Dolph Ziggler is the new WWE Intercontinental champion and many fans were indeed surprised by his win. It’s not that Ziggler couldn’t be a contender. He has always performed at a very high level and could have been slid into a top spot whenever the company wanted him there. But more often than not, he wasn’t used in that role.
Of course now that he’s there, many are anticipating a betrayal. Ziggler’s closest confidant is Drew McIntyre and he may be the best possible choice to eventually become a power player on Monday Night Raw. If that happens, then he may very well destroy The Showoff on the way up.
It’s a move that many saw coming from day one. Ziggler has been treading water for the past few years in WWE. While other Superstars rose in the ranks, Dolph remained stationary. He continued to deliver five-star matches against some of the best in the company but he gained no forward momentum.
Watch Ziggler defeat Rollins on Raw:
Ziggler actually seemed content with standing in one place. From a fan’s perspective, Ziggler was not living up to his full potential. But WWE and Ziggler himself may not have shared that opinion. Dolph is one of the best in the business and WWE trusts him to step up whenever his time comes. Ziggler has done just that and he’s always given everything he has to the company.
He may not be world champion and he may not be the top guy. But Dolph Ziggler is arguably the best pure athlete in WWE and he certainly has the respect of his peers in the locker room. Ziggler can work with anyone and he proves his worth night after night. Dolph is a valuable star and there is no denying that.
So it’s reasonable to assume that if anyone can give Drew McIntyre an assist on the way up, it’s Dolph Ziggler. WWE’s focus isn’t on Dolph but rather the guys that Dolph can make along the way. Is McIntyre the next guy?
Before Drew does anything in terms of moving forward, WWE must address Ziggler’s own spot. He is the new Intercontinental champion and he beat the man that may be the best in WWE, Seth Rollins. Rollins was a fighting champion and he delivered some of the best work in his career over the past several months. He raised his value every time he stepped into the ring and that may be why he dropped the belt to Ziggler.
But while Seth could also be headed back up the ladder in WWE, Ziggler is now left to represent the championship left behind. It’s a very familiar role for him and it’s one that he likely wholeheartedly embraces.
Watch Rollins invoke his rematch clause on Ziggler:
Dolph is at his best when he’s trying to prove himself and he does that all the time. Winning the IC title is surely not a throwaway moment for him. He’s worn it with pride before and he will do it again. But this time around, he definitely has some big shoes to fill.
The biggest difference however is that Dolph’s a heel and heels typically don’t give an honorable effort. Ziggler is arrogant, he’s cocky and he’s very egotistic. He doesn’t view the belt as a reward, he views it as validation. Ziggler believes he is the best in the business and he feels he only has himself to thank for his success. Rollins may have cared about the fans but Ziggler couldn’t care less.
Rollins also didn’t have backup. Therein lays the point of Ziggler’s championship win. Dolph is the Intercontinental champion because eventually, it’s likely going to become a problem between him and McIntyre. Dolph is a fixture in WWE and has been for years. He knows who he is and what he can do. He’s confident in his abilities and he’s comfortable. He’s perhaps a bit too comfortable.
Drew McIntyre however is hungry. He’s anxious. He wants to show the world that his first run in WWE was just a rehearsal and now he’s ready for the big show. Drew’s mission has been to weed out the locker room and dispose of anyone that is too complacent. If a guy isn’t working hard enough or doesn’t deserve it, then that guy will probably run into McIntyre at some point.
For many fans, Drew is the perfect candidate to replace Roman Reigns as the face of WWE. Reigns has always struggled for acceptance and it’s a fight he may never win. Some have suggested the time is right for WWE to make a change and Drew McIntyre may be the best candidate to step up and shine. Of course while Roman’s critics would love to see that happen, no one seems to be concerned about how a quick rise could negatively affect McIntyre.
Watch Ziggler and McIntyre celebrate backstage on Raw:
The last time a big guy was rushed up and given one opportunity after another, the fans rejected him. Roman is a star and has earned his spot but he’s not what the majority of fans wanted. If WWE moves too fast with Drew, the same outcome could happen. McIntyre may not be a babyface but once the fans decide WWE is forcing a guy on them, it’s difficult to change that perception.
So even though Drew could surely handle the pressure and would likely excel in a top spot, there’s no need for WWE to move too quickly. McIntyre needs time to connect and to build his main event resume. What better way to do that than by working at the side of a proven main event star?
McIntyre and Ziggler are allies. But that will probably not last. Heels usually do not give anything to each other and they trust no one. Ziggler is the brash but talented Superstar. Drew is the intense and punishing big man. They may remind fans of Shawn Michaels and Diesel but this is a different situation.
Ziggler is probably not on his way to the promised land of WWE but his partner may be heading in that direction. Any help that Ziggler could provide to McIntyre would certainly help the big man and Dolph may finally get some overdue elevation along the way. Fans know what each man brings to the table. Though it’s a familiar story, it will surely be an entertaining one.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, iHeart Radio, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com