Without question, the rivalry between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler has been one of the finest rivalries to take place on WWE programming this year. I’ll even go as far as to say that in 20 years time, when the WWE Network is churning out retrospective documentaries called “The Greatest Rivalries of the New Era”, Ziggler and Miz are certain to feature heavily in it.
It has been a set-up with all the refinements of any great rivalry — two guys with completely different backgrounds and personalities, but who came up through the ranks in the same era, were taught in the same style and who fleetingly crossed paths many times over the years. They are opposites who attracted, who were well defined enough as characters and well known enough to one another for the promos to be electrifying and the matches to be intense. After a series of screwy matches in which Ziggler had his victory stolen from him, the stakes were raised in a career vs title match that ended the way it should have — with the heel finally getting his comeuppance.
Now, like with any title change, the loser is going to invoke his rematch clause and do everything to make the victor’s life miserable. This incredible rivalry continued in earnest last week on SmackDown Live, and we can all look forward to seeing who comes out on top in the final, grueling chapter.
But once that final match is had, that is where this feud must end. By no means forever — there is plenty of sense in having well matched wrestlers cross paths for years down the line — but Ziggler and desperately need to stay as far away from each other as possible for at least a year.
Ending the feud would not be to avoid repetitiveness — any true wrestling fan will appreciate blood feuds spanning months and even years. It isn’t even to ensure that the Intercontinental Championship is open for other talents in need of exposure to reach for, as important as that is.
Rather, it is for the good of Ziggler’s continued growth as a competitor. Because let’s be honest, he is a wrestler who WWE needs to keep sweet for a number of years if they’re going to continue to get the show-stealing performances that he is capable of. Let’s be brutally honest and say that before he and Miz crossed paths, Ziggler has been involved in some pretty lackluster feuds and some pretty lackluster matches.
His program with Baron Corbin felt ceaseless, lasting more than three months and failing to produce a single good promo, let alone a good match. He spent the entire time being knocked on his behind and made to look like a pathetic Scrappy Doo figure. It kept him in a state of stagnation and it did absolutely nothing to elevate the difficult Corbin.
His feud with Dean Ambrose had tonnes of promise, as his elevation to the top of the card and looseness on the microphone delivered the perfect renaissance for the “Show-Off.” But the match they had at SummerSlam? Fine. It was nothing special, and it didn’t tear the house down. Thatwas made less forgivable by the sheer amount of hype and promise behind the whole thing.
We can lay some of the blame for these letdowns on Ziggler’s opponents, who weren’t bringing it in the ring, but the sad fact is that both guys look like they suck if one guy isn’t carrying his weight.
Ziggler doesn’t just need to prove himself as a versatile champion. He needs to use the opportunity he has now that he has been placed at a peak to show that he is a versatile wrestler, able to put on a match of the year contenders with more guys. Otherwise, he’ll be remembered as a one-feud pony.