WWE Money in the Bank 2014: Biggest Breakout Performances in PPV History
More so than any other World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-view offering, Money in the Bank lends itself to breakout performances.
With so many Superstars involved in the night's much-hyped ladder matches, men who had previously been relegated to the midcard and treated as afterthoughts have the opportunity to steal the spotlight with their unrivaled athleticism and willingness to sacrifice their bodies for the benefit of the product and fans.
On Sunday, June 29, a new crop of Superstars will have the opportunity to rise to occasion and prove themselves as the future of the industry.
Whether it is a Bray Wyatt or Seth Rollins—who have made major contributions to WWE over the last year but could still use that one performance to really establish themselves as future champions—or a competitor with unrealized talent such as Bad News Barrett or Cesaro, the show should feature its fair share of breakout performances.
Especially given the youth movement that WWE appears to be pushing.
As WWE gears up for one of its most popular and beloved pay-per-views events, relive some of the biggest and most monumental breakout performances in Money in the Bank history.
Early in his career, The Miz had a difficult time shaking The Real World label. The fact that he was loud and obnoxious did not help matters. Despite competing in Tough Enough in 2004, training for professional wrestling via traditional means and proving himself over the years, his ascension up the ranks in World Wrestling Entertainment was met with great resistance by key power players.
Simply put, The Miz was not liked and was never meant to achieve the success that he did.
That success began when he split from longtime tag team partner John Morrison and continued into runs with the United States Championship and the tag titles, which he held with Big Show.
By July 2010, Miz had a great deal of momentum behind him. His "Awesome" catchphrase was easy to chant with, and the crowds had bought into his unique persona. His ring work was improving with every match, and most importantly, he carried himself like a star.
It is far easier for fans to accept a performer as a star when said performer believes he is a star.
The Miz joined Chris Jericho, Edge, Randy Orton, Evan Bourne, John Morrison, Mark Henry and Ted DiBiase in the pursuit of the Money in the Bank briefcase and a guaranteed WWE Championship match at any time over the next year.
With a shot at immortality on the line, Miz overcame the young and hungry Bourne, Morrison and DiBiase. He withstood the powerful onslaught of the World's Strongest Man. Most importantly, he proved that he could not only hang with three former heavyweight champions but could beat them, too.
Miz turned in the performance he desperately needed in order to take that next step toward championship glory. He retrieved the briefcase and a championship opportunity whenever he so pleased.
As history tells us, he cashed in his title shot the night after Survivor Series in November, capitalizing on an Orton who was less than 100 percent to win the WWE Championship. That moment began a roller-coaster ride of a title reign that climaxed when the Cleveland native entered the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for the main event of WrestleMania 27.
Daniel Bryan's first year on the main roster was a tumultuous one.
He competed on the ridiculous NXT program, where mindless competitions were as important as anything one did between the ropes. His mentor for that program was The Miz, which, had the relationship not led to an entertaining feud later in the year, would have been a huge insult to the former Ring of Honor standout.
Then came the Nexus invasion when Bryan attacked ring announcer Justin Roberts and choked him out with his own necktie. He spit in the face of John Cena and left WWE's "golden boy" lying in a heap. Despite his strong performance in the group's takeover of Raw, he was fired days later amid controversy surrounding his actions.
As revealed in the WWE Network exclusive documentary Journey to WrestleMania: Daniel Bryan, John Cena and Pat Patterson were instrumental in getting Bryan his job back. He made the most of his second chance early, turning in a great match with Miz at Night of Champions in September 2010 and carrying the United States Championship.
Bryan would struggle after dropping the title to Sheamus in the spring of 2011. He got lost in the shuffle and had very little in the way of momentum on his side as he entered Money in the Bank in July. As he did every time he was given an opportunity, however, he rose to the occasion and turned in a strong performance in the annual ladder match.
After locking Cody Rhodes in a guillotine choke, he fought out of Wasteland and sent Wade Barrett crashing to the mat following a big kick to the head. That freed him up to scale the ladder and retrieve the briefcase.
The briefcase would not guarantee Bryan immediate success. In fact, he floundered on SmackDown after winning Money in the Bank. He carried the briefcase into arenas on a nightly basis but lost more than he won. His luck would change in December at TLC when he cashed in his guaranteed title opportunity and captured the World Heavyweight Championship from Big Show.
It was during the title reign that he initiated the "Yes!" chants that would lead to the so-called Yes Movement and a major main event push some two years later.
After capturing the WWE Championship on two separate occasions in his first year with the company, Sheamus was in a bit of a slump as he entered Money in the Bank in July 2011.
He had been demoted from the main event to the midcard, feuded with the likes of John Morrison, Santino Marella and United States champion Daniel Bryan and was unceremoniously beaten down by Triple H. He was drafted to B-show SmackDown.
Needless to say, the first half of 2011 was not kind to the Celtic Warrior.
That began to change when he entered the blue brand's Money in the Bank ladder match.
Sheamus provided a strong performance, reminding fans of the dominant competitor he was a year earlier. For the first time in weeks, he looked like a former WWE champion as he hammered away at Wade Barrett, punished Daniel Bryan and floored Cody Rhodes.
The exclamation on his strong performance came when he hoisted Sin Cara overhead and delivered the Celtic Cross off the ring apron and through a ladder. The Chicago crowd erupted, giving Sheamus one of the biggest reactions of the night.
Though he lost the match, Sheamus left Money in the Bank far better off than winner Daniel Bryan. Sheamus underwent a shift in attitude shortly thereafter and became one of the top babyface stars on SmackDown.
In January 2012, he won Royal Rumble, and at WrestleMania 28, he defeated the aforementioned Bryan to win the World Heavyweight Championship. As champion, he would reign atop SmackDown throughout the year as its top babyface draw.
In 1996 Mark Henry signed a humongous contract with World Wrestling Entertainment. Over the next 15 years, he failed to live up to the lofty expectations set for him by those in management. Whether it was injury or a lack of passion early on, he never achieved the main event status many felt he was capable of.
Better than he had ever been, Henry was portrayed as the unstoppable force in 2011. He ran over the competition in impressive fashion, and his World's Strongest Slam finisher was nearly indefensible. Superstars big and small all fell at the feet of the monstrous competitor. At Money in the Bank, he would add the World's Largest Athlete to his list of Superstars conquered.
Henry dominated Big Show, proving to be physically superior to the former WWE champion. The giant was left lying with a broken ankle, and Henry continued barreling toward his first World Heavyweight Championship.
By Night of Champions, the veteran competitor was the No. 1 contender to the title, and his opponent Randy Orton was on the hottest streak of his career. "The Viper" did everything in his power to retain his title but was unable to overcome the sheer power of his challenger. After a failed RKO attempt, Henry planted him with the World's Strongest Slam and captured the title.
None of it would have been possible without the creative team convincing fans that Henry was a legitimate championship contender.
His victory over Big Show was key to doing so.
Early 2013 was not kind to Cody Rhodes and tag team partner Damien Sandow. They went from being top contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championships to engaging Tons of Funk in a rivalry leading into WrestleMania 29. That feud was the product of the Funkadactyls' issues with the Bella Twins, and Rhodes and Sandow were merely secondary to the central conflict.
Entering Money in the Bank, neither man was an overwhelming favorite. They had been spinning their wheels as a tag team, going nowhere of note and looking to be merely filler as they arrived in Philadelphia for the much-anticipated show. By night's end, the wrestling world would be talking about Rhodes and Sandow for two completely different reasons.
Sandow won the match and the briefcase after betraying his friend and partner, but it was Rhodes who stole the match, turning in one of the finest performances of his career.
He was intense and aggressive, winning the crowd over with pure passion. Near the finish, he certainly appeared to have the match won, something the passionate Philly crowd would have appreciated.
But, alas, it was not to be.
Rhodes rebounded nicely. He shaved his ridiculous mustache, engaged Sandow in a rivalry and became one of the key pieces of The Authority's abuse-of-power story that ran throughout the fall. When his brother Goldust returned to the company, Rhodes partnered with him in one of the best tag teams in recent history. Together, they defeated The Shield to capture the WWE Tag Team Championships and carried the titles for nearly four months.