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.
5/21/14 Wrestler of the Week – Dolph Ziggler
When Daniel Bryan went out to have neck surgery, many wrestling fans believed that Dolph Ziggler was a prime candidate to fill the void left at the top of the card on the fan-favorite side of the ledger. Whether the WWE creative team agreed with that or not, one important person who felt the same way was Ziggler himself. He started to promote himself on Twitter and in his promos as a wrestler who could step up and hold a bigger role. While he had lost a great deal of momentum after his aborted World Heavyweight Title run a year ago, the underlying skill is still there and many fans felt that he just needed a chance to shine. Although he was not vaulted directly to the top of the card, his success over the last week was a solid step toward relevance and reminded those who had forgotten about Ziggler that he still has main event potential.
Ziggler’s hot streak started before this week, but he got more attention starting on Smackdown. He faced Batista in what was probably the most interesting matchup on the show. Ziggler used his selling skills to make Batista look very good in the early part of the match. Despite the strong booking behind Batista, Ziggler was able to build some momentum. He hit a leaping DDT to counter a move by Batista that was one of the better looking moves of the entire show. He strung together enough offense that Batista decided to get himself disqualified with a blatant low blow. He continued his assault after the DQ loss and ended it with a powerbomb onto the barricade. It is a great characteristic for a face to be able to sell his opponent’s offense, and this match reminded everyone that Ziggler can get fans behind him by working his way out of a difficult situation.
Ziggler did even better on Raw in tough circumstances against Mark Henry. He had the tough task of beating the World’s Strongest Man in under 4:15 in the last match of a Beat the Clock Challenge to become #1 Contender to the Intercontinental Title. As difficult as it is to wrestle an entertaining match in four minutes, it is double difficult to do it against someone who is so big that Ziggler’s only realistic chance would be to wear him down. Instead, Ziggler used the time limit to his advantage and built tension as the clock started to wind down. He got a two count off of a famouser and started to frantically go for bigger and bigger moves. When Henry caught him coming off the top rope, it looked like curtains for him, but he kicked out at two from a powerslam and was able to hit a Zig Zag just as the clock ran out to come out looking very strong despite the non-win. Ziggler actually benefits from the result because a win would line him up for a clean loss against Bad News Barrett.
In the big picture, it is not clear where Ziggler is headed. There is not a clear path from where he is to the WWE World Heavyweight Title picture and he would probably only lose to the lesser title-holders who are hot at the moment. The best case scenario for Ziggler is to find himself in an actual feud with a heel who has some heat, but against whom he stands a chance to come out ahead. Ziggler works so well in the ring and on the mic that he deserves strong booking. WWE has not booked guys like him particularly well outside of major title angles in recent years, so it is fair to question whether he can keep up the pace he established this week. Even if he can’t, these examples are fun to enjoy while they last we can always hope that Ziggler gets the big break he desires.