Sunday 26 August 2012

Preparing a Heel

Judging by what happened at the conclusion of Friday’s SmackDown it would appear that a Ziggler versus Orton feud is in the works. This is just about the best thing that could happen to ‘The Show Off’. 

Orton is one of the best in WWE at helping others advance. He seems happy to lose cleanly to anybody, no matter their place in the company pecking order, and knows how to beat people without making them look inferior to him. This is the sort of opponent Ziggler needs if he is to establish himself as WWE’s newest headline star.

Orton’s programme with Wade Barrett earlier in the year helped the Mancunian get that little bit closer to the top, and his feud with Cody Rhodes last autumn made it seem as though the former ‘Dashing One’ was going somewhere too. Meanwhile Friday’s SmackDown saw him lose clean via submission to Alberto Del Rio and he famously lost the World Heavyweight championship clean to Mark Henry (yes, that Mark Henry) last October. ‘The Viper’ isn’t afraid of going under.

Dolph Ziggler has just finished a very short programme with Chris Jericho. While he was booked to lose at SummerSlam he did manage to pick up a win over ‘Y2J’ on RAW that has seen the rock star “fired” (in reality he’s on tour with Fozzy). Moving straight into a rivalry with another established star will help to lend credibility to ‘The Heel’ and keep him firmly at the top of the card.

That’s a good move. Instead of simply putting the belt onto him and expecting him to be accepted as a new main eventer Ziggler is being promoted as a main eventer before winning the gold.  Fans will view Ziggler as a headliner by the time he becomes champion, not a glorified mid-carder who got lucky with a briefcase. Very few people are elevated in this fashion by WWE these days. It should be done more often.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that Ziggler has developed an on-and-off rivalry with World Heavyweight champion Sheamus over the last several months. Challenging ‘Great White’ for the gold at No Way Out and on SmackDown has helped to present Ziggler as a headline star.
Dolph should really take better care of that briefcase
Working with Orton doesn’t just provide Ziggler with the opportunity to pick up wins, it helps him to appear as a top guy. Only established names or people WWE want to become established names get to work with Orton on pay-per-view. This feud will keep Ziggler around the top of the card and further advance his burgeoning headline career.

A match between the two at Night of Champions is a possibility. ‘The Apex Predator’ is set to leave WWE television after that show to film a movie for WWE Studios. ‘The Heel’ could be used as a way of writing Orton off of TV as he was with ‘Y2J’.

If Ziggler were to lose to Orton and then become World Heavyweight champion during his absence then the two would have a reason to be rematched against one another. This is already the case for Chris Jericho. Giving Ziggler feuds with big names like those at the start of his title reign would give him a good chance of having a memorable run.

That said a match between Ziggler and Orton at Night of Champions is by no means definite. Recent booking of the former Evolution member could indicate that he will be added to the Sheamus v Del Rio match on the show. Ziggler would then be left to cash-in, or at least tease a cash-in. Either scenario would work: ‘The Show Off’ could be used to get rid of Orton at the show whether he wrestles him or not and they could continue their feud upon Orton’s return.

In an ideal world I’d like to see him wait until December or early next year to cash in the briefcase but the fact that he’s tried using it several times in the last month makes me think WWE are keen to get the belt onto Ziggler sooner than that. He seems the likeliest candidate to take the belt from Sheamus. If someone else happens to beat ‘The Celtic Warrior’ then their immediate loss to Ziggler seems a safe bet (and that would give Ziggler yet another person to clash with).

It’s encouraging that WWE seem to be taking a longer approach than usual with promoting Dolph Ziggler. There’s less immediate gratification but a greater chance that ‘The Show Off’ will stick at the top when he finally wins a world title.

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