No single match can turn a mid-carder into a main-event star like the Money in the Bank Ladder match. Of course, you have matches like the Royal Rumble Match, but rarely do guys yet to establish themselves win those matches. By comparison, the briefcase match has seen a plethora of talent win and go on to become stars whether directly or indirectly because of the briefcase. However, there have been quite a few winners that did not gain anything from their cash-in and, in hindsight, may wish they had never won it.
From worst to first, here is a ranking of every WWE Money in the Bank ladder match winner based on where they were in their careers at the time, what it did for those careers, where they are now and the significance of their cash-in.
16th: 2013 World Heavyweight Championship: Winner Damien Sandow
Cash-in: Sandow cashed in on John Cena during RAW, but was defeated by the World Heavyweight Champion and therefore failed to win the title.
There’s so much that could be analysed about Damien Sandow, but to sum it up, he never should have won the briefcase. Timing is everything in the WWE and with the titles about to be unified and the match between Orton and Cena already in the works, Sandow never even had a chance of holding the belt. The WWE booked themselves into a corner by having a briefcase for the title despite knowing the title was not going to exist come the end of the year.
Of course, we all know what became of Sandow from there. He spiralled down to the bottom of the card and never recovered despite the crowd remaining in his corner. Sandow was released by the WWE earlier in the year and you can pinpoint his cash-in as the moment his career took a nosedive.
15th: 2007: Winner Mr Kennedy
Cash-in: None – vacated due to injury.
Mr Kennedy was the next big main-eventer in 2007. He was set to win the World Heavyweight Championship and become a top player of the SmackDown brand. Unfortunately, Kennedy got injured and vacated the briefcase to Edge who would go on to have one of the more memorable cash-ins of all time.
Kennedy was released by the WWE two years later and never got anywhere near the heavyweight title again. Considering he was a star on the rise, putting aside behind the scenes issues, the briefcase did nothing for his career and would have no effect on his WWE standing.
14th: 2012 RAW: Winner John Cena
Cash-in: Cashed in on CM Punk at RAW 1000 unsuccessfully.
Speaking of booking themselves into a corner, this is exactly what transpired here. Punk was the champion and he was already scheduled to hold the title until the Royal Rumble where he’d drop it to The Rock. However, they still needed a briefcase winner and so, the plan was hatched to put it on Cena to set up the main-event of RAW 1000. Cena lost that match thanks to Big Show interference and the case proved to be nothing more than a blip on the radar and things returned to the way they were the next week.
Obviously, Cena was already the biggest name in the company and the briefcase did nothing to add or deter that whatsoever. Having Cena as the first person to fail a cash-in was probably a smart move as it might have derailed the career of someone less established. The cash-in led to Punk’s heel turn, so if anything, it did more for the champion than it did for the challenger. This was the most irrelevant briefcase in its history.
13th: 2010 WrestleMania: Winner Jack Swagger
Cash-in: Swagger cashed in on Chris Jericho two days after winning the briefcase to become the World Heavyweight Champion.
What on Earth happened here? Swagger was a young star with potential, but he was nowhere near ready for the title and the crowd didn’t care about him in the slightest and yet he not only won the briefcase, he cashed it in within a week. 2010 saw the launch of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view which probably means they wanted to get Swagger’s cash-in out of the way quickly, but he was the wrong choice if that was the case. Someone like Christian would’ve made for a better short-term champion. Instead, Swagger won the title, had a forgettable reign that was ended by Rey Mysterio and hasn’t been near it since.
Swagger was clearly being pushed as a big star, but he simply didn’t have the mic skills or charisma to back it up and he has faded into obscurity since his reign. He’s had the occasional resurgence, but the Oklahoma native was only benefited by the briefcase for about six months before his career went south.
12th: 2015: Winner Sheamus
Cash-in: Sheamus cashed in on Roman Reigns at Survivor Series successfully.
The issue with 2015 was the fact that there was absolutely no one who was in a position to be the briefcase holder. Seth was the champion and there were no babyfaces in a good enough position to win the briefcase at the time, so the WWE played it safe and put it in Sheamus’ hands. Sheamus had recently turned heel, but he had next to no momentum and the crowd seemed mostly disappointed with the idea of Sheamus as champion. It’s hard to imagine how Sheamus would have cashed in if Seth hadn’t have gotten injured, but in the end, he ended up simply being a way to fill time between Rollins’ injury and the WrestleMania feud between Reigns and Triple H.
Sheamus has been around long enough that he’s an established name and can’t really be hurt by a lacklustre cash-in. If anything, it’s simply another accolade for his career. On top of that, there’s no chance he would’ve gotten near the title if it weren’t for the briefcase which means the case positively impacted his career, even if the crowd was completely disinterested in the whole thing.
11th: 2011 RAW: Winner Alberto Del Rio
Cash-in: Del Rio cashed in on CM Punk at SummerSlam for the unified WWE Championship.
Del Rio had won the Royal Rumble earlier in the year, but in a similar vein to Swagger, the crowd had lost interest in Del Rio by Money in the Bank. The decision to have him win the briefcase seemed logical at the time. What wasn’t logical was the cash-in. The shenanigans involving Triple H and Kevin Nash was a complete mess and overshadowed Del Rio’s title run. The whole Summer of Punk was poorly executed and Del Rio as the heel carrying the roster highlighted just how thin the talent pool was at the time.
Del Rio spent the better part of two years in the World Championship picture and so you’d have to say the briefcase positively affected his career. It led to his first title reign and established him as a viable champion. Del Rio has been a mid-carder since early 2015 and hasn’t gotten back to that level since.
10th: 2008: Winner CM Punk
Cash-in: Punk cashed in on Edge during Raw to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
Punk’s first cash-in was nowhere near as effective as his second, but it did serve an important purpose. Punk winning the title was well set up with Edge, the World Champion, being on SmackDown and Triple H, the WWE Champion, being recently drafted to SmackDown. Punk cashing in on Edge allowed each brand to have one champion and gave Punk his first title reign. However, the company didn’t really get behind him and he was a heavyweight champion in the middle of the card. He would go on to lose the title without even defending it, suffering a kayfabe injury at the hands of Randy Orton.
Punk returned to the mid-card for the remainder of the year and didn’t seem at all benefited by his first time holding the briefcase. While he would go on to become a massive star, he didn’t break out until his second cash-in.
9th: 2006: Winner Rob Van Dam
Cash-in: Rob Van Dam cashed in on John Cena at ECW One Night Stand for the WWE Championship.
RVD was the first person to announce his cash-in and give us a scheduled match rather than the sneak attack that Edge made famous. He faced John Cena at ECW One Night Stand in front of what Michael Cole would describe as a “slightly partisan crowd”. With an assist from Paul Heyman, RVD pinned Cena and won the WWE Championship. This also helped set up ECW as an exclusive third brand of the WWE. We all know how that turned out.
RVD’s career didn’t benefit greatly from this due to his own poor choices, but it’s fair to say this is one of the more memorable cash-ins of all time. Van Dam never quite reached the top of the mountain in WWE after this and you could argue cashing in the briefcase was the high-point of his wrestling career.
8th: 2010 SmackDown: Winner Kane
Cash-in: Kane cashed in at Money in the Bank 2010, defeating Mysterio for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Kane is so far the only superstar to win the briefcase and cash-in on the same night. As an established veteran, he didn’t exactly need any build to the title and it worked quite well considering the angle taking place at the time. SmackDown revolved around Kane in early 2010. He was hunting down the person who attacked The Undertaker and this whole story brought him back to the monster he was when he first arrived and he was as over with the crowd as he ever has been. Putting the title on him led to the Undertaker’s return and the (awful) reveal that Kane himself was the one who attacked the Deadman.
Kane didn’t really need the briefcase considering he’s a name that has been in the main-event scene for over 10 years, but it worked well considering he cashed in on the same night and it naturally flowed with the story being told. He also had the crowd support to back up the decision. It’s another accolade in the veteran career of the big red machine.
7th: 2013 WWE Championship: Winner Randy Orton
Cash-in: Orton defeated Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2013.
In what was one of the best feel-good moments in WWE history, Daniel Bryan pinned John Cena at SummerSlam 2013, winning the WWE Championship while confetti fell and grown men cried. Then Randy Orton cashed in, Triple H turned heel and The Authority was formed… Orton’s cash-in is easily up there in terms of the most memorable and had an enormous impact on the show with The Authority still running things three years later.
Like Kane, Orton didn’t need the briefcase in order to be in the championship picture, but it was used in order to start the storyline between Orton and Bryan that would carry Raw until the title unification. This will simply be looked at as another accolade in the illustrious career of Randy Orton, but it didn’t positively or negatively impact him in the grand scheme of things.
6th: 2012 SmackDown: Winner Dolph Ziggler
Cash-in: Dolph cashed in on Alberto Del Rio to win the World Heavyweight Championship the night after WrestleMania 29.
When you think of memorable cash-ins, this one is near the top of the list. The reaction Dolph got when he won the title would be in the ten loudest ovations in WWE history. This was compounded by Dolph holding the briefcase for nearly 300 days and the fact that nobody cared about Swagger or Del Rio, who were fighting over the title at the time.
Unfortunately for Dolph, it’s the cash-in that gets him to this spot on the list because a serious concussion completely derailed his title run and his main-event status. He dropped the title to Del Rio, turned face, and spent the next year at the bottom of the roster. He’s had his moments of late, but Ziggler hasn’t been anywhere near the title since.
5th: 2010 RAW: Winner The Miz
Cash-in: The Miz cashed in on Randy Orton on RAW for the WWE Championship.
The Money in the Bank briefcase was designed to allow guys just below the main-event scene to elevate themselves into that picture and that what was (initially) done with The Miz. When Miz won the title, it was assumed he’d be a transitional champion, but he went on to hold the title and main-event WrestleMania.
The cash-in itself wasn’t particularly memorable, but the fact remains that he, however briefly, became the top heel in the company because of the briefcase. Miz main-evented WrestleMania because he won the briefcase so in terms of impact on one’s career, The Miz ranks very highly. He’s disappeared from those lofty heights now, but they can’t take that accomplishment away from him.
4th: 2011 SmackDown: Winner Daniel Bryan
Cash-in: Daniel Bryan cashed in on the Big Show to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
Daniel Bryan as the World Heavyweight Champion was something people never imagined possible at the time and even after he won the briefcase, the way he was booked seemed to indicate he was simply a mid-carder who happened to win the ladder match. However, Bryan won the title and went on take it to WrestleMania, becoming a strong heel in the process.
Though he would lose the title in 18 seconds, it would become the beginning of a snowball that would grow into the Yes Movement two years later. It not only gave Bryan his first title run and subsequent pay-per-view title matches, it began the rise of one of the most popular superstars of all time.
3rd: 2009: Winner CM Punk
Cash-in: Punk cashed in on Jeff Hardy at Extreme Rules 2009 to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
This was the definition of a breakout moment. Up until this point, Punk had only been portrayed as a babyface who didn’t really have much of a character or spotlight. However, cashing in on Jeff Hardy of all people is the very definition of a heel turn and Punk would gradually turn into the straight edge saviour that would launch him into the top heel on the roster.
While Punk wouldn’t get his break until 2011, he showed everyone a glimpse of what he was capable of and the best example of this is that he main-evented SummerSlam with Hardy ahead of John Cena versus Randy Orton and D-Generation X because their feud was that good.
2nd: 2014: Winner Seth Rollins
Cash-in: Seth Rollins cashed in on Brock Lesnar, pinning Roman Reigns to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Simply put, this is the greatest cash-in of all-time and nothing will surpass it. The main-event of WrestleMania was an epic war between two gladiators who couldn’t put each other away, and then out comes Seth to steal the title and close WrestleMania, holding the title aloft. In every single facet, this was an amazing cash-in and the culmination of building Seth Rollins from the third guy in The Shield to a main-event heel champion.
Obviously, this had massive positive ramifications on Seth Rollins’ career. He closed WrestleMania 31 and carried the company for most of 2015 before his injury. Rollins is now a genuine main-eventer and that all started with the briefcase.
1st: 2005: Winner Edge
Cash-in: Edge cashed in on John Cena after an Elimination Chamber match to win the WWE Championship.
Number one can only be the man who defined the legacy of the Money in the Bank briefcase. Without Edge to add the dynamic of cashing in when a champion is at their weakest, the briefcase concept would’ve died out years ago. Thanks to the Ultimate Opportunist, it became one of the biggest matches on the WWE calendar.
Let’s not forget this was Edge’s first championship reign in his Hall of Fame career as well. The briefcase turned Edge into the main-event heel that he would soon become and the guy we would all come to love. Nobody epitomizes the Money in the Bank briefcase more than the Rated R Superstar.