Damien Sandow shocked the WWE Universe as he unsuccessfully cashed in his World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank contract on John Cena at Monday Night Raw.
The Brooklyn Brawler snapped a picture of the momentous occasion:
Cena had been cutting a show-opening promo about how he defied the odds, but Sandow interrupted him with a microphone in hand. The Intellectual Savior of the Masses had originally teased cashing in before deciding against it, only to end up blindsiding Cena with a vicious attack.
After throwing Cena to the outside of the ring and targeting his surgically repaired elbow with a steel chair, Sandow officially cashed in. The two proceeded to go toe-to-toe in a match that had the live crowd screaming, "This is awesome."
In the end, Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment, registered the three-count and retained the World Heavyweight Championship.
Sandow originally earned the contract back at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view in July, as he outlasted six other Superstars in a grueling bout. The match's climax came when Cody Rhodes was about to grab the briefcase, only for Sandow to double-cross his "best friend" by throwing him off the ladder.
The former Team Rhodes Scholars members engaged in a bitter feud after Sandow's Money in the Bank triumph, as Rhodes attempted to get back at Sandow. Rhodes went so far as to steal Sandow's briefcase and throw it into the Gulf of Mexico despite Sandow's objections.
Rhodes ultimately recovered the briefcase and gave it back to Sandow, but the WWE's Intellectual Savior was thoroughly embarrassed by the situation. He pressed on, though, as he continued to climb the metaphorical ladder to success.
Sandow's meteoric rise is one that few saw coming, as he didn't make his main roster debut under his current character until April 2012. Sandow quickly became a hated heel due to his penchant for insulting the crowd and acting as though he was better than everyone else.
It soon became clear that Sandow had the potential to be something special. Sandow was almost immediately one of the best on the mic from day one, and he has only gotten better since then. His in-ring work is coming along as well, as he continues to add more depth in that area, but there is no doubt that Sandow's speaking ability is what led to this opportunity.
Sandow has endured a long-and-winding road to this point, as he actually first appeared on WWE programming in 2006 as Idol Stevens. As Stevens, he teamed with KC James and was managed by Michelle McCool. Known as "Teacher's Pets," Stevens and James quickly rose up the tag team ranks and even earned a shot at Paul London and Brian Kendrick's Tag Team Championships at No Mercy.
They fell short in their bid, however, and were soon sent back to developmental. Sandow had some success as he became the OVW Heavyweight Champion, but he was eventually released. Sandow came back on a couple of occasions, but he truly hit his stride in 2010 when his current gimmick was born.
Sandow has been trending upward ever since, and winning the Money in the Bank contract was the culmination of his hard work in a lot of ways. The WWE hasn't been shy about pushing new stars in recent years, and Sandow's ascent is simply the most recent example of that.
It remains to be seen if Sandow has been given too much too early in his tenure, but he has made the most of it, regardless. There are times when wrestlers stumble after being handed the brass ring, but Sandow has thrived and should continue to do so moving forward.
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