Alberto Del Rio left Money in the Bank still the World Heavyweight champion, but his victory over Dolph Ziggler wasn’t exactly squeaky clean.
After a great back-and-forth battle, Del Rio was only able to retain his title via disqualification after AJ Lee attacked him with her Divas Championship.
It’s rather obvious what’s going to happen next, isn’t it? The feud between Del Rio and Ziggler is going to continue.
The WWE is clearly starting to get behind Ziggler as a babyface, and despite a rocky start to his face turn, the raucous ovation he received from the Philadelphia crowd at Money in the Bank was a sign of good things to come for Ziggler the hero.
Further developing Ziggler’s transition to his new babyface role was the finish of the match, which saw AJ randomly enter the arena and “inadvertently” cost Ziggler the match by attacking Del Rio in plain view of the referee.
But what is it really inadvertent, or was this the moment that will ignite the breakup of Ziggler and AJ?
That’s the million-dollar question right now, and WWE fans will be looking for answers on Monday Night Raw, the first episode on the road to SummerSlam.
And if you’re wondering what the World Heavyweight Championship match at the SummerSlam PPV is going to be, it’s safe to say you can pencil in Ziggler vs. Del Rio in that slot.
The double turn at WWE Payback that saw Ziggler go face and Del Rio go heel resulted in ADR becoming pretty hated pretty quickly, likely because he wasn’t very over as a babyface. As for Ziggler, his transition to babyface has been a bit more of a bumpy road, one that’s taking a little more time to develop.
But the gradual turn of Ziggler and his failure to regain the world title at Money in the Bank isn’t a step backward. There’s a method to the madness, after all.
In order for Ziggler to truly get over as a babyface, he was always going to have to do more than just get kicked in the head and quickly lose his title. He needed to do something that would give the fans a reason to feel genuinely sympathetic toward him—other than being a great seller and wrestler, that is.
What transpired at Money in the Bank last night will trigger that sympathy.
Countless wrestling fans can relate to being screwed over by someone they thought could trust, and at last night’s pay-per-view, Ziggler was—whether purposely or not—undoubtedly screwed by AJ.
It’ll definitely be interesting to see exactly how this story plays out on the road to SummerSlam, but the obvious direction is the right direction: AJ purposely screwed Ziggler out of the title.
AJ is a full-fledged heel right now, and with Ziggler going face, it makes perfect sense for AJ to turn on Ziggler in the coming months while Ziggler tries to regain the world heavyweight title AJ prevented him from winning at Money in the Bank.
As for Alberto Del Rio, he is merely a pawn in the game that is the developing story between AJ, Ziggler and Big E Langston.
Although it’s certainly a good sign for ADR that the creative team has enough confidence in him to give him yet another world title run, he’s here merely because the pieces fell perfectly in place for him.
Del Rio needed to turn heel. The WWE wanted Ziggler to turn face. So the company decided Del Rio was a quality enough heel to serve as the catalyst for Ziggler’s face turn and the heel Ziggler will eventually triumph over.
The true battle Ziggler will be embroiled in over the coming months is with AJ. Del Rio will serve merely as a means to end—that end being Ziggler winning back the World Heavyweight Championship.
Ziggler doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of top babyfaces like John Cena and Sheamus and be the babyface who always triumphs over evil. That would make him become very stale very quickly as a babyface.
If Ziggler is going to thrive as a babyface, he will have to overcome obstacles. Luckily, he hit his first major one at Money in the Bank when he was shafted out of potentially winning the World Heavyweight Championship.
Don’t worry, though. Ziggler will get another chance.
At SummerSlam, Del Rio will defend his World Heavyweight Championship against Ziggler, and don’t be surprised if “The Showoff” wins the title at that pay-per-view in what will definitely be his breakout babyface moment.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!