WWE Money in the Bank 2014: Most Controversial Moments in PPV's History
The Money in the Bank brand is basically built on controversy.
Such a nearly infallible advantage would be cause for uproar if the concept were tabled and voted into sports leagues during the owner’s meetings.
Just imagine if the world champion Seattle Seahawks, following the week-to-week grind of the NFL season, were challenged by a fresh Green Bay Packers team during the trophy presentation. Talk about the ultimate payoff for the Fail Mary incident, and we’d owe such a would-be controversy to Lombardi in the Bank.
Money in the Bank’s brief pay-per-view history is not short on controversies of its own. Shady title changes, real-life contract negotiations and tag team breakups have all been subplots to a pay-per-view format that hardly needs the added drama. There are already two ladder matches as it is!
Even this year’s Ladder Match match will be surrounded by its share of controversy and drama due to the circumstances created by Daniel Bryan’s mercurial neck injury. Would the wrestling gods have it any other way?
Moments on this list are judged by memorability, uniqueness and fan reactions both live and on social media. It’s no coincidence the top entry will go down as arguably the most memorable and controversial moment of the WWE PG era.
5. 2014 Money in the Bank WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match
Regardless of what happens in the 2014 Money in the Bank match, it will forever be linked to controversy.
Instead of a singular Money in the Bank match for a future shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, WWE has instead made the difficult decision to strip Daniel Bryan of said title.
This year’s titular main event will instead be a competition for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship itself, with the possibility of a second ladder match for a Money in the Bank briefcase per the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingInc). The fact that a championship ladder match is even happening is subject to intense debate:
I just can't believe after all that hard work... after his WRESTLEMANIA MOMENT, Daniel Bryan was stripped of his titles ONCE AGAIN. Sighhhh.— terry ☮ (@TheHeymanLegacy) June 11, 2014
Bray Wyatt qualifies for the Money In The Bank match - that's all I need to know I'll be watching it.
— Martin Mathers (@MajorDysentry) June 12, 2014
WWE was very careful how they booked the announcement of Daniel Bryan being stripped so as not to cause a Yes Movement riot. Before smugly making it official, The Authority went to a video of Dr. Joseph Maroon (who legitimately performed the surgery). Maroon provided a status update on Bryan’s slowed progress.
Now, whoever wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship will be treated as an asterisk. The title will almost feel like an interim championship, especially with reports that WWE still has plans for Bryan to resume his reign should he heal appropriately, according to F4WOnline (h/t WrestlingInc).
At the same time, Bryan’s world championship reign was far from planned. He could just as easily lose his spot should the “interim” champion in question overachieve with ratings or merchandise while carrying the strap. There’s a scenario that wouldn’t sit well with the Yes Movement.
That’s controversy for you. Always leaving somebody ticked off.
4. Damien Sandow Wins Money in the Bank, Turns on Cody Rhodes
Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes had begun to plant seeds of an impending breakup headed into their 2013 Money in the Bank match. If nothing else, the fact that they were competing in an every-man-for-himself-style match should have been an indicator.
Right on cue, the crumbling of the Rhodes Scholars would also be the story of the finish.
With the briefcase in reach, Rhodes was unceremoniously pushed off the ladder by his former partner Sandow.
The angle sparked an interesting conversation, as Sandow was branded the heel and Rhodes the sympathetic babyface.
JBL argued that Sandow acted completely within his rights and was just doing what he had to do to win a ladder match where there were no allies. Sandow’s presumed betrayal of his tag team partner, however, immediately made him a villain.
With Sandow’s opportunistic win, WWE had created a legitimate dilemma, where each side had a strong case. That’s the type of storytelling that draws fans into an angle and keeps them there.
3. Christian Wins World Heavyweight Championship Via Low Blow
It’s rare that a world title changes via disqualification, but that’s exactly what happened during the memorable Money in the Bank 2011 pay-per-view.
In what seemed like it was going to be a stipulation to add another dimension to Randy Orton’s World Heavyweight Championship match against Christian, the stipulation actually ended up costing Orton the title.
After Christian spat in Orton’s face, he responded by low-blowing Christian, which resulted in a disqualification finish and a title change.
In front of a traditional WWE crowd, fans would have been angered with a cowardly heel winning a major championship by goading his opponent into getting disqualified.
But given Christian’s goodwill among hardcore wrestling fans, a meta Chicago crowd erupted in cheers as the bell rang.
Such an indecisive finish was subject to a rematch, and at SummerSlam, it was Randy Orton who regained the World Heavyweight Championship in a no-holds-barred match.
2. John Cena Wins 2012 Money in the Bank Match
The Money in the Bank match lends itself to opportunity and future stars more than it does to hustle, loyalty or respect.
But in 2012, John Cena made his first appearance in a Money in the Bank match. Even more polarizing than Cena appearing in a match traditionally won by hungry upstarts, John Cena went on to win.
The fashion in which Cena captured the briefcase, as he suddenly snatched it off the harness while using it as a weapon, made it seem like it was unplanned. Cena’s apparent shock certainly didn’t do the moment any favors.
To be fair, this Money in the Bank match was rare in form, as every participant had previously been a WWE champion.
But, love him or hate him, nothing ever seems fair with Cena. As is the case with everything he does, fans and pundits were split right down the middle. Matt Bishop of Slam! Wrestling praised Cena's efforts in a review entitled "Punk, Cena, Ziggler Shine at Money in the Bank."
Nathan Kyght of PWTorch seemed to be feeling the effects of Cena fatigue, writing "Everyone worked hard, and Cena of course won. Do you think Punk is ever gonna close out a show if Cena is on it."
Adding to the uniqueness of his win, Cena would go on to become the first Money in the Bank winner who failed to convert his opportunity into a world championship reign.
1. CM Punk "Leaves" WWE with WWE Championship
CM Punk’s journey through a very public contract negotiation led to a monumental WWE title win in 2011.
That year, Money in the Bank set the standard for a pay-per-view main event, from buildup to payoff.
At the end of the June 27 Raw from Las Vegas, Punk set a tone of controversy that would linger throughout his feud with consummate white knight John Cena.
What is now known as the Pipebomb Promo was a worked shoot promo by Punk, who exploited every taboo subject from John Laurinaitis (then real-life vice president of talent relations who was rarely mentioned on air) to Vince McMahon’s mortality.
Punk’s tirade helped create an unforgettable big-fight feel weeks later in his hometown of Chicago. With details behind his real-life contract negotiations still a mystery, as profiled by Tom Breihan of GQ, the match would be billed as his last.
Punk’s victory over Cena that night was tantamount to Armageddon, with Michael Cole’s reaction being limited to a subdued, “Oh my God.”
The pay-per-view ended with the cranky renegade escaping through the elated Chicago crowd. WWE wouldn’t match this level of organic controversy until well after Punk’s return to the company, when he quit the company ahead of WrestleMania XXX.
This time around, no storyline this side of the Allstate Arena could bring him back.