WWE Money in the Bank 2016 lived up to its billing as being WWE's greatest installment of all time.
Only one hour removed from his hard-fought victory in the Money in the Bank ladder match over five other hungry competitors, Dean Ambrose cashed in the contract on Seth Rollins immediately following the main event to capture his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Rollins returned at last month's Extreme Rules event with one goal on his mind: to regain the gold he never lost last year as a result of injury. He succeeded in what he set out to do in beating Roman Reigns for the belt, but he didn't anticipate Ambrose cherry-picking that moment to capitalize and cash in.
Prior to Sunday night, Ambrose had fallen short of winning the big one for the past two years at Money in the Bank thanks to Rollins. Thus, it was only fitting he pinned his former friend to secure his first world title reign at the 2016 installment.
It was an exciting ending to an overall entertaining event that set the stage for what should be a scintillating summer season for WWE. But now we look to what lies ahead for Ambrose as the road to SummerSlam officially gets underway.
Since The Shield split up two years ago, fans have been anxiously anticipating a Triple Threat match between the trio. While that would be a WrestleMania-worthy main event, it is likely that contest comes to fruition sooner rather than later.
Battleground, albeit a solid pay-per-view, should merely be a stepping stone for SummerSlam. That said, to hold the aforementioned Triple Threat there would be a waste of the money match.
Rather, with that being the perfect match to headline SummerSlam 2016, a No. 1 Contender's match of some sort should take place at Battleground. A second round of Reigns vs. Rollins would be nice, especially coming off Reigns' surprisingly decisive defeat to Rollins.
As for Ambrose, he can either serve as the special guest referee in that match or defend his title in a separate match on the card. Despite not winning the ladder match, Kevin Owens, Cesaro and Chris Jericho all emerged from the bout as potential challengers to the championship.
Ambrose and Jericho have had enough encounters in recent months, though Owens or Cesaro would be fresh faces in the title picture right now. It will also be interesting to see what brand Ambrose belongs to as champion once the brand extension goes into effect next month.
If the reaction he received from the Las Vegas crowd on Sunday night was any indication, Ambrose, not Reigns, has been the breakout babyface of The Shield. He is organically over with the audience and should be positioned in the top spot as champion.
However, The Lunatic Fringe must further develop his character during his run as champion. He showed no allegiance toward either Rollins or Reigns last week on Raw, which should establish him as a tweener going forward.
When he isn't playing for comedy, Ambrose can be effective as a resilient hero, and as great of a fan favorite as he has been these past two years, there remains plenty of untapped potential with him as a hated heel.
Perhaps we start to see the seeds planted for a change in character for Ambrose in the coming weeks. He could benefit from evolving into a scrappy underdog champion instead of the comedy role WWE has relegated him to as of late.
All in all, Ambrose as WWE world heavyweight champion is a breath of fresh air in the main event scene, and it creates a slew of possibilities for the foreseeable future. WWE hit a home run with the conclusion of Money in the Bank 2016, which left fans talking and looking forward to what else is in store.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a Digital Journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.