Fact or fiction: Dolph Ziggler will lose and retire after No Mercy.
Joseph Nardone: Fiction. Either he will win and avoid retiring completely, or the worst-case scenario calls for him to lose then be off the picture-box for a little while. I can, in almost zero way, see a realistic situation where this ends up being his last match on a WWE broadcast.
Honestly, save for the HBK retirement match, how often does the “loser leaves town” gimmick actually stick?
That said, part of me wouldn’t mind it to be a credible thing. If Dolph lost and stayed gone, it would add a level of realism to the company the WWE has lacked since the Attitude Era.
Brandon Jackson: Fiction. Dolph is still too young and too talented to hang the boots up right now. But there is still enough uncertainty in this possibility to make the matchup interesting and must-see. Usually when these kinds of matches are made, we can look at context clues and pick a winner. But maybe this time could be different. It is totally within reason that Ziggler has had enough of WWE and made enough money to retire comfortably. And since he and The Miz are real-life friends, he could want this to be his last storyline and match.
Adam O’Brien: Half and half. As shocking as it would be to see The Miz come out of No Mercy with a victory, and maybe even a clean one at that, I still think there’s a chance it’ll happen. Looking at The Miz and Dolph Ziggler right now, the only one who’s shown any sense of development in the last few years is the Intercontinental Champion, and I just don’t see Ziggler going anywhere new with his career from this point forward unless he makes a big change.
That said, he is far too good of an athlete to just walk away from the business from an in-ring perspective. So even though I can see Ziggler losing Sunday, we definitely haven’t seen the last of “The Show-Off”.
Ronnie Rowlands: Fiction. The idea of Ziggler retiring is something that requires suspension of disbelief. It’s not common for an outgoing wrestler (at least, not wrestlers like Dolph Ziggler, who haven’t exactly attained legendary status) to be sent off in such a way. If Ziggler were really on his way out then there surely would have been a lot of leaked info about contract negotiations, no?
Despite the intriguing reasons for Ambrose and Cena to win the title, would it be a mistake to uncrown Styles so soon into his reign?
JN: Mistake is too strong a word. I think it makes sense, at least logistically speaking, to give Cena the title here if the WWE wants him to eventually beat Ric Flair’s record. Assuming the company would want him to eclipse that at a WrestleMania, coupled with Cena getting older, it would have to pull the trigger sooner than later.
Ambrose has no real chance of winning here.
Regardless, it might be a misstep if the WWE takes the belt of Styles, but it would only be a mistake of the strap went to Ambrose.
BJ: No it wouldn’t be a mistake for Styles to lose right now. It would be an unpopular decision, but not an unwise one, especially if Ambrose were to win. The story that Styles can’t beat Ambrose without cheating is a good one, and one that be told while Styles loses. It wouldn’t be the best decision, but depending on how the match ends up, it could be a defensible one. If Cena is the winner though, then yes that is a bad decision. WWE should be OK with Cena not getting his win back on these two opponents.
AO: It wouldn’t be the end of the world. Character-wise, AJ Styles might actually benefit from losing the title if it meant he could eventually reclaim the gold in a much more definitive way. If “The Phenomenal One” is good enough to pin John Cena clean at SummerSlam, he should be capable of kick-starting a career-defining title reign without having to kick someone in the groin to do it. It might actually provide Styles with an opportunity for growth on the SmackDown roster too. Personally, I don’t think he should lose the gold, but there are definitely options if he does.
RR: No, because it won’t hurt him a bit. He’s AJ Styles — he’s always going to be in the running for that championship, and if he isn’t even pinned in the match then there’s even less chance of him looking weak. The only negative consequence would be the rather frustrating “pass the parcel” style title switches on SmackDown, but they are at least going to worthy competitors. I’m pulling for Cena all the way on this one.
What will the WWE Universe be talking about come Monday morning?
JN: I imagine whatever the outcome from The Miz-Ziggler match ends up being. I sincerely think this bout has the chance to steal the show. Between the stakes (title versus career), coupled with the two knowing each other really well, we can have a shockingly intriguing match.
Obviously, if something else “stunning” were to happen, that would take the cake, but if were are viewing this strictly from a realistic, non-fantasy booking point of view, I imagine it is Ziggler-Miz.
BJ: We will once again be talking about how the WWE has failed Bray Wyatt. Until it shows me otherwise, I will not trust the company to give him a true win over a big star like Randy Orton. On Monday fans will be asking why Randy Orton needed to go over Bray Wyatt (and maybe even a returning Luke Harper?). The question will be what is next for Bray Wyatt? And the answer will be: nothing.
AO: The Miz. Win or lose, people are going to be speculating on where he can possibly go next to do justice to his recent rejuvenation. The Miz is on the verge of becoming the single hottest commodity in the WWE, which means that even if he happens to walk out tonight sans the Intercontinental Championship, the cluster of huge names at the top of the card isn’t too much for him to handle if WWE decides to push him all the way up. There is a WWE World Championship opportunity in The Miz’s future, and tonight’s events might just set the wheels in motion towards it.
RR: Dolph Ziggler winning the IC Title, maybe? There’s no way he’s losing, and he’s a guy with so much stock and goodwill with the fans that everyone starts getting excited when he makes any steps forwards. That, and I’m still convinced that Daniel Bryan is going to figure in that match somehow. WWE would be stupid to continue to let that “Talking Smack” promo a few weeks back slip into being forgotten.