Dolph Ziggler has commenced stealing shows, and Tuesday night, he earned "biggest winner" status for his work on the mic, talent in the ring and development of character.
On the August 2 episode of WWE SmackDown, The Showoff's confidence was shaken by what he perceived to be a lack of belief in him by fans and peers alike. WWE champion Dean Ambrose told Ziggler he is not as good as he thinks he is, thus dooming him to defeat at SummerSlam.
With that seed planted in his head, a more focused and determined Ziggler hit the squared circle for a main event showdown with Bray Wyatt. Just one hour after firing off an impassioned promo in which he promised to roll into Brooklyn, New York, on August 21 and "beat [Ambrose's] ass," Ziggler withstood an onslaught from The Reaper of Souls and capitalized on an exposed turnbuckle to capture the win and secure his title opportunity.
For the first time in years, WWE built an entire broadcast around Ziggler. After so many months spent wallowing in mediocrity and winning midcard titles he had held countless times before, The Showoff seized the spotlight and rose to the occasion, becoming a breakout star in the latest incarnation of WWE's brand extension.
He may emerge from SummerSlam with the world championship, or he may slink off and get banished back to the midcard, where he will work with Baron Corbin every week until one of them loses an arm. But for the time being, Ziggler is making the most of yet another main event push that he should have enjoyed a long time ago.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Apollo Crews may have won the Triple Threat match to earn a WWE Intercontinental Championship match at SummerSlam, but it was Baron Corbin who left Tuesday's bout the biggest winner, as he laid waste to Kalisto and flattened champion The Miz with End of Days.
Sure, Kalisto had the flashier offense, and Crews looks like a star destined to achieve great things, but Corbin has the attitude, aura and presence of a phenomenon. More importantly, he generated a huge reaction when he planted Miz with his finisher.
Corbin is exactly the type of performer who will flourish under WWE's rules and regulations in the brand extension. He is a giant of a man with underrated athleticism and a track record of working main events in NXT alongside Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries and Neville.
He has all of the tools necessary to achieve great things. All he needs now is the opportunity. If the August 2 episode was any indication, his chance could come sooner than some expected.
Loser: Women's Wrestling
The treatment of women's wrestling on this week's show was abhorrent.
The brand extension should lead to increased visibility for the female competitors, giving them the chance to demonstrate their abilities and skills in expanded roles. Case in point—on the August 1 episode of Raw, Sasha Banks and Charlotte kicked off the show with an in-ring promo before segueing into a Mixed Tag Team match with Chris Jericho and Enzo Amore.
SmackDown should have followed in the wake of its competitor. Instead, it trotted out Becky Lynch for a match with Eva Marie, who "hurt her knee" coming off the middle rope and had to forfeit. Then, it set up an angle in which Carmella challenged Natalya for a match, only to be attacked from behind before the contest could start.
Not a single second of women's wrestling occurred Tuesday night. Instead, the show featured angles to set up potential feuds. It was all style and no substance. Unfortunately, none of the characters involved were developed whatsoever, leaving the viewer to wonder what the point of it all was.
Championship or not, the state of women's wrestling will die if only one brand of WWE presents it in the right manner.
Winners: American Alpha
Jason Jordan and Chad Gable exploded onto the screen Tuesday, defeating The Vaudevillains in a contest that amounted to a squash. Simon Gotch and Aiden English never had the upper hand, as American Alpha tossed them around the squared circle with suplexes and finished them off with Grand Amplitude.
On commentary, Mauro Ranallo compared the newcomers to The Steiner Brothers, with their amateur skills leading them to dominant victory.
He was not the only one, as former WCW competitor Scotty Riggs also called out the similarities:
Relating a new act to one that longtime fans are well aware of may set lofty expectations, but it also helps form a bond. If Gable and Jordan continue to perform at such a high level now that they are on the main roster, they will have no problem exceeding expectations and eclipsing the future Hall of Famers, Rick and Scott Steiner.