Sami Zayn has hit a real slump.
He celebrated the biggest win of his main roster WWE career thus far when he beat his long-time friend and rival Kevin Owens in a match that seems to have definitively ended this phase of their eternal feud at Battleground, but since then, he’s all but disappeared. Sure, he’s been considered as a contender for the Universal Championship twice, but both times he came up empty and faded right back into the background. A team with Neville and a feud with Chris Jericho have came and gone without leaving much of an impact on anything.
Things finally seemed like they were going to heat up for Sami when he stood up to Braun Strowman, telling the big man bully that the line would be drawn here, this far, no farther. But the former Wyatt shrugged his challenge off, evidently not considering the Underdog from the Underground to be worth the challenge, and it seemed as if he’d drift again, lost at sea. And then the clouds parted, and Dolph Ziggler issued an open challenge for the Intercontinental Championship to any Raw superstar.
With so many men tied up in Survivor Series elimination matches, it was practically Zayn’s by default. Stephanie McMahon tried to present Rusev as her hand-picked choice for the spot, but left it to the ring to decide, and Sami came through victorious, earning the match and a shot at bringing his career back in focus.
Milk and honey
Miz, by comparison, has been having some of the best months of his career.
Coming into the brand split as Intercontinental Champion (and indeed, drafted by Daniel Bryan to SmackDown solely for the title around his waist), he initially fended off desultory challenges from Darren Young and Apollo Crews, before facing down one of his greatest rivals in Dolph Ziggler. The A-list superstar beat Dolph twice in a row before finally losing the title in a title vs. career match at No Mercy.
But Miz wasn’t done with Dolph, no. During their feud he was happy to resort to chicanery and mindgames, relying on his wife Maryse to pass him an illegal spray and Dolph’s one-time partners from the Spirit Squad, Kenny and Mikey, to run interference. Dolph managed to overcome all that with his back against the wall, but Miz, as all champions in WWE, was owed a contractual rematch.
No surprise, then, that the Miz became a six-time Intercontinental Champion with help from Maryse, shoving a small package over enough for Miz to keep Dolph’s shoulders to the mat for the one-two-three.
And so the stage was set
Miz was not the man Sami’s been training for this past week and change, but he’s the man he’ll face at Survivor Series. He’s got reason to be pleased with this turn of events, as Zayn has beaten Miz three times this year in singles action, once by disqualification.
It’s that last one that’s gotta put the fear into Sami’s ska-loving heart. If Miz isn’t feeling it, if Miz decides he values his title more than proving Daniel Bryan wrong and showing himself to be a fighting champion, he’s just one well-placed uppercut to the groin or run-in from the Spirit Squad away from losing the match but retaining the title.
And not just the Miz himself, either. Dolph Ziggler losing the title he wagered his career to win has got to weigh on the man. Perhaps, it weighs on him enough that he’ll decide that Survivor Series is as good a stage as any to try and take his pound of flesh from Miz. That’ll cost Sami the match as easily as anything.
Even so, he’s got a friend to watch his back in Neville, and he’s still 2-0 over Miz as far as "real" wins go, so you have to figure the matchup favors him. And, by extension, favors Raw, as if Sami wins the title, he’ll bring it home to Monday nights with him.
It’s the Underdog from the Underground against the Most Must-See Superstar of All Time, folks. Who you got?
Who will win?
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