We’re 10 days away from WrestleMania XXX, and NZPWI is counting down the 10 best matches from the last 10 years of the showcase of the immortals.
We’re covering 10 different matches featuring 13 different superstars held at seven different WrestleManias over the past decade. Will your favourite make the list?
Tonight we start the countdown with a match that started something of its own – spawning a pay-per-view event and thrusting Edge into the main event after proving himself as the ultimate opportunist.
Coming in at number 10, it’s the inaugural Money in the Bank Ladder Match from WrestleMania 21.
NZPWI’s 10 BEST WRESTLEMANIA MATCHES OF THE LAST 10 YEARS
#10: MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH (WRESTLEMANIA 21)
Chris Jericho didn’t know what he’d started when he pitched the concept of Money in the Bank on Raw before WrestleMania 21.
Not on the card and not in the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship match, Jericho came up with a plan to kill two birds with one stone, getting a WrestleMania match and a title opportunity for himself, or whoever the eventual winner of the match would be.
WrestleMania had had ladder matches before – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X, or even the triple threat tag team title ladder match at WrestleMania 2000 – but never one quite like this.
Six men would compete in the match, each out for himself. Hanging high above the ring would be a briefcase containing a contract allowing the man who signed it to challenge for either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship at any time of his choosing between then and WrestleMania 22, one year away.
In a year when WrestleMania went Hollywood, this would be the action blockbuster.
Joining Jericho were ladder match veterans Chris Benoit, Christian, and Edge, as well as Shelton Benjamin and Kane. Each man proved his worth when the bell sounded to kick things off in Los Angeles.
Shelton Benjamin would set the bar for future Money in the Bank ladder matches with his high-flying stunts and unorthodox use of the ladder.
Kane would play the role of the big man to perfection, dishing out serious punishment to the rest of the competitors and using the ladders more as weapons than climbing devices.
Chris Jericho and Christian were there to hold the match together between the more impressive sequences, while the crux of it all came from Chris Benoit’s quest to win and Edge’s opportune usurping of the Rabid Wolverine.
Post-2005 we know Edge to be the ultimate opportunist, but this was the match which started it all.
Benoit’s hard-hitting style and ruthless aggression had left his arm damaged over the course of the match.
The Staples Center audience rallied behind Benoit, willing him on as he climbed the ladder, getting ever-closer to the Money in the Bank briefcase, until Edge smashed a steel chair against the injured arm and knocked Benoit to the floor before unhooking the briefcase himself.
Although fans booed the result, on the inside they were ecstatic, having just witnessed the first of what would become many Money in the Bank Ladder Matches.
Edge would go on to “cash in” his contract for a WWE Championship match at New Year’s Revolution in 2006, taking full advantage of the any time, anywhere stipulation to defeat John Cena moments after Cena had made it through a gruelling Elimination Chamber match.
Edge’s win netted him his first WWE Championship and put him into a rivalry with Cena that would continue on for a number of years, earning Edge multiple world titles and helping make him one of the most decorated WWE Superstars of the last decade en route to a Hall of Fame induction.
The Money in the Bank Ladder Match returned at WrestleMania 22, and again at WrestleMania 23, WrestleMania XXIV, WrestleMania 25 and WrestleMania XXVI before splitting off into its own pay-per-view event in 2010.
Many have come close, but none can quite hold a candle to WrestleMania 21’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match.