Ever since Dolph Ziggler earned the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank contract this past summer, fans and analysts alike have speculated about when he might cash it in. Many predictions have been made and all of them have obviously been wrong to this point, but never has a better opportunity presented itself than at Elimination Chamber.
The mere fact that the WWE has seemingly put Ziggler on the back burner as of late is a pretty good clue that something is in the works. He did not appear on Raw or SmackDown last week, and while he was on Raw this week, it came in a losing effort to Kane as he attempted to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match to determine the No. 1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship.
With that loss, Ziggler now has nothing to do at Elimination Chamber, which is a bit fishy when you consider how integral he has been to the product since TLC. I figured Ziggler and Chris Jericho would go head to head in a singles match, but Jericho earned a spot in the chamber, so I can't imagine that Dolph will have a scheduled match.
It obviously isn't outside the realm of possibility that the WWE is leaving Ziggler off the card in order to create speculation that he will cash in, but the more likely scenario is that the WWE hopes leaving Ziggler off the card will make fans forget about him. That will probably be the case for many fans, but all it does is make me suspicious of Ziggler cashing in on Sunday.
Alberto Del Rio is set to defend the World title against Big Show. Del Rio has won two Last Man Standing matches against the giant and figures to prevail once again at Elimination Chamber. Del Rio has been a thorn in Big Show's side as of late, so The World's Largest Athlete will undoubtedly be in a foul mood. Provided Del Rio defeats Big Show as expected, there is a pretty good chance that Big Show will attack Del Rio following the match.
This would open the door for Ziggler to run down and cash in his Money in the Bank contract. I hoped that Ziggler would either cash in at the Royal Rumble or at WrestleMania, but the stars are aligned for him to do it at Elimination Chamber instead. As soon as Del Rio won the World title from Big Show, I instantly thought of him as a transitional champion who would act as a bridge to Ziggler. That hasn't come to fruition yet, but I have a strong inkling that it will in the coming days.
Jericho being added to the chamber match is definitely another indicator when it comes to Ziggler cashing in. I considered Mark Henry and Randy Orton to be the favorites in the match initially, but Jericho is red-hot with the fans right now and has put on incredible matches on Raw with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan over the past two weeks. My money is on the WWE wanting to put Jericho in a marquee match at WrestleMania, and facing Ziggler for the World title fits the bill.
There is obvious history between Ziggler and Jericho and I can't imagine that there is a single fan out there who wouldn't want to see that feud and subsequent WrestleMania match. Their rivalry started the night after Money in the Bank during the summer and it led to a match at SummerSlam. Jericho won that bout, but Ziggler got the last laugh as he beat Jericho the following night on Raw, and that resulted in Jericho's "firing."
Jericho returned much to the surprise of everyone at the Royal Rumble, though, and was the second entrant after Ziggler came in at No. 1. Jericho and Ziggler tried to one-up each other throughout the match, but Ziggler ultimately got the best of Y2J as he eliminated him late in the Rumble. Ziggler was snuffed out soon after; however, his feud with Jericho still burned brightly.
There are obviously a lot of potential options when it comes to the No. 1 contender chamber match, but it's tough to argue with the contention that Jericho winning to face Ziggler at WrestleMania makes the most sense. If Henry wins, then he'll have to face Del Rio in a match that likely wouldn't get many people excited. If Orton wins, he could feud with either Del Rio or Ziggler, but we have seen him face both men on countless occasions.
Jericho and Ziggler aren't strangers to tangling in the ring together, but their feud still feels fresh due to the fact that Jericho took several months off while touring with his band. Fans pretty much know what they're going to get with Jericho and Ziggler, and that is a fantastic match. They seem to have a lot of chemistry on the mic as well, so the build toward their match would almost certainly be fantastic to boot.
It isn't outside the realm of possibility that Ziggler could cash in at some point between Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania, which could set up a triple threat between Jericho, Del Rio and Ziggler, but I prefer a singles match. Also, cash-ins always have a greater impact when they happen at a pay-per-view rather than on Raw or SmackDown, so Elimination Chamber represents Ziggler's last chance to make a big splash prior to 'Mania.
Maybe the WWE is swerving me once again, but I'm more certain than I am hopeful that Ziggler will cash in on Sunday. I can't imagine that the WWE will have Ziggler hold the briefcase past WrestleMania, so the opportunities are definitely wearing thin. When push comes to shove, having Dolph cash in at Elimination Chamber would make for the best road to WrestleMania, and that is why Ziggler will be the new World champion come Sunday.