Daniel Bryan won the SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder Match

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July 17, 2011

CHICAGO — Eight of SmackDown’s most gifted Superstars entered The Windy City’s Allstate Arena tonight with aspirations of snagging the coveted Money in the Bank briefcase and claiming a guaranteed World Title Match contract good at any time, any place over the next year. They brutalized each other for the opportunity, driving steel into flesh and bone onto concrete, but, in the end, a tenacious Daniel Bryan was the man who walked away — just barely — with the future in the palm of his hands. (PHOTOS)

Bryan’s journey to the top of the ladder was a harrowing one for the young Superstar. Plagued by monsters like Kane, rogues like Wade Barrett, Sheamus and Cody Rhodes and daredevils like Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater and Sin Cara, the submission specialist repeatedly came within a fingertip of snatching the elusive briefcase only to be smashed from the top of the ladder again and again. Still, no matter how many times he was knocked down, Bryan got up and kept on climbing.

The former United States Champion wasn’t the only competitor who took his lumps during the evil encounter. The thrilling Sin Cara — pegged by many as a favorite to win the bout — was taken out of action early after being viciously powerbombed through a steel ladder by the aggressive Sheamus. The impact was so devastating, the masked marvel had to be stretchered away by EMTs.

Kane clears house at Money in the Bank.For all the bumps and bruises that were suffered in this bout, no competitor dished out more punishment than the vicious Kane. The most experienced Superstar in the match, The Big Red Monster grabbed the briefcase at last year’s Money in the Bank and cashed it in that very same night, beating Rey Mysterio to win the World Heavyweight Championship. That trademark dominance was on display tonight as Kane ran roughshod over the competition and nearly won the match again before being stopped by a determined Daniel Bryan.

In fact, at different times throughout the contest, every Superstar looked to be inches away from victory. Former Corre allies Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater tried to recreate their broken trust in an attempt to dominant the competition, but their personal quests to win quickly deteriorated the alliance. The Celtic Warrior climbed as close to the briefcase as anyone, but the Irishman’s ascension came to a sudden end when Kane ruthlessly chokeslammed him onto a ladder.

Brutality like this went on for nearly thirty minutes until Barrett, Rhodes and Bryan all found themselves jockeying for position on the top of a ladder. It was almost a disaster for all three Superstars, but the submission specialist somehow held on, knocking his bitter rival and the former Nexus leader off of the peak before grabbing the coveted Money in the Bank briefcase for himself.

It was a huge moment for the young Superstar, but the bigger moment still awaits him. Can Daniel Bryan successfully “cash in” his contract like every other Money in the Bank winner has done before him? Or will he become the first man to come up short in his quest for World Title glory? Either way, the next 365 days will be very interesting for this would-be World Champion.

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