There are very few scenarios in which a performer cannot overcome a loss in professional wrestling. A hot angle, good booking or an eventual rematch win can help nearly anyone rebound from a defeat.
That will not be the case for Dolph Ziggler should he acquire another loss on his record at this Sunday's TLC pay-per-view.
In what will be his highest-profile match to date, Ziggler will defend his Money in the Bank briefcase, containing a guaranteed World Championship match to be used at any time, against World Wrestling Entertainment's resident golden boy (and the biggest star in the industry) John Cena.
It is a huge opportunity for the "Show Off" to cement himself as one of the top stars in the company. A loss, however, may very well prevent him from ever reaching the level of success he and so many others hope he can.
Since beginning the rivalry with Cena, Dolph has virtually been a punching bag for the leader of the Cenation. Almost always on the receiving end of a beatdown and loss, Ziggler has not been allowed the chance to prove to fans that he is on the level of Cena or any other main-event star currently on the roster.
Losses to Cena and Sheamus in tag team action recently have done little to boost Dolph's main-event profile.
If Dolph Ziggler enters the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York this Sunday night and manages to lose the Money in the Bank briefcase, effectively ending any chance he had at enjoying a World Heavyweight Championship run anytime soon, it will be incredibly difficult to sell the audience on him as a main-event star, no matter how many top talents he shares the ring with.
The fact of the matter is that, eventually, Dolph Ziggler is going to have to be allowed to beat a top name in a match of some importance. Picking up a win over Randy Orton at the Survivor Series was a step in the right direction, but fans hardly believe the traditional Survivor Series tag matches to be of great importance.
A win over John Cena at TLC, regardless of whether it is clean, would be huge in the development of Ziggler as one of WWE's elite. It would provide him with some sort of momentum heading into a World Championship reign die-hard fans of the company have been anticipating since he captured the Money in the Bank briefcase in July.
A loss, on the other hand, may stunt any growth the character of Dolph Ziggler could possible enjoy in the eyes of the audience, making him another missed opportunity for a company whose list of them is rapidly exceeding it list of recently-made stars.
And it would result in John Cena receiving another title shot. And, like him or not, the repetitive nature of said shot would, once again, set the company's march toward the future back substantially.