WWE Money in the Bank 2014: Greatest Superstars to Never Win the Briefcase
This Sunday, June 29, seven Superstars will vie for the chance to obtain the highly desirable Money in Bank briefcase. Inside that briefcase is a contract that grants the winner of the grueling Ladder match a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at any place and time of their choosing.
The history of the matchup dates back to 2005, when it was first held at WrestleMania 21. It'd become a 'Maina tradition from that point forward until 2010, when the concept evolved into its own pay-per-view.
To some, that devalued the excitement the Money in the Bank concept. However, the annual event has consistently been one of the best shows of the year for WWE.
Superstars such as Edge, CM Punk, The Miz and many others have had their careers launched into superstardom via the Money in the Bank briefcase. Everyone who has held the contract, with the exception of John Cena and Damien Sandow, has gone on to successfully cash it in and win a world championship.
There are a handful of competitors, however, who have put their bodies on the line in MITB Ladder matches for no reward. Regardless of how many times they've contended for the contract and regardless of how many memorable moments they've had in the match, they just haven't been able to call the opportunistic briefcase their own.
Though it's impossible for some of the following wrestlers to win the bout, there's still a chance for some of them to get their due and finally add "Mr. Money in the Bank" to their long list of nicknames and accomplishments.
Chris Jericho (Appearances: 4)
In 2005, Chris Jericho proposed the idea of doing a multiman Ladder match at WrestleMania 21 to Eric Bischoff. It was one of those ideas that was so crazy that it might just work—and it did.
The concept of the match would see six of Raw's top-tier talent fight for a future shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. It became known as the Money in the Bank match and would later feature Superstars from all shows.
Thus, everyone who has had their careers significantly shortened by competing in Money in the Bank Ladder matches only have Jericho to thank.
In all seriousness, it was a brilliant idea from Jericho, both in storyline and in reality. Since he was the one who pitched the match concept to begin with, he was a logical pick to win it. However, that honor would belong to Edge, who would win his world title with the contract nearly 10 months later.
Jericho departed the company shortly thereafter and didn't take part in another Money in the Bank Ladder match until 2008, when he returned to the company. Once again, he was considered a favorite to pull down the briefcase, but moments before he could, he was outsmarted by CM Punk, the bout's eventual winner.
In 2010, Jericho bragged and boasted that he'd emerge victorious in the first-ever Raw Money in the Bank Ladder match at the event's initial installment, but he came up short. History would repeat itself two years later when he was unsuccessful in another MITB match that involved only former world champions.
Y2J has been known to come and go every so often, so a MITB win isn't too far out of the question. However, at this point in his career, one would have to question whether a victory in the grueling Ladder match is necessary for Jericho seeing how his legacy has already been solidified.
Cody Rhodes (Appearances: 4)
Cody Rhodes made his main roster WWE debut in July 2007 but didn't compete in his first Money in the Bank Ladder match for another three years. Even then he was considered a dark horse to win it and still is to this day.
Rhodes, from day one, has been seen as one of WWE's brightest prospects. It's truly amazing to see how much he has evolved from his days as an enhancement talent to teaming with Hardcore Holly, Ted DiBiase and Damien Sandow, among others.
He is great in the ring, he has the mic skills and he has a connection with the crowd. The only thing he's been lacking in recent years is an opportunity, and the MITB contract could provide that for him.
It was far too early for him to win it when he first competed in the contest in 2010, but he still had a strong showing, regardless. The following year was much of the same, though instead of coming to the ring with a mirror attached to the back of his jacket, it was a mask attached to his face.
In 2012, Rhodes was considered a much bigger candidate to come out on top. He and Dolph Ziggler were the two favorites, and when the match came down to them, Ziggler reigned supreme.
Rhodes had arguably his best outing in a MITB Ladder match to date in last year's all-heel installment. Taking out every other competitor, he was the star of the match and was well on his way to capturing the briefcase.
Before he could grab possession of the briefcase, Rhodes has backstabbed by his "best friend" Damien Sandow. Even still, the Philadelphia crowd was heavily behind Rhodes that night, and he came across as a future star in the business.
Unfortunately, Rhodes doesn't find himself in the same place one year later. After a fantastic run as WWE Tag Team champion, the second-generation star has since been repacked as Stardust, a near replica of his brother Goldust.
Thus, while Rhodes doesn't find himself vying for the briefcase this year, it's only a matter of time before he wins it for himself.
Shelton Benjamin (Appearances: 5)
Among the contestants in the first-ever Money in the Bank Ladder match at WrestleMania 21 was Shelton Benjamin. He might not have had the experience factor that Chris Jericho, Edge, Chris Benoit and others did, but he made up for that in his agility and willingness to do anything in order to win.
During the course of the contest, Benjamin ran up the side of the ladder and collided with Jericho on the top of it. From that point forward, Benjamin became a Money in the Bank highlight reel each and every year.
Benjamin once again made a name for himself at MITB the following year at WrestleMania 22, once again walking in as Intercontinental champion. He was absent from the 2007 installment but would pull off crazy stunts in MITB bouts in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Coincidentally enough, Benjamin's final televised WWE match came in a MITB match at WrestleMania 26. He was released from his contract in May, only two months before he could take part in the inaugural Money in the Bank pay-per-view.
While never seen as a potential candidate to win the match, Benjamin definitely deserved to. He may not have had the mic skills to be a world champion in WWE, but all those bumps and bruises he endured in countless MITB matches had to count for something, right?
Kofi Kingston (Appearances: 4)
Kofi Kingston, with only a little over a year of main-roster experience under his belt, made his WrestleMania debut at the event's 25th anniversary in the Money in the Bank Ladder match. Going into the match, Kingston was overlooked for the likes of CM Punk, Christian and others, but he'd soon leave a lasting impression on the entire WWE Universe.
Like Shelton Benjamin at WrestleMania 21, Kingston ran up one side of the ladder in an attempt to grab the briefcase, though this time, the ladder was being held up by Mark Henry. Once Henry realized what Kingston was trying to pull off, he tossed the steel structure to the side, caught Kingston in midair and delivered a World's Strongest Slam to him on top of it.
After reaching the pinnacle of his career in a feud with Randy Orton in late 2009, Kingston was believed to be booked to win the MITB briefcase at WrestleMania 26. Somewhere along the way, however, plans changed and Jack Swagger (somehow) won the match instead.
Nevertheless, Kingston still managed to have one of the best moments of the match when he took two halves of a ladder and attempted to use them as stilts. He'd pull off other crazy maneuvers in the next two MITB matches he competed in, including hitting a Boom Drop off a ladder and onto Drew McIntyre through a commentating table at ringside.
Kingston will look to obtain glory once again in this year's MITB bout. Granted, he virtually has zero chance of winning it after being utilized as an enhancement talent for so long, but expect an impressive performance from the Ghana native, nonetheless.
Matt Hardy (Appearances: 4)
Being one of the pioneers of the Tables, Ladders and Chairs match, it's amazing to think that Matt Hardy never played a bigger role in Money in the Bank. His brother Jeff was at one point scheduled to win the MITB match at WrestleMania 24 and go on to become WWE champion, but plans changed when the Charismatic Enigma was suspended for 60 days for violating the WWE Wellness Policy in March 2008.
Matt made his MITB Ladder match debut at WrestleMania 22 and was considered a favorite to win given his red-hot push the prior summer. He came up short in that contest and suffered the same fate the next year at WrestleMania 23.
Although he was unable to officially participate in the MITB match at WrestleMania 24, he made his presence known by interfering and costing his archnemesis MVP the briefcase. He was also unsuccessful in the capturing the contract at WrestleMania 26.
In the weeks leading up to the inaugural Money in the Bank pay-per-view event in July 2010, tension was teased between Hardy and Christian, two individuals who deemed themselves worthy of a MITB win. At the time, neither man had ever been world champion in WWE, so they used the SmackDown MITB Ladder match as their final shot at glory.
At the event, neither of them were able to emerge victorious. Unlike Christian, however, Hardy would never win the WWE's top prize before departing the company in late 2010.
Hardy, at one point, could have been considered world championship material in WWE, especially during his heel run in 2009. Officials dropped the ball on his push, leaving fans to ponder what might have been.
Christian (Appearances: 6)
Christian will go down in history as a master of not only the Ladder and TLC matches but also as a Money in the Bank match veteran. Having competed in more MITB matches than anyone else (with the exception of Kane), Christian is worthy of calling himself Mr. Money in the Bank—and that's based on multiple MITB matches.
He was among the six Raw Superstars to take part in the first-ever MITB Ladder match at WrestleMania 21 in 2005. Despite having Tyson Tomko in his corner, Christian came up short in obtaining the briefcase.
Similar to Chris Jericho, Christian departed the company later that year, missing out on the next three MITB matches. Upon his WWE return in 2009, Christian scored a spot in the MITB matchup at WrestleMania 25, being considered a favorite to win by many members of the WWE Universe.
At the event, Christian had his MITB aspirations squandered when he was chokeslammed off the side of the ladder by Kane. He took part in the contest the next year but once again came up short.
In July 2010, he and Matt Hardy feuded over the fact that despite their past performances in the match, neither of them had ever won it. That lit a fire under Christian to capture the briefcase at the inaugural Money in the Bank pay-per-view, but he was still unsuccessful.
It wasn't until 2012 that Christian returned to his roots in the SmackDown MITB match but lost yet again. He also participated in 2013's All-Stars MITB match along with the likes of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton and others but came out on the losing end.
Christian already has two World Heavyweight Championship reigns to his credit, but a third wouldn't hurt. I'm not advocating a MITB victory for Christian, but it's a shame that WWE couldn't have given him the briefcase at any point in the last nine years.
Could Christian claim the title of being the greatest Superstar to never become Mr. Money in the Bank? Or do one of the aforementioned Superstars (or perhaps someone not listed) hold claim to that title instead?
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.