‘The Wrestling Hipster’ is a column dedicated to a deeper, enlightened perspective on professional wrestling for people who think having an opinion about pro wrestling makes you deeper and enlightened. If you’re one of those people who reads the italicized disclaimer, the headline is unnecessarily confrontational on purpose to make people who don’t read italicized disclaimers mad. Do not take his seriously, but obey every word I type.
WWE Money in the Bank 2014 is on Sunday, and because I want your web traffic, here is web content.
The Money in the Bank briefcase was created back in 2005 as an excited, unprecedented way to instantly elevate a superstar and get people talking. Nine years later it’s pro wrestling’s best way to give a championship run to someone who doesn’t deserve it. John Cena’s got the belt. Think ZACK RYDER should be champion? Give Zack a win in a PG prop gimmick match where he doesn’t have to pin anybody, have him pin Cena only after Cena’s been excessively beaten up by wrestlers that actually matter and then NEVER TAKE THE NEW CHAMPION SERIOUSLY BECAUSE HE’S A COWARD. Rinse, repeat. Twice a year if possible. Nobody gets anything out of it, but hey, when Zack Ryder goes back to the indies he’s “former WWE Champion Zack Ryder.”
By my count there have been 14 cash-ins of the briefcase between 2005 and three days before Money in the Bank 2014. You can find 3-to-6 barely-updated lists of cash-ins from Bleacher Report at the top of your google search results for Money in the Bank, or you can read an indisputable, definitive ranking of those moments from the only voice on the Internet that matters: me.
Or Dave Shoemaker. But Shoe’s busy podcasting with Bruno Sammartino and Jesus and I’m sitting at home in my underwear, so here’s mine. Years indicated are the years when they won the briefcase, not necessarily when they cashed it in.
14. 2013 – Damien Sandow cashes in on John Cena (and loses)
In very last place forever is reason number 6 to justify your hatred of John Cena, Damien Sandow cashing in his 2013 Money in the Bank briefcase and failing miserably.
It’s less about Sandow not winning and more about how Sandow didn’t win. Cena had a legit elbow injury. He lost the WWE Championship to Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam and took some time off, which in John Cena language means “miss a two months and immediately win the World Heavyweight Championship in my first match back to apologize to myself for leaving.” Cena wrestled Alberto Del Rio at Hell in a Cell, a match build around Del Rio — a guy who destroys arms FOR A LIVING — destroying Cena’s already injured arm. He mauls it for 20 minutes, leading to Cena being momentarily totally fine and hitting Del Rio with an Attitude Adjustment, a move that requires arm strength. He also hooked the leg with his bad arm.
The next night on Raw, Damien Sandow attacked Cena, relentlessly assaulting the now SUPER injured arm with his Money in the Bank briefcase. He cashed in, then spent several minutes continuing to hurt the arm. He smashed it into the ring post. He tossed Cena into the barricade arm-first. Cena, now severely handicapped and beaten within an inch of his life, became totally fine and Attitude Adjusted Sandow to win. Gutwrenching. Here’s more on that if you have the stomach for it.
13. 2012 – John Cena cashes in on CM Punk (and loses)
See that hilarious picture up top? That’s John Cena winning the Money in the Bank briefcase in 2012, the “worst year of his career.” The year he main-evented WrestleMania against one of the biggest WWE stars ever (The Rock), beat Brock Lesnar, won Money in the Bank and only missed out on winning THE OTHER GUY’s Money in the Bank briefcase at TLC because his girlfriend turned on him. He won the Royal Rumble in January of 2013 and went on to win the WWE Championship from The Rock in another consecutive WrestleMania main-event. But you know, horrible year.
The actual horrible part of the year was his attempt to cash in his briefcase. John was attempting to be noble by announcing the title shot ahead of time, because hell, he’s John Cena. What’s he gonna do, lose? He challenged CM Punk to a championship match at Raw’s 1000th episode and lost, but only by disqualification (Big Show interfered), and only after he’d clearly, cleanly had the match won twice. He had a pinfall win with the ref down following an Attitude Adjustment, and Big Show waited until Punk was about to tap out to the STF before he jumped in.
A briefcase cash-in with a ref bump and a DQ finish leading to a series of follow-up championship matches and him winning the belt anyway. Okay.
12. 2011 – Alberto Del Rio cashes in on CM Punk
Remember the Summer Of Punk? Back in 2011, CM Punk became a megastar with a quasi-shoot promo on Raw that made him a household name. People were talking about him on sports radio, wondering with childlike glee if his actions were part of the show or for realsies. It was followed up with one of the best WWE Championship matches EVER in front of an unforgettable, hot-as-lava crowd at Money in the Bank 2011. Punk won the belt from John Cena, blew a kiss in Vince McMahon’s face and left the company with its most prestigious prize. People look back on that month and a half of Punk like they’re remembering their favorite Christmas.
Do you recall how Punk’s title reign ended? In his next match. With Triple H as the special guest referee.
Punk came back to face (who else) new “also” WWE Champion John Cena. He won and unified those titles, but WHOOPS, in stumbled in Kevin Nash to powerbomb him and let The Least Interesting Man In The World Alberto Del Rio steal the newly-won double-title with a Money in the Bank cash-in. Punk got into a feud with Triple H (which he lost) and Cena easily defeated Del Rio for the championship he barely deserved at the next pay-per-view. The next time somebody tells you to “wait and see” where an angle goes, wait and see a f*cking Wikipedia page and use basic human memory.
11. 2013 – Randy Orton cashes in on Daniel Bryan
Tell me if this sounds familiar: WWE Champion John Cena … okay, it already sounds familiar, but shut up. WWE Champion John Cena elects to face popular up-and-comer Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam. Triple H is the special guest referee. Kevin Nash is … somewhere?
Bryan overcomes the Odds Overcomer and wins the WWE Championship, but WHOOPS, Triple H pedigrees him and lets The Least Interesting Man In The Continental United States Randy Orton steal the newly-won title with a Money in the Bank cash-in. Bryan began feuding with Orton in a series of matches he either lost or had reversed/erased from the history books after he won with no payoff until EIGHT MONTHS LATER when he officially, for-real won the championship. And, uh, then he got his neck broken and had to give up the titles.
Meanwhile, John Cena would return in TWO months to easily defeat Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship. I am not copy and pasting these entries, I swear.