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What we learned from WWE Money in the Bank 2016

Not one, but two new WWE World Heavyweight Champions in one night, and much more from Las Vegas.

WWE.com

WWE promised greatness from the 2016 edition of its annual Money in the Bank event. While that greatness mostly happened late in a very lengthy night of wrestling, it happened all the same — and it is clearly leading to something that most of the wrestling universe has been waiting almost two years for.

We have a whole lot of matches to cover, so let’s get right to it.

Golden Truth defeats Breezango

This has been a comedy feud, and that continued on Sunday night when Tyler Breeze and Fandango were barely able to wrestle after Golden Truth turned up their tanning booth so high that Breezango were burned to a crisp. Golden Truth won, Breezango was embarrassed and we likely haven’t seen the end of this feud.

What we learned: Wrestling with a sunburn is very difficult, especially when your opponents won’t stop chopping the fried skin off your chest. Breezango still tried to win, and almost did, but they couldn’t overcome the unrivaled pain of someone touching your sunburn while you're looking like zombies who fell asleep at the beach. This is either the greatest or worst feud ever, depending on how much you like fun.

Lucha Dragons defeat The Dudley Boyz

There wasn’t a whole lot of build to this match, nor was a whole lot going on during it. However, one half of the Lucha Dragons, Kalisto, flipped and kicked all around the Dudleyz, so this kickoff match had something to offer.

What we learned: WWE hasn’t totally forgotten about what Kalisto can do, and he got time to show off in this tag contest. What that could lead to next is unknown, however.

WWE Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day (c) defeats Gallows and Anderson, The Vaudevillains, and Enzo and Cass

This match had some great moments, but the finish was also sloppy to the point of detriment. Luckily, it happened early enough in the show that it didn’t leave too sour a taste in anyone’s mouth, and The New Day retaining in a situation where a loss could have easily happened was a pleasant surprise.

What we learned: WWE isn’t quite ready to take the tag team belts off Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods just yet. Enzo and Big Cass could very well be tag champions someday, but this match was a reminder that Cass is going to champion of the whole company at some point, too: he almost single-handedly took out every other opponent in the match when he got his chance in the ring. Gallows and Anderson didn’t win as expected, but they had something else to occupy them later on, anyway. The Vaudevillians were given just as much of a chance to win as the three teams they were facing, and that’s good news for how WWE views this pairing.

Baron Corbin defeats Dolph Ziggler

This was the blow-off match — you hope, anyway — for a feud that has involved a whole lot of shots to the beans. It was moved from the pre-show to the main show two days before the event, and it was clear why once it happened: Ziggler and Corbin got time to show that the rookie Corbin is going to be hard to stop, even for someone who doesn’t know when to quit like Ziggler.

What we learned: It turns out that Corbin didn’t have to punch Ziggler in his nethers to win at Extreme Rules, but instead did it because he could. With nut shots illegal once more, Corbin went the more traditional route of throwing Ziggler around like it was nothing until Dolph couldn’t get up again. Baron will likely move on to something else after taking down WWE’s level one gatekeeper, and Ziggler can pick the next wrestler he’ll face exclusively for months at a time.

Charlotte and Dane Brooke defeat Becky Lynch and Natalya

The match was solid, but the key here was the story elements. Frustrated with yet another defeat against Charlotte, Natalya attacked her longtime friend Becky after the match. Natalya has been a face for so long that this was a real surprise, and given that combined with Becky’s popularity and ability, we're in for a fun ride.

What we learned: Becky Lynch vs. Natalya is the feud we want that we didn’t know we wanted. Dana Brooke is the greatest protege of all-time, if you ask Dana Brooke. Charlotte and Dana seem to be back on the same page after dissension was teased, and given Becky and Natalya all of a sudden have differences to reconcile, that leaves the other two free to move on to something else. Probably with Charlotte's Women’s Championship attached.

Apollo Crews defeats Sheamus

Apollo Crews is the new guy in town and the avatar for the New Era in Sheamus’ frustrated-veteran mind. Sheamus didn’t take Crews’ seriously enough, and it cost him with a well-timed roll-up from the latter while Sheamus argued with the ref about how long counting to three should take.

What we learned: These two wrestled as if there are matches still to come in this feud, and given how hard they decided to hit each other in the time they were given, that’s a good thing. Expect fewer chinlocks in round two, and far more fists to the face. And also probably more superb flipping from the agile-as-he-is-strong Crews.

AJ Styles defeats John Cena

Bumping a ref is a hard story to navigate — it often feels like a cop-out, a way to avoid resolution, or a cheap tactic for shifting blame for a loss. Here, though, it was used well, with the ref going down long enough for Gallows and Anderson to ruin an incredibly well-balanced back-and-forth between Cena and Styles — and without Styles knowing it was happening, given he was already laying on the mat. Styles can counter claims of cheating by pointing out he was down and out, Cena can say he deserves a rematch regardless, and then we get to do this all over again. #blessed

What we learned: Styles is more talented and capable than even Cena gave him credit for. Cena is much, much harder to put away than anyone Styles has faced in his illustrious past, and it showed when the usual tactics got Styles close, but not all the way there. Both parties managed to put the other over as a legend in the lead-in to this match, but still managed to underestimate what makes their opponent so good in the match itself. Now, armed with the knowledge of what they’re actually dealing with, the second match of this feud is likely to look a whole lot different.

Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Dean Ambrose defeats Cesaro, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and Alberto Del Rio

Money in the Bank Ladder Matches are always good. It’s just how good they are that’s the question, and this one falls on the "really, really good" portion of the spectrum. Every single performer in this match was given what felt like a real opportunity to win the briefcase and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship contract inside, which made every potential winner toward the end feel that much more real. Then, Dean Ambrose got his moment, winning the briefcase he should have won two years ago before Seth Rollins cheated his way into that. More on that in a bit.

What we learned: Ambrose is one of a handful of WWE performers who, as soon as the company pays attention to them in a meaningful way, the majority of their fan base is all-in on him again. It’s why they can make him seem like the third most-important of three former Shield members for as long as they have, and then put him in position to win Money in the Bank — and later the WWE World Heavyweight Championship — seemingly in an instant. They’ve just never gone all the way with it, leaving everything to teases until now. Step one in stopping the teasing and actually cashing in on that Ambrose love came in this Money in the Bank ladder match.

A whole lot of other things went down — Owens and Del Rio seem destined to feud, possibly over how often Del Rio uses the word "perro" and what he thinks a dog actually is. That would leave Sami Zayn available for a main-roster feud with Cesaro, who Zayn is seemingly annoying a little bit more every time they speak. We’ll have to wait for RAW for more clarity on the fallout of the rest of the bunch, though.

United States Championship Match: Rusev (c) defeats Titus O’Neil

Rusev was expected to crush, and while it took him a little longer to do so than anticipated, he eventually got his crush on and successfully defended against O’Neil in a match that was mostly meant to calm the audience down after the ladder match. And let people watch the end of Game 7 of the NBA Finals before Money in the Bank’s main event started.

What we learned: Rusev will beat up your dad on Father’s Day and then rub it in your face. Titus O’Neil won Celebrity Dad of the Year in 2015, and his kids were at ringside for his championship match. Big mistake, Titus:

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Seth Rollins defeats Roman Reigns (c)

Seth Rollins is back, and the title he never lost made it back to his waist. These two put on a main event that WWE probably wishes had been the main back in April at WrestleMania — or, at the least, WWE wishes Mania’s main event was received nearly as well.

What we learned: Seth’s reconstructed knee is working just fine, as he hit his power moves and flipped around with reckless abandon in a lengthy main event. He’s also good enough to beat Roman Reigns — without help, without interference, without cheating — and seemed to be the good guy in this match despite starting it as the supposed bad guy. Also, say what you want about Reigns’ character and WWE’s development of it, but the dude is dope as hell in the ring and the character is coming along... especially since he seemed to be working more heel than face in this match-up.

Also also, this match gave us this ridiculous counter of a spear that was so stunning that it happening probably never crossed your mind:

Money in the Bank Contract Cash-In: Dean Ambrose defeats Seth Rollins (c)

Rollins didn’t get to be champion for long, as Ambrose made good on his promise to cash-in after winning the Money in the Bank briefcase. He hit Rollins from behind — a justified move, given it was the tying up of a loose end in their relationship from over two years ago — and became the third ex-Shield member to hold the WWE World Heavyweight Championship of the night.

What we learned: Ambrose is capable of being the WWE champ, and proved it by not only winning the briefcase, but then cashing in on Rollins as he said he would back on last week’s RAW. Money in the Bank is the annual event tied to so much of Ambrose’s character and career. Money in the Bank 2014 featured Rollins cheating in the titular match to win the briefcase that Ambrose should have. Then, at 2015’s event, the two had a ladder match for the championship Rollins had won with the same tainted briefcase, one in which Rollins retained after both competitors hit the ground with the title at the same time. This time, things were different, with Ambrose exorcising all those Rollins' demons in one night.

Next, we’ll likely get Ambrose vs. Rollins at WWE’s next special event, Battleground, and that should bring us to the Shield Triple Threat Championship Match we’ve all been waiting for since even before Rollins first won the title in 2015. Maybe even as soon as SummerSlam. It’s happening, y’all.