WWE's Money in the Bank contract has become not only one of the most sought-after treasures in the company but also one of the most entertaining aspects of the calendar year for wrestling fans.
With each new owner of the briefcase, fans begin speculating just when and how they will cash their title shot in and against whom.
While all of those cash-ins have been memorable, some of them stand out above the rest.
With this article, we will take a look at all of the past Money in the Bank cash-ins and rank them based on the shock factor of the initial cash-in, the match that followed, and the championship title reign afterward.
The least worthwhile cash-in to date goes to CM Punk's first, wherein he defeated Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Punk was the first babyface to capitalize on an injured champion when Edge was attacked by Batista. While it felt odd at the time for a face to do that, it didn't resonate as being Earth-shattering.
Neither was the championship reign afterward.
Punk would go on to be a champion in name only, as other feuds took precedence over him while he primarily feuded with an out-of-shape JBL.
Finally, his title reign was put to rest when he was attacked by Randy Orton and replaced in a scramble match with Chris Jericho.
Slightly better than CM Punk's cash-in—but not by much—was Jack Swagger's victory over Chris Jericho.
In similar fashion, Jericho was attacked by Edge, whom he was currently feuding with at the time. Swagger capitalized on this and became the new World Heavyweight champion.
From then on, it was downhill. Swagger's title reign was relatively pointless and he has yet to rise to that level again since dropping it to Rey Mysterio.
The cash-in itself was fun, but nearly all of them are by default. The events that transpired afterward render this one of the worst overall Money in the Bank situations so far.
The only real interesting fact about this cash-in was that it holds the honor of being the only time it was unsuccessful.
John Cena always has his detractors, so for all of those, the mere idea that he was holding this briefcase was bad enough.
On top of that, his babyface tactic of announcing when he would cash in the contract in advance killed the excitement behind a spontaneous moment that all but one of the others has working in their favor.
No surprise factor and no title reign to discuss significantly hurt this entry's spot on the list. However, the reasoning for it not being further down is the originality of the loss itself and the quality of the match that he had in his failed attempt to win the championship from CM Punk.
The Miz's cash-in on Randy Orton starts the section of this list that is in the direct middle-ground of not quite being awful, but not being anything to rave about, either.
This was a fairly standard cash-in, with Miz taking advantage of a beaten-down Orton, who had just gone up against Wade Barrett and was suffering from the consequences.
Points can be awarded for the generic shock value, the title change, the fact that it was Miz's first WWE Championship victory and the fact that it eventually led to him main-eventing WrestleMania a few months later.
Other than that, it was a pretty normal affair.
Very much like The Miz's Money in the Bank story, Alberto Del Rio's is not the most inventive, nor is it one that had the audience stunned out of their minds.
What is notable about this cash-in, though, is that it took place after CM Punk's victory to declare himself the Undisputed WWE Champion at SummerSlam.
After an attack by Kevin Nash, Punk was left vulnerable, so the Mexican Aristocrat was able to pick up the pieces and slide his way into taking the top spot in the company instead.
Let's be honest: the main reason this is at this spot is because of the crowd reaction.
Now that Dolph Ziggler has lost his title in his first and only title defense for some reason, it renders this cash-in much worse in the history books than what it seemed to be at the time that it happened.
There's no grand, lengthy title reign that came out of this—just a concussion.
However, it's hard to ignore the atmosphere during the cash-in itself, which was magical enough to propel Fandango into stardom and be one of the most entertaining episodes of Monday Night Raw in recent memory.
Fans expected this to be the genesis of the push that Ziggler had been in line for, but as of right now, all we are left with is the memorable initial victory itself.
The second ever winner of the Money in the Bank briefcase, Rob Van Dam, did the opposite of his predecessor and instead of rushing a quick and easy victory over a defenseless champion, announced a pre-planned title shot against then-champion, John Cena.
Van Dam would go on to defeat Cena at One Night Stand in a particularly memorable environment, with energetic fans being decidedly against Cena and pro-RVD.
With some interference by Edge, Van Dam became the second person to successfully cash in their title shot and become champion.
Unfortunately, the title reign did not last long, as Edge reclaimed the WWE Championship several weeks later. In retrospect, this cash-in ended up being more of a stunt to promote ECW and throw a curveball into the Cena and Edge feud, rather than the legitimate start of something big for Van Dam.
Speaking from experience, as I was in the arena at the time this happened, the place went ballistic when Daniel Bryan's music hit.
The World Heavyweight Championship had just changed hands in a chairs match between Mark Henry and Big Show, so nobody was really expecting a cash-in. In fact, the general consensus going around was disappointment that the title had already switched, because that more than likely meant that Bryan would not be walking out with the belt around his waist.
After winning the championship, Bryan's character completely changed. This was the catalyst for his first heel turn in WWE as well as a title reign that many people were very entertained by.
In the end, Bryan was squashed in the opening match of WrestleMania, putting a damper on this story, but there were still enough positives to spawn out of this to justify it being so high up on the list.
The very first winner of the Money in the Bank contract, Edge, held his briefcase patiently for several months before finally cashing in at New Year's Revolution against John Cena.
Cena, who had just defended his title in an Elimination Chamber match, was in a vulnerable position and ripe for the picking.
This set the standard for the way cash-in attempts would be booked, due to the sheer logic behind it and how it worked so well.
Although the title reign afterward was short-lived, the use of the immediate and randomized title shot was such a hit that it became a staple of WWE from then on in.
You always remember your first, and with Money in the Bank, the WWE Universe does the same.
Although Mr. Kennedy was the winner of the third Money in the Bank ladder match, he found himself in a situation that just screams of bad luck.
Then-World Heavyweight champion The Undertaker had been injured and WWE was looking for a way to take the title away from him. It would have been a simple fix to have Mr. Kennedy use his automatic title shot to be the person to dethrone the Deadman, but he too was injured.
That is where Edge stepped in, solving the problem and creating many positive outcomes as a result of it.
Edge would defeat Mr. Kennedy for ownership of the briefcase, then subsequently cash it in on a helpless Undertaker, whom had battled it out with Batista in a steel cage match and then suffered the wrath of Mark Henry.
The imagery of a salivating Edge hungrily picking apart a bloody and lifeless Undertaker was quite amazing. No matter how much his fans were hoping for Undertaker to be able to fight back, he was unable to, and with Michael Cole shouting "Not this way, damn it," Edge became the new champion.
Despite some hiccups from injuries and a few other champions in the mean time, this set the course of events for a true highlight to Edge's career with his spectacular title match against The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXIV.
The simplicity of Kane's cash-in on Rey Mysterio is what I find particularly great about it.
In its raw form, the Money in the Bank contract is essentially an opportunity for someone to tilt the odds so heavily in their favor that they are nearly guaranteed a championship.
When you can pick your spot and take advantage of a weakened champion, it makes it all the more insulting to be a giant picking on the smallest member of the roster.
Furthermore, if the world titles in WWE are the highest prize that everyone seeks, one would assume that you would be trying to win those as quickly as possible.
Kane's cash-in accomplished both things. There was a great shock value of finally seeing someone cash their title shot in on the very same night that they won it and the logic of the outcome is flawless.
This title reign was also a career highlight for Kane, as his only world title reign beforehand lasted only one day.
As we have established, some of the best aspects of cash-ins are the initial surprise, the chance for an upgrade in character, and a good championship feud to follow.
This entry has it all.
Like the Daniel Bryan cash-in, CM Punk was able to steal the World Heavyweight Championship away from a newly crowned Jeff Hardy after he had just battled his way through a special gimmick match.
Also, this led to Punk's character switching to a heel role that was well-received.
The feud afterward, dealing with the opposing forces of Hardy's drug-related past and Punk's straight-edge views ended up becoming an incredibly important aspect of his career, even giving him a stable to lead in the process.
The quality of the matches that Punk and Hardy had were more than sufficient to give Punk exactly what he was missing from his first Money in the Bank experience.
It's hard to argue against something that did so much right and when many of the others only have one or two of these aspects, so CM Punk's second use of the briefcase wins the top spot on this countdown.
How would you rank the Money in the Bank cash-ins of the past? What were some of your favorite highlights of this annual gimmick?
Tell us in the comments below!