Four champs, one contract: Tracing the WWE Title history of Cena, Jericho, Big Show and Kane
For the first time ever, one of the Money in the Bank Ladder Matches includes only former WWE Champions competing for the coveted prize. John Cena, Chris Jericho, Big Show and Kane will battle it out on pay-per-view on July 15 with a WWE Championship contract hanging in the balance.
The unique twist to this already unpredictable battle definitely adds an extra element of intrigue. All four deserving contenders are hungry for another opportunity to capture the WWE Title, and that hunger should drive them to do whatever it takes to grab hold of the Money in the Bank briefcase.
One Superstar craves a remarkable 11th WWE Title reign, one is looking for his third, and two others are aiming for their first WWE Titles in more than a decade. Find out where each of the competitors stand as we trace their past triumphs in this WWE Championship history primer. ( PLAYLIST: WATCH THEIR WWE TITLE VICTORIES)
Number of WWE Title reigns: 10
Last time he won a WWE Title: Sept. 18, 2011 – Night of Champions
The gold lowdown: No current Superstar has touched championship gold more times than John Cena. In the last seven years of his WWE career, he's amassed an incredible 10 WWE Championships, none more special than his very first championship victory against JBL at WrestleMania 21. That reign, which lasted a whopping 280 days, was the beginning of a special run for The Champ, one that has included successful title defenses against WWE icons like Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Edge over the years. Still, as Cena told WWE.com in an exclusive interview, every WWE Title feels more fulfilling than the last – and his drive for capture the gold never stops.
"There was a giant sense of excitement the very first time I won – and a sense of relief. I truly thought that would be it … but it's weird, because this thing just never ends," Cena said. "As a kid, you want to be WWE Champion. Then, you're WWE Champion. And then, it's not enough. You want to keep it. So OK, let's win it again."
Winning it again and again hasn't proven to be difficult for the Cenation leader, and it seems like he's actually picking up steam in recent years. Five of his 10 WWE Title reigns have come since 2010 and three in 2011 alone. And for those that may argue that a Money in the Bank Ladder Match is not exactly in Cena's wheelhouse, it's important to note that it was at Unforgiven 2006 when he conquered Edge in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match to kick off a 380-day WWE Championship reign – the fourth-longest WWE Title reign in history. ( WATCH | PHOTOS: CENA'S 10 WWE TITLE WINS)
Number of WWE Title reigns: 1
Last time he won a WWE Title: Dec. 9, 2001 – Vengeance
The gold lowdown: As a recent WWE.com poll revealed, more WWE Universe members are more impressed with the impact of a title reign than the number of reigns. Chris Jericho has just one WWE Championship to his credit, but, boy, was it an unforgettable coup. At Vengeance 2001, Jericho stunned The Rock with a Rock Bottom to win the World Title, then conquered "Stone Cold" Steve Austin minutes later for the WWE Title, thereby becoming WWE's first Undisputed Champion ( WATCH). Jericho would defend the title successfully against The Rock and Austin during his 98-day reign before losing it to Triple H at WrestleMania X8 in a hard-fought showdown.
If you happen to be in the percentage of WWE Universe members more dazzled by number of reigns, it's worth noting The Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rolla is a record nine-time Intercontinental Champion and seven-time Tag Team Champion. Regardless of the title, Jericho always appears to be in the chase or waiting for his next opportunity to strike. He couldn't break WWE Champion CM Punk's resolve during their rivalry earlier this year, but you know he can't wait for a chance to get into his head again. Will the inventor of the Money in the Bank Match have a few unexpected tricks in store for his opponents? ( MORE ABOUT JERICHO'S BRAINCHILD)
Number of WWE Title reigns: 2
Last time he won a WWE Title: Nov. 17, 2002 – Survivor Series
The gold lowdown: The last time we saw a mean streak that remotely resembled the warpath Big Show's been on, he was rampaging his way to two WWE Championships. Taking advantage of his dangerous alliance with Mr. McMahon, The World's Largest Athlete defeated Triple H and The Rock at Survivor Series 1999 after being revealed as the surprise substitution for an injured "Stone Cold" Steve Austin ( WATCH). Three years later at the same pay-per-view, Big Show displayed his ruthless side again by chokeslamming Brock Lesnar onto a steel chair after Paul Heyman turned his back on Brock ( WATCH).
Nearly a decade since his last WWE Title, Big Show is all on his own following the ouster of General Manager John Laurinaitis, but his M.O. hasn't changed one bit. The uncontrollable giant is intent on proving he's the most dominant force in WWE, and becoming WWE Champion again is a surefire approach to accomplishing that. Any Superstar trying to overpower The World's Largest Athlete while standing on a ladder is certainly in for an unenviable challenge.
Number of WWE Title reigns: 1
Last time he won a WWE Title: June 28, 1998 – King of the Ring
The gold lowdown: With every year that passes, Kane's appetite for destruction seems to grow ever more insatiable. It was 14 long years ago that Kane left Austin seeing red – literally – when he bludgeoned The Texas Rattlesnake in a First Blood Match at King of the Ring to win his lone WWE Title ( WATCH). Even though Austin regained the championship the next night on Raw, The Big Red Monster left an indelible impression on the WWE Universe with the brutality of that clash inside Hell in a Cell. Rather than vanishing from the title picture, Kane continued to be a persistent threat as he wreaked havoc during ongoing rivalries with Austin and The Undertaker.
The Devil's Favorite Demon has injected himself back into the WWE Championship as of late, coming ever so close to winning the title in a Triple Threat Match at No Way Out before AJ's devilish distraction pulled him away from potential championship glory. The Money in the Bank Ladder Match may be exactly what Kane needs to get closer to avenging that narrow loss. After all, it was at Money in the Bank 2010 when The Big Red Monster cashed in the contract he won earlier that night to stun Rey Mysterio for the World Heavyweight Championship. Could Kane be plotting another fiendish Money in the Bank surprise?
Regardless of the number of WWE Championships each of these Superstars held, their histories exhibit why they are all worthy of a contract for a future WWE Title Match. But on July 15, only one will prevail atop the ladder and earn another opportunity at that cherished gold. ( PREVIEW)