Seventeen years ago, WWE was attempting to develop a new match format that would creatively drive storylines forward and present a platform to create new stars.
Since 1988, the Royal Rumble offered an opportunity each January for WWE superstars to grab the proverbial brass ring and launch their careers into a new stratosphere. The winner of the 30-man battle royal was guaranteed a title shot at WrestleMania. The Rumble was the sole event on the WWE calendar that ensured a wrestler would vie for the grandest prize in sports entertainment. That remained until April 3, 2005, when the inaugural Money in the Bank ladder match was unveiled at WrestleMania 21 at Staples Center (now Crypto.com Arena) in Los Angeles.
Seventeen years later, Money in the Bank is far more than just a launching pad for rising stars in the company. Since 2010, when WWE introduced the annual Money in the Bank pay-per-view, it's been a staple of the promotion's shows and has slowly but surely grown into a fifth tentpole event. Earning the moniker Mr. or Miss Money in the Bank has become one of the most tried-and-true kingmakers for a wrestler's career.
The concept: Climb the ladder and grab a briefcase dangling above the ring. Inside that briefcase is a contract that guarantees its owner a WWE championship opportunity at a time of their choosing for up to a year.
On Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (8 p.m. ET on Peacock), seven men and seven women will compete in separate matches with the briefcase on the line and the chance to become the next WWE champion. The success rate for the Money in the Bank winner in that eventual title challenge: 85%.
Before they step into the ring and climb the ladder, ESPN pulls back the curtain on the making of the first Money in the Bank match. The participants in that first endeavor: Edge, Chris Benoit, Christian (with Tomko), Chris Jericho, Kane and Shelton Benjamin.
Interviews -- edited for clarity and brevity -- with Edge, Jericho, Kane, Shelton Benjamin and WWE executive Michael Hayes tell the story of that first MITB match at WrestleMania 21 (Christian's remarks are from a 2009 ESPN interview).
Part 1: The Idea
Chris Jericho: From a storyline standpoint, we always say I invented it, but from a reality standpoint, if it was a song, I co-wrote it with Brian Gerwitz, who was the head writer at the time. We were just looking for a WrestleMania match. It was one of those years, there was nothing really going on for a lot of us, which is kind of a drag. There were a few ideas thrown around. One of them was a three-way submission match between me and Edge and Chris Benoit. That's lame. Submission matches are hard to begin with, and it's a three-way submission match, and Edge didn't really have a submission. And then Kane didn't have anything to do, and Shelton didn't have anything to do. Same for Christian. Just a lot of fairly big-name guys that didn't really have much to do.
Shelton Benjamin: It was Jericho's idea. But at the same time, Edge is a pro wrestling genius. Between the two of them, that's what really made the match what it was. I would definitely credit Jericho with the invention, and Edge with the innovations.
Jericho: I remember I was driving in New York City, probably going to a show at The Garden. I said, what if we do some kind of a ladder match where the winner gets a title shot the next night on Raw? And Brian said, well, what if we do it where you can cash it in for a year? At any point in the next year you can have a title shot whenever you want it.
I don't think it was really created at the time where you could just cash it in in five seconds. That kind of evolved. So, Brian and I honed it, and then Brian pitched it to Vince and he called me back and said Vince loves it. He said the only thing that Vince insists on is that the contract has to be in a briefcase. All right, if that's what he wants, put it in a f---ing briefcase.
Kane: I think the most important element is still the briefcase with the contract in it because the storyline dynamic that was driving everything was the chance at the WWE championship. And also the fact that you could cash it in any time.
Jericho: It's one of those things where if it was just a piece of paper on a pole, it wouldn't really be all that impressive. That was typical Vince where he sees everything a little bit differently than everybody else. Suddenly a new merchandise item is created.
Michael PS Hayes: I thought it was a really, really cool concept. I was one of the producers of the match, one of the guys that was responsible for putting it all together, which, considering the guys that were involved in there, it wasn't that hard to do really. A lot of them were very, very good ladder match people and others were just possessed with really good athleticism which comes into play hugely in ladder matches.
Kane: At first I wasn't thrilled to be part of this frankly, because I was like, I'm just gonna go out there and kind of be the sore thumb. But I got built up as the biggest threat in the match because Kane is able to pretty much dominate and physically chokeslam everybody. So once I got over my initial, 'Oh man, what can I do off of a ladder?' and realized all the tools that we had and where I was being positioned, I think that the way that it was built, Kane would've been the betting favorite to win the match. So that, of course, sold me on it.
Benjamin: By being in this match I get to appear on WrestleMania, so of course I'm overjoyed. That was gonna be my first outing alone. My previous two WrestleManias I had been in the tag team division with Charlie Haas. Those were great, but this is my first time out on my own. So, whatever I do was on me. So I was excited. I was looking forward to it. Because I had such trust in the guys around me, I was a kid in the candy store. I couldn't have asked for a better position.
Edge: There was some convincing for me to be part of this match. It was just sold to me as, 'Hey, we got this ladder match and it'll be a briefcase over top and six guys and the winner has a contract that he can go for the world heavyweight title anytime within a year.' Explained to me that way it wasn't a great sales pitch. And I went, 'Nah, I'm good.'
I truly took the mindset and I said, if this is my only way onto 'Mania this year, I don't need to be on 'Mania. I'll get on 'Mania next year. For whatever reason, I don't know why I was so steadfast on that, like, a ladder match again? I go from ladder match, ladder match to I'm in a match for a shampoo endorsement and then I have two years off from a broken neck. And I'm back in a ladder match again. So it just felt like I hadn't made any kind of traction in that time. Not only that, I got a double fusion in my neck. By that point, ladder matches probably aren't the healthiest thing for my neck.
Hayes: I tried to at least give Edge what I thought were the positives of being in that match. And obviously Edge winning -- it may have played a role in his final decision. Jericho, he probably might have been a front-runner to take it all, but the fact that it was his idea, I think negated that from happening.
Jericho: Of course, I would've wanted to win the match. It just wasn't in the cards. Vince wanted Edge to win.
Edge: The concept of even cash in anytime, anywhere -- like none of that was talked about initially. That to me was the key selling point because now, that makes it really interesting. Now it's not just, I challenge John Cena and it will take place at the Royal Rumble. When they told me anytime, anywhere that's when I got sold.
Jericho: The funny thing is, Edge was angry about it. He thought it was a dumb idea. He didn't like it. I think he believed that he had done too many ladder matches, and I was like, well you're winning, so shut up and just deal with it.
Hayes: I think Edge was very concerned about his reputation going forward. Because obviously Edge and Christian, the Hardys and their infamous ladder matches and TLC matches, that's a lot to live up to. And with that many people in the match and well, the more people there are then the bigger the spotlight gets, and sometimes that's not a good thing. And he just wanted to come out shining.
Jericho: The Money in the Bank name was Brian's idea. You put your championship opportunity in the bank, so you've got like cash in your bank. And I think that's where cashing it in comes from.
I don't think there was another multi-man ladder match where every man was for himself. It's WrestleMania, you wanna put on the best show possible and have the biggest match possible. Well, how about the spectacle of a six-way ladder match?
Part 2: Planning and challenges
Hayes: Once Edge decided to go all in, I always remember he came up to me and said, 'How can I win this and get heat out of it? That was a major concern for him. I said, 'Just take it away from somebody they wanna see win because you know they don't wanna see you win it.' And that's where we came up with the idea of building the match around Benoit, who at the time was a huge fan favorite.
You need to first figure out what the end result is so you can work backwards. Now we know who's gonna win, so that's where we're gonna go. And everybody who's not going to win will then probably start trying to figure out how they can get a spotlight in this thing and what crazy stuff could be done that will be remembered for a long time.
Our planning starts with just getting the guys around the ring and talking. After a little bit of talking, 30 to 60 minutes, we'll start putting ladders in the ring and looking at this and looking at that, and the possibilities of spots that's in their head. Can it actually morph into reality? Sometimes you go, 'Oh, no, that's not gonna work' and you delete it from the process. It's a total team effort because they all need to be on the same page.
Kane: So really for us it was like, OK, how can we make this different and unique and something that would stand out in people's minds?
Benjamin: During the planning process of this match, I actually wasn't there for most of it because I was attending one of the video game championships. So I ended up coming late and by the time I got there, all the other guys had already been going over ideas.
My initial thought going into it was I didn't even know what to do really. That was gonna be my second ladder match.
Edge: It was trying to come up with some really creative, innovative ways to highlight some people and I knew I was winning this thing so that was really the highlight for my character. And also my character was a bad guy, so I didn't really need to try and do a whole lot, except just hang in there and survive like that cockroach that keeps climbing.
I remember even in talking about it, Christian, Jericho and I, and we were like, got this idea, bet Shelton can do that. And then we'd get ahold of Shelton and go, 'Hey, can you do this?' And he'd be like, 'yeah, sure.' OK, great.
So Shelton's doing this and this and this and it became almost like this video game. It's like, OK, what can we come up with that Shelton can do. And luckily he could do it.
Benjamin: I was the young guy and just based on my abilities I would say Edge and Jericho kind of treated me like I was a videogame character. They would come up with a spot and they ask me 'Can you do this? And I'd say, 'Yeah, yeah, sure.' They were like, 'Can we see?'
I would real quick just do it cause we were in a practice ring. It was pretty effortless on my part as far as coming up with ideas. I was a young guy. I was just following the leaders. I felt like we were like kids on a playground, and we were betting who could do what. Only I was the only one doing any of these things.
Edge: I really thought that Edge just needed to do just enough to stay in the thing and then come outta nowhere at the end, really cheaply, and take the thing because then to me there's heat out of that. If I try and do all the really, really fancy stuff, A) I'm not gonna do it as good as Shelton, and B) Then, well, he kind of deserved to win that to me.
Hayes: Our job as producers, especially on a match like that is safety, first and foremost. Make sure everything is as safe as it can possibly be. And obviously there's a lot of variables there with those ladders. You just don't know what's gonna happen. People will go to do these unbelievable spots and all of a sudden they slip or the ladder breaks, or there's just so many variables that you have to be ready for. Your main objective when you're producing the Money in the Bank match, or any match, is safety for the competitors.
Edge: Ladder matches take years off your career. And I was in a lot of 'em, and they did take years off my career. So I was right about that.
Hayes: It's quite the challenge to tell some guy that's 250, 275 pounds, what you're seeing and what you want them to do with their body and their health. They have to be on board for it to work. The biggest thing is getting people on board and making them feel comfortable with what you're trying to achieve.
Christian: It's a risk-reward type of match, with the risks being the ladders and the unknown with different guys wrestling different styles and who are different sizes and speeds. Then you add in tables and whatever else might come into play. Another huge risk in a match like this is one wrong turn, and you could seriously end your career.
Kane: Those matches are not my forte. I'm not the Hardy Boys, I'm not Edge and Christian. I'm not gonna be able to go out there and do any high-flying stuff that people can be like 'Oh my gosh.' The best I'd be able to do is jump off the ladder or jump off the top rope or something like that -- choke slam someone off the ladder. That was kind of my concern is just my character and my skills in the ring did not translate to a match like that.
Christian: I wouldn't want to be a 400-pound guy falling off a ladder, that's for sure.
Hayes: You'll find a lot of mistakes in those kinds of matches because they're just too unpredictable. The ladders that may not be responding or doing exactly what you intended to do with them. A lot of times they'll break prior to you wanting them to be damaged, and you have to be able to work on the fly because no matter how great you lay one out, it's not going to go to script a hundred percent. There's no way.
Christian: With the TLC, you're throwing in tables and chairs, but you never know what things come into play with Money in the Bank. I think Money in the Bank is actually more dangerous because there are more bodies flying around.
Kane: The cool thing was that of course working with all the people that were in the match, they were able to figure out stuff that I could do that would make everybody look good and make sense.
Benjamin: There are serious danger elements involved. There's a reason why certain things go well and why they worked in that match. That was all Edge, Christian, Jericho, Kane. I was just the lucky recipient of their experience. I was high flying and doing all these crazy moves, so they played to my strengths.
Hayes: I don't want anybody to get hurt. I'm always sweating bullets because at the end of the day if somebody gets hurt, it's probably gonna be on you, or you at least have to answer for it. That's probably the biggest surprise is that nobody did get hurt.
The toughest part is keeping the truck ahead of the game. If you know you got a big spot coming, you can't tell it to 'em as it's happening, because then they're gonna miss it. You've gotta give them ample time to say, 'Hey, look here in a minute, this is gonna happen.' Make sure you cover all those great spots and that way they'll have all the great replays.
Introductions are made with Kane coming out last. As Kane makes his way down the entrance ramp, all of the other participants attack him.
Hayes: Kane did a remarkable job for somebody that shouldn't be in a ladder match. I thought we did really well by starting the match pretty hot, and everybody got something in as Kane made his entrance.
Kane: I was the big guy, the monster. A lot of it turned into keeping Kane down and finding different ways to do that. I think the action was really well done.
The bell rang as Jericho hit Christian in the face with a ladder. After a quick spurt of offense from Jericho, Jericho, Christian, Benjamin and Kane took turns jumping over the ropes or off the turnbuckle onto their opponents on the floor outside the ring.
Shelton: As a fan, when you watch that match, you see nonstop action. As a performer, you see me run in, do a spot and about less than a minute later, someone else is doing something; I'm on the floor. So, I watched more than half of that match. So the wear and tear was actually less, partly because there were so many participants.
Kane stopped Benoit's attempt to climb and slammed his arm in between a ladder repeatedly. He was then attacked by Christian and Edge.
Kane: Did Edge and Christian do a ladder conCHAIRto on me? That's probably what I remember the most. Just a cool and a different way of doing that and something that's believable to essentially incapacitate Kane.
Benjamin then became the star of the match.
Benjamin: I gave Edge a T-bone off the top of the ladder, and quite frankly, I just wouldn't have asked anyone to put their body on the line like that. That was his idea.
Jericho: When Shelton Benjamin runs up the ladder that he placed as a ramp and then clotheslines me off the top of the other ladder, which is a spot that I came up with, I took the bump to the floor. As I was on the floor, I looked up at Adam Sandler, who was with Rob Schneider. Sandler was cheering, screaming and yelling. And I said to myself, what a way to make a living and started laughing.
Benjamin: When I did it and the crowd went crazy, I remember landing thinking, 'Wow, that got a much bigger reaction than I expected.'
We built in certain safety precautions. There's a reason why Christian had gotten knocked down and was under the ladder, holding that ladder in place when I ran up it because obviously ladders bounce, they bend. It could have been bouncing under my feet, but there was Christian who was already under that ladder holding the ladder in place so that when I ran up it, it didn't slip, didn't fall. It didn't bounce out from under me.
So those are safety precautions that people don't see, but the way that precaution was put into place was doing the match. It was one situation that put him in a position to be a safety net for the next position.
Hayes: That was awesome. You cannot discount having those kinds of guys in that match. Christian has always been really, really good, but he's very, very creative, too. As is Edge, of course.
As Benjamin tries for the briefcase he's confronted by Christian, and then Kane. Kane chokeslams him and his leg becomes tangled in the top rope as he dangles suspended upside down.
Benjamin: That was not at all on purpose. I was supposed to go straight to the floor. And when we went up, I don't know how my foot got caught. Glenn was right there to try to get me free, but I had no idea what had happened. That was 100% an accident.
Kane: Often when you have stuff like all the ladders in the ring, the dynamic of the ring and your positioning changes. And things that normally wouldn't happen do, and you have to be very cognizant of that.
Benjamin: It happened in a flash. The only thing that I remember when I realized I was caught by whoever was on the floor, they grabbed the rope and started pulling it down, which they were pulling the wrong rope. They were trying to get me loose, but instead, because they were pulling the rope down, it was only making it tighter.
Hayes: Kudos to Kane for having the presence of mind and the awareness to call an ad lib and make it work.
Kane: What's really neat with someone like Shelton is something can get kind of messed up and he'll actually figure out a way to make it even better than would've been otherwise.
As Benjamin was untangled by the referee, Tomko became a key factor in the match.
Benjamin: People forget there was actually a silent seventh participant because Travis Tomko, who was Christian's bodyguard at the time, was involved in that match, and it kills me that people mention the guys officially in the match, but if you go back and watch, Tomko took a lot of bumps, and he did a lot in that match. So I think that he needs to be given the credit.
He put Christian on his shoulders and started climbing the ladder with him. That was a huge moment for him. And that was a huge moment for the match.
Edge: The good thing about that is you have six bodies that can keep the action moving and still sell everything properly. So I remember Christian getting pushed off the ladder, basically into this flying cross body to the floor and taking out Tomko. It was so high and crazy looking. But then you have five other talent to cycle through before he has to get back up. So you don't throw it away. So it still means something. That can make some really fun aspects to a match because it just keeps moving along without having to slow down.
Benoit, selling an arm injury, performs a headbutt off the top of the ladder onto Kane and stitches from his forehead pop out. According to Jim Ross, he entered the match with 25 stitches above his right eye. He starts bleeding profusely.
Hayes: It was just something that happened during the course of the match. He would get busted open a lot just because of his tenacity, and I guess his love of physicality. So that was nothing unusual.
Benoit climbs and knocks Kane off the ladder. With nobody else in sight, he reaches up for the briefcase. Fans are on their feet cheering ... then Edge runs in and hits Benoit's injured arm with a chair.
Hayes: We tried to paint the picture that Benoit had crashed and burned and would be out of the match only to rise from the ashes. And then for Edge to take a chair, which just seemed like a real s---ty thing to do, and pop him on the arm that we damaged during the course of the match and go off and win it. It worked really well.
Edge: What was very cool, I remember I was climbing up the ladder to grab the briefcase and I looked down and I saw Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Billy Corgan, frontman for Smashing Pumpkins and music producer Rick Rubin, standing up in the front row. And I think they were beside Adam Sandler. They're all cheering, and I just went, 'What, what, wow!' For a music guy, that was pretty damn cool.
And it was kind of hard to get the briefcase off the hook.
Kane: When Edge used a chair to win the match, the idea was, you have all this stuff, and he still has to cheat to win. And I thought it was pulled off perfectly. And you had everybody working so hard, the good guys and the bad guys, but we're still kind of following the rules of the match. And then he basically cheats to win. Wrestling psychology wise, that's the best thing that could have happened. As far as his character and where that was going, he basically outsmarted everybody by taking a shortcut.
Edge: I want it to be at the end where you go, man, this guy did not deserve that. That to me is far more compelling than Edge running up the ladders and diving off and doing all of that stuff. Like you have to do a couple of things, don't get me wrong, but to me in order to really get some heat off of that, I had to come at it differently. I wanted them booing as that briefcase was being taken down.
Hayes: That is the funnest thing I do as a producer -- lead the audience one way and then shock the s--- out of 'em and go a different way. They really wanted to see Benoit get over the hump and be the guy. They really thought they were getting it here. And they didn't.
Part 4: Aftermath and Legacy
Hayes: You don't have to look over to see how Vince is feeling about the match. He'll let you know over the headset. I remember he was pretty impressed with it. He was kind of like all of us, just hoping that nobody got hurt because there were some unbelievable bumps that they took.
Shelton: When we came back through Gorilla, I believe they were like 'Good job' and shaking hands. I think even Vince might have stood up in Gorilla and clapped. But it was all a group celebration. And we were celebrating with Edge cause he got the win that night. Everybody was happy.
Kane: You had a bunch of people doing what they did best. No one had any idea what was gonna happen at any point. And of course you did have a lot of big bumps and a lot of great stunts and those sort of things. So I think that it brought everything you possibly could have for that show.
The overall feeling was the thing had been great and had been done about as well as we could have done it at the time. It was one of those things that at that point, you knew that it wasn't gonna be a one-off, that they were gonna keep on doing the Money in the Bank match, which was the coolest thing out of the whole deal.
Jericho: I take great pride because had that first match not gone as well as it did, the company and Vince might have said, that's enough of that one and let's move on to the next one. But it turned out great. It is something that I think people look forward to every year and there's been so many combinations of ways to do it. The women have one too now.
I think I've probably been in six or seven of the damn things. I don't think I've ever won one of them. I might even have the most appearances in the Money in the Bank match ever.
I just saw that New Japan Pro Wrestling had some kind of a briefcase thing, so it's not just a WWE thing. Now, it's kind of a worldwide pro wrestling trope, where if you want a briefcase, you must carry it with you for that year until you cash it in.
Edge: I think it was just one of those kinds of visceral reactions where you go, 'Wow, that really worked.' My character had been around eight years by that point, and that sell-by date could have already run its course. By eight years, if you haven't won the world heavyweight championship, chances are, you're not going to. So the fact that far into my career with the company I did, and did it with this thing, I feel like it was kind of my last chance to really try and grab this brass ring they always talk about. And then when I heard the reaction and felt it, I was like OK, that was something special.
Kane: When we did the first one as a blank slate, the imagination was the only constraint that we had. The problem is as you go further along, it becomes harder because people have already seen it once. And I'm constantly amazed at how the WWE superstars are able to keep reinventing stuff and to do things that we would've never even thought of.
Shelton: I haven't watched it in a while. At the time, I probably watched it every other week. I've watched it at least 50 times.
Kane: I don't know if I watched it 50 times, but I could never -- and Undertaker's like this, too -- I can never watch matches with everybody else there because I critique myself way too much. I wouldn't have watched it immediately afterwards with everybody sitting around at catering or whatever. I would've had to watch it when I had some privacy.
Edge: I just don't really watch that much period. So it's one of those deals, like you did it, you lived it, there's only so much to watch it back. If I do it's to go, OK, what could I improve? But other than that, it's kind of like, OK, that's gone, onto the next chapter.
Jericho: It was a very successful night. It's always been my way, if something isn't working or you're not happy with something, well get off your ass and figure it out. I'm happy with the fact we created something out of nothing and we made something successful. And that's what you gotta do in wrestling, in all businesses. Create, think, be original, be unique and make it work.
Now it's become one of those things where it's not just putting a bunch of guys that don't have anything going on into this match. Now it's like, let's put some top guys in there. Let's make guys compete for it where there's a Money in the Bank qualifying match. It's always a lot of fun and you know, there is an art form to it. So, the more Money in the Bank matches you're in, the more different ideas that you have to keep it unique and original and exciting, which is the most important thing.
Benjamin: It was a new concept back then. It was an experiment being played out in front of the audience. So, we could have gone out there and had one of the worst matches in WWE history and they never bring it back. Or we could have gone out there and done exactly what we did, create something new and 15, 20 years, the match is still going on. When was the last time you saw a Punjabi Prison match?
Hayes: There's a reason for that. Let's pray and hope we don't see anymore.
Edge: I carried that briefcase everywhere with me. Like it was my carry-on, and I just started putting my passport in it. My pen, my laptop. They wanted me to carry it everywhere. I was like fine, I'm gonna use it for my stuff then.
And at first it was like this cheap leather one. But then pretty quickly, I think by the next week, they gave me the Halliburton.
It had dents all over it. There was one dent in the corner from Shawn Michaels' head. There was a dent across the other side from Kane's head. Like this Halliburton was beat up, and it was beat up from people's heads because you swing that thing, your hands are sweaty and slippery and it'd get outta control sometimes. And you'd end up whacking a couple people.
These days the briefcase is in the gym. Anything wresting related is in the gym. You wouldn't know Beth and I are both wrestlers from coming into our house, unless you walk in the gym.
Benjamin: I believe as a pro wrestler, yes, you want to win championships. Yes, you want to be successful. But whatever you do, you want to make an impact and you want to be remembered. And I think the first Money in the Bank and the ones after helped me make an impact. And it makes me remembered fondly by the fans. So, if I retired today, I can look back at my body of work and know that people really love this. People enjoyed this. And I had the time of my life doing it.
Jericho: When we created Money in the Bank, little did we know that it would end up becoming an annual event that has its own name. So, it is part of the legacy of WWE, and it's part of the legacy of Chris Jericho.
It's a match I created that never existed before. I take great pride in that. It's pretty funny because there's a Money in the Bank playset. There's also an Ambrose Asylum playset. There's also a Festival of Friendship playset. Three playsets that were written or co-written by Chris Jericho for gimmicks that never existed prior to that. I guess if there's a legacy -- at least the toy companies believe there is.
The first cash-in
Edge held the Money in the Bank contact for 280 days before he finally found the perfect opportunity to cash in the contract. John Cena had just retained the WWE championship in an Elimination Chamber match in the main event of New Year's Revolution.
Cena's face was a crimson mask when Vince McMahon walked out and said,"Don't go anywhere. Nobody goes anywhere. This night is not over. Raise the cage."
The chamber was lifted as Vince announced "This individual is cashing in his Money in the Bank privilege." Suddenly, Edge's music hit, and he handed the briefcase to Vince before barreling toward the ring with Lita by his side.
Cena was still writhing around on the mat with blood all over his face when Edge attacked Cena with a series of punches before hitting him with a Spear. Cena kicked out before Edge hit him with one more Spear for the three-count and his first WWE championship.
Edge: I'm pretty sure John felt like he'd been in a few street fights after that 'cause I was pretty amped up. The only thing I thought, after having won the briefcase and having held it that whole time, as a heel character, it made sense to cash in in a very cheap way. And I love that it kept that opportunity open because I could get some serious heat off that. Because if you cash it in when the champ is beat down, now you're a vulture.
I just remember thinking this is what I worked for. Every year in the industry to that point, that's what I worked for.