As expected, WWE held a No. 1 Contender’s match to determine the man who will face Sheamus at No Way Out. Also as expected, that man turned out to be Dolph Ziggler.
Congratulations, Dolph. You earned this opportunity.
Oh, and, no pressure, but your career is riding on this match.
I recently wrote an article highlighting who is the most likely candidate to take Alberto Del Rio’s spot in the World Title match at No Way Out; Ziggler was my No. 2 choice (I still maintain that Big Show may make his presence known somehow), and I was not in the least surprise when he got the win.
In that article, I also said that if Ziggler gets the nod to face Sheamus but does not win the title at No Way Out, he can no longer be taken seriously as a title contender again. I stand by what I said, though with a caveat; for Dolph Ziggler’s career not to go down in flames, only one of two things can happen:
1) Ziggler wins the title from Sheamus
2) Ziggler gets screwed out of the title by Vickie Guerrero and Jack Swagger, leading to a face turn and a main-event feud with Swagger and Vickie.
Either of these two options are acceptable. In fact, WWE could combine the two options and have Ziggler win the title, followed by Vickie and Swagger turning on him and feuding over the title (though Sheamus has come too far to simply disappear).
But Ziggler must get something out of his match at No Way Out. There is…well…no way out of this fact. Ziggler has been to the precipice before but has never reached the summit. He’s had shots against Edge (including a laughably short “title reign”); he’s had shots against Sheamus; he’s had shots against CM Punk.
If Ziggler can’t come through this time, what with all that WWE is lacking right now with suspensions and injuries, then his time as a potential main-eventer is finished. No ifs, no ands, no buts.
Yes, Ziggler is still relatively young (he’s 31, which isn’t bad in wrestling). Yes, he is ridiculously talented in the ring and an excellent talker. Yes, he is a sentimental favorite (as evidenced by, from all the reports I read about Monday’s Raw, Ziggler getting a number of cheers and chants). Yes, Sheamus’s title reign is still relatively new, and taking the belt off of him might not be in the best interest of the company.
But here’s the thing: Ziggler is quickly becoming that guy who just can’t get it done when it counts. If he loses again, then I feel like people won’t ever see him as a credible threat to the world title ever again.
Creative has to see this conundrum, and they have to do something about it. WWE’s roster is in dire straits right now, and they are being given a golden opportunity to push a new star through the roof, and save themselves in the process.
Please don’t interpret this as me hating on Ziggler. I love Dolph Ziggler. I think that he is a superb talent who should be given a shot to carry Smackdown on his back, if only for a short time; throw it at the wall, see if it sticks, build if it does and move on if it doesn’t.
WWE needs someone new to help them out in the absence of Alberto Del Rio, Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, and the rest. They needs someone who can step up if Cena’s divorce wrecks havoc with him. WWE needs a guy like Ziggler who can bring the goods every night.
They must put the belt on Ziggler (or turn him face against the heat-magnet Vickie), if only for a month, or else he may never be taken seriously again. If he fails again, he will become the current incarnation of Shelton Benjamin—a perennially under-appreciated guy who won’t ever get the chance to show what he can do.
I think that Ziggler has put in the work to show WWE that he can do it. Now, WWE must reciprocate and put the gold around his waist.