As Dean Ambrose tends to his wounds, WWE would be smart to slide Dolph Ziggler into his spot.
Seth Rollins' vicious attack on Monday's Raw likely leaves the roster without one of its hottest babyfaces, but the company can minimize the loss by focusing more on Ziggler. The Showoff's charisma, in-ring excellence and a potential redemption storyline make him an ideal candidate to fill in for Ambrose.
Ambrose has been a vital asset as of late.
His brawl in the parking lot with Rollins was one of Battleground's most memorable moments. At SummerSlam, the two former members of The Shield thrilled the Staples Center crowd with a Lumberjack match filled with highlights.
Ambrose hunting down his former brother-in-arms has been one of the most compelling stories in WWE programming this year. Whether he was tearing out of over-sized presents or dumping an ice bucket over Rollins' head, The Lunatic Fringe has provided a number of lasting images.
That will come to a stop for now after a heinous attack and a movie deal.
On Monday's Raw, Rollins stomped Ambrose's head into a stack of cinder blocks. Medical staff had to then roll the unhinged one out of the arena.
WWE.com later reported, "Ambrose has not only refused treatment but is reportedly missing after escaping WWE medical personnel altogether."
That is apparently a cover story for Ambrose shooting a movie. PWInsider's Mike Johnson writes, "Ambrose was expected to take time off to film the WWE Studios 'Lockdown' film so that may have been the storyline exit for him to do the film."
Marc Graser of Variety had reported earlier that Ambrose would headline the film and that production would start this month.
The timing lines up. The Lockdown crew will get a manic, passionate performer while WWE looks to be without the rising star for a number of weeks.
Exit Ambrose; enter Ziggler.
Fresh off winning his second Intercontinental Championship, Ziggler can provide the kind of excitement that Ambrose has been. There hasn't been much of a story to his rivalry with The Miz, but there has been some high quality in-ring action as fans saw at SummerSlam.
Michael O'Brien of Give Me Sport wrote that Ziggler delivered "a satisfying performance" at the pay-per-view. Writing for WrestlingNewsSource.com, John Canton said of Ziggler vs. The Miz, "The energy was high from the start of the match, and they had a lot of chemistry with each other."
That was with an undercard bout with little build. Given more focus and airtime, similar to what Ambrose was getting, Ziggler will thrive.
Ziggler's ring prowess begs for him to get longer, more high-profile matches.
He had the best match of the tournament to decide the No. 1 contender for the IC title, a standout effort vs. Bad News Barrett. The year has also seen him put on a number of stellar performances opposite both Rollins and Batista.
The intensity of his emotions in the ring and how dramatically he reacts to pain in the ring makes it easy to get ensnared by the action. When Batista dodged Ziggler's Fameasser attempt in their battle on May 23, The Showoff made fans wonder if he had legitimately torn a ligament.
Whether it's with The Miz or a new challenger, WWE benefits from highlighting Ziggler's attempts to keep the IC title around his waist.
Seeing him rise will be a welcome change of pace. Ziggler's fanbase, patiently waiting for him to get a push, will be thrilled to see his fortunes change.
In his first interview after winning the IC title for the second time, The Showoff showed off how he can temporarily replace Ambrose outside of the ring as well:
He was genuine, magnetic and brimming with emotion. He talked of "delivering the goods every single night" and how much the title meant to him.
That's the kind of performance that belongs on Raw—not just on WWE App and YouTube exclusives.
It's clear that he's ready for more spotlight and mic time. Let him pour out his heart in front of the camera more often. Let him fill the void that Ambrose's exit creates.
There's an intriguing story to tell here as well.
After losingso often, struggling to be anything other than filler after his world title reign ended last year, Ziggler's next steps could be proving just how far he's come. This part of his journey would be about him clinging tight to his new prize, surviving tough challenges and continuing to pick up momentum.
A redemption narrative would be fun to watch.
Ziggler's joy could increase as his hot streak rolls on. Have him defend the title on Main Event and SmackDown, celebrating each new victory with greater emotion.
That will make his eventual defeat far more meaningful. For now, though, put a mic in his face, stick him in the ring and let him fly.
WWE is going to need a babyface on the upper-midcard. Ambrose was thrilling fans with his unstable mental state and wild brawls; Ziggler is a worthy replacement.
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