By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Here on WrestleMania Recall, I will be ranking my top 31 favorite matches in WWE WrestleMania history. A new installment will be posted every day in the month of March, culminating with my No. 1 favorite match on Thursday, March 31st, mere days before WrestleMania 32. Each article will offer an in-depth look at each match and an analysis of why it is among my favorites.
Remember when I said that fans didn't know they were witnessing history at WrestleMania 2000 during the first ever Triangle Tag Team Ladder match? Well, that was the case with this contest as well. The Money in the Bank Ladder match, which made its debut at WrestleMania 21, was merely WWE's way of getting everyone on the card that year. Chris Jericho I believe revealed in his second book that the match was originally going to be for actual money, but a future world title opportunity seemed to make more sense.
It was a logical prize because everyone involved had a realistic chance of winning. Each of the six competitors, which included Jericho, Chris Benoit, Kane, Shelton Benjamin, Edge and Christian, had either already been world champion or were on the brink of becoming world champion. Not to mention throwing ladders into the mix makes any match more exciting and that all of the aforementioned Superstars had excellent chemistry together, so it was the perfect storm.
Every year, it gets harder for the combatants in the contest to top what they did the year prior, much less the inaugural installment. I have a handful of favorite Money in the Bank Ladder matches, some of which have occurred at the pay-per-view of the same name in recent years, but among them is this bout from WrestleMania 21. Again, no one knew what to expect, but it's safe to say that the expectations of every fan in attendance that night were shattered.
It's only appropriate we start with the MVP of this match: Shelton Benjamin. One year earlier, he was sent packing to Raw in the 2004 WWE Draft and immediately made an impact by knocking off Triple H in his debut match for the brand. From there, he captured the Intercontinental Championship and brought the belt to WrestleMania with him. Although his mic skills were virtually nonexistent, he let his awe-inspiring in-ring acumen speak for him, as seen in the first-ever Money in the Bank matchup.
At one point, he raced up a ladder that was being held up by Jericho and attempted to grab the opportunistic briefcase as it hung from the ceiling, but to no avail. Regardless, it earned him a well-deserved round of applause from the Los Angeles crowd. Chris Benoit was another Superstar who shined in this match through his hard-hitting style and willingness to do anything to emerge victorious.
Speaking of whom, his arm was incapacitated early on by Kane after getting it smashed in the rungs of a ladder. These type of matches don't normally feature much storytelling, but this was the one exception. Benoit's limp arm played an important role in the match because as he ascended the ladder to claim the contract, Edge targeted the injured arm with a steel chair. As Benoit came crashing down to the mat, The Rated-R Superstar took advantage of the opening and claimed possession of the briefcase.
That, to me, was the first time we saw shades of the Ultimate Opportunist character Edge would later become. He went on to hold the Money in the Bank contract for another nine months before cashing it on John Cena at New Year's Revolution 2006 to capture his premier WWE Championship. When you talk about the greatest Money in the Bank Ladder matches of all-time, you'd be hard-pressed to find many better than this one. It also compliments what was a rather star-studded WrestleMania 21 card filled with future main event players, including Edge.
SEE ALSO: "WrestleMania Recall, Match #21: Evolution vs. The Rock 'n' Sock Connection, WrestleMania 20"
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