Welcome to the first installment of WWE Turning Point. In this new weekly feature, we will delve into classic moments and matches that greatly impacted WWE history—positively or negatively.
In April 2005, WrestleMania 21 was held in Los Angeles with a theme of "WrestleMania Goes Hollywood." Both John Cena and Batista helped usher in a new era at this event by winning the WWE and WWE World titles, respectively.
But the match on the card that people were talking about the most directly after the event was the first ever Money in the Bank ladder match. I know because I attended WrestleMania 21.
The idea was originally introduced in storylines by Chris Jericho. A ladder match that would feature six Superstars. The winner would be the man who could climb the ladder and retrieve a briefcase that hung above the ring.
On paper, it seemed like one of the most unique ideas WWE had come up with in years. But would it deliver?
WWE chose an excellent bunch for this match. A combination of technical wrestling, athletic ability and size and power made up the field vying for the briefcase.
Jericho was unsuccessful in his previous three WrestleMania matches before landing in Los Angeles to compete in the Money in the Bank match. However, it went without saying that he was one of the top Superstars in the company.
Jericho had held numerous titles prior to this match and had to be considered one of the favorites going into it.
At WrestleMania 20, Christian was able to defeat Jericho in a singles match and would try to use that momentum to carry him into WrestleMania 21.
As someone who had competed in the legendary TLC matches with his partner Edge, The Dudley Boyz and The Hardy Boyz, Christian certainly knew his way around a ladder.
In late 2004, Christian became known by the nickname "Captain Charisma" and found himself a bodyguard known as Tyson Tomko, whom he referred to as his "problem solver."
Tomko would accompany Christian to the ring for this match.
Benoit had one of the most memorable moments in WrestleMania history when he forced Triple H to tap out, becoming WWE World Heavyweight champion in the process.
Benoit would lose the belt to Randy Orton a mere five months later.
He then went into a feud with Edge, which produced several great matches and would lead both men into the Money in the Bank match.
Edge was the winner of the 2001 King of the Ring, but in 2005, he was still looking for something that would put him over the hump.
He would have his chance as one of the competitors in the Money in the Bank match. He went into the match with plenty of momentum as well, having defeated Shawn Michaels in a one-on-one encounter at the 2005 Royal Rumble.
Benjamin would go into the Money in the Bank match as a dark horse to win it, but he was likely the most athletic Superstar on the entire roster at the time.
After forming a successful tag team with Charlie Haas, Benjamin went into the singles division after being drafted to the Raw brand in the 2004 WWE draft.
It didn't take long for Benjamin to make an impact as he got wins over the likes of Triple H, Ric Flair and Jericho.
Easily the biggest man added to the match, Kane hadn't held the WWE title since the summer of 1998 when this match took place, and he only held it for 24 hours. Was there any way he could climb the ladder and retrieve the briefcase?
Kane took time off in 2004 in order to film See No Evil. He was taken out in storylines by Snitsky, another massive Superstar who was a real thorn in Kane's side in late 2004.
Kane came back at the New Year's Revolution event in January 2005, exacting revenge against Snitsky, which would help lead into him being one of the contenders in the Money in the Bank match.
With a field full of capable Superstars, would the match be a hit with the fans at the Staples Center and those watching around the world?
Ladders were strewn about the arena as the match was about to get underway. Kane was the last man to be introduced, and the flames that accompany his entrance actually caught some of the ladders on fire.
It was a planned effect, and it worked well.
As Kane came down the aisle, the other five men in the match decided to go after him at once, trying to eliminate the biggest man in the match.
Jericho was the first man to get in a shot with the ladder, cracking Christian in the face right as the opening bell sounded.
This would be the first of many spots that involved a ladder coming into contact with one of the Superstars.
Benjamin and Kane both took death-defying leaps to the outside of the ring early in the match, setting the tone for what was yet to come.
Later, Edge and Christian each pulled up a ladder (nine-minute, 25-second mark of above video), smashing Kane in between it. This brought back memories of their tag team days when they used to pull off the same maneuver with two steel chairs.
Benjamin would be the first participant to climb up a ladder in an attempt to grab the briefcase. He was actually able to get his hands on it, but Jericho prevented him from pulling it down.
Another ladder would soon be placed next to the first, and Christian, Benoit and Edge would all have their turns climbing up and battling at the top.
Edge and Benjamin would soon be the only two men on a ladder, and Benjamin pulled off an amazing T-bone suplex (13:00) from the ladder on Edge.
Moments later, Jericho seemed to have a beat on the briefcase when Benjamin ran up a ladder (14:20) that was propped up and took him down. This brought the crowd alive and still should rank as one of the best spots in Money in the Bank history.
Christian would be next to be within fingertips of the briefcase, thanks to an assist from Tomko. Kane would thwart the attempt, but barely.
After Kane and Jericho couldn't keep their balance on a ladder together, Benoit saw a prone opponent in the ring.
With Kane down, Benoit went to the top of a ladder and dove off with a headbutt (18:15) on Kane. He hit with plenty of impact and immediately opened a prior cut on his forehead.
Fighting through the pain, Benoit had to fend off Kane on the ladder, and then it looked like nothing would stop Benoit from getting his shot at regaining the title.
But just as Benoit got near the top, his old rival Edge came out of nowhere with a chair shot (19:50) that knocked him off the ladder and to the mat. With all five of the other competitors down, Edge made his way up and snatched the briefcase to win the match.
How Did It Change the Course of History?
Money in the Bank was likely an experiment by WWE, one that would have quickly ended if this match was not a huge success.
Much like the ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon at WrestleMania 10, this match was the catalyst for much bigger things.
The Money in the Bank ladder match went on to become a staple at WrestleMania and was part of every one through WrestleMania 26.
It became such a favorite among fans that WWE decided to dedicate one of its annual pay-per-views to it, naming the event after the match.
Because of this, 13 Superstars have been crowned Mr. Money in the Bank. CM Punk has won the match twice.
Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, John Cena and Kane have all won the match as well.
Not only is the match exciting, but the anticipation of what each one of the winners will do with the briefcase keeps fans on the edge of their seats.
With the ability to cash that briefcase in for a title shot at any time, Superstars have chosen some great moments to do so.
Only three men (Mr. Kennedy, Cena and Damien Sandow) have failed to become World or WWE champion after trading in their briefcase.
On a personal level, it changed the course of Edge's career. Winning Money in the Bank can be looked at as the moment that catapulted Edge into the main event scene, where he would become a permanent fixture.
And who can forget when he decided to cash in (video) at New Year's Revolution in January 2006? If not for the success of that first match at WrestleMania 21, moments like that would not have been possible.
It was a unique idea that turned into a very successful one. The Money in the Bank ladder match changed the course of WWE—forever.