Since Dolph Ziggler is holding the Money in the Bank briefcase, it’s become almost a foregone conclusion that he will become the World Heavyweight Champion in 2013.
After all, only one man, John Cena, has ever unsuccessfully cashed in a MITB briefcase.
Because 11 of the 12 Money in the Bank winners in history have gone on to win either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship, it’s safe to assume that Ziggler will win whenever he decides to cash in too.
But there’s one very important person who could determine if and when Ziggler does win a World title, and it’s not Ziggler himself. It’s AJ Lee.
The AJ merry-go-round continues to spin, and she now finds herself romantically linked to Ziggler, making “The Showoff” the fifth top star she’s been involved with since the start of 2012.
AJ started off last year as the girlfriend of Daniel Bryan before eventually getting involved with Kane, CM Punk, John Cena and now Ziggler.
Other than AJ, the obvious common factor in all of these storylines has been a World title.
At the time of AJ’s involvement with these superstars, Bryan held the World Heavyweight Championship (and then challenged for the WWE title), Punk held the WWE Championship, Kane and Cena challenged for the WWE title and Cena and Ziggler battled over the MITB briefcase, which contained a guaranteed World Heavyweight title shot.
Whether by default or design, it’s become pretty clear that AJ likes to hang around the World title scene, and she’s affected it on more than one occasion. At WrestleMania 28, AJ planted a now infamous kiss on Bryan that caused him to lose the World Heavyweight title in a record 18 seconds.
Of course, AJ would go on to play a pivotal role in the WWE Championship picture over the summer, being romantically linked to the three superstars involved in a feud over the title: Kane, Bryan and Punk.
She wound up being the special guest referee of that great Punk vs. Bryan match at Money in the Bank, and while the Raw GM, she was the one who made Punk defend his title in a Triple Threat match at SummerSlam.
Fast forward to the end of 2012, and AJ found herself involved with Cena, which eventually led to her costing Cena the MITB briefcase in his match against Ziggler at WWE TLC last month.
When looking back at the World title pictures throughout the last year or so, you could make a case that AJ was as big a presence in them as the titles themselves. Except for brief periods of time, AJ was always hovering around either the WWE or World title scenes, and at WrestleMania 28 and WWE TLC, she directly influenced the fate of both titles.
Now that Ziggler is holding the Money in the Bank briefcase and mere seconds away from becoming the World Heavyweight Champion, expect more of the same from AJ.
She has obviously become the most important female character in the WWE, and nearly a year after breaking out at WrestleMania, she’s still being pushed as one of the top stars—male or female—in the entire company.
In 2012, she played a crucial role in many of the WWE’s top storylines of the year, and as we enter 2013, there are no signs of that changing.
She and Ziggler have formed the WWE’s new “power couple” for now, but if recent history tells us anything, it’s that this “relationship” probably won’t last very long. Last year, AJ flip-flopped from Bryan to Punk to Kane back to Bryan to Cena to Ziggler, which means that most of her “relationships” have only lasted about two or three months.
Will AJ have an effect on Ziggler's cash-in?
When those relationships do come to a conclusion, things usually don’t end well for the guy she had been dating. Bryan wound up losing his World title in 18 seconds, Kane never won a World title, Punk got pushed through a table, Bryan got dumped at the altar and Cena was screwed out of a chance at winning the Money in the Bank briefcase.
AJ may be adorable, and she may seem sweet at times, but there’s a reason they call her the “crazy chick.” Her craziness has led directly to some of the worst moments for many of the WWE’s top superstars over the last year, and if the same pattern holds true, Ziggler is next in line.
Unfortunately for “The Showoff,” he’s holding the Money in the Bank briefcase with a lunatic by his side, which means one of two things could happen: AJ will help him successfully cash in, or she'll prevent him from doing so.
Either way, the fates of the Money in the Bank briefcase and the World Heavyweight title are not in Ziggler's own hands.
They’re in AJ’s.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!