WWE's new World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler is being held back by having both AJ Lee and Big E Langston flank him.
Jack Tripper and The Shield may think that three is company, but in Ziggler's case it makes for a crowded situation, one that too often leaves him looking more feeble than formidable.
Cartoon villains tie women to train tracks and wrestling villains get their managers to cheat for them. That's just what they do. With Ziggler, though, there is so much outside interference in his matches that is leaves him little opportunity to much damage on his own.
This will continue to be the case as long as he heads to ringside with AJ and Big E.
They both have to make themselves useful and justify their presence so they will both distract and take cheap shots at every turn. Ziggler is left looking unworthy of his championship status.
Flash back to his recent match with Kofi Kingston on WWE Raw. As Kofi headed to the top rope, AJ hopped up on the apron and distracted the ref. Of course, this is a wrestling heel staple. It's the attack from Big E immediately following that feels like overkill.
This is how Ziggler is achieving the majority of his wins. The fact that Ziggler consistently needs cheating to beat WWE's fan favorites just makes him a typical heel. The fact that he needs it in double doses each time makes him appear to be an inferior opponent.
With Ziggler now world champion, it makes more sense for him to trim down his posse.
AJ and Big E helped get him into this position and now he needs to prove that he deserves to stay there. It doesn't need to be a completely solo effort, but the ratio of Ziggler-driven success to outside help needs to shift.
Many of the great heels of the past had help, but usually just a single manager, not a valet/girlfriend and a bruising bodyguard.
Gorgeous George had his perfume-spraying valet. Roddy Piper had Bob Orton Jr. Edge had Lita. Ziggler would be better off emulating these men and paring down his entourage.
Right now, Ziggler is in limbo between solo and stable.
An official name for his group and a few added members and it becomes a full-fledged stable. That scenario, though, is more about the group as a whole. If WWE wants Ziggler to be the star, to be the kind of top-level villain that he can be, he must get rid of either his muscle or his girl.
As of now, his overdependence on them is his biggest weakness.
Besides, this trio's relationship is ripe for storylines of division and mutiny.
Big E may tire of being in Ziggler's shadow. Ziggler may believe Big E is holding him back. AJ may turn on Ziggler and vice versa. Harmony and unity don't often last long in WWE's world.
Expect things to fall apart for Ziggler and his crew soon.
While the person who gets booted from the group will suffer, Ziggler will benefit from ditching either AJ, Big E or both. The Show Off needs a little more room to work, to clear the stage for this next phase of his performance.