The wait is over—Dolph Ziggler is finally the World Heavyweight champion.
The raucous crowd was begging for it, and they got it. After months upon months of anticipation and waiting, “The Showoff” successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on this week’s Raw to win his first real World title.
WWE fans across the world rejoiced as one of the most talented performers in all of pro wrestling finally reached the pinnacle of his profession and did so in epic fashion. Now, Ziggler is the World Heavyweight champion, and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us down the road.
While some fans are waiting with excitement, though, others are waiting with dread.
Though Ziggler undoubtedly deserves to be the World Heavyweight Champion, there is a lot of concern that the creative team will ruin his run with the belt. After all, recent Money in the Bank winners haven’t had a ton of success with their post-cash-in title reigns.
Going back to 2010, Jack Swagger, Kane, The Miz, Daniel Bryan, Alberto Del Rio and John Cena have all cashed in their MITB briefcases, and not one of them had a particularly successful title reign that followed. Not only did Cena fail to even become WWE champion, but all of these stars failed to be booked like a World champion should be.
Swagger was booked like a joke following his cash-in. Kane had a reasonably lengthy reign, but it was one that was defined largely by a terrible feud with Edge. The Miz held the belt for a while as well, but it’s safe to say that he wasn’t exactly portrayed as a strong WWE champion.
Meanwhile, Bryan only held the World Heavyweight Championship for a little more than three months, and Del Rio had exactly zero title defenses before losing the title roughly a month after he cashed in to win it.
As you can see by the not-so-great history of Money in the Bank winners, there is certainly cause for concern when it comes to Ziggler’s World title run, especially when you consider the up-and-down booking of his character over the last several months.
It’s a safe bet that Ziggler’s first World title feud will be against the man whom he cashed in on, Alberto Del Rio. ADR’s lackluster rivalry with Swagger seemed to conclude on this week’s Raw, so it makes sense that he would simply transition into a World title feud with Zigger.
Generally speaking, it’s almost always more fun to see the babyface try to topple the heel champion, which means that we could get a pretty good rivalry out of ADR and Ziggler. These two have faced off a handful of times over the last several months, and their matches were pretty incredible, so that’s one big reason to be excited about this feud.
Because Del Rio is getting rather lukewarm crowd reactions these days, though, it’s a safe bet that he won’t be the one to end Ziggler’s title reign. The WWE has tried like hell to establish ADR as a top face, and though he has performed well in that role, the reactions simply aren’t there to warrant yet another run with the belt.
That being said, it’s still likely that ADR vs. Ziggler will continue for at least a couple of months, perhaps through the new Payback PPV in June or even Money in the Bank in July. While Ziggler figures to retain the title against ADR at Extreme Rules next month (assuming that match happens), we all know that the WWE loves to extend feuds long after they should have ended.
Since Ziggler is a heel, we probably shouldn’t expect a ton of clean title defenses, particularly because of his association with Big E Langston and AJ Lee. With two associates by his side, odds are that Ziggler’s title reign will be defined largely by cheap victories in which he enlists the help of AJ and/or Langston.
It would do wonders for Ziggler to be booked as a credible heel champion who doesn’t have to cheat to win, but this is the WWE we’re talking about here. It’s highly unlikely that Ziggler will suddenly go from losing the majority of his matches to consistently toppling babyface main eventers in clean fashion.
Much like the previous post-cash-in title reigns we’ve seen, Ziggler will probably not be booked as well as we’d like him to. After all, the WWE seems to have reverted back to short reigns for its World Heavyweight champions.
After Sheamus held the World title for roughly seven months in 2012, Big Show only held it for 72 days. Meanwhile, Del Rio’s title reign lasted just 90 days. Aside from Sheamus’ 210-day title reign last year and Kane’s 154-day reign in 2010, there have been a ton of really short World title reigns over the last several years.
Ziggler might very well be the next Superstar to suffer from the creative team’s tendency to hotshot the title from one guy to the next, but the optimistic side of me hopes that’s not the case. Ziggler has grown too much and stolen the show too many times over the last few years to be saddled with a forgettable title reign.
He should feud with ADR until Extreme Rules, soundly defeat him and them move on. But in all likelihood, those two will have a lengthy feud that keeps the belt on Ziggler but somehow ends up making ADR looking strong—because that’s what the WWE does with its babyfaces.
Ultimately, Ziggler may not have the greatest World title reign ever, but the WWE can’t possibly be stupid enough to only let him have the belt for two or three months, can it? I guess you never know, but I’d look for his run to last anywhere from four to six months and probably not much longer.
The creative team knows it can’t give Ziggler a ridiculously short title reign. At the same time, there are so many talented performers in the WWE right now and there have been a couple of short title reigns lately, both of which suggest that he’s not going to hold the belt very long, either.
A mediocre title reign is what awaits Ziggler because he’s a heel who won’t be booked all that strongly.
Once he’s done with Del Rio, he’ll likely move on to a rivalry with another top face—perhaps someone like Sheamus or Randy Orton. From that point, anyone he feuds with could potentially be the man who ends his reign.
For Ziggler’s sake, let’s hope the creative team doesn’t screw up his title reign. But for reality’s sake, let’s realize that the chances of that happening are pretty damn good.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!