired of Cena being on top for so long, and C) Edge had redeemed himself in the eyes of his haters.
A Main-Event Success?
Absolutely! Although Edge’s first WWE Championship reign only lasted 21 days, it was a massive success and wildly eventful. With the Rated-R Superstar truly at home in the main-event, Edge and Lita embarked in the infamous live-sex celebration on Raw! An angle which drew huge-ratings! Edge also retained the WWE title in a great TLC match against Ric Flair. Despite losing the belt back to John Cena at Royal Rumble 2006, Edge solidified his main-event credentials with his feuds against both Cena and Mick Foley. And after finishing his business with RVD and ECW, Edge would regain the WWE Title in 2006 and the rest was history for the WWE Hall of Famer.
EXHIBIT B: Rob Van Dam
Although not quite as epic as the previous year’s MITB ladder match, the sequel at WrestleMania 22 was nevertheless exhilarating, featuring a great cast with the likes of Matt Hardy, Fit Finlay, Shelton Benjamin, Bobby Lashley and Ric Flair. Rob Van Dam was right in his element here and filled many more highlight reels for his collection. Ever since the Invasion in 2001, fans had been praying for RVD to finally take his place at the top. More so after being sidelined for virtually all of 2005 with a knee injury. When Van Dam finally snatched the briefcase, the world rejoiced! The Whole F’N Show was now so close to the top!
Run With The Briefcase
RVD’s run as Mr. Money In The Bank was much shorter compared to Edge’s, but it was nonetheless VERY cool. Van Dam actually customised his briefcase with a truly inspired paint-job that reflected his persona. RVD also entered a brief rivalry with then-IC Champion Shelton Benjamin for the Briefcase and the Intercontinental Title; triumphing in an excellent Winner-Takes All match at Backlash 2006. This made RVD the only man to hold a championship and the MITB Briefcase simultaneously. Although RVD would lose the Intercontinental title back to Shelton after 15 days, it didn’t matter. Van Dam was gaining more & more momentum and soon afterwards…he told the world he was ready to cash-in.
The Cash-In Itself
In contrast to Edge’s cash-in at New Year’s Revolution 2006 (and most since then), Rob Van Dam’s use of the briefcase stands-out above the rest because he actually announced his cash-in ahead of time. RVD challenged John Cena for the WWE Championship at the PERFECT battleground: ECW One Night Stand. The ECW fans were religiously devoted to Rob Van Dam, threatening to riot if Cena won. The odds were firmly stacked in the challenger’s favour, resulting in an incredible atmosphere at the Hammerstein Ballroom. It remains one of the best matches of Cena and RVD’s careers, with Van Dam FINALLY taking his place as WWE Champion. It was just exemplary booking from start-to-finish!
A Main-Event Success?
Well…yes and no. After finally getting to the top, Rob Van Dam was Paul Heyman’s first draft-pick for the new ECW brand and was soon awarded the reactivated ECW World Heavyweight Championship; making Van Dam the only man in history to hold both the WWE and the ECW World Titles simultaneously. RVD retained his titles against the likes of Edge, Cena and Kurt Angle in fantastic displays. But soon afterwards, both RVD and Sabu were infamously arrested for illegal possession of drugs. They were promptly suspended and RVD never had a world title/main-event run in WWE again. RVD had a world-title run in TNA years later, and retained main-event credibility because of what an amazing performer he was. But in comparison to Edge and Seth Rollins, RVD sadly lacked the longevity of a WWE main-eventer. Nonetheless, he remains an honoured WWE Hall of Famer.
EXHIBIT C: Seth Rollins
By 2014, the Money in the Bank Ladder Match had long been established as a match to look forward to. And Money in the Bank 2014 featured another great outing with RVD, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger and Kofi Kingston. But the primary-story going-in to MITB was definitely Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose. Seth had shockingly betrayed the Shield to side with the Authority, and it looked like Dean’s chance was over after injuring his shoulder in the match. The crowd rejoiced when Ambrose returned and took out his former-comrade. Alas, when it seemed victory was Dean’s, interference from Kane cost Ambrose the match, and allowed Seth to win and celebrate with the Authority. Although not quite as epic a victory as Edge or RVD’s, The Architect’s heel status was now growing.
Run With The Briefcase
Seth held the Briefcase for a tremendous 273 days (Edge still holds the record for longest time for a male wrestler at 280). As Mr. Money in the Bank, Seth Rollins used his time wisely to get himself ready for a main-event push. His feud with Dean Ambrose intensified throughout the summer, resulting in some wicked matches at SummerSlam and Hell in a Cell, with Rollins always coming out on top. Seth then treaded the waters as a world-title contender when he fought both John Cena and Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at the 2015 Royal Rumble whilst still having the briefcase. It was an incredible match that proved Seth belonged in the ring with established stars like Cena and Lesnar. A great match with Randy Orton at WrestleMania 31 then followed, and having proved himself on the mic and in the ring, with the Authority truly behind him…Seth was now ready.
The Cash-In Itself
In a word; legendary. Many fans regard Seth’s MITB cash-in as definitive. For too long, the briefcase had been used as just a means for a quick world-title win by many; lacking the surprise & wild-card factor that had made Edge and Rob Van Dam’s cash-ins so successful. That finally changed in the main-event at WrestleMania 31, when during the brutality of Brock Lesnar/Roman Reigns, both champion and challenger were down, Seth cashed-in his briefcase mid-way through the match to make the bout a triple-threat! Seth Rollins’ move was so revolutionary it caught everybody off-guard, and remains not only the crowning moment of Seth Rollins’ career, but also an amazing, shocking end to WrestleMania 31!
A Main-Event Success?
Absolutely! Following his epic WWE Title win, Rollins retained the title against the likes of Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Neville, Kane, Sting and John Cena, showcasing terrific work-ethic, and also being a dual-champ at one point when he captured the US Title from Cena at SummerSlam 2015. It can be argued that Seth behaved too much like a cowardly champ during this reign (being the Authority’s puppet), but the run on top was still hugely successful. Seth’s reign ended after 221 days (the longest for any world title-reign following a MITB cash-in!) when he unfortunately sustained a knee injury, thus forcing him to vacate the WWE Championship. Nonetheless, Rollins immediately reclaimed the WWE title upon his return, and has remained one of WWE’s most consistent & reliable performers/world champions over these last several years.
So…all the evidence has been presented before us. But which of THESE THREE do we consider the greatest Mr. Money in the Bank? Time for us SmarKDown judges to decide!
Ben: For me the best one is Seth Rollins. Winning the briefcase off the back of the momentum of the Shield’s breakup – and a brilliant MITB match it was – with Ambrose on the cusp but then the Authority handed it to Rollins. The feud of the year with Ambrose was gripping and compelling to watch every week, the hatred fans had for Seth’s character was insane back then for ruining the best group in WWE history. Constantly in the main event scene and pairing him with Triple H gave him more credibility. And then there was Rollin’s performance in the Triple Threat match at Royal Rumble; he could’ve been the third wheel after Lesnar/Cena but he stole the show that night. The building feud with Randy Orton, the match with Orton at WrestleMania was also brilliant.
And then the cash-in which can never be replicated – all of that can never be done again – in the middle of a match, the middle of the main event of WrestleMania, maybe the only time in history where the “heel” winning and leaving WrestleMania as the World Champion has made sense. That moment will be immortalised forever, the title reign itself had its hiccups but had great matches, like the ladder match vs Ambrose at MITB, the two matches with Cena, the match on RAW vs Neville is one of my favourite RAW matches. It ended sadly with this injury forcing him to vacate the title, but he’s still a main event star 9 years later and has won everything in the book and is the most reliable big match performer WWE has to this day.
Tomás: Personally, the first Money in the Bank-holder is still the absolute greatest to me. Not only did it establish the cocky opportunistic cash-in method, the actual MITB Ladder match itself (the WrestleMania 21 is still the best to me after all these years), but it also launched Edge into the main event scene for life. Edge first won the briefcase at WM 21 by smartly taking advantage of Chris Benoit’s injured arm, striking with an intelligent chairshot to the arm in order to steal the briefcase. The Canadian held onto that contract for nearly a year, in the process getting the briefcase over as a visual prop, as well as a “foreign object” (using it to win many matches, including against Benoit at Backlash 2005).
I couldn’t help but mention Lita, another person that was very important in the history of Money in the Bank. She joined Edge while he was the contract holder, helping the future 11-time World Champion become the most hated heel in the whole industry due to the heated personal rivalry with Matt Hardy. Obviously, that only did wonders for the MITB by association. Edge finally cashed in on John Cena at New Year’s Revolution 2006, winning his first WWE Championship after 8 years in the company, in what is one of the most memorable title runs in history. The title reign itself was short but VERY memorable (to say the least) because of the live sex celebration, starting the epic Edge/Cena feud. Edge would lose the title back to Cena only 3 weeks later at Royal Rumble 2006, but a quick feud with Mick Foley (featuring their brutal WrestleMania 22 match) made sure Edge remained a main eventer for the rest of his career.
Before finishing, I would like to mention Edge’s brief 2007 run with the MITB, which kickstarted Edge’s glorious feud with The Undertaker, which ended up main eventing WrestleMania 24. Several great wrestlers have held the contract since, but Edge is still the best Money in the Bank holder of all time in my opinion!
Matthew: I thought Edge’s cash-in on The Undertaker was better than his first to be honest. But let me have a go-around! I personally feel that Edge had the best cash-in of all time. Not only did it establish him as a main-eventer, but him holding it for 8 months was remarkable…as everyone else pretty much held it for shorter spans of time! I feel the WrestleMania 21 match was great. Although we had already seen everything conceivable with a ladder in previous years, all of those ideas were overlooked, and what we got was a great ladder match that ended up becoming a staple of every subsequent WrestleMania up until WrestleMania 26.
I can’t help mention the fact that Edge was a heel, which meant that a heel would win the first Money in the Bank match. Instead of the babyface-like Benoit or Jericho winning. Edge cashing-in at the end of the New Year’s Revolution PPV after the Elimination Chamber match was shocking and gave you how it could be used, and was a surprising take on how you could run with this idea. Can’t really go farther than that!
Prince: As much as I love Edge’s cash-in, Seth Rollins is the one who fits the moniker of Mr. MITB for me. Sometimes, it feels better when you experience certain things live/grew up in witnessing those aspects rather than hearing from people who’ve seen it in the past. Rollins was the one whom I grew up watching him from his rookie phase in NXT to the workhorse of The Shield & the one who shattered the group to pieces that can’t be fixed. His run with The Authority was a different breed of an emotional roller coaster & his initial stages were excellently annoying. When the 2014 edition happened, I rooted for Seth as the heel to win w/Ambrose as the face to win. His run as the case holder was rad enough to bring his name with two of the greats in Edge & RVD. Especially, his three-way dance with two of the best World Champions in Cena & Brock, which truly showed his utmost skill as a breakout main-eventer.
And who could forget WrestleMania 31? Probably one of the better WrestleManias in the post-PG Era/pre-New Era. His battle with Orton was the final step in his struggle to climb the mountain. Even though he lost there, he won the war in the most uncalled surprises ever in the company’s history with the historic cash-in. Lesnar & Reigns were on the top of the cliff reaching for a brass ring of mega stardom in a first-ever duel, but Rollins’ sneaky snatch of the WWE Title off Lesnar not only catapulted him to the peak, but also pulled the fans’ legs in a positive way of welcoming such a unique way of piercing in front of the world champion as the briefcase holder. His reign as the WWE Champion was superlative in terms of opponents & his improved quality in match deliverance led to legends like Cena & Sting stepping up to put him over is incredible.
Since then, Seth Rollins has been a multiple-time WWE & Universal Champion, one of the best Intercontinental Champions of the 2010s & a true leader of the locker room. His run as the World Heavyweight Champion has just begun & there are a lot of people who could scratch the surface of what’s about to blow up by sharing the ring with one of the complete packages of the current crop.
MrDCWood: The choice is SO hard given what an elite three it is, especially given the evidence. However, after having thought about it these last several years…I must go with Seth Rollins. Both Edge and Rob Van Dam established Money in the Bank as an amazing, versatile concept that produced spectacular runs and cash-ins, but Rollins not only cashed-in at the ULTIMATE stage in the main-event at WrestleMania 31…he also became the first man to cash-in the briefcase whilst a match was already in progress.
After so many years of quick cash-ins AFTER a title-match, FINALLY something new and original had been done with the Money in the Bank concept. It was indeed the heist of the century (as Michael Cole brilliantly called it!), with Rollins hijacking the main-event of WrestleMania 31 to produce an unforgettable ending, and the subsequent title reign cementing Seth as THE Wrestler of 2015. The run before had built Seth up perfectly for his big moment, and the run that followed set-up Seth for life in WWE. For me…Seth truly is the definitive Mr. Money In The Bank.
SETH ROLLINS IS THE DEFINITIVE MR. MONEY IN THE BANK
Agree with this verdict? Who is YOUR pick for the definitive Mr. Money In The Bank? Please tell us in the comments!
Stay tuned for upcoming lists of the best Money in the Bank ladder matches and best matches in the history of the Money in the Bank event!