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The Humble Beginnings of WWE's Money in the Bank Event

For nearly two decades, Money in the Bank has never failed to bring the excitement to the WWE Universe!

By Chris Phelan
Wwe Chris Jericho 2005

The Money in the Bank concept has come a long way since it was introduced to the WWE Universe in 2005. From its humble beginnings as a number-one contender ladder match to its current iteration as an official WWE Premium Live Event, Money in the Bank has been synonymous with excellence for nearly 20 years.

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On July 1, Money in the Bank returns for its 2023 edition and while there's still plenty of time to psych ourselves up for the big event, we figured it's the perfect time to turn back the clock and look at how Money in the Bank came to be one of the hottest WWE events of the summer.

To begin, let's go back to 2005. 

Who Came Up With the Idea of Money in the Bank?

Five weeks before WrestleMania 21, Chris Jericho marched down to the ring with a microphone in hand. As one of the most influential Superstars of all time, he took exception to the fact he wasn't currently slated to compete at WrestleMania 21. Even though the event was more than a month away, it was already being heavily promoted with Superstars like John Cena, Shawn Michaels, Batista, Kurt Angle, and Hulk Hogan being prominently featured. 

For the first time in his career, Jericho saw himself on the outside looking in. His Road to WrestleMania was leading nowhere. So, in true Jericho fashion, he decided to control his destiny as he pitched his idea of a new match that would be featured on the Grandest Stage of Them All. 

"Everybody wants to make an impact, so do I," Jericho told the sold-out RAW crowd. "Everybody wants to be a part of history, so do I. I have an idea for a match to do that. It's a match that involves Y2J, five other elite WWE Superstars, a chance of a lifetime, and most importantly, one very big, solid-steel ladder."

The WWE Universe was stunned. While the ladder match had been a staple in WWE for years by that point, the idea of six Superstars competing in a ladder match was unheard of. The match was dangerous and career-altering enough when two competitors battled it out. So, upping the ante to six people was mind-blowing.

Before the WWE Universe knew what happened, then-RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff made it official: This six-man ladder match would take place at WrestleMania. The only way to win would be to climb the ladder and retrieve the briefcase hanging high above the ring. Inside the briefcase would be a contract for a WWE Championship at the time of the winner's choosing, which could be cashed in anytime over the next 365 days. 

The match was dubbed the "Money in the Bank" ladder match. 

Who Won the First-Ever Money in the Bank Ladder Match?

Shortly after Jericho's pitch, the match was officially signed, and the competitors in the inaugural Money in the Bank match were set. Shelton Benjamin, Kane, Jericho, Edge, Christian, and Chris Benoit would be the six Superstars to get a date with destiny. 

The match was a brilliant dance that was highlighted by six performers in their prime putting their bodies on the line in a way never-before-seen by pro wrestling crowds. The six Superstars had the crowd in the palm of their hands for the duration of the match as each man pushed the boundaries of safety and common sense with each devastating move performed off a ladder. By the time the dust settled at WrestleMania 21, Edge had walked away from the match bruised, battered, and ultimately victorious:

Of course, the results of the first-ever Money in the Bank ladder match set in motion Edge finally cashing in his title match contract against John Cena and winning his first WWE Championship later that year in one of the most unforgettable moments in pro wrestling history. While Edge's performance during the Money in the Bank match was memorable, the drama surrounding him cashing in his contract on an unsuspecting John Cena turned the Money in the Bank concept into the most exciting idea ever portrayed on WWE television. It was almost a foregone conclusion that the winner of the Money in the Bank match would become the next champion, even if it didn't always happen

The WWE Knew It Had a Hit On Its Hands

Based on the overwhelmingly positive reaction from the WWE Universe, the company quickly realized Chris Jericho's idea of a multi-man ladder match had potential. From WrestleMania 21 onward, the Money in the Bank ladder match would occur at each WrestleMania!

In fact, through 2009, the ladder match would become arguably the most highly-anticipated event at WrestleMania. The match became so successful that it was spun off into its own standalone Premium Live Event starting in 2010, a tradition that continues to this very day.

Over the years, the match type has evolved, though. In modern-day WWE, it's common to see upward of ten Superstars compete in the match at one time. Female WWE Superstars have gotten in on the Money in the Bank action as well. Since 2017, the women's Money in the Bank ladder match has gotten as much recognition as the men's version.

Thanks to the unlikely success of Jericho's original concept, Money in the Bank is an annual event that not only hosts two exciting Money in the Bank ladder matches but other top-tier matchups that would feel right at home at premiere events like WrestleMania and Summerslam. 

For nearly 20 years, a lot has changed throughout WWE, but Money in the Bank cemented itself early on as a timeless tradition that never fails to captivate the WWE Universe. July 1 is bound to bring another round of excitement and the day can't come soon enough! 

You can tune in to Peacock to watch WWE's Money in the Bank on July 1. In the meantime, catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock as well.

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