Although the WWE Money in the Bank pay-per-view debuted just three years ago in 2010, it’s quickly made a name for itself as one of the company’s best PPVs of the year.
A big reason why Money in the Bank has been so successful so far is the quality of the show’s highly anticipated Money in the Bank matches, which the show is named after. Of course, it also helps that MITB has taken place in front of some raucous crowds, mainly the Chicago one in 2011.
But that’s not all that has made Money in the Bank so special. No, there’s been much more to it than that.
The real key to Money in the Bank’s success? Other great matches in addition to the almost always great MITB bouts.
Money in the Bank has resulted in some very memorable non-ladder matches that have turned the PPV into one of the WWE’s most anticipated events of the year.
Let’s take a look at the matches that have made Money in the Bank such an attraction, with a list ranking the top five non-ladder matches in the history of the young PPV.
A WWE Championship match between John Cena and Sheamus headlined the 2010 Money in the Bank PPV, and the bout took place inside a steel cage in order to keep the recently debuting Nexus from interfering.
Sheamus had just won the WWE title at Fatal 4-Way, and he found himself embroiled in his second championship rivalry with Cena only one year into his run on the main roster.
At the time, Sheamus wasn’t ready to be a legitimate World title contender, and he and Cena never really developed the greatest chemistry in the ring. But at Money in the Bank, they put on what is, even to this day, probably the best match they’ve ever had against each other.
Sheamus tends to perform better in more physical matches, and that’s what this was. He and Cena battled in a grueling steel cage match that, although too slow at times, wound up being a solid match overall because the steel cage stipulation put Sheamus right in his element.
The rising Celtic Warrior showed that he had what it takes to eventually evolve into a top guy with a quality performance against Cena, even though their styles still don’t mesh particularly well.
Sheamus didn’t have a ton of must-see matches during his run as a heel, but this Money in the Bank match against Cena was definitely one of the better bouts of the early portion of his career.
The inaugural Money in the Bank pay-per-view featured a somewhat surprising World Heavyweight title match: The up-and-coming Jack Swagger defending his belt against the tiny Rey Mysterio.
Swagger was fresh off a Money in the Bank win and a successful cash-in, but he was a newcomer to the main event scene. Luckily, one of his first and only feuds as champion was against Mysterio, who seems capable of putting on a good match with just about anyone.
Not surprisingly, that’s exactly what he and Swagger did.
Although Mysterio and Swagger didn’t put on a classic match by any means, they made the most of what they were given, which was just 10 minutes—not a whole lot considering that it was a World title bout.
Regardless, these two were able to suck the crowd in with some quality wrestling, and the fans ate up the surprising finish, when Mysterio shocked everyone by winning with a quick hurricanrana/pin combination that added that much-needed special moment to the bout.
Of course, most fans will remember this match more for Kane cashing in immediately afterward to instantly end Mysterio’s title reign.
But hey, Swagger did really well for a main event newcomer here while—like he typically does—Mysterio was easily able to get the crowd behind him in what was one of the better matches on the 2010 MITB PPV.
In 2011, Randy Orton and Christian engaged in a lengthy feud over the World Heavyweight Championship—a feud that (sorry, Punk and Cena) was the best of the year and, really, one of the best in recent WWE history.
Christian and Orton treated us to a handful or more classic matches, including memorable bouts at SummerSlam, Over the Limit and even on an episode of SmackDown.
They did the exact same thing at Money in the Bank, too.
Although you could argue that this was the “worst” Christian/Orton match of that feud, that’s really not a diss. Every single match that these two had that year was good, great or simply phenomenal, and their MITB match definitely fit the bill as a really good wrestling match.
As expected, the action was back and forth throughout the duration of their Money in the Bank match, which ended in unforgettable fashion when Christian spit in the face of “The Viper” and an enraged Orton hit Christian with a low blow to end the match with a disqualification.
Per a stipulation, however, the title switched hands, as Christian regained the World Heavyweight Championship by using dirty tactics to cause Orton to explode, get DQ’d and lose the title.
The unique finish to an already well-wrestled match made this Christian/Orton bout another fantastic one in a long line of them and only added more fuel to the fire that was the best feud of 2011.
In mid-2012, every Internet wrestling fan’s dream came true when Daniel Bryan and CM Punk found themselves feuding over the WWE Championship.
Not surprisingly, the two men, whom many have deemed as the top two in-ring performers in the world right now, put on a number of amazing TV and PPV matches over the course of 2012.
But none of those matches even remotely compared to Bryan vs. Punk at Money in the Bank 2012.
This match between Punk and Bryan was exactly what everyone expected it to be: an incredible display of wrestling from arguably the two hottest performers in the industry at the time.
Words can really do no justice to what Bryan and Punk did that night. Simply put, it was a wrestling clinic in which Bryan and Punk used just about everything in their arsenals (remember the top-rope back suplex that ended the match?) to try and topple each other.
An evenly matched bout between two pure technicians, this was one of the very best matches of 2012. It was a nearly perfectly executed encounter that combined pure wrestling with emotion, intensity and drama to make the perfect recipe for an unbelievable PPV match.
What’s a shame about this match, though, is that it wasn’t the main event (like it should have been), because, quite frankly, nothing was going to top a match that ranks as Bryan’s best WWE match yet and one of Punk’s very best, too.
In the world of pro wrestling, it doesn’t get any better than what John Cena and CM Punk did at Money in the Bank in 2011.
At the time, the WWE turned a real-life situation of Punk potentially leaving the company into a storyline that ultimately became one of the best angles in recent memory.
Going into Money in the Bank, Punk threatened to beat Cena at the PPV, win the WWE Championship and then leave the company for good with its most prestigious title in hand. During the buildup to the match, Punk laid down the unforgettable “pipebomb” promo that made the bout even more anticipated than it was going to be.
The combination of Punk’s threats to leave the WWE, the aftermath of his “pipebomb” promo and the uncertainty surrounding his future made this one of the most must-see matches in company history. The fact that the PPV took place in Punk’s hometown made this situation, well, absolutely perfect.
Punk entered this match to one of the loudest ovations in wrestling history, and he and Cena told an absolutely fantastic story of a struggle between two men in front of one of the most raucous crowds you will ever hear or see.
The drama surrounding Punk’s potential departure and a match that was executed to perfection in every way, shape and form made Punk vs. Cena a true 5-star encounter and one of the best matches in the history of pro wrestling.
This is a match that helped skyrocket Punk to superstardom. It’s a match that people will stalk about 10 or 20 years from now. It’s a match that prospective wrestlers should study.
Punk and Cena made sure that even if Punk wasn’t really leaving, everyone really thought he was, and if Punk was going to go out, he was going to do so with an unforgettable bang.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!