Money in the Bank Ladder Matches occupy a unique space in WWE programming. Not unlike the Roya Rumble, they both tend to promise good-to-great matches based on match format alone, while also having the potential to yield major ramifications. After all, the winner is entitled to a title shot, and while that typically won’t have WrestleMania implications like the Rumble, it will more often than not result in a title change.
This year’s Money in the Bank Ladder Matches offered their share of surprises, between last-minute replacement Nikki Cross bringing the chaos in the women’s edition and surprise entrant Brock Lesnar changing the landscape upon his arrival in the men’s match. This article takes a look at five details most fans missed from each of these matches.
10 Women’s Money In The Bank Match: The First Face Ms. Money In The Bank
Money in the Bank Is traditionally a heel leaning gimmick. The nature of the concept is to allow a performer to steal a title match whenever he or she chooses and that has most often meant a heel taking advantage of a face who can’t defend him or herself after a hard match. WWE has also toyed with faces turning heel based on their cash-ins, as in the cases of CM Punk in 2010, Daniel Bryan in 2011, and Randy Orton in 2013.
The women’s Money in the Bank is still new, with only two previous winners and cash-ins courtesy of Carmella and Alexa Bliss when each were heels. In Bayley winning the briefcase this year, she became the first female face to do so, not to mention that she maintained her face status for at least the time being in promptly cashing in to take the title off of heel Charlotte Flair.
9 Men’s Money In The Bank Match: Significant NXT Champion Representation
As Andrade and Drew McIntyre went at it during the men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match, they felt like a bit of an odd pairing as fellow heels from opposite brands. NXT fans will remember, however, that it was Andrade who took the NXT Championship off of Drew McIntyre just two years ago.
This odd couple wasn’t the only former NXT Champion representation in the field, as they were joined by Finn Balor. Sami Zayn would have tipped the scales to half the field being former NXT Champs, had he not been taken out earlier in the night, only to be replaced by Brock Lesnar.
8 Women’s Money In The Bank Match: Carmella With Shades Of Ric Flair And Shinsuke Nakamura
In a noteworthy moment of the women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match, Carmella got helped to the back. It wasn’t immediately clear if she were really hurt or if it were a kayfabe situation, but it appears the latter was the case given that she wound up reentering the proceedings to a pop from the live crowd.
This sequence of events was similar to Shinsuke Nakamura’s dramatic entry into the match in 2017 after Baron Corbin had kayfabe incapacitated him. Ric Flair had worked and even more similar spot all the way back at WrestleMania 22’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match. In each instance, the returning hero got a good response of the crowd and helped mix up the action of the match, but failed to actually win upon getting back to the ring.
7 Men’s Money In The Bank Match: Only Two WrestleMania Winners Involved
Both in kayfabe and reality, Money in the Bank is a big opportunity. The briefcase usually translates to a title victory, and at the least tends to mean the holder being involved in a high profile title program.
For as prestigious as this match at least theoretically is, it’s noteworthy that only two of the participants in the men’s match had won at the previous PPV—and the biggest PPV of the year—WrestleMania. Finn Balor beat Bobby Lashley at the Showcase of the Immortals and Baron Corbin pinned Kurt Angle. Meanwhile, Ali and Andrade came up short in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, while Randy Orton, Drew McIntyre, Richochet, and even briefcase winner Brock Lesnar all suffered more direct losses in New Jersey.
6 Women’s Money In The Bank Match: Sonya Deville Calls Back To the Original Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match
One of the biggest knocks on the original Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match was James Ellsworth’s involvement in it as he all but won the match for Carmella. The backlash against that finish—particularly for a landmark match in women’s wrestling—was strong enough to compel WWE to hold a do-over on SmackDown afterward.
In Sonya Deville literally carrying her fallen teammate Mandy Rose up the ladder, WWE recaptured some of the spirit of the Carmella-Ellsworth Money in the Bank collaboration, though without the successful result.
5 Men’s Money In The Bank Match: Setting Up A New Type Of Heel Cash In
Most Money in the Bank cash-ins have occurred when the briefcase holder sneaks in at an opportune time when the champion is beaten down to steal the title. That’s not the case in every instance, however. Rob Van Dam used his opportunity to challenge John Cena in hostile territory at One Night Stand 2006, whereas Cena himself chose to schedule his cash in against CM Punk for the Raw 1000 special. These cash-ins made sense given the face nature of these performers, and not wanting to steal a world title, but rather earn it.
Brock Lesnar is an imposing enough force that him cashing in on a weakened opponent would feel altogether unfair. The prevailing theory, though, is that WWE will use the title opportunity he’s owed to set him up to challenge a champion (probably Seth Rollins) at Super ShowDown.
4 Women’s Money In The Bank Match: The First Horsewoman To Win
Throughout their shared time in NXT, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, and Bayley elevated women’s wrestling in WWE developmental. In different permutations, they feuded over the Women’s Championship, with the promise that they’d elevate women’s wrestling on the main roster in the years ahead.
The narrative largely held up, considering Flair vs. Banks was the first ever women’s main event for a main roster PPV, and Flair vs. Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey became the first women’s match to close a WrestleMania. However, while Flair has consistently been featured toward the top of the division, the road was rockier for Lynch to arrive on top. Meanwhile, though Banks and Bayley each had their moments, they each seemed to slip from top stars to also-rans as years went on.
There was a time when none of the self-proclaimed Horsewomen would seem to need Money in the Bank to chase a title. However, Bayley taking the briefcase felt right and necessary for her character, Unlike Carmella and Alexa Bliss, previous briefcase winners who had been NXT also-rans, Bayley was coming back to the top.
3 Men’s Money In The Bank Match: Brock Lesnar Joins Sheamus In An Elite Club
Brock Lesnar has been to the tip-top of WWE quite a few times, including capturing six world titles to date. Little less impressive, Lesnar has collected top honors away from title belts. There are a number of other men who have won the Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank. However, what if we add on King of the Ring into the conversation? It’s another top tier accolade that in some senses was a predecessor to Money in the Bank, as a post-Mania, big push gimmick that’s annual continuity ended before the inception of Money in the Bank?
The only other man to have won this unique triple crown of non-title honors is Sheamus. Lesnar is a historically important wrestler, whose kayfabe accomplishments are hard to compete with, but this is one more feather in his cap.
2 Women’s Money In The Bank Match: Natalya Entrusted To Facilitate The Biggest Spot
The women’s Money in the Bank match was uneven in its execution. There were some strong displays of athleticism and brutality, but also a lot of wrestling that looked very careful, underscoring that most of the women involved had little to no experience wrestling in ladder match scenarios.
The biggest spot of the match saw Ember Moon hit an Eclipse from a ladder that had been positioned at ringside. The person taking the move was Natalya, which made perfect sense. She was the most experienced wrestler in the match, not to mention that she was physically bigger than anyone else involved, making her the ideal choice to trust as a base for this huge spot.
1 Men’s Money In The Bank Match: Braun Strowman’s Absence Is Calculated
Braun Strowman lost his spot in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match on the Raw before the PPV, in a match with Sami Zayn. Zayn was subsequently incapacitated earlier in the Money in the Bank PPV to be taken out of contention himself. The early implication was that Strowman was responsible, though he denied it.
We’re left to believe that Brock Lesnar was actually responsible, though that does leave kayfabe questions as to how he convinced management to let him in the match, and particularly to join in over eighteen minutes into the action. Nonetheless, in retrospect, it does make some sense why Strowman was, in real life, removed from the match. His participation would have shifted the dynamics of the match and diminished Lesnar’s sheer aura as a monster when he stormed the ring. Moreover, it would have invited Strowman and Lesnar to feud again in ways that WWE doesn’t seem interested in revisiting at this point, given the limited chemistry between the two men and WWE’s seeming reluctance to push Strowman all the way to the top.