WWE Money in the Bank 2014: Greatest Title Matches in PPV's History
At WWE Money in the Bank 2014, fans will zero in on the Ladder match, the hallmark of the pay-per-view.
If Daniel Bryan is not able to compete by then, that bout becomes a battle for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship, giving it a chance to become one of the best title matches in the event's history. In its short time as part of the WWE calendar, Money in the Bank has been famous for its ladder-centered clashes, but CM Punk, Christian and others have thrilled in pursuit of gold.
Money in the Bank's best championship contests are ranked here based on the excitement of the in-ring action and the effectiveness of the story before and during the bout.
Star power and unforgettable moments boost a match's rankings as well. Punk competed in the top two matches on a list that promises to be shaken up should Alberto Del Rio and his foes have a title belt, not a briefcase, hanging over the ring on June 29.
- Sheamus vs. John Cena—2010 (Steel Cage match for WWE Championship)
- Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio—2012 (World Heavyweight Championship)
- AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn—2013 (Divas Championship)
The animosity between challenger and champ powered Kaitlyn's rematch with AJ, but it wasn't as compelling as their first go-round. A part of that is that it was shorter, but mostly there was less drama.
Still, the story of these two former friends growing hateful of each other still had momentum when they met at Money in the Bank.
Both of Sheamus' matches listed here were well-worked, but lacked the kind of crackling energy that the bouts ranked above it exhibited. Neither provided many memorable moments. Still, the Irishman's hard-hitting style helped make his victory over Del Rio in 2012 and his cage match from the first ever Money in the Bank entertaining.
Other title fights from the pay-per-view outdid those in terms of grabbing hold of the audience.
7. John Cena vs. Mark Henry—2013 (WWE Championship)
Once John Cena and Mark Henry collided, the action was mostly ordinary. It's the match's buildup, and the anticipation that it created, that has it slide into this spot on the list.
Henry, nearing the end of his career, gave a fake retirement speech on Raw. The attack on Cena that followed the ruse sparked a short rivalry-filled drama. Their battle for the WWE title became one final chance for "The World's Strongest Man" to achieve a dream that had long evaded him.
Powerhouse met powerhouse in the ring, leading to a solid match.
There were no big surprises or jaw-dropping moments. That allows other title bouts with more thrilling in-ring action to pass this one.
6. Jack Swagger vs. Rey Mysterio—2010 (World Heavyweight Championship)
Jack Swagger entered his world title rematch burning with anger.
Rather than the typical underdog story that WWE often tells with Rey Mysterio, this was one of increasing desperation for Swagger as he struggled to keep the high-flyer down. The size-vs.-speed battle flowed well and it remains one of Swagger's best outings.
His anger and nastiness made for compelling action.
It's the aftermath of the bout that left the biggest impression, though. Swagger failed to beat Mysterio and reclaim his title, but he left him hobbled.
Several minutes spent in the ankle lock left the champion limping, wincing and vulnerable. That inspired Kane to cash in the Money in the Bank contract he had won earlier in the night.
As good as this was, faster, more dramatic matches from the Money in the Bank collection surpass it.
5. The Usos vs. The Shield—2013 (Tag Team Championship)
The Usos challenged the unstoppable force that was The Shield.
WWE didn't hype this much or prep it with much story. It was a pre-show match, after all.
Someone forgot to tell that to these two teams, though. They attacked the bout as if it were a marquee one. The fast-paced, high-flying elevated The Usos as one of the company's top teams.
The brothers provided a number of lasting images of them soaring over the ropes. The Shield's chemistry led to smooth action that popped on the screen.
The Usos' near win, the dives and the hunger both teams showed made it one worth rewatching.
Were it given more buildup and more time, it would challenge Money in the Bank's best world title matches. As it stands, it remains the best pre-show match WWE has ever put on and the pay-per-view's best battle for the tag titles.
4. Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler—2013 (World Heavyweight Championship)
Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler has since become one of WWE's go-to matches. The chemistry and energy that powered this match has been on display several times since.
A step below their moving clash at Payback, Ziggler's shot at reclaiming the world title was plenty dramatic as well.
Victory felt hugely significant here as Ziggler struggled to keep Del Rio down. The gold seemed to be right at his fingertips several times, but eventually his then-girlfriend AJ Lee cost him the match. She tried to interfere on his behalf, cracking the champ with the title belt.
Ziggler's frustration after that felt real. It followed a match with a great pace that clicked from bell to bell.
It takes some classic bouts with even more enthralling sets of foes to top it.
3. Christian vs. Randy Orton—2011 (World Heavyweight Championship)
In summer 2011, Christian and Randy Orton forced fans to slide forward in their seats as the two enemies feuded over the world title.
They were ideal rivals, bringing out the best in each other and working tremendously together. That chemistry made for a great match here that centered around Christian trying to bait "The Viper" into getting disqualified.
The unique stipulations of the bout meant that a disqualification would cost Orton the title.
Christian irked the champ, poking at the snake until it struck back. "Captain Charisma" spit on Orton. That incited him into pummeling him with right hands and hitting him with a low blow that cost him the match.
The uniqueness of the story and the special electricity that these two created together push it just ahead of Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio. Two of CM Punk's title matches beat it out thanks to better stories.
That ending was engaging, but not nearly as climactic as suplexing someone through a table or kneeing them into unconsciousness as the bouts that rank above it proved.
2. CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan—2012 (No Disqualification Match-WWE Championship)
CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan's Money in the Bank match in 2012 was not as good as their match at Over the Limit, but that's like saying The Godfather Part II was not as good as The Godfather.
Punk and Bryan displayed incredible chemistry, producing a fluid, magnetic match that maximized every minute. AJ Lee served as special guest referee, adding a love triangle to this ideal blend of brawling and grappling.
There was a fierceness to each man's strikes that elevated the match.
It delivered several moments that stick in one's mind: Bryan's anger over AJ getting hurt, his swing of a Kendo stick to Punk's gut in midair and AJ putting a chair in between them while wearing a mischievous grin. The ending has to go on that list as well. It took a vicious suplex through a table to finish Bryan.
That capped off a thrilling bout that earns second place only because an instant classic outdid it.
1. John Cena vs. CM Punk—2011 (WWE Championship)
The match that served as the peak of "The Summer of Punk" and made Money in the Bank a pay-per-view one had to pay attention to tops all of the title matches we've ever seen at the event.
John Cena vs. CM Punk had the most compelling story of any bout on this list. Punk's expiring contract meant that if he won, he would leave the company with the WWE Championship. He was the rebel pushing back against the system while Cena represented the status quo and was the pro-company man charged with keeping the championship with WWE.
Add to that the great chemistry these two archenemies have always had and it's no surprise that it earned WWE the first five-star rating from Wrestling Observer Newsletter since 1997.
The frenzied energy that Punk's hometown of Chicago provided was unforgettable in itself. Cena and Punk then added hard-hitting action in a back-and-forth match. Punk's explosive knee to Cena's chin and a number of near-falls served as highlights.
Punk then escaped a potential Alberto Del Rio cash-in before creating the now-classic image of Punk slipping into the crowd with the championship.
Del Rio and whoever joins him at Money in the Bank 2014 will more than likely be competing for the silver medal on this list. The gold standard was set in 2011 and will be nearly impossible to exceed.