Booking Dolph Ziggler's 1st Real Championship Reign

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Booking Dolph Ziggler's 1st Real Championship Reign
Photo courtesy of WWE

There have been many, many world champions in professional wrestling history.

The World Heavyweight Championship in its current incarnation is shown as the second-most important title after the WWE Championship.

Still, it is quite the feat to attain "Big Goldie."  With the invention of the Money in the Bank contract, Superstars who normally aren't viewed as main event players or world championship candidates get a definite World title shot.

Booking the cash-in is important on its own, but for a new champion, especially one that hasn't really had a legitimate reign before, the next few months after the victory are much more important.

Dolph Ziggler cashed in on Alberto Del Rio to the delight of the entire Internet wrestling community.  It was long awaited and that moment, aided by the crowd's reaction, made the wait worthwhile.

This was done perfectly to set up Ziggler's first pay-per-view title defense: A Triple Threat match with Del Rio and former tag team partner Jack Swagger.

If Ziggler retains at Extreme Rules, and he should, he will have substantial momentum.  Swagger and Del Rio have looked very strong when they've attacked each other and are likely to continue a one-on-one feud after their championship rematches.  Re-inserting the championship will do nothing to further build up the bad blood between them.

After that, it is a mystery what WWE Creative will come up with.  But it is imperative to have a strong contender emerge for Ziggler to face in his first legitimate one-on-one feud as the champion.  Another vital component is that Ziggy must go over at least once to solidify his main event status.

Who should Ziggler feud with after Extreme Rules?

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Since Dolph is currently a heel and continues to cut heel promos despite his popularity, we can assume a top babyface will be the opponent.

An obvious choice to have a solid feud with Ziggler is Randy Orton.  Orton hasn't made his long-awaited heel turn just yet, and the Viper hasn't been in a World title feud for over a year-and-a-half.

There are still negatives, however.  Orton is still very likely to turn heel at any point.  A very popular opinion among insiders is that Randy would then challenge John Cena, possibly for the WWE Championship.  It would be a poor management decision to use one Superstar in a feud for both World championships in a four-month span.

Also, we have seen Ziggler and Orton work together many times since SummerSlam last August.  It's a feud we've seen in the midcard, and for it to become a World title feud with no real character or move set changes makes little sense.

For these reasons, it would not be a wise decision to have another Orton-Ziggler feud.

Another solid candidate is Christian, who is due to come back from shoulder surgery anytime now.  He is a former two-time World Heavyweight champion and has been known to WWE fans since the late '90s.  All the peeps would be pleased with the idea of Captain Charisma returning to promptly enter a World title feud, but this would also be a poor decision.

First off, Christian is more injury prone than almost everyone on the roster not named Rey Mysterio.  One botched move could terminate this feud prematurely and cool Ziggler down before he has a chance to look really good against him.

Jericho and Ziggler's encounter on last week's SmackDown

Another reason is that Christian is much better suited to be a midcard championship player at this stage of his career.  He has been at his best in tag teams or feuding for the Intercontinental Championship.  With young up-and-comers like Wade Barrett and Antonio Cesaro in the Intercontinental and United States Championship pictures, Christian's skills could be used much more efficiently to make these titles more important.  He could also push guys like Barrett and Cesaro to a new level.

While Orton and Christian are solid options, the best choice to feud with Ziggler is Chris Jericho.

Jericho is expected to return on a full-time basis in May after Fozzy's UK tour.  He has been performing as well as ever in the ring and is over as a babyface with casual fans and Internet fans alike.

They have kept this Ziggler feud growing under the surface since their SummerSlam encounter, which Jericho won, and the Contract vs. Briefcase match the night after on Raw, which Ziggler won.  They went head-to-head to start the Royal Rumble, where Jericho was eliminated by Ziggler after nearly 50 minutes.  Ziggler tried to get into the Elimination Chamber match for the sole purpose of taking Y2J out.

Most recently, Jericho and Ziggler verbally sparred and put on the main event match of last week's SmackDown.  After the match, Big E Langston and Ziggler decimated Jericho and left him at the mercy of the dastardly Fandango.

They've left a couple of windows open for Jericho once he is able to get into a full-time feud.  I'm sure he'll wrap up his beef with Fandango at Extreme Rules, which could allow Fandango to possibly move into a more fan-friendly role to capitalize on his new-found popularity.  This also gives Ziggler time to get through his Triple Threat match.

Jericho and Ziggler have interacted several times since Y2J's return on screen despite not having a PPV match in 2013

Although Jericho's main job of late is to literally job to anyone and everyone to build them up, it wouldn't make much sense to lose to Fandango a second time.  It meant a ton to Fandango to pick up a win at WrestleMania in his debut, but a second victory would only make Jericho look like he's lost a few steps and definitely tarnish his ability to have a credible World championship feud.

With the quality of matches he's had since his return in January, it would be a waste of Jericho's talents to sacrifice him to a tango-dancing midcarder.  Fear not, Fandango-ers.  At a themed PPV like Extreme Rules, a creative stipulation could be inserted to protect Fandango from looking weak this early in his career.  By the way, going 1-1 in a feud with a six-time World champion is still a great way to begin a career, especially with that victory coming at the Granddaddy of Them All.

Assuming he gets a much-needed victory, Jericho should come out of the Extreme Rules pay-per-view looking strong.  The easy way to book it would be to have Ziggler come out and boast about his victory against Del Rio and Swagger and have Jericho interrupt him.

They could get at least two great PPV matches out of these Superstars.  It would also allow Dolph to work on the microphone with one of the best talkers the business has ever seen.  The feud in 2012 had Vickie Guerrero doing most of the talking, so it would be a great opportunity for DZ to grow.  

If you're keeping score at home, that would push Ziggler's first legitimate world title reign to three months with three impressive PPV victories.

After that, there will be a Money in the Bank winner waiting in the wings and a completely different landscape among main event players.  We could see numerous swerves, character changes and debuts between now and the MITB pay-per-view in July.  

There will obviously be speculation about who Ziggler should face at that point heading into SummerSlam, but this much is true: If Dolph drops the World Heavyweight Championship before the August pay-per-view, it would be a missed opportunity to create a main event star for the next five years.

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