Dolph Ziggler walked out of MetLife Stadium without a belt, but he walked out of Monday Night Raw with the World title snugly around his waist. With his uncanny ability to sell and a long list of guys who can claim to have beaten him, his reign will reinvigorate SmackDown.
His successful Money in the Bank cash in on an injured Alberto Del Rio sent the raucous crowd into a frenzy and made him the unofficial face of SmackDown. But if there were ever a wrestler who could handle this position with ease and excel, it would be Ziggler.
As WWE.com says of him, he's good and he wants everyone to know just how good he is.
Ziggler first came to the WWE as part of the Spirit Squad. But after that team faded away, Ziggler didn't. He won the Intercontinental title from Kofi Kingston in 2010. He went on to hold the World title for 12 minutes and later the United States championship.
But it takes more than just an impressive background of title wins to make a superstar. It takes a complete image. As a heel, he has a different image to live up to than a face.
A face champion is a dominant force, one who isn't afraid of any man and won't back down from any challenge. They may not be the best wrestler, but they can excite the crowd with their ability to thrash the bad guy.
But the successful heel champion has to be strong and vulnerable in the ring. Even if he's a monster heel, at some point he gets rocked to the point of nearly getting beat. It's what gets the fans so excited, seeing the bad guy get his comeuppance.
This is where the new World champion will excel in his role and reinvigorate SmackDown.
Ziggler is one of the best sellers in the WWE. He makes every punch, kick, backdrop and slap look like they are wrecking his body.
Even in his World title match with Del Rio, there was a sense Ziggler could fail. An injured Del Rio was still able to knock Ziggler down and make him nearly tap out.
Every time he steps in the ring, Ziggler makes the other guy better. As a heel champion, every title defense will be one where he can make the WWE Universe think he's going to lose.
Nothing is more boring than watching a match knowing who is going to win. As evidenced by the last edition of Raw, title changes can happen on any show, not just pay-per-view. So Ziggler brings an element of the unknown every time he steps in the ring.
Couple this with the long list of men who beat Ziggler in the weeks prior to his title victory. Men like Sheamus, Del Rio, Daniel Bryan, Kane, The Miz and Ryback, to name a few. With the exception of Big Hungry, all of these men are former WWE and World champions.
What happens is classic wrestling storytelling. The champion is a heel who has many well-deserving and former champions on the hunt. When the champion steps in the ring, he looks to barely hang on to his title but manages to retain the belt anyway.
Ziggler, of course, is the one who makes this all possible by being able to sell anyone. In the process, it makes the other guys on the roster appear like the best talent around. It creates moments of uncertainty that translate into fun and excitement.
An anything-can-happen atmosphere makes for compelling television. Missing one episode means perhaps missing the biggest story of the year.
The longer Ziggler holds the belt, the better SmackDown will be for it.
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