Thursday, 18 October 2012

Backing it Up

Three months and still no cash-in from Money in the Bank winner Dolph Ziggler. While it took John Cena all of eight days to trade in his briefcase for a chance to take the WWE championship from CM Punk 'The Show Off' is being made to wait for his moment in the spotlight.
Not rushing Ziggler's cash-in is a smart move. It allows speculation and anticipation to build up for the moment, and allows the booking team to seed 'The Heel' into main event storylines so that he doesn't look out of place when he captures the WHC.
A lack of preparation is something that has harmed a number of MITB victors upon cashing in. The Miz has slipped back down the card since his five month championship reign ended last May. A lack of credible opponents resulted in him having a less-than-memorable run. Jack Swagger had an even worse experience in 2010 and has an even worse position in the company now than does 'The Awesome One' (he's currently off TV while the booking team come up with something worthwhile for him to do).
CM Punk, now WWE's most over performer, was also short-changed by the writing team during his first Money in the Bank-induced World Heavyweight title reign in 2008. He was presented as a fluke champion and given no status enhancing victories over any existing headline talent. At the time (and in hindsight for that matter) it felt like a token attempt to create a new headline star, but one the company weren't willing to commit to seriously because they didn't think Punk would catch on.
Daniel Bryan very nearly had a disastrous first World Heavyweight title reign too. He was added to the feud between cumbersome lumps Mark Henry and Big Show after he won the title at TLC last December. Such a pronounced size difference would have ruined a lesser performer's prospects but 'D-Bryan' pulled through thanks to his ability to work convincing bouts with larger foes and the emergence of his "Yes!" catchphrase.
Ziggler's recent pay-per-view losses to Randy Orton and Chris Jericho may have felt like setbacks at the time but in the long run they're good moves. When (not if) 'The Heel' takes the World championship he will have two established and talented opponents to return the favour and put him over.
This of course raises the question of when Ziggler will cash in his case. The likelihood is that Ziggler will beat Sheamus for the title. Switching the belt to a heel only to have another heel beat them would seem counterproductive as it would instigate a heel versus heel programme, not something WWE is likely to want.

Is that a teal...?
Ziggler seems the safest bet to beat Sheamus for the title and it also seems reasonable to assume he'll do it soon. Sheamus has held on to the gold for well over six months and he has been booked so strongly it's impossible to imagine him losing the title clean. If Ziggler were to defeat Sheamus after he's been through a gruelling match with 'The World's Largest Athlete' it would create heat for the incoming champion and keep the Irishman strong.
Unfortunately the former Spirit Squad member's immediate prospects as champion don't look particularly rosy. Assuming (again) that he gets the WHC relatively soon there aren't that many challengers ready for him. Rematches with 'The Viper' and 'Y2J' would, as noted above, be a boon to a man enjoying his first proper world title reign but it's possible neither will come to pass: Jericho is not expected back in WWE until sometime next year and Orton will apparently be turning heel before the end of 2012.
Ziggler is guaranteed a memorable moment thanks to the Money in the Bank briefcase. I'm confident it will lead to a title victory. Good work has been done preparing him for the top of the card and the man himself has proven that he's ready for the promotion. I hope the writing team will be able to say the same when they have to write for a heel champion that isn't CM Punk.

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