The opening match of TLC 2011 saw Zack Ryder face the longest running current champion in WWE, Dolph Ziggler. The two had a solid contest that was highlighted by both men's athleticism.
In the end, Zack Ryder pulled out the huge win as he beat Ziggler cleanly, gaining his first United States Championship and his first singles title ever. The emotion Ryder showed along with his father was real and genuinely touching.
The question though is: where will this leave Ziggler? He has lost the title he has held for months on end. He lost to a star who has been quite simply a joke in WWE before the past few months.
In truth, this loss wasn't even a notch against Ziggler. In fact, Ziggler looks better than ever now with no midcard gold to defend while he heads toward the main event scene.
With CM Punk winning on Sunday against both Miz and Del Rio, there is probably not a better competitor for Punk to face at Royal Rumble than the show stealer himself, Ziggler.
Furthermore, Ziggler vs. Punk could be a big match for WrestleMania as both men can truly go, and a big stage could make it be even better if WWE decides to have Punk face Miz again at the Royal Rumble first.
This loss could also be a set up for a big Royal Rumble victory for Ziggler, who has never really had much success at the event up until now.
The most exciting element of this possible win at RR would be that Ziggler would have a chance at two amazing wrestlers at WrestleMania: CM Punk or Daniel Bryan, the new World Heavyweight Champion.
It seems unlikely because Bryan pinning Big Show seems to be hinting at a heel turn, but Bryan vs. Ziggler would be an amazing secondary WrestleMania main event for the PPV.
In the end though, it doesn't matter if Ziggler wins the Royal Rumble, fights Punk, or just makes a slower rise to the main event.
This loss for Ziggler was not a loss in the long term for Ziggler. It was a win for Ryder, and it was a definite long term benefit for Ziggler.
Both men are set for bigger things now, and I can't wait to see where it all leads.
Thanks for reading!