WWE went rolling right on through the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada, last night (Sun., June 19, 2016) with Money in the Bank, the annual briefcase showcase that saw the crowning of a new, most unlikely king.
Back to the primitive
It's clear in hindsight there was no wrestler in the Money in the Bank ladder match who should have walked away with the briefcase. It was always Dean Ambrose, because it NEEDED to be Dean Ambrose.
For too long, he's been the Cincinnati Bengals, the guy who gets to the last step before the promised land but never actually makes the jump. He's wacky, fine, whatever, but he works hard for everything he's got.
Eventually, they had to give him something to pay off all that hard work, especially as a long time babyface.
That's what this represents.
That look on his face when he grabbed the briefcase and stood atop the ladder with it in his hands was everything we've needed to see for some time now. He was triumphant. Not only that, he was triumphant in a match with great meaning.
He accomplished something here. This wasn't beating Kevin Owens in a solid PPV match on a show we won't remember. This was a lead-in to something bigger, something better.
Sure enough ...
Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins had themselves a fine match, though it was a bit baffling in its booking. If I didn't know any better I would have thought they were trying a double turn. Rollins was the babyface working babyface spots climbing up that hill to overcome the much bigger, stronger foe who took the title Seth never lost.
Of course, that wasn't really what they were getting to.
What they were getting to was arguably even more satisfying, with Rollins winning a hard fought match clear in the center of the ring before Ambrose came out, blasted him from behind -- a nice call back to Seth doing the same to break up The Shield -- before cashing in to win the WWE world heavyweight championship.
This means each member of The Shield held the top title in professional wrestling all in the same night. It's a special night for that but also because it felt like it all finally came full circle.
There are more battles to be had, for sure, but we're also that much closer to the reunion.
F**k all your politics
This story works because it's really quite simple but hammers all the right notes along the way: AJ Styles is the wrestler who can go in a way John Cena can't, he's just never had the chance to prove that. Here, he got that chance and, for most of the match, he proved he can do everything he said he could.
Namely, wrestle circles around Cena.
But that's the thing: He can't, not really. He just has to get the point across that he thinks he can -- knowing it's what the audience already believes, even though they're wrong -- and WWE can manipulate that as it pleases. They did it here by having commentary play up Styles having his way but Cena coming back to battle his way to even ground until The Club had to cheat to keep him down.
Even now, Cena is overcoming. You may not notice it in the way you have in the past, but that's absolutely what is happening. It's what has to happen. That's the character. That's everything Cena represents.
Styles, as great as he is, can't be the exception. They took a different route but arrived at the same destination. AJ won but he did not prove himself to be the better man. He cannot ever prove himself to be that because he is not John Cena.
And that's okay.
All the best to all the rest
Pre-show: There is absolutely nothing here worth taking any time out for. They know this. We know this. They know we know this. It comes through.
Tag team titles: There was some good here, like building to a New Day vs. Enzo & Cass confrontation to set up for that program later. It felt hot. Everything else was a mess. Guys weren't where they were supposed to be, they were missing spots, and the finish was an absolute disaster. It was poorly timed and executed and made everyone in the ring look worse off for having been involved in it. The best they can hope for here is everyone forgets about it because it was the opener.
Baron Corbin def. Dolph Ziggler: They had to give Corbin the win here to get him the overall victory in the feud. He did so in a fashion that suits his character. There wasn't much to it but it's a step in the right direction.
Natalya snaps: The women weren't given much time or creative energy, so they worked a very basic match that was all a set up to get to Natalya turning on Becky Lynch after a simple misunderstanding. Her beatdown of Becky was strong and there could be some good matches in their future. That's if WWE has confidence enough in them to give us more than one women's story on any given show.
Apollo Crews def. Sheamus: The match was good enough for what it was but they didn't do much to establish anything worthwhile here, leaving the door open to continue the program. That's fine, of course, but absent a compelling story they needed something more out of the match itself.
Rusev def. Titus O'Neil: I don't know. Cool. Whatever.
Much of this show was hardly worth the time but the three big matches all delivered the goods.