They say that the original is always the best. And the Inaugural Money In The Bank Ladder match is arguably the best of its kind. You’ll find higher up the list the first Hell in a Cell match and the first Elimination Chamber match; you won’t find any other examples of these gimmick matches. You won’t find another MITB ladder match, either. The impact of the MITB ladder match (and HIAC and the Chamber) has been lost through the gimmick being turned into just another PPV/Special. But take your minds back to the original MITB ladder match, and think of what a spectacle it was to see! It was breathtaking and brutal from start to finish. Other MITB ladder matches have come close to its quality, but for the sheer originality of it all, the Inaugural MITB match can never be beaten.
In the opening five minutes, we see Christian jump off the top rope onto some competitors on the outside; followed by an awesome somersault flip to the outside by Shelton Benjamin; followed by Kane leaping from the top rope onto the rest of the wrestlers! The excitement and quality only increases from that point on. The six wrestlers constantly create high risk moves and high impact attacks; there’s no one wrestler who takes a back seat in the match. Ladders are used to batter other wrestlers in all manner of ways, including a Con-Chair/Ladder-to from Edge and Christian to Kane. It’s a highlight reel from start to finish.
You’d expect only the best from ladder match veterans Edge and Christian, but it’s Benjamin who steals the match. His somersault dive at the beginning is only a taster of his aerial assault. His T-Bone Suplex on Edge from the top of the ladder brings the house down. But as Chris Jericho is perched atop a ladder, Benjamin runs up a ladder positioned in the middle of Jericho’s ladder and clotheslines Jericho off the top! In a match of moments that need to be replayed, that is perhaps the most replayed moment. It’s closely matched by Chris Benoit’s (should I cross out his name?) headbutt off the top of the ladder to a prone Kane! In doing so, he reopens a stitched wound on his forehead and the blood is a stark reminder of the danger that not only he, but all the wrestlers, put themselves through in that match for our entertainment.
Nowadays, MITB matches are over-stuffed spotfests. They usually have eight wrestlers, which is too great a number for suspension of disbelief to occur. When there are two wrestlers fighting in the ring, it’s hard to believe that the other six are too weak to get in the ring. Six is the perfect number for the MITB match. Of course, the first appearance of a gimmick match is always memorable. But the wrestlers make it immortal by putting their careers and lives on the line at almost every point in the match. Like I said before, other MITB matches have come close to this quality, but for sheer uniqueness and high-risk manoeuvres, the original has not been bettered.
VERDICT: 9/10. A complete stunner from start to finish, the Inaugural MITB Ladder match is the original and best. Benjamin’s the star of the match, but that doesn’t take anything away from any of the other competitors. They all contribute to making the match immortal.
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(Click here for my review of #76 Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho, WrestleMania XIX)