Dolph Ziggler was here to show the world. But is he only showing us that he’s destined to remain a midcarder?
With six days until SummerSlam, Ziggler had to promote his upcoming match. On Raw, management gave him the important job of watching a tag match on a monitor for all of five seconds. Meanwhile, his opponents for the show, AJ Lee and Big E Langston, jobbed to the comedy team of Natalya and The Great Khali.
That's not too encouraging.
For years, fans had been anticipating a Dolph Ziggler face turn. He was just so good as a heel, it would be interesting to see what he could do when fans were allowed to cheer him. So far it's been underwhelming.
Ziggler has the look, and can bump like no one’s business. He is perhaps the most athletically gifted man on the entire roster. And when fans debated who may be John Cena’s eventual successor, his name was often brought up.
There’s no reason to believe that he’ll be headlining pay-per-views anytime soon. If he tries hard enough, he may settle in as the company’s No. five babyface behind Cena, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and Sheamus. This is a far cry from where he should be.
So what went wrong?
Dolph Ziggler was hitting career highs just earlier this year. He had feuds with Punk and Cena, and was growing more comfortable on the mic. AJ Lee spurned Cena, and joined him instead. It gave him a big storyline to work with.
Things were looking good.
But WWE creative didn’t get behind him. He lost to Cena, and then he kept on losing. Despite the addition of Big E Langston, he just lost some more. And even when he captured the World Heavyweight Championship in one of the most exciting moments of the year, he just continued on his losing ways.
He was cast as just one big loser.
When the three aligned, it initially felt like this was creative's attempt to get behind him. But before they were ever pushed as threats, they were broken up. It wasn't enough time to make anyone care.
AJ and Ziggler didn’t get together until late last year. This wasn't Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth calling it quits. This was one heel breaking up with another heel after a few months.
So, after Ziggler dropped the gold, WWE gave us a double turn. Alberto Del Rio went back to his evil ways, and Ziggler was finally going to be a face. It should have been a big moment. It was a long time in the making.
Since 2005, Ziggler has been a heel. His entire WWE run. There should have been big plans for what he would do next. Top heels should have been lined up, with a solid gameplan to take him to the top. And the prior mistakes of Del Rio and Miz's babyface runs should have been fresh on the company's mind.
It was all an afterthought though. He lost his rematch against Del Rio, and back to the midcard he went. Now at the second biggest show of the year, he's battling his former bodyguard and girlfriend, and is forced together with Kaitlyn in an awkward pairing.
If WWE wasn't going to go all in on Ziggler as a good guy, it would have been best to wait. It was a rare opportunity to turn a guy who has been a heel for eight years. WWE creative let him down. His material has been weak. He shouldn't be asked to tell bad jokes while AJ destroys his clothes.
Vince McMahon just seems preoccupied right now. He has too many other toys to play with: The Wyatt Family, Brock Lesnar, babyface CM Punk and of course Daniel Bryan. Don't forget his family drama has also hogged too much of the spotlight.
Imagine if Ziggler still had the title in his possession, and was feuding with a babyface Mark Henry or Big Show at SummerSlam. He'd have a nice run by now, and a win against a legitimate threat would have given him some much needed credibility.
Instead, he's basically doing the same shtick he's always been doing, but with more smiles. That seems to be the WWE standard these days.
Of course, there’s always time to fix an act. Ziggler is still incredibly talented and has years ahead of him. But there’s no denying he’s lost a lot of steam.
The Showoff is still attempting to steal the show, but he’s usually forgotten by the end of it instead.