Dolph Ziggler will be facing John Cena this Sunday at WWE TLC in a match that many fans feel is the last true test for the Showoff.
That’s right folks, it appears as though Dolph is headed for the big time.
Or at least that’s what the popular notion seems to be. The fact is, Ziggler has been on his way up for quite a while now and every time he seems to be in a situation that could get him to that infamous “next level,” he usually ends up staying right where he is.
It’s happened before. A lot.
On July 15th, Dolph won the Money in the Bank Ladder match, giving him a guaranteed World title shot at anytime within one year. He attempted to cash it in that very night against Sheamus, but was unsuccessful.
On the July 20th edition of Friday Night SmackDown, Ziggler tried to cash in a second time but came up short again.
Two opportunities at possible greatness, and two opportunities wasted. But, there was hope.
On August 20th, Dolph defeated Chris Jericho in a match that Chris had to win in order to keep his WWE contract. Ziggler had a quality victory over a veteran, a WWE legend, and it happened live on Monday Night Raw.
Now, we’re talking.
But on the very next SmackDown, Dolph was just about to hand the referee his Money in the Bank briefcase when Randy Orton hit him with the RKO.
This began a feud between the two, with each man scoring a victory. But at Night of Champions, Randy won the third and deciding match. For me, this was a big one as Orton has consistently had Dolph’s number more often than not. This is a rivalry that Dolph should have won.
But the apparent slide did not end there, because on October 19th, Dolph was ready to hand over the case for a fourth time and received a knockout punch from the Big Show, cutting short yet another opportunity.
Dolph did win the traditional Survivor Series match by pinning none other than Randy Orton in very convincing fashion. Finally, Ziggler had disposed of the Viper. Maybe now his time had come.
Did I mention that Dolph lost on the November 26th edition of Raw to John Cena, the same guy he’s facing this Sunday?
Told you it’s happened a lot.
Here’s the thing. A Superstar’s win/loss record does not necessarily tell the whole story. As fans, we frequently—as evidenced in this column—get wrapped up in stats. It matters to us how often a guy goes over, not because he may be a personal favorite, but because the more you follow the business, the more likely you are to pick up on the ebb and flow of the storylines.
Simply put, when a guy loses more than he wins, it is done by design. He either is only thought of as mainly an enhancement talent, used to help other workers, or he is being tested, even groomed, for something more down the road.
This is the category I believe Dolph Ziggler falls in. While he has seemingly been looked over at every turn, kept out of that all important main event spot, the fact is that Dolph has done nothing but work on his game.
He is improving, week in and week out. His ability in the ring to tell a story through his matches has evolved to the point that he is now thought of by many fans as one of the top talents in WWE. He is hard working, resilient and, above all else, patient.
Despite what curve balls WWE has thrown at him, or how many times he appears to be shoved back down the ladder again, Dolph has kept his mouth shut and has kept performing at a very high level. He knows that only with time will he achieve his goals in the business and only with top-notch effort will he prove to everyone watching that he deserves the spotlight.
And he deserves it now.
At TLC, WWE has yet another opportunity to place Dolph Ziggler in a position to succeed. The match is booked, the contract stipulation in place, and the workers are ready. Dolph Ziggler, with briefcase in hand, will walk that aisle to face off against John Cena, the only man in the company who can truly help the Showoff get to the next phase of his career.
Dolph needs this win. He has earned it. And he deserves it. This is about the Money in the Bank contract. This is about Dolph’s guaranteed shot at the top. And, this is about Vince McMahon’s willingness to let him have this much deserved win over the top talent in WWE.
The question is, will he get it?