Tonight SmackDown presents it’s second brand exclusive PPV since the draft – No Mercy. Can I just take a second to say how awesome the theme song is this time round?
But anyways, with a PPV comes my PPV Spotlight. And I think it’s only fair that I look at two men who have been delivering absolutely stellar performances over the last few months. And on top of that, there’s the Intercontinental Championship and a career on the line. It can only be The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler.
Since the draft, Ziggler has been fired up. Like, really fired up. His character had gotten stale, and it seemed like the fans, who so often have rallied behind him when they felt like he was being misused, had finally lost some interest. But on the first SmackDown post-draft, he suddenly became the number one contender to the WWE Championship.
Yes that was a bit random, and yes in storyline it was relatively undeserved. But WWE played that up, and the promos between Ziggler and Ambrose with Dean doubting Dolph were great. Then after that, he went up against The Miz, and with every passing week and every passing failure he has gotten a little more desperate, which has made his promos that bit more emotional, which in turn has made them a bit more real.
Talking of real, Miz hasn’t been too shabby himself. Immediately following the brand extension, he was put into a forgettable program with Apollo Crews that could have been great had Crews been pushed properly beforehand.
Then things kicked into another gear with a simple interview segment on Talking Smack with Daniel Bryan.
Here’s the thing, at the time I didn’t get the hype. I thought it was a good promo, but I didn’t see why everyone was raving about it in the same way as when everyone was buzzing about Ricochet vs Will Ospreay. But the change in The Miz that’s come out of it has been something special.
Ask me six months ago if I would ever take The Miz seriously as a title contender again, and I would’ve said no. And I don’t just mean the IC belt, I’m now talking about a world title. I’m not saying he’ll win one any time soon, but if he continued the momentum he has right now was pushed appropriately, I would buy him as a challenger.
These two have been facing off against each other for weeks now. And it has gotten to the point where I think their match tonight could really be something special. A big part of that is that I’m not sure who’s going to win, and whenever you have that doubt it is automatically more exciting because you buy into the false finishes so much more easily.
The way the story has been set up, with Miz highlighting all of Dolph’s previous failures, with Ziggler having opportunity after opportunity in recent months to win titles, and falling short, it feels like Ziggler has to win. This will be his moment of triumph, his ultimate redemption, where he can bury his demons and prove to himself he is still relevant, and can still deliver when it matters.
But here’s the thing, I don’t think that will happen.
My gut instinct is that Dolph is on the way out. There were rumours around a year ago that he would be leaving WWE when his contract was up, and although there were reports he had signed an extension they were quickly retracted.
The way he has been booked for the last year shows no evidence that WWE were booking him with a future in mind. Especially his feuds with Tyler Breeze and Baron Corbin – he was booked to be the veteran that was putting over the newcomer. The issue was that Dolph had long since been a threat himself that it didn’t say too much for Corbin when he went over.
There’s also the history between Dolph and Miz that WWE haven’t really gone into that much. They are both from Cleveland, they started in WWE at around the same time and are legit friends behind the scenes (even appearing on the first episode of Ride Along together). My point with this is, if Dolph got the choice of who to put over on the way out – and I don’t know if that’s how it works – I can feasibly see him picking Miz.
The other aspect of this is, if Ziggler regains the Intercontinental Championship, where does that leave Miz? As I’ve alluded to several times already, he has been incredible these last few weeks. With the WWE Title picture currently filled with AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and the heel champion, AJ Styles (something I don’t anticipate changing tonight), where would Miz fit in? He’s far more likely to get screwed over considering the roll he’s on should he lose the belt, and WWE should take every opportunity they get to cash in when someone’s hot.
And I know the Intercontinental Championship has gotten a boost with The Miz’s reign, but how much of a reward would it really be for Dolph? He is already a four-time Intercontinental Champion, in any other situation, it would be a sign of stagnation more than anything. If Dolph wins, he has to move on from The Miz eventually, and unless it’s against a top heel the reactions will cool and the shine will fade.
If Miz wins, he can brag about ridding the WWE of Ziggler for months, keep on rebuilding both his own reputation and that of the Championship, and most of all, when he does eventually lose it, it will be a huge deal. Someone will have accomplished something a former two-time World Heavyweight Champion couldn’t do, and that nobody will have been able to do since essentially Wrestlemania. Hopefully by that time, Miz will be so hated he wouldn’t lose much by losing the title.
I suppose what I’m saying here is that logically speaking, for me all signs point to The Miz winning, and Dolph Ziggler leaving WWE. Both from what we’ve seen so far, what I’ve half guessed from behind the scenes, and the potential future stories both could be involved in.
But if it is the end for Dolph, I’ll be sad to see him go, and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it.