It is simply amazing to look back at last year's Money in the Bank pay-per-view and realize the impact it has had on World Wrestling Entertainment for the last 12 months.
The 2011 edition of the fan-favorite show featured one of the most hotly anticipated main events in recent history as the very vocal CM Punk entered his hometown of Chicago, Illinois, as the challenger to John Cena's WWE Championship. It also featured two Money in the Bank ladder matches that were absolutely filled to the brink with bright young stars and future champions and a showdown of mammoth proportions between Big Show and Mark Henry.
CM Punk, as most know by now, would capture the WWE Championship in the Match of the Year and would remain a vital part of the company's main event scene for the next year. As the 2012 of the event approaches, Punk heads into it as the title-holder, enjoying an eight-plus month reign as champion. He has become the No. 2 star in the largest sports-entertainment company in the world.
His showing at Money in the Bank made that possible.
Mark Henry's dominance in his match with the Big Show was a sign of things to come. Shortly thereafter, Henry climbed the proverbial ladder and won his first World Heavyweight Championship, defeating Randy Orton in impressive fashion at Night of Champions. Henry would go on to serve as the face of Smackdown for months before injuries caught up with him and, unfortunately, prematurely ended his entertaining main event push.
Alberto Del Rio's win in the Raw Money in the Bank match set the stage for him to finally achieve his "destiny" of winning the WWE Championship, something he did one month later at SummerSlam. For all of 2011, it was apparent that big things were in store for the Mexican newcomer. Winning the guaranteed contract only assured that those expectations would be met.
A year later and, despite disappointing returns, Del Rio remains in the main event picture and will challenge Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship at this year's show.
Daniel Bryan's Money in the Bank victory launched a year for the former Ring of Honor standout that absolutely no one could have expected. He cashed in his contract in December and became World Heavyweight Champion. From there, he completed a heel turn that saw him become one of the most over performers on the entire roster. A storyline with AJ only added to the entertainment value of a man most expected would never succeed in the heavy entertainment world that is WWE.
Bryan's signature "YES" chant has even shown up at sporting and political events outside the world of professional wrestling.
Now, one year after shocking the world and winning the Money in the Bank briefcase, Daniel Bryan will challenge fellow ROH standout CM Punk for the WWE Championship in a match few expected could, or would, be a headlining match on a Vince McMahon-promoted pay-per-view event.
Few would have expected John Laurinaitis' involvement in the main event of last year's show to lead to a year-long run on Raw and Smackdown as the company's top villain. As the antagonist on WWE programming, he interacted well with CM Punk and John Cena in very important segments and proved himself to be a better authority figure than he ever was a wrestler.
Having had his character written off of television last month at No Way Out, "Big Johnny" will not appear at Money in the Bank.
Was the 2011 Money in the Bank pay-per-view the best in WWE's history? No. Wrestlemania X-7 remains the standard-bearer in terms of overall quality and importance.
But Money in the Bank had its share of high-quality matches. It may not go down in the annals of wrestling history as the greatest show ever, but it should be recognized as a show that had incredibly long-lasting effects on World Wrestling Entertainment as a whole.
It was a rare show where every match on the card meant something on that one night and for many nights to come. In today's world of on-the-fly booking and Vince McMahon's penchant for constantly changing plans, it is hard to imagine a product where a show of that importance will come along in the near future.
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