Money in the Bank has become one of WWE’s biggest and most important events of the year.
That was doubly true in 2020 when the MITB contracts won respectively by Otis and Asuka went on some incredibly strange journeys. On the night they got their hands on those briefcases, no one could have predicted exactly what would have happened next.
But 2020 was a highly irregular year for the world as well as wrestling. Fans knew things were going to be different across the board. Fortunately, that all led to more than a couple of championship reigns fans thought they might never see.
MITB is born
The first Money in the Bank ladder match took place at WrestleMania 21 in 2005. The essential premise was that wrestlers would fight over a briefcase with a contract to face a world champion of the winner’s choosing at any time hanging above the ring. All the wrestlers needed to do was get it to win.
Naturally, nothing is ever that simple in WWE. The result was a war between several superstars as each one of them tried to climb the ladder and get the contract. Since then, MITB matches have led to some really memorable moments over the years.
Using the contract at any time literally means at any time. Seth Rollins infamously used his MITB contract in the middle of a WrestleMania 31 match between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. He became that champion that night because of that savvy play.
In 2010, WWE introduced a MITB-branded pay-per-view and moved the match off of WrestleMania. Then in 2017, the Women’s Money in the Bank match was added to the card, leading to another contract floating around the WWE.
MITB in 2020
Because of the pandemic, the wrestling business changed dramatically in 2020. WrestleMania 36 became a two night event with no audience that broadcast from the WWE Performance Center. It featured Drew McIntyre finally realizing his dream and becoming the WWE Champion.
A month later, WWE held the 2020 edition of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. The MITB match was pre-taped at WWE Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. It featured both the men and the women fighting their way through the building for their respective contracts.
The match produced two surprise winners. On the women’s side of the equation, the winner was Asuka. She certainly deserved the victory but fans had gotten used to WWE all but ignoring her. Everyone was excited to see her win, though what came next was even less expected.
After Asuka won, Becky Lynch appeared on Raw to announce her pregnancy. She also revealed that the briefcase actually contained the Raw Women’s Championship, which Lynch relinquished to take time off. By winning the MITB match, Asuka had actually won the title. What a twist!
Asuka has spent the majority of the year since then as the Raw Women’s Champion, though she did briefly lose it to Sasha Banks over the summer. Asuka regained the title shortly after Banks won it, and has continued her reign unabated ever since.
The strange odyssey of the Men’s MITB contract
While the twist of the 2020 Women’s MITB contract was a surprise to say the least, the journey of the 2020 Men’s MITB contract has been downright absurd, starting with one unexpected entrant in the match.
When fans heard that Otis was going to participate, they were surprised. He’s generally liked by fans, but he’s not someone people would expect to see in a ladder match of any kind, let alone one with such high stakes. They were even more surprised when he won the match because another competitor dropped the briefcase.
Reputedly, this decision was made by Vince McMahon as he was a big proponent Otis at that point. Unfortunately, reality set in quickly, and the novelty of the situation wore off. It became apparent that WWE had no intention of putting a big belt on Otis.
The WWE built a storyline of The Miz trying to get the contract away from Otis. It worked in the end after Tucker stabbed Otis in the back. The sad part of capriciously giving Otis the MITB contract was the destruction of Heavy Machinery for no reason, leaving Tucker in catering.
The Miz then spent the next few months mainly teasing then-WWE Champion Drew McIntyre with the contract. He almost lost it at one point on a bad cash-in but was saved by John Morrison cashing the title shot in for him.
After making a deal with MVP at Elimination Chamber 2021, Bobby Lashley jumped McIntyre at the end of the pay-per-view. Once the champ was softened up, Miz appeared with the MITB contract, cashed it in, and became the WWE Champion.
The big MITB twist
As it turned out, the biggest swerve was yet to come, as MVP and Miz’s arrangement stipulated that Miz had to give Bobby Lashley a title shot immediately. Miz successfully ducked him, two times in one night, but Shane McMahon eventually forced the issue.
On March 1, 2021, Bobby Lashley defeated The Miz to become the WWE Champion for the first time. It’s absurd that it took nearly 20 years to get Lashley to that point, as he has been main event championship material for most of his career. But, as they say, better late than never.
While the Women’s MITB situation was odd, it was at least sorted out quite quickly. But the journey of the Men’s MITB contract took a lot longer. It changed hands, caused the end of a fan-favorite tag team and resulted in a new, well-deserving champion being crowned. What a unique year for the longstanding concept, one we may never see again!