For Dolph Ziggler, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
A series of unfortunate circumstances -- Alberto Del Rio's concussion, Chris Jericho's suspension, Randy Orton's wellness policy violation -- created an opportunity for the young star to rise through the ranks.
He faced World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus in singles and tag matches on both Raw and Smackdown and had the opportunity to challenge for the title on pay-per-view at No Way Out.
In each effort, Ziggler has emerged on the losing end, and always in generally clean fashion. Ziggler's string of bad luck continued on tonight's edition of Smackdown, as Sheamus once again pinned the former Spirit Squad member.
Seeing Ziggler competing in the main event scene has been something fans have clamored for through the past several months, but one has to question whether a constant stream of losses in the main event is more beneficial for Ziggler's long-term tenure than winning matches in the midcard.
Ziggler and Sheamus have been able to produce a number of strong, compelling matches that have made both men look strong, and tonight's main event bout was no exception. But having each end in clean fashion makes it appear as if Ziggler doesn't have what it takes to compete at that level.
There used to exist a time when rivals were kept apart for weeks, if not months, at a time rather than facing each other consistently on show after show. That's what needs to happen with Ziggler and Sheamus. The same has also been beginning to develop with WWE Champion CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.
Sometimes too much a good thing can wear patience thin, especially when the result is the same in each outing.
WWE needs to refocus on Ziggler, giving him high profile wins over credible main events stars before putting him into another world title contest, especially if he's not going to be capturing the blue brand's top prize.
With it being announced that Vickie Guerrero will be the guest general manager for both Raw and Smackdown next week, that seems like a good opportunity to give Ziggler some more time to shine in the main event spotlight.
The best possible scenario right now would be to build Ziggler up as a credible threat and have him capture the Money in the Bank briefcase, basically ensuring himself a much-deserved world title reign within the next year.
I'm standing right there with the fans who want to see Ziggler grab the brass ring and have an opportunity to run with it, but I want his first serious title reign to be a memorable one, not a laughable part of history as has happened to so many first-time champions.
** Big Show opened the show with a decent promo about not needing John Laurinaitis any more in the wake of the general manager's firing. The segment led to some other developments, as well, as Show officially announced his entry into the Money in the Bank ladder match and found himself fending off Brodus Clay. David Otunga would get involved, taking his cheap shots on Clay, including a horrendous rendition of the Funkasaurus' dance routine.
** Having Show move away from his feud with Cena so quickly seems like an odd choice. He even pointed out that Cena needed the help of Clay and others to win the cage match at the pay-per-view, but instead of settling the score with Cena, he's now all of a sudden going after one of the world titles? What exactly was the point of the whole turn and feud with Cena then? That's an issue with today's WWE; stories don't get time to play out. Rather they are rushed and often condensed to one month feuds.
** Clay seems to also be subtly feuding with Show, waiting for a fair match, while fighting off Otunga at the same time. If all three of these men end up in the Money in the Bank match as way to keep their issues alive, that's bound to be one of the most lackluster and awkward Money in the Bank matches yet. No offense to any of the men as individuals, but collectively, they don't embody the ladder match philosophy.
** Daniel Bryan and Kane had a good, fun match that saw Bryan's technical prowess attempt to match up with Kane's power. AJ was the guest time keeper for the match, which allowed for some good storyline progression with the finish. As Bryan locked in the Yes Lock, AJ rang the bell, though Kane hadn't tapped. Bryan thought he won, the ref said otherwise and Kane capitalized with a chokeslam and won. This featured good action and a dirty finish that makes sense in the context of the bigger story being told. It was nice to see Bryan isn't be forced out of the issues between Punk and Kane.
** In one week, Alberto Del Rio has defeated both the United States and Intercontinental champions. At least his match with Christian tonight wasn't a squash. Actually, it was really fun television match that picked up near the end with a series of reversals. After the match, Cody Rhodes attacked Christian, so apparently their feud still isn't over. Sigh.
** It's nice to see some emphasis again on the tag team division, but it seems pointless for the number-one contenders to continue to wrestle matches against any other other than the champs. I understand they are building a feud between Epico and Primo and Prime Time Players, as illustrated by the Colons' attack on Titus O'Neil and Darren Young after the PTP defeated The Usos in a decent match. I'm all for tag teams -- yes, that is plural -- getting a push, but I just hope the Prime Time Players don't have to wait too long for their title shot.
** Zack Ryder won a single's match on television -- not sure when the last time that happened would be. Ryder defeated Heath Slater, one of few people lower on the card than himself, in quick fashion. Slater actually dominated the match, and the action wasn't bad while it lasted, but there was no reason to be emotionally invested in this match. They couldn't have let Ryder do this in Long Island? After the match, Ryder had a run-in with Damien Sandow, so expect a match between those two soon.
** Santino Marella continued his quest to make the United States Championship the most irrelevant title in professional wrestling. Rather than actually defending the belt, he was in a stupid, pointless in-ring segment where he invited a "fan" into the ring. The lady was wearing his shirt and had her own cobra sock puppet. When she grabbed Marella and kissed him, he fainted in the ring. Why did I have to see? If it was a segment for the live crowd, fine, that's what the live experience is about, but this had no business being on television.
** Mick Foley's appearances as guest GM of Raw and Smackdown didn't really amount to much. Tonight, he was mostly limited to senseless segments, including an absolutely awful one with Guerrero and Great Khali that saw the giant and the hardcore legend doing the Dude Love dance.
**Ryback once again sang the same old song. Some want to see him squashing three jobbers. I want to see him do something meaningful.
Ryback d. Frank Venezia and Jared Wachtler
Alberto Del Rio d. Christian
Kane d. Daniel Bryan
Zack Ryder d. Heath Slater
Prime Time Players d. The Usos
Sheamus d. Dolph Ziggler
For the most part, tonight's Smackdown was a good show. Bryan, Kane, Del Rio, Christian, Ziggler and Sheamus gave us some highly entertaining matches that carried the show. The Marella segment brought down the show a notch, but thankfully, even that was kept short. Overall, the good outweighed the bad. WWE has been producing a completely mixed bag of programming lately, but this fell on the positive side.