1 Year Later: Big E Wins Money in the Bank

Big E Wins Money in the Bank A Look Back

When it comes to WWE Superstars that exude positivity, few wear it as a badge of honor as proudly as Big E. The powerhouse of The New Day is just as adept at swiveling his hips and making crowds laugh as he is at effortlessly exerting his authority over his opponents. Over the years, he became one of the most popular wrestlers in the company. Thus, many fans clamored for the opportunity when he would ascend to the top of the company, establishing himself as a world champion. The path toward this goal began one year ago today when Big E won the Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match on July 18, 2021.

Big E, Mr. Money in the Bank

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The Path Toward the Vital Ladder Match

It wasn’t as if Big E was devoid of success prior to 2021’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view event. Since first signing with WWE in 2009, “The Powerhouse of Positivity” amassed various accolades. The NXT Championship, the Intercontinental Championship, and 8 tag team title runs in the company are just a few of his various accomplishments. Furthermore, his popularity skyrocketed when he formed The New Day alongside Xavier Woods and fellow former WWE Champion Kofi Kingston. Together, they became one of the must-see acts in the company; it also didn’t hurt that they were a merchandising machine for the company, elevating their stock further.

By the summer of 2020, however, Big E’s focus shifted. In July, with both Kingston and Woods out of action, E was given the blessing to pursue success as a singles wrestler. This would serve him as well, as he picked up major victories over opponents such as Sheamus and Sami Zayn, the latter of whom he bested for the Intercontinental title. To say that this run was important would be an understatement. It showed that, while he was a successful tag team competitor, he could be just as successful – perhaps if not more so – when standing alone. The following year, he qualified for the Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match. The stage was set: Big E would compete at Money in the Bank, which took place on July 18, 2021, live from Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Big E Wins the Money in the Bank Ladder Match

The Money in the Bank 2021 event was a landmark for professional wrestling at large. In early 2020, the industry was shaken to its core due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, WWE elected to hold future live events without audiences, which eventually gave birth to unique venues such as the ThunderDome. Money in the Bank 2021 marked WWE’s return to events with full crowds and the energy couldn’t have been more palpable.

In the Men’s Money in the Bank contest, SmackDown stars Big E, King Nakamura, Kevin Owens, and Seth Rollins, and Raw stars Ricochet, John Morrison, Riddle, and Drew McIntyre vied for the briefcase suspended above the ring. The briefcase in question marked a title opportunity, as well as a probable title win, at the holder’s choosing. Given the success that E saw throughout his career, as detailed here, he was one of the favorites heading into this contest. If he won, his career could reach heights never seen before.

As has been the case with previous Money in the Bank bouts, this one wasn’t without its chaotic moments. Ricochet and Morrison were the human highlight reels, executing maneuvers that made crowds gasp in surprise. The wily Rollins established a temporary pact with Morrison before immediately betraying “Johnny Drip Drip” himself. McIntyre was dominant in his own right, which came as no surprise given his status as a 2x WWE Champion. However, interference from Jinder Mahal, Veer, and Shanky ensured that “The Scottish Warrior” would not leave Fort Worth with the briefcase.

The match approached its conclusion when Rollins scaled the ladder, the briefcase in his sights. However, Big E caught Rollins with a Big Ending off said ladder, the crowd in attendance on the collective edge of their seats. From there, E scaled the ladder before unhooking the Money in the Bank briefcase, claiming one of the biggest victories during his time in WWE. Finally, after years of toiling and grinding, the fan-favorite powerhouse had the wrestling equivalent of a golden ticket in his possession. The only question that remained was, when would he capitalize on the opportunity?

Big E Wins 2021 Money in the Bank Ladder Match

Following the Money in the Bank Victory

As Mr. Money in the Bank, Big E’s momentum didn’t stop. The first-ever African-American Money in the Bank winner held the briefcase throughout the summer. During this time, he entered a brief feud with Baron Corbin, who stole said briefcase during his period of destitution. This culminated in a match at SummerSlam later that August, with E besting Corbin to reclaim his Money in the Bank contract. Fans didn’t have to wait much longer for the impending cash-in.

On September 13, 2021, via Twitter, Big E announced that he would be cashing in during Monday Night Raw later that evening. It’s important to note that a WWE Championship match between titleholder Bobby Lashley and challenger Randy Orton was already scheduled. Thus, viewers speculated as to whether E’s announcement was legitimate. Did he truly intend to cash in, or was this an instance of mind games on the part of the former powerlifter? The wrestling would have its answer by the end of the night.

Lashley successfully defended the WWE title against Orton in a match that went nearly 14 minutes. Shortly thereafter, Big E stormed the ring, his Money in the Bank briefcase in tow. E was determined to cash in on Lashley, who was not only fatigued from his match before but favoring his knee that he hurt while hitting a Spinebuster on Orton. The cash-in was made official, however, and another world title contest was underway. E was brazen in his cash-in as well, slapping Lashley across the face to begin.

Lashley hit a Spear early on in the match, and while this move put away various opponents in the past, it wasn’t enough to keep E down for the count. Lashley attempted a Dominator, which E was able to avoid. From there, E executed the Big Ending, covering Lashley for the pinfall victory. Finally, after over a decade, Big E became the WWE Champion. The celebration was even sweeter as Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods rushed to the ring, celebrating with their tag team partner, New Day stablemate, and friend. On that night, Monday Night Raw concluded with a happy ending, with many fans and wrestlers alike expressing their glee over the title change. In the history books, it would show that Big E held the WWE Championship.

Big E as WWE Champion

While Big E’s WWE title win was a major moment, the follow-up, in the eyes of many, left more to be desired. Granted, he successfully defended the title against Lashley twice, one of those taking place within a steel cage. He also bested Drew McIntyre at Crown Jewel the following October, not to mention Austin Theory the month after on Raw. However, given how rarely E defended the gold, it felt as though his title reign was an afterthought from a creative standpoint. This was compounded by the fact that Roman Reigns, the Universal Champion on SmackDown, was more prominent on his own show. E and Reigns even squared off in a Survivor Series match this past November, “The Tribal Chief” picking up the victory.

At WWE Day 1, which took place on January 1, 2022, Big E had a mountain of a WWE Championship defense to climb. In a five-way match, E put up the title against Lashley, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, and Brock Lesnar, the latter of whom was pulled from his Universal Championship match with Reigns when the latter tested positive for COVID. Despite a valiant effort, E lost the WWE Championship when he was pinned by Lesnar. With this, E’s reign lasted 110 days. This past March, in an interview with Josh Martinez of Superstar Crossover, E expanded on his title reign. “I wish it would have lasted longer and we would have had that period to produce more dynamic things,” said E. “It’s difficult to latch on to a new champion when, within the first month, they have multiple losses on TV.”

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In Closing

It can’t be stated enough just how important Big E winning the 2021 Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match was. It mattered from a historical standpoint, with E becoming the first African-American competitor to stake claim to the accomplishment. However, it set “The Powerhouse of Positivity” on a path to capture world title gold, no matter how brief his run at the top of Monday Night Raw was. Even so, it’s difficult to look back at his reign and not help but think it could have been much more.

At the time of this writing, Big E is out of action, having suffered a broken neck during a tag team match pitting The New Day against Sheamus and Ridge Holland. In positive news, which is fitting given the subject of this piece, he won’t require surgery. However, his future within the squared circle remains uncertain; will he return to the ring? If he does, how will his wrestling style or approach change, if at all? There’s a strong possibility he may not return to action at all. Whatever the future holds for Big E, no one can take away his pivotal Money in the Bank and WWE Championship victories from him.

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