Dolph Ziggler has worked extremely hard over the past month. I took a few shots at him a couple of weeks ago, and while I don't regret or take back any of those words, I've been impressed with his effort, even if the execution was still uneven. His match with AJ Styles last night on SmackDown was strong, and the Zig Zag false finish was one of the better falsies I've seen since the brand split.
But, I'm glad we're not headed for another triple threat, and that has nothing to do with Dolph.
WWE has done so many multi-man matches this year, and this coming Monday, we'll see yet another one as four men battle to determine the new Universal Champion. One on one is still almost always best, and the match that makes the most logical sense is the one SmackDown is giving us at Backlash.
As a quick side road off the main highway, I'm unsure where Ziggler goes from here, but I hope it includes a heel turn, where he's much more at home and far better respective to charisma and a believable cocky arrogance. He was very good last night, but he's taken that role about as far as it can go, and it's obvious WWE isn't going to give the babyface Dolph a long run, so it's time to flip that script.
Ambrose's occasionally rambling, half-drunk (by design I believe) commentary aside, he's done a good job as WWE World Champion. His promos are rock solid, and it's no coincidence that the minute he's able to speak somewhat freely on the microphone, his interviews have been world's better. Even in the booth last night, there were flashes of brilliance, but there was also some of that old, goofy Dean that I was hoping had taken a permanent vacation. Either way, the staredown at the end with AJ worked, and as the two stood nose to nose, not only did I want to see the match, but I wanted to see the FEUD to set up the match.
Dean is still on the mend from the Brock Lesnar program and the Asylum Match. He had a rough go of it after he finished tangling with Kevin Owens, and damage was done to his credibility as a main event player. However, he's tuned up his act, and is carrying himself with the moxie (I really wanted to try and pull a Moxley pun, but I decided against it) of a Champion.
When the Phenomenal One and the Lunatic Fringe met on RAW recently, I wasn't blown away with the bout, but I felt the same way about the first Styles/Jericho match the night after the Royal Rumble. There was some clumsiness to the proceedings, but chemistry isn't always immediate. The potential exists for an excellent main event in a few weeks, and I would imagine that Ambrose, in particular, will pull out all the stops. He knows the SummerSlam performance wasn't his best, and he listened and heard a dead crowd, which makes every bump more painful, and every ounce of spent energy more taxing.
No one in WWE has been better in the ring in 2016 than AJ Styles. He's had tremendous (avoiding the P word) matches with Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho, and John Cena, including one of the best WWE matches of the year on Sunday. I believe he's the perfect heel champion for the Tuesday brand, and think the interplay between Styles and Daniel Bryan could make for some tense, compelling TV. AJ could take his "I'm a total jerk" character to the penthouse suite if he started mocking his former Indy brethren for concussions or an abbreviated career. Imagine if he wins, then two months down the road, laughs in Bryan's face and tells him, "Guess what? I'm still healthy enough to actually defend this after I won it. Oh, what am I saying? You can't relate."
That idea only interests me if DB is cool with it, because considering he's doing a job he really doesn't want to be doing, I'd hate to add any insult to those wounds. It's still a sore subject, but if he's down, it could be nuclear heat on Styles. And, AJ could eventually get his comeuppance, whether from Bryan or someone else on his behalf.
Unlike the Ziggler program, which was a one and done, Ambrose and Styles can easily go for two or three months, if the company deems it appropriate. The promo work next week will tell us a great deal, but based on both of these two's work since the draft, I'd be stunned if they don't put together a top notch segment with one another. If WWE can keep them from touching, or at least greatly limit the physicality, the audience might actually flock to see this thing. It may not even be possible in this day and age to make one single match that becomes no doubt destination programming (outside of The Final Deletion), but on the SmackDown brand, this is the ideal pairing to try and accomplish that feat.
Last night's show was a positive starting point for the WWE World Championship feud, and it instantly hooked me and made me want to see next week's TV. SmackDown definitely has something with this title pairing. It's one of those rare occasions where the stars align and the "right" thing for the fans is also what Vince McMahon believes is best for business.
I'm all in on this Backlash main event, like Dean Ambrose gambling at the Mohegan Sun while wearing Turd Ferguson's hat.