Money in the Bank has now become one of WWE’s biggest PPV’s of the year, mainly due to the Money in the Bank Ladder matches.
However, the ladder matches don’t always claim the coveted prize of being the best match of the night.
Below are 5 matches from the Money in the Bank PPV that weren’t ladder matches but were still amazing.
1. CM Punk vs John Cena – Money in the Bank 2011
We kick things off with perhaps the most infamous match in WWE history. Before the PPV, it became common knowledge that Punk’s contract was up at midnight on the day of the PPV. Punk even acknowledged this, promising that he was going to quit WWE as WWE Champion.
The highlight of the feud up until this match was CM Punk’s infamous Pipebomb promo. Breaking the fourth wall, he said that he, unlike Cena, was the best in the world. He also heavily insulted WWE management, mainly Vince McMahon and John Laurinaitis. He also said that he could defend it in other companies around the world, such as Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling. WWE fans had never heard anything like this, and they went berserk throughout the promo. Add this to the fact that Money in the Bank was being held in Punk’s home city of Chicago, and this became the most anticipated match in years.
The match itself was fine. It wasn’t their best match, but it was still a great match. What made it truly special was the fans. Cena was always going to be booed, but in Chicago, he had nuclear heat. They booed him out of the building almost. It continued throughout the match, with Punk being loudly cheered, and Cena being booed like he’d just punched a child.
We all know what happened. Punk shockingly won the match and the title and created the iconic image of him blowing Vince McMahon a kiss before leaving through the crowd. He obviously didn’t leave WWE then, but fans didn’t know that, so they truly believed that Punk had left WWE as the Champion. It was storytelling at its finest.
2. CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan – Money in the Bank 2012
Two guys who on paper, should have never been successful in WWE. Both were ‘indy guys’, under 6 foot and not as jacked as other WWE superstars. Despite these shortcomings, both men became hugely successful, and had great careers. Daniel Bryan is still wrestling of course and having great matches.
Punk was in the middle of his record-breaking reign as WWE Champion at this point. He’d just defeated Kane and Daniel Bryan at No Way Out and was on top of the world. Bryan earned another opportunity by beating Punk and Kane in another triple threat match. On top of this, AJ Lee was heavily involved with both men, leading her to become the special guest referee for the match at MITB.
Just before the PPV went on air, WWE announced that the match would become a No DQ match, which was intriguing. Would AJ turn on Punk, and help Daniel Bryan become champion? Or would she realise that Bryan was manipulating her, and cost him the match?
Thankfully, AJ didn’t cause too much of a distraction during the match. That meant that we could enjoy what was a brutal match between the two. Both men went all out to prove to everyone that they were two of the best in the world. They used a variety of weapons on each other, making everyone wince several times. Punk won, but the bruises he collected reminded him and everyone at home that it had been a brutal and hard-hitting affair.
3. Randy Orton vs Christian – Money in the Bank 2011
Randy Orton may have his doubters, but no-one can deny that when he actually tries, there are few better in WWE. One such occasion is this match with Christian, in one of the most underrated feuds in modern WWE history.
On paper, the dynamics seemed to be the wrong way around. Orton wasn’t that good a babyface in 2011, and people didn’t want to boo Christian. Add that to the weird rules (if there was poor officiating or if Orton got disqualified, then Christian would become champion) and it shouldn’t have worked. However, the two veterans managed to put on a fantastic match.
The match was built around Christian trying to get Orton DQ’d so he would become champion. Orton, as the babyface, refused to sink to Christians level, and began to dominate the match. After several near falls, Christian spat in Orton’s face, causing Orton to snap, kicking Christian in the groin, DQ’ing him and giving Christian the World Heavyweight title.
The finish was wonderful. It set Christian up as a conniving heel, and Orton as the vengeful babyface looking for revenge. The feud was perhaps Orton’s best in a long while, and it was almost definitely the highlight of Christian’s solo run in WWE. It was the best work these two had done in a long time.
4. John Cena vs Mark Henry – Money in the Bank 2013
A match made possible by Mark Henry’s amazing promo on the June 17th edition of RAW. Henry had always been good, but this promo finally let everyone else know just how good Mark Henry is.
Basically, the promo was that Henry looked like he was about to retire, asked Cena if he could hold the WWE Championship, then turned and destroyed Cena with a World’s Strongest Slam and announced that he would take the title from Cena at Money in the Bank. It was one of the all-time great promo swerves. It was that good.
Cena has always had good matches against big men (Umaga, Big Show, Kane. Hell, he even got a great match out of The Great Khali once). This match was no different. Henry looked to use his strength throughout, and several times it looked as though Cena had no answers for it, before he finally managed to make the big man tap out.
What made this match great is because for all the jokes people make about Cena always winning, it genuinely looked as though he would lose the belt. Henry looked like a beast throughout, and Cena looked to be in a perilous position several times. He worked his backside off to make Henry look good, and both came out of the match with their stock elevated a huge amount.
5. AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura – Money in the Bank 2018
A great match to an otherwise underwhelming feud, this match proved that AJ Styles had become WWE’s MVP. The feud had promised so much, yet largely undelivered for most of it. However, this match proved that if given half-decent material, these two can put on a fantastic match.
The Last Man Standing stipulation allowed the two some freedom to show just how good they are. For over 25 minutes, they put on the match of the night, finally showing everyone that if you put these two in the ring together and let them go for it, magic will happen.
Nakamura was brutal in this match. He showed the ruthless side of himself previously only seen in NJPW and occasionally in NXT. Several times he came agonisingly close to win, including a great moment when he hit a Kinshasa on the German announce table for a close 9 count.
Eventually however, Styles persevered and hit a Phenomenal Forearm, a Styles Clash off some steel steps and then another Phenomenal Forearm through an announce table to pick up the victory and end the feud that everyone had been asking for.
Though the feud under-delivered throughout the most part, this match was still an amazing performance from both people. It was easily Nakamura’s best match since arriving on the main roster and remains one of AJs best as well. For just a little while, AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura had the match that WWE fans had been dreaming about ever since Shinsuke arrived on the main roster.
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