When Dolph Ziggler secured the 2012 World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank contract this past summer, it seemed as though the WWE was finally committed to making him a main-event star. If the past few weeks are any indication of how his eventual title reign will play out, though, the creative team needs to check itself.
As an admitted Ziggler supporter, I watch the way that he is booked extremely closely. The WWE essentially dropped the ball right out of the gates with him as his first two pay-per-view matches after winning Money in the Bank were losses to Chris Jericho and Randy Orton respectively. Ziggler ultimately got revenge on Jericho by "retiring" him, but that didn't erase his losses by a long shot.
Has WWE booked Ziggler correctly since winning Money in the Bank?
After scuffling for a while, it seemed like Ziggler got his big break at Survivor Series when he captained his team to victory as the sole survivor of the match. Ziggler then followed that up with perhaps the biggest win of his career as he beat John Cena to retain his Money in the Bank contract in a ladder match main event at TLC.
Although that win was good for Ziggler's credibility, the WWE seemed more worried about protecting Cena than making Ziggler look strong, and that has continued to be an issue ever since. Ziggler did get the big pay-per-view victory, but he needed help from A.J. to do it, and it's almost as if the WWE has done everything possible to erase that win from the minds of the fans ever since.
Essentially every top star in the WWE right now, save for WWE Champion CM Punk with Paul Heyman, is flying solo. Truth be told, Punk doesn't even need Heyman, but the presence of Heyman enhances his character, so it's a good fit. Ziggler, on the other hand, was held back by Vickie Guerrero for years and finally started to make some progress once they were officially split up. Rather than letting that happen, Ziggler has since been put with A.J. and Big E Langston.
I don't necessarily have an issue with the A.J. pairing since it makes sense from a storyline perspective and could work in a manner similar to Edge and Lita. Langston's involvement is conversely unnecessary, however. I get that the WWE is trying to build a fortress around Ziggler in order to make him into a bigger threat down the line, but he honestly doesn't need any help, despite being a heel.
If anything, the addition of A.J. and Langston has made Ziggler look weaker since TLC. Ziggler has faced Cena on countless occasions since TLC, and he has lost each and every time. Their past two encounters on Raw have been particularly troubling, because not only did Ziggler lose, but he lost the matches in absolutely ridiculous fashion.
Two weeks ago in a traditional match, Ziggler hit Cena with pretty much every bullet he had in the chamber. Ziggler executed a Zig Zag, a sleeper hold, a super kick, a Fame-Asser and essentially every one of his signature moves. Also, both A.J. and Langston got involved, with Langston even hitting Cena with his finisher. Despite all that, it took only one Attitude Adjustment for Cena to prevail.
It was the same story last week, except the match took place within the confines of a steel cage. Ziggler once again was all over Cena, and Langston was a major factor, as he wouldn't allow Cena to escape the cage. It was no matter for the face of the WWE, though, as he once again executed a single Attitude Adjustment to defeat The Show Off.
I can certainly understand that the WWE wants to make Cena look strong after a loss-filled 2012, but the fact is that Cena can lose 100 matches in a row, and it won't do anything to damage his reputation. He is a 10-time WWE Champion, and he has truly done it all in the WWE, so there's absolutely no reason to protect him.
The writing is on the wall with regards to Cena winning the Royal Rumble and likely winning the WWE title at WrestleMania, so the writers are doing everything possible to build him up ahead of time. With that said, Ziggler is likely to be World Heavyweight Champion by WrestleMania at the latest, so he should be receiving the Cena treatment rather than constantly putting him over.
It isn't that difficult to have Ziggler lose to Cena by countout or disqualification. That would have still ensured that Cena was getting his victories, but it would have protected Ziggler as well. Also, why not have Cena and Ziggler escape the cage simultaneously for a draw? It wouldn't have hurt Cena at all. and it would have made Ziggler look like Cena's equal rather than an inferior being.
I'm not naive enough to think that a heel isn't going to lose matches, but when somebody is being built toward World Heavyweight Champion status, regardless of whether they're heel or face, they should win a lot more than they lose. That hasn't been the case with Ziggler, and I'm afraid casual fans won't take him seriously as champion when he ultimately becomes one.
It has become quite apparent that the WWE is banking on Ziggler's title win eliminating everything that happened before it. That may be an easy sell to the hardcore fans since we realize how talented Ziggler is, but those who see him lose week after week without knowledge of his background will wonder how he can possibly be a world champion.
The clock is ticking when it comes to Ziggler cashing in his Money in the Bank contract, as it's bound to happen in the near future, but it's time for the WWE to commit to him fully and make him look like a world champion before he becomes one officially.