Dolph Ziggler is a weird talent to evaluate. Many adored him to the point of absurdity nearly two years ago, but thanks to the WWE’s inability to book him properly, those same fans soured on the talent. Not that anyone disliked his in-ring ability, character, or his overall vibe, but the vote was in — Ziggler would never get a platform worth his skill set, so a level of indifference set in.
It would make sense. After all, why invest in a character who works for a company that won’t invest in him?
Oddly, the WWE has since changed its mind on Ziggler since the brand split. Needing new main-event level superstars, Vince McMahon and crew turned back to Ziggler to help right the SmackDown Live ship. Luckily for fans, he was more than ready to help fill the void.
More importantly than that, he’s not treating this opportunity afforded to him as some stop-gap for Ambrose’s push. Instead, he has turned this entire angle on its head, making the most of his chance and turning this storyline into how great Ziggler is in reality.
On Tuesday night, Ziggler and Ambrose joined The Miz for a little talk. Everything began as normal for any segment involving The Miz. Then, well, Ziggler happened. He cut a rather scathing promo on Ambrose. A game-changing type. While The Miz seemed to particularly enjoy it in the background, it was a heated promo that culminated in a kick to the WWE World Heavyweight champion’s face.
It was the sort of promo — and, really, end to a promo — that makes one buy back into the idea of Ziggler. That if he cares, and the WWE cares enough about him to push him, he’s as interesting a character and performer as the company has.
This was his second great promo of this feud. The other being the one where Ambrose tried to say Ziggler cared more about looking good in matches — which is ironic given how bad Ambrose has been in the ring the last year — but didn’t care enough about winning. Ziggler’s retort? “I get it,” he said. “You started from the top and now you’re here.” A reference to how he started out in the Spirit Squad while Ambrose started in the Shield, a faction that was near the main event the moment it formed.
Thanks to Ziggler stepping up his game since the brand split, the tide has shifted in this entire feud. Ambrose came in as a fan favorite, but now he’s walking on the tweener tightrope and his very best ability — to talk — isn’t looking so great when trying to do so next to the challenger.
Ziggler, on the other hand, came in as a face, but one whose push was coming 18-24 months too late. Thanks to the his amazing resurgence, though, whatever feelings fans had prior no longer matter.
While a large section of the WWE Universe was unsure as to how excited they can be for this match, as the outcome seemed obvious from the get-go, Ziggler “showed off” his abilities with words in a way that has changed many a wrestling fan’s mind — to the point that some fans are now rooting for him to beat the champion.
Whether or not the WWE pulls the trigger and allows for a Ziggler era to run roughshod over SmackDown remains to be seen. But if the company was previously positive that Ambrose was walking out of SummerSlam as the champion, thanks to Ziggler’s performance the last few weeks, all involved might be slightly less sure now — in a good way.