The Stomping Ground: 2013 – Year of the Ziggler?

Well, that was a rather interesting show we got last Monday night! The Rock is back to promote the Road to Wrestlemania amidst lame “Cookiepuss” references (I wonder how much Carvel gets paid per reference) and awesome mic work from our current reigning, defending WWE Champion, CM Punk. I for one am excited at the prospect of a great Royal Rumble PPV, considered the title match and the fact that the Rumble itself is more unpredictable than the past few years would have you believe.

But I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that I’m not here to talk about the Royal Rumble or the WWE Championship, right?

There were three great moments on Raw this week: Antonio Cesaro’s Neutralizer to the Great Khali, the Punk pipe bomb that reeled in the IWC, and the opening contest between John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. While perusing the myriad columns recapping the show, I noticed one commenter in particular had already thrown in the towel in regards to Ziggler’s supposed push, believing that, because Ziggler lost clean and didn’t kick out of the AA, Dolph was headed toward a Zack Ryderesque de-push.

To steal a line from The Miz:

Really?

Really?!

Did you watch the same match I did? Dolph looked like a million bucks out there, countering Cena’s signature moves and getting a ridiculously absurd amount of near-falls on the man. It was the first official Raw match of 2013 and I thought it really delivered. My only gripe about it was the fact that Big E Langston was given the microphone and nearly botched his first words on live television just to awkwardly accept Cena’s invitation to a match for his boss.

History does have a way of repeating itself, and if the path Ziggler is headed on is any indication, he’s in for a hell of a main event run. I speak, of course, of the way his career these days is mirroring that of Edge. When Edge first cashed in Money in the Bank and shocked the world by defeating John Cena for the WWE Championship, the world wondered what kind of champion he would be. A couple of weeks later, Cena won the title back. They traded the gold a couple of times as Edge seemed to be on the losing end more often than not. Yet, while all of this was transpiring, Edge was clearly on his way to superstardom on account of his dastardly ways and his relationship with Lita (based on real-life issues that spilled into the kayfabe stories in the squared circle). Edge was reviled by fans and they were out for blood, willing to pay good money to see him earn his comeuppance. Once Edge was moved to Smackdown, he became the de facto heel and crown jewel of the B Show. Classic feuds against the Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, and Batista awaited Edge once he moved clear of Super Cena.

Now we find Ziggler in a similar situation. Thanks to the machinations of AJ Lee, Ziggler retained his MitB contract at TLC. Cena got his win back a couple of weeks later. Dolph currently holds the briefcase which grants the owner an opportunity at the World Heavyweight Championship (a Smackdown-exclusive title), which guarantees he’ll be spending more time on SyFy shortly. All great heels have at least one stat that they use to gloat about, to stick it to the audience when necessary and lord over their opponents. Ziggler needs that one moment before he can truly be called a main evener, and I think I know just the moment.

Let him cash in the title shot and win at Wrestlemania XXIX. Whoever holds the belt after a grueling match should be forced into another one when Dolph uses his opportunity. Let the exhausted opponent have a 7-8 minute battle with Ziggler and then the challenger can pick up the win on an already-fatigued man. The general public will hate Dolph for it, the smarks will bask in his glory, and Ziggler will have that one defining moment that he can always hold over everyone’s heads. Once that’s been accomplished, he can develop as a top heel on Smackdown without the looming presence of John Cena.

Of course, this might all be a pipe dream. However, I know I’m not the only one who thinks Ziggler is destined for great things in 2013.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

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