3/27/14 Wrestler of the Week – Dolph Ziggler

The Wrestler of the Week award is designed to highlight a wrestler who made the most of his or her opportunities in a given week. While great matches or memorable promos certainly help a wrestler win Wrestler of the Week, the ultimate decision will also include consistency through the week and bonus points for pulling off a task with a higher degree of difficulty. 

3/27/14 Wrestler of the Week – Dolph Ziggler

While the cream of WWE’s crop spent the last week in Wrestlemania buildup mode, there were a couple of gems in the mid-card who carried Raw and Smackdown. While Seth Rollins helped The Shield sell a brutal beatdown on Friday and stole the show in a fantastic match on Monday, it was Dolph Ziggler who had the most impressive performances across the board. He wrestled four matches on WWE’s top three shows, regained some of the momentum he lost of the second half of 2013, and at least raised the possibility that he will come out of Wrestlemania with a modicum of the popularity he had at the same time last year.

Ziggler got his week off to a great start with a fun match against Damien Sandow on Smackdown. Sandow, like Ziggler, plummeted after a Money in the Bank cash-in failed to turn him into a megastar overnight. Unlike Ziggler, Sandow does not have the persona nor the in-ring ability to automatically generate more heat when put in front of the camera. Nonetheless, the two did a nice dance on Smackdown and Ziggler managed to put Sandow over as a legitimate threat despite his recent failures. Ziggler pulled off a win in rare fashion- he got a three count from the Famouser. One thing the WWE Network has reminded me is that many matches used to end with non-finishing moves. If Ziggler’s match is an indication that WWE is willing to move back in that direction, it would be a welcome turn of events to help pace matches in a more unpredictable fashion.

On Raw, Ziggler got to participate in a fatal fourway with Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, and Christian with the opportunity to face Big E for the Intercontinental Title on the line. While all four participants got their chance to shine, it was Ziggler who stood out as the top wrestler in the match. He rolled through Christian’s top rope cross body a la Ricky Steamboat to get a two count. He also delivered an excellent top rope facebuster to Christian to nearly pin him again. It looked like Ziggler was going to take the match when he hit a Zig Zag on Sheamus while the Irishman powered out of a Cross-Armbreaker, but an opportune Killswitch earned Christian the victory.

Unfortunately, Christian also suffered a concussion in his win, so WWE audibled into a triple threat rematch for the remaining trio on Main Event for the title shot. Once again, Ziggler led the action and eventually won with a Zig Zag on Del Rio. The match played to Ziggler’s strengths because it was extremely up tempo and highlighted his ability to string together shockingly athletic maneuvers. The following match with Big E did not live up to the same standard. Whether it was his fatigue, Big E’s inexperience, or the rushed pairing, they did not deliver like Ziggler’s other three matches. Nonetheless, for a fourth televised match of the week, I cannot hold it against him.

The night after Wrestlemania XXIX, the fans at Barclays Center went absolutely bonkers for Ziggler as he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to take the World Heavyweight Title from Alberto Del Rio. Shortly thereafter, a nasty concussion and a loss of screen time set him back very far and forced him to start almost from scratch. Almost exactly a year later and in the same building, we saw what might be the building blocks of a new path to success for Ziggler. Although decidedly out of the main event, there is reason to be optimistic about Ziggler at Wrestlemania and beyond for the first time in months.