Six wrestlers each had a compelling case to walk away from Money in the Bank with the briefcase that would eventually award them a WWE championship title shot. The immediate future of SmackDown's main events and ancillary storylines were likely going to be dictated by this one match, and with expectations high, fans were rewarded with an action-packed match that capped off a truly intriguing night in the WWE.
The battle started off before the bell as perhaps the top heel out of the group, Baron Corbin, attacked Shinsuke Nakamura as the Japanese star was making his way to the ring. Nakamura laid motionless on the ramp and the referees decided to start the match without him.
Not surprisingly, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn wasted little time before reigniting their feud and went after each other. That first encounter ended briefly when Zayn dove over the rope and landed a 360 leg drop on Owens, the former longtime Universal champ and current United States champion.
Corbin and Dolph Ziggler then teamed up, with each holding a part of a ladder to take out AJ Styles. Corbin then turned on Ziggler, but was superkicked to momentarily give Ziggler the edge. That didn't last long. A few moments later, Corbin converted a Deep Six on Ziggler.
As that was going on, Styles and Owens went back and forth in the ring, perhaps a prelude to a continuation of what should be a phenomenal forthcoming feud. Not to be outdone, Zayn re-entered the ring and tossed Owens off the top rope and into a ladder, bending it and making it unusable to climb.
Ziggler re-entered the ring and tossed Zayn into a ladder. The Showoff went for the briefcase, but Zayn stopped him and climbed the ladder himself before Corbin ended that threat. With all men sprawled out and beaten, Styles climbed the ladder, but Corbin caught him on the other side and threw the Phenomenal One to the mat.
Enter Ziggler, who landed a timely Zig Zag on Corbin and started to climb. As he ascended, Zayn recovered and led to one of the biggest spots of the entire match. Zayn climbed the ladder too, but his intentions were focused on Ziggler, not the briefcase, and he hit a powerbomb off the top of the ladder.
All by himself, Zayn seemed destined to grab the briefcase, but Styles caught him with a forearm from the top rope to save the day -- for everyone but Zayn anyway.
Back to Zayn, a Helluva Kick to Styles almost opened up another path for him to win, but Owens stopped him and almost snagged the briefcase. Styles got back into the mix and threw Owens into two ladders, one stacked on top of another.
Styles climbed again and grabbed the briefcase for what looked like the win, but Ziggler moved the ladder out from under him, leaving Styles hanging on 15 feet above the ring.
To the mat he fell.
Corbin regained control, and after all this, Nakamura's music hit and the fans lost their collective mind. Inside the ring, Nakamura attacked Corbin, hitting The Lone Wolf in the midsection and then threw him outside and on to the floor. Nakamura then nailed Ziggler and Zayn with Kinshasas in the ring and took care of Owens outside of it.
As Nakamura set up the ladder, another key moment emerged. Eye to eye with a longtime former rival from their tenures in Japan, Nakamura and Styles traded blow after blow. Nakamura had the brief upper hand and went for the Kinshasa, but Styles countered, hitting Nakamura with the Phenomenal Forearm.
The two recovered and each climbed a side of the ladder, all the way up to the briefcase. Fans alternatively chanted "AJ Styles! Nakamura!" and as each tried to get a hand on the briefcase, Corbin tossed them both off the ladder and grabbed the briefcase.
After relentless action from start to finish, Baron Corbin won the Money in the Bank match, and given the history of the storyline is likely to be a future WWE champ.
This carrot is a long time coming for Corbin, who has been underwhelming since winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal more than a year earlier, but there was a sneaky suspicion his time was coming.
He could be only be kept out of the spotlight for so long before becoming Mr. Irrelevant. Instead, he is Mr. Money in the Bank.