Since returning as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble back in January, Chris Jericho has certainly been impressive in the ring, but the WWE has yet to establish his role moving forward. There are obviously a lot of options on the table, but there is no question that Dolph Ziggler is his ideal WrestleMania opponent.
Jericho and Ziggler engaged in a brief feud last summer that resulted in Y2J scoring a victory over The Showoff at SummerSlam. Ziggler got his revenge the following night on Raw, however, as he beat Jericho in a match, which resulted in Jericho being "fired" by then-Raw general manager A.J. When Jericho entered the Rumble No. 2, Ziggler had already come in at No. 1, so their rivalry picked up where it left off.
Who should Chris Jericho face at WrestleMania XXIX?
Both Jericho and Ziggler lasted until the latter stages of the match and Ziggler ultimately eliminated Y2J with a super kick. Things carried over the next night on Raw as Jericho and Ziggler were forced to team together, and Jericho essentially walked out on Ziggler. Ever since that point, though, there hasn't been a ton of interaction between the two.
I'm not sure if that is by design in order to prevent overkill prior to an inevitable WrestleMania program, or if the WWE is actually planning on going in a different direction. Jericho has gotten involved with The Shield as of late as he teamed with Sheamus and Ryback in a losing effort against the group a couple weeks ago on Raw. Seth Rollins also mentioned Jericho during a promo on Monday, so there is a very real possibility that Y2J will take part in a multi-man match including The Shield at WrestleMania.
While Jericho is obviously the perfect wrestler to help put over the likes of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, Ziggler needs him much more at this point. The Shield is far less experienced than Ziggler in a WWE sense, but they have yet to lose a match and are coming off a huge win over John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus at Elimination Chamber. Ziggler, on the other hand, is really scuffling.
It seemed like big things were on the horizon when he won Money in the Bank last summer, however, Ziggler has been booked quite poorly and still doesn't look like a credible world champion because of that. There have been flashes of brilliance for Ziggler, particularly his huge victory over Cena at TLC, but the creative team did its best to make people forget about that as Cena proceeded to defeat Ziggler on multiple occasions on Raw despite Ziggler getting help from A.J. and Big E Langston.
Ziggler absolutely needs a win on the big stage in order to regain some credibility, and if it doesn't come against Jericho, then I have no clue who he'll face. I suppose he could face one of Ryback, Sheamus or Randy Orton, but he has already wrestled them on multiple occasions and all of them have business with The Shield right now as well.
The WWE could go a different route and have Ziggler face a mid-card guy like Kofi Kingston, but Ziggler has already beaten Kofi countless times and nobody will be impressed if he does it again. It really has gotten to the point where it's Jericho or bust for Ziggler at WrestleMania, and the WWE simply can't afford to let Ziggler bust at this point.
There is obviously still a lot of time before Ziggler has to cash in his contract as he can wait until Money in the Bank 2013 if the WWE chooses to go that route, so there is also time to build him back up. With that said, the best way to kick start things for The Showoff would be to give him a huge win at WrestleMania. Beating an established star like Jericho with the whole world watching would be a gigantic step in the right direction.
Jericho is a valuable commodity because he has a sterling track record, he's great on the mic, he's one of the best in the ring and he has no issue putting other guys over. On the surface he appears to be a wild card since he can be put in any situation, but I have to believe that Jericho's WrestleMania feud and match was determined well before he ever came back.
I'm sure the WWE enticed Jericho to return last year by setting up a rivalry with CM Punk, and the same was likely true this time around. Had the WWE told Jericho that he would be involved in a six-man tag against The Shield at WrestleMania, I don't know if he would have returned. It's clear that Jericho likes Ziggler and realizes his potential, though, so there is little doubt that he would like to face him at 'Mania.
A Jericho vs. Ziggler match makes a ton of sense for both men and it would be a fantastic supporting match as well. Jericho and Ziggler have proven that they possess great in-ring chemistry together and they could easily steal the show at WrestleMania if they're given around 15 minutes. It wouldn't have the same cachet as The Rock vs. Cena or Punk vs. The Undertaker, but it would add a ton of depth to the card.
Jericho seemed like he was destined to feud with Ziggler when he returned at the Rumble, but the writers have really muddled things ever since. Rather than making a rash decision, the creative team needs to get back to basics and set up Jericho vs. Ziggler over the next few weeks because that is the match that most fans want to see, and that is the match that Ziggler needs to take the next step.
Also, listen to Ring Rust Radio's interview with Chris Jericho here.