Dolph Ziggler’s career renaissance came as a result of a legitimate crossroads that nearly led him out of the WWE door. The writing had been on the wall for Ziggler for nearly three years, yet he managed to restore his credibility thanks to one memorable feud with The Miz. Dolph credited the brand split for allowing him to portray a more realistic persona, one without catchphrases and silly gimmicks.
Ziggler’s first program post-brand split was a surprising one with Dean Ambrose with the WWE World Championship on the line. Not surprisingly, he came out on the losing end, and it wasn’t until yet another pairing with fellow Cleveland native, The Miz, that fans got a true glimpse into the potential of the Dolph Ziggler character.
Fortunately for fans who wanted more of this reinvigorated Ziggler, he defeated The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship at No Mercy last month, after putting his career on the line. As we noted last week, Ziggler was already preparing for life after the WWE, having his agent line up projects outside the world of sports entertainment. His relationship with Vince McMahon had reached a point where the two felt they could put their cards on the table, and it resulted in Ziggler staying put.
With the recent inclusion of the Spirit Squad into the angle, it seemed only natural that Ziggler’s rivalry with The Miz would continue beyond No Mercy. After all, you could certainly make the argument that the two were delivering the most compelling segments on either RAW or SmackDown on a weekly basis. And when neither Dolph nor The Miz were named to SmackDown‘s Survivor Series team, it made that much more sense that they’d do battle again for the IC title at the pay-per-view on November 20.
But it doesn’t quite appear like the WWE is going in that direction. As seen this past Tuesday night, Ziggler answered an open challenge by making quick work of Curt Hawkins to retain his championship. But the bigger news came right after when he declared that since The Miz wouldn’t sign off on his rematch clause, Dolph would issue another open challenge at Survivor Series. The twist, however, came when he challenged anyone from the RAW roster.
And according to Cageside Seats, that challenge may be answered by Sami Zayn.
Since the brand extension, Zayn has yet to be featured in a program with any real significance. He found his way on the SummerSlam card at the last minute by teaming with Neville to take on The Dudley Boyz in a throwaway pre-show match. He did wrestle Chris Jericho at Clash of Champions, but the build was rushed and nothing to write home about.
More recently, Sami emerged as the first legitimate RAW star to step up and challenge Braun Strowman’s path of destruction. Strowman actually eliminated Sami last to win this past week’s Battle Royal to qualify for Team RAW’s Survivor Series squad. We even reported that due to a leaked image from WWE.com, Zayn would fill the final spot on that same team in two weeks.
The more likely scenario is that Seth Rollins fills that fifth spot, leaving Sami Zayn on the outside looking in. In which case, he could certainly make sense as a challenger to Dolph Ziggler’s Intercontinental Championship. The only other worthwhile candidate from RAW might be Rusev, but that rivalry was drawn out enough earlier this year. There had been some speculation that an NXT star could answer the call, seeing how they’ll be in town that weekend, but the specific challenge was made to any RAW superstar.
If it is ultimately Zayn, what would become of him and/or the IC title if he were to beat Ziggler? Would he move to SmackDown, or would the belt be the property of RAW?
The latter would be less likely considering the U.S. Title is already exclusive to Monday nights. If you recall, Sami was one of three RAW stars considered to be trade bait in the immediate aftermath of the brand split. Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Cesaro were all rumored at one point to be dealt to SmackDown, but obviously, none have. Owens figures to be a key figure on RAW for the foreseeable future, and Cesaro may have found a successful union with Sheamus. But a win over Dolph Ziggler at Survivor Series would certainly pave the way for Sami Zayn to make the move.
[Featured Image by WWE]