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Dolph Ziggler is (finally) a heel again

Wednesday’s Rude Awakening looks at the return of Dolph Ziggler to his natural state, a pitch for a reformed Bullet Club, and the first SmackDown entrant in the Royal Rumble.

We publish a whole lot of content here at Cageside Seats. We’re also [looks around and whispers so the bosses can’t hear] not the only place producing wrestling content on the internet. So, as a service to you on the weekdays, we’ll be producing a wrestling newsletter, "Rude Awakening." Well, it will be a newsletter eventually: for now, it’ll just be part of your experience here at Cageside, collecting the news, recaps, and social moments from the greater wrestling universe daily so you won’t fall behind, with a newsletter format to come.

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We’ve all been waiting for a Dolph Ziggler heel turn since shortly after he turned face. His whole schtick about being more gifted, more athletic, and more girlfriend-stealer-y than everyone around him screamed bad guy much more than relatable good guy, and it often made his face promos feel insincere. This issue was alleviated a bit on SmackDown after the brand split, with the focus on and for Ziggler being more about his inability to win the big one, but it appears as if even that had something to do with pushing him back to the dark side. Unable to hang on to the Intercontinental Championship, unable to defeat AJ Styles or Baron Corbin, Ziggler did the only thing he had left to do, and turned heel so that all these bad dudes would stop taking him down.

Now, Ziggler can prey on the face-heavy mid-card instead of in the main event for a while, helping the likes of Kalisto and Apollo Crews and Mojo Rawley (and when he’s healthy once again, Heath Slater) work their way up on the blue brand. It’s a great place for him to be, as the idea of main-event Ziggler in late-2016 mostly worked because of who he was wrestling against — not to take anything away from him or his abilities, but no one truly believed he was going to win the big one, and even if he did, no one believed he’d stick as a major champion. Some character rehab is in order, and going heel is the best way to do it. The fact that it will also help shine a light on parts of the SmackDown roster that could use more notice is either a bonus or the best part, depending on how you feel about Ziggler.

SmackDown continues to give opportunities to as much of the roster as possible over the course of two hours, and seeing Ziggler removed from the main event in favor of Baron Corbin and John Cena for the purpose of refreshing and improving the mid-card, is another instance of this. Top-to-bottom, this is the best show WWE is producing, and the willingness and to slot Ziggler in where he makes the most sense instead of letting him flounder is just one more reason why.

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