Does WWE Money In The Bank Still Create New Stars?

Sometimes it's a starmaker, and other times, it rehashes what we're used to seeing?

Another year, another Money in the Bank pay-per-view.

After many fans came criticize the recent Hell in a Cell (the twelfth straight year of arbitrary Cell matches, all to justify the name of the event), perhaps it's too soon to have another "themed" pay-per-view (the twelfth straight year of standalone Money in the Bank, no less).

But unlike Hell in a Cell, Money in the Bank does serves a greater outward purpose. The namesake matches aren't contingent on paying off storylines and feuds, and are instead there to create an "insta-challenger" to a major championship in one night.

To that extent, Money in the Bank has been an adequate replacement for King of the Ring - instead of a one-night, eight-person tournament for a major honor, you stick eight people in one convenient match, where a similarly-lofty reward is at stake.

And in years where MITB took place in June, the parallel worked even better.

Of course, Money in the Bank tends to work best as a star vehicle. In the years where Money in the Bank was part of WrestleMania, none of those five different winners had held a WWE World championship prior to their first MITB victory (CM Punk's ECW title reign excepted). Wrestlers like Punk, Edge, and Rob Van Dam rode the briefcase to new career highs, and exciting highs they were (especially Edge's, since he'd set the standard for all future cash-ins).

But is Money in the Bank *still* a star vehicle?

Since becoming its own event in 2010, there have been 19 Money in the Bank ladder matches across 11 cards. Some of those winners were ascendant talents earmarked for greatness, while others never got to enjoy those same spoils. And, seemingly going against the desired grain of the gimmick, sometimes the briefcase winner was somebody that had already reigned many times previous as a World champion.

Let's examine those 19 winners, and determine just how effective the gimmick match has been through the years.

KANE (2010)

Result: Won World Heavyweight title from Rey Mysterio that night

First World title win?: No

What turned out to be Kane's longest World title reign endured for five months. All it's particularly known for is a rehash of his eternal rivalry with The Undertaker, which stretched across several pay-per-view events, and employed gimmick bouts from their past (Hell in a Cell, Buried Alive). Nothing "new" to see here, but a mostly-harmless nostalgia romp for the "Attitude" kids. It did, however, mark the first time a briefcase winner was a previously-entrenched "made man".

Wwe kane money in the bank 2010


THE MIZ (2010)

Result: Won WWE title from Randy Orton on a November Raw

First World title win?: Yes

Miz's WWE title reign didn't exactly set the world on fire, but at least it ticked off the right boxes: attempted creation of a new headline star, of appropriate age (30 at the time). The Miz may not be viewed as undisputed headliner today, but his occupancy of bigger matches is no doubt aided by a credibility-enhancing title win a decade ago. So this one worked.


Result: Won World Heavyweight title from a sleeping Big Show at December's TLC

First World title win?: In WWE, yes

Fans were always going to treat Bryan like a big deal, belt or no belt, successful cash-in or otherwise. That's why the heel turn, attempts at garnering heat, and subsequent 18 second loss to Sheamus, proved so irksome - a large portion of the crowd wanted him to be a babyface star, and told WWE what they wanted. Credit, though, WWE did put the belt on him. And several more, in fact.


Result: Won WWE title from CM Punk the following month at SummerSlam

First World title win?: Yes

It was an attempt at pushing somebody new, but Del Rio just never worked out the way WWE hoped. The talent was there, but Del Rio never clicked with most audiences as a genuine main eventer in WWE. Four different World title reigns didn't make a difference. But hey, at least they took a developmental call-up, progressed him up the card, and paid off the push, thus sticking to a long-term development plan.

Wwe alberto del rio money in the bank 2012



Result: Won World Heavyweight title from Alberto Del Rio nine months later on Raw

First World title win?: Win, yes, but not his first reign (remember that brief and pointless February 2011 reign?)

Despite nearly blowing the roof off the IZOD Center with his post-Mania cash-in, Ziggler was doomed by a concussion, and subsequent diminished push. As far as Dolph being a "new star", while he was on the main roster for four and a half years, this was a sustained-enough push, so this should count.

JOHN CENA (2012)

Result: Won via DQ over WWE champion CM Punk eight nights later on Raw (no title change)

With two briefcases available a year, you really only need to create a "Kodak moment" with one, so the other winner can certainly fall short. And Cena's failed cash-in played facilitator to Punk's hasty heel turn, which essentially set up Punk vs. The Rock six months in advance. Cena hardly needed a briefcase, but it was all for an angle anyway.


Result: Lost to World Heavyweight champion John Cena on Raw in October

The first failure-by-loss for a wrestler cashing-in. In 2013, this result was a fresh development, but one that earned a mixed reaction, as fans had been conditioned to believe that the briefcase should *only* be used for creating new stars. Alas, Sandow went back to the midcard, meandering a while before becoming The Miz's stunt double in a year.

Damian sandow wwe money in the bank 2013



Result: Won WWE title from Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam

First World title win?: No

Coupled with Sandow's eventual failure, Money in the Bank's zest took a bit of a hit when the 2013 matches didn't yield any "new stars". There's nothing wrong with Orton as champion, but the repetitive Authority angle (and continuous undercutting of Bryan) didn't sit well with the general audience.


Result: Won WWE title from Brock Lesnar (via Roman Reigns) at WrestleMania XXXI

First World title win?: Not counting ROH and NXT, yes

Considered the best cash-in since Edge's first one (and possibly exceeding that), Rollins experienced an undoubted star-making moment when he crashed the main event of WrestleMania Play Button, and absconded with the gold. Rollins' time as the Authority's centerpiece wasn't always perfect, but in future retrospectives of his career, this moment will be the "hammer" of such videos.

Wwe seth rollins wrestlemania 31 2015


SHEAMUS (2015)

Result: Won WWE title from Roman Reigns at Survivor Series

First World title win?: No

There were audible groans when Spiky Mohawk Sheamus retrieved the case in 2015, because in 2015, nobody was excited for The Celtic Warrior. He'd been there, done that on top of the card, and had been killed off by bad booking in prior years (particularly his babyface title run in 2012). If Money in the Bank was meant to be emblematic of change, the talented-but-maligned Sheamus toting the briefcase only reinforced the stale status quo.


Result: Won WWE title from Seth Rollins the same night

First World title win?: Yes

By jumping Rollins that night, Ambrose's cash-in meant that a full year would have to pass before another wrestler would be able to tease cash-ins on the weekly TV shows (since there was only one MITB ladder match a year at this point). Nonetheless, Ambrose's win over Rollins was a cathartic moment for both story reasons, and for those who appreciate Jon Moxley and his talents. The reign underwhelmed, though, but at least Ambrose got to be WWE's top guy for a spell.


Result: Won SmackDown Women's title from Charlotte Flair on SmackDown the following April

First World title win?: Yes

A four month reign followed, though its ending basically segued into the Charlotte Flair-Becky Lynch feud that turned Lynch into a mega star. The reign is, so far, Carmella's only title run (24/7 hijinks excluded), and after she dropped it, her televised matches greatly diminished until things picked back up for her in the form of Mixed Match Challenge. Nonetheless, Carmella's win was at least "somebody new" going over.

Carmella wwe money in the bank 2016



Result: Lost to WWE champion Jinder Mahal on SmackDown in August

Corbin vs. Mahal in a WWE title match, certainly that was a thing that happened. The bungled cash-in was merely an element to Corbin's short-lived feud with Cena (who provided the distraction finish), leading to the following weekend's SummerSlam. Mahal's reign was floundering deep in its third month, and his win over the briefcase-holder didn't help any. Instead of valiantly turning back an intruder, he wins with what amounts to good fortune.


Result: Won Raw Women's title from Nia Jax that night

First World title win?: No

Hindsight being 20/20, maybe Bliss should've remained champion through WrestleMania 34, especially if the end-goal was to have Ronda Rousey demolish her. The combo of Bliss' chickens**t heeling and Rousey's no-nonsense fighter's mindset was perfect for a prolific title change, so Bliss as the champion that's run out of places to hide was ideal. Getting the belt back on Bliss here was wise, even if it didn't produce any new stars via the Money in the Bank entitlement.


Result: Went to a no contest with Universal champion Roman Reigns at Hell in a Cell

Stupid ending to the cash-in match aside, Braun made sense as the winner, seeing as the monster's popularity had greatly increased over the previous year. What *didn't* make sense was forcing Strowman to basically turn semi-heel in order to feud with Reigns, after many fans had gradually (and organically) come to cheer for Braun - but it is what it is. The limp ending to Strowman and Reigns' Cell match (in favor of reheating the polarizing Brock Lesnar) ended a great card with a thud.

Braun strowman wwe money in the bank 2018


BAYLEY (2019)

Result: Won SmackDown Women's title from Charlotte Flair that night

First World title win?: No

Bayley was hardly a new star at the time of either win, but a heel turn three months later began a drastic "freshening-up" process for the eventual "Role Model". WWE could certainly have gone the same-old-same-old route with Bayley as champion (trying to rekindle what made her work as a babyface all those years ago), but they went in a different direction, one that suits Bayley's talents. Whether or not you consider this Bayley a "new star" is up to your tastes.


Result: Won Universal title from Seth Rollins at Extreme Rules

First World title win?: Ha, no

I imagine this is probably everyone's least favorite cash-in (not to mention MITB match ending) ever. Outside of Brock's "Boombox Shuffle", there wasn't much to like about this one (unless you find perverse humor in WWE's dogged reinforcement of the status quo, which...okay, sure).

ASUKA (2020)

Result: Received Raw Women's title from Becky Lynch, who forfeited due to pregnancy

First World title win?: No

What could you really do here? You needed a way to get the belt off of Lynch, and this was the best and easiest play. Granted, Asuka's ensuing reign(s) weren't especially booked well, but 2020-21 was/is admittedly a blur of a time. Asuka is at least a credible anchor for any title picture, but they could've done more with her reign, confusing times or not.

Asuka money in the bank 2020


OTIS (2020)

Result: Lost briefcase to The Miz at Hell in a Cell

Between giving him the briefcase in the first place, cooling down his well-regarded relationship with Mandy Rose, having Tucker turn on him (with no eventual payoff), and taking away everything that even *made* him a viable MITB contestant, what was the point? I realize that lovable Otis' cash-in (if it happened) would've needed a crowd to really be special, but perhaps somebody else should've claimed the briefcase last year instead.

So, let's take a look at the scorecard:

FIRST TIME CHAMPIONS: Miz (2010), Bryan (2011), Del Rio (2011), Ziggler (2012, ignore that pointless first reign), Rollins (2014), Ambrose (2016), Carmella (2017)

THEM AGAIN?: Kane (2010), Cena (2012), Orton (2013), Sheamus (2015), Bliss (2018), Bayley (2019), Lesnar (2019), Asuka (2020)

UNSUCCESSFUL: Sandow (2013), Corbin (2017), Strowman (2018), Otis (2020)

In other words:

* Of all the briefcase winners that cashed in to win their first ever World title, Carmella was the most recent one. She claimed that briefcase all the way back in 2017, mind you.

* Three of the last seven Money in the Bank winners failed to successfully cash-in, while the four who did were all previous World champions, so not exactly creating new stars there.

* Of the seven "first time champions via cash-in" in this time frame, more than half them (four) came from the 2010-12 events. All those ladder matches wins occurred before Raw moved to three hours on a permanent basis (in other words, an eternity ago).

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Justin Henry

Written by Justin Henry

In addition to writing lists and commentaries for Cultaholic, Justin is also a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and is co-author of the WWE-related book Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.