If Dolph Ziggler doesn’t have a breakout year in 2013, it may never happen.
It’s unfortunate to have to say that about someone as talented as “The Showoff,” but the longer he goes without reaching the pinnacle of the WWE, the less likely it is that he will actually do so.
John Cena actually touched on this during the promo that he cut just a couple of weeks ago, and while the promo seemed more like Cena burying Ziggler than anything else, he did make some valid points.
Mainly, Cena wondered why Ziggler had been there for so long without ever getting a major push and legitimate main-event and World title runs.
It really does make you wonder, too.
Ziggler has been in the WWE for the better part of a decade, and he’s been performing under the Ziggler character since 2008. Especially over the last couple of years, he’s developed a reputation as one of the company’s best in-ring workers and overall performers as well.
Yet, he’s somehow only advanced past the upper midcard here and there.
In fact, it’s only happened a handful of times: two Royal Rumble World title shots (2011 and 2012), a 15-minute World title reign (that no one really counts), a World Heavyweight title match (against Sheamus at No Way Out 2012), a Money in the Bank win and an ongoing feud with John Cena.
That MITB win is the key, though, because it could very well hold the key to Ziggler’s future.
The widespread expectation is that Ziggler will successfully cash in the briefcase to become World champion, but even if he does do that, that certainly doesn’t guarantee he will have much success afterward.
Far too many times, we’ve seen MITB winners have horrible post-cash-in title reigns, including Jack Swagger, Alberto Del Rio and, to an extent, even The Miz.
If Ziggler does win the World title this year like he’s expected to, how he fares after that cash-in will be telling. It may, in fact, be his “make or break” moment of his “make or break year.”
After all, there are no guarantees in pro wrestling, which means that there’s no guarantee that Ziggler—no matter how talented he may be—is destined to reach the level that he should.
Throughout the WWE’s history, there have been countless stars who never reached the heights that many expected them to, and in most cases, it was through no fault of their own. Not all that long ago, guys like MVP, John Morrison and Shelton Benjamin were viewed as potential future World champions. Now, they’re no longer even in the WWE.
While Ziggler is widely considered to be one of the WWE’s most well-rounded performers, that doesn’t always matter.
Talent and hard work don’t always win out. Oftentimes, pushes and politics do.
That’s why Ziggler can only worry about performing well every time he gets the chance to cut a promo, work a major match or be involved in a top angle. If he works hard (which he always does), then his chances of succeeding are much higher.
But at the same time, Ziggler’s fate is as much in the hands of the creative team as it is his own.
That’s a scary thought, too, because creative has often pushed the wrong people and screwed up the pushes of superstars who obviously deserve them.
In a WWE that’s suddenly become loaded with stars, Ziggler is either going to be made into a star or broken as one in 2013.
There is a ton of established stars who are already working in the main-event picture or the upper midcard, including Cena, CM Punk, Big Show, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Kane, The Miz, Randy Orton and many others.
There has also been an influx of rising talents who are working in the upper midcard and who look poised to enter the main-event picture in the near future: The Shield, Antonio Cesaro, Damien Sandow, Cody Rhodes, Ryback, Wade Barrett, etc.
Of course, we also can’t forget that the WWE has a number of part-timers who show up from time to time (usually at WrestleMania season) and take away precious TV time and spots on pay-per-view cards.
That’s a boatload of competition for Ziggler to compete with—competition that many overlook because they think the WWE roster is “thin”or “weak.” In reality, though, the roster is neither of those things. It’s actually filled with plenty of stars who have main-event potential.
Ziggler doesn’t just have main-event potential. He’s already a bona fide main-eventer, if the WWE wants to push him as such.
But what the WWE should do with Ziggler and what it will do with him are two totally different things, and if the creative team doesn’t do the right thing with him, then he won’t be made into a top star.
He’ll shatter into a million pieces.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!