Wednesday 11 July 2012

Past, Present, Future... Taker and Ziggler By Stel Stylianou

Following Wrestlemania, two questions came to my mind; Which individual stands out as the potential “future star” of the company, and what next for the Undertaker?

In the strange world of Wrestling, anything can happen. More often than not, those who have studied the industry for a long time can predict the outcome of matches and how some storylines will pan out. At the same time, there are individuals who have reliable sources who can help them ascertain as to what the future holds for certain Wrestlers.

From time to time I do enjoy doing my own bookings and linking stories together.
A couple of weeks ago, I suggested to a friend that we do some sort of “fantasy booking” (no, not in a perverted sense), using the existing WWE storyline, but also including wrestlers from TNA and ROH.

It sounded like a good idea at the time, but since I do a lot of travelling around with work, and he’s too busy kicking lumps out of drunk people in Camden (he’s a security guard), it wasn’t feasible.

Even so, it hasn’t stopped me from doing my own creative take on things. Whilst listening to the Don Tony and Kevin Castle podcast, something dawned on me.
As it stands at the moment, one wrestler is coming to the end of their career and another is in the perfect mould to be a future world champion and HOF inductee. Their names? The Undertaker and Dolph Ziggler.

Now, before you say “but Ziggler has already been a world champion”, I already know this – but as Kevin Castle often says “The WWE recycle old stories because they think that fans forget the past” (or something along those lines), and he’s spot on with that statement. There are too many examples to give, so I’ll let you think about that.

Ziggler is the one for the future in my eyes and these are the reasons why.
When you look back at the great champions in the past, what is the one thing above all else that they have in common? Read the question again. I said GREAT champions.
In my opinion, all the great champions have an aura about them. A charismatic personality which makes you like them, regardless if they’re a face or heel.
Dolph Ziggler has this by the truckload.

There are other factors and similarities with previous champions which make me believe this.

Can anyone name me one person who can sell a move as well or better than Ziggler, because I can’t think of anyone?

In fact, a lot of his manoeuvres and ability to sell moves remind me a lot like Shawn Michaels, during his time with Sensational Sherry as his valet.
Hmmm, come to think about it, Ziggler has sided with another “cougar” in Vicky Guerrero. Coincidence? Maybe.

HBK’s entrance music was “Sexy boy”, whereas Ziggler used to enter the ring with “I am perfection”.

As a matter of fact, I seem to remember that Michaels mic work increased as he slowly drifted apart from Sherry – which is pretty much what is happening now with Ziggler.

Here’s another coincidence. Rumours are flying about that Mason Ryan could be introduced as Ziggler’s bodyguard. Could it be another HBK-Diesel storyline? You never know.

There are many other coincidences and/or similarities between the two. Both were in tag teams when they first started out (Rockers & Spirit Squad), and later went on to be IC champions.

I could harp on all day about this, but then I’ll be going totally off track.

Moving swiftly on to the Undertaker, and what a career the bloke has had.
Multi time world champion, innovator of gimmick matches (casket, burnt/buried alive, Hell in a cell) and classic storylines coupled with 5 star matches.
It isn’t just the above mentioned factors which will make him a future HOF’er. As a true performer he has managed to tweak his character and in ring skills in order to adapt to the ever evolving industry. You name it, ‘Taker has done it.

Given his loyalty and value to the company, it is no surprise that Vince has given him an unbeaten streak at Wrestlemania

Admittedly, I was petrified of him when I was a kid. Everything about the Undertaker “package” scared the s**t out of me. Who could forget the eerie entrance music, Paul Bearer wailing like a banshee and the Undertaker’s zombie-like movement in the ring?
It is so difficult to pin point exactly the best storyline he’s been involved in, as there have been so many. Having thought about it a bit more, he’s feuded with practically all the best the industry has produced in the past 2 decades – with Sting as possibly the only exception.

Since Wrestlemania, there has been a lot of speculation as to who the Undertaker will face next year. Originally, it was suggested that Brock Lesnar would be his opponent, but given the bad blood between the two and Lesnar’s petulance/greed, I doubt this will happen.

Stone Cold Steve Austin has also been mentioned as another possible threat to “the streak”. However, given his long spell away from the ring, coupled with his neck injury, it’s another no go. Of course, we’d all love to see the two battle it out again, but can you imagine how awful this match will be? Both ring rusty, both past their best – It would be almost as bad as watching a modern day Flair vs Hogan match.

So, who should the Undertaker face next? If you ask me then my answer is Ziggler.

Picture this scenario. Ziggler is moved well away from Vicky and is pushed heavily as a heel.

From now until the Rumble, he’s a nuisance: Interfering in matches involving the top faces, getting on the mic and talking about himself – really being an arrogant b*****d and even attacking the likes of Lawler and Booker T. He’ll gain “cheap heat” by winding up the audience, calling them “losers” and “fat”, saying that everyone wants to be like him.

At the Survivor Series, wins a traditional elimination match as the sole survivor. In fact, at the same PPV he could cost one of the faces the world title. This would set him up nicely for the Royal Rumble.

Ziggler enters at number 30, wins the Rumble and for weeks to come he brags about this achievement. People will no doubt become even more irritated as they’d feel that winning the Rumble after coming in at number 30 isn’t any major achievement – but he plays on it.

Nevertheless, Ziggler’s arrogance is stretched further as he decides that the world title shot isn’t his main goal and refuses to use it at ‘Mania citing the Undertaker’s streak as the one he wants to take.
No one has beaten the Undertaker at Wrestlemania – not Austin, not Michaels, not Hogan, not HHH, no one. Ziggler is adamant that he’ll be the one to do it, but ‘Taker doesn’t bite, so Dolph decides to take it to the extreme.

Kane is violently attacked by Ziggler as his first statement of intent, a week before the Elimination Chamber PPV which effectively puts the big red machine out of commission for a while.

Ziggler then refuses to take part in the Elimination Chamber main event saying that he is “too good for this” and decides to stay home. However, before the first match on the card, Ziggler enters the ring, casket in tow. He takes the mic and trash talks ‘Taker, calling him a “coward” and says that inside the casket is a surprise. He opens it up and Paul Bearer is there, unconscious. This is another ploy to provoke a reaction from the Undertaker. Cue more heel heat.
This is the final straw for ‘Taker, who appears on RAW 2 weeks before ‘Mania – and boy is he p***d off!

“Dolph, you have crossed the bridge between the mortal world and Hell! You want your Wrestlemania dream? You’ve got it..blah blah blah”. Ziggler appears out of nowhere and lands the Zig-Zag on the Undertaker, before fleeing into the crowd.

The scene is set.
During the final RAW before ‘Mania, Ziggler cuts a promo saying that he doesn’t want just any match and demands a No Holds Barred bout. The lights go out and ‘Taker appears on the Titantron. He cuts an eerie promo and promises that Ziggler will pay heavily for his actions.

This match at Wrestlemania is a classic, reminiscent of ‘Taker-HHH at ‘Mania 28. Ziggler sells moves extremely well (as per usual), which makes it seem that ‘Taker still “has it”.

It ends with Ziggler hitting ‘Taker with the Zig-Zag on the steel steps in the centre of the ring. As Dolph is about to go for the cover, Paul Bearer comes out from under the ring and points the Urn to the sky – with the trademark “ooooooohhhh yeeeeeaaaahhhh” screeches.

The ref counts… 1, 2 - but ‘Taker kicks out!! Ziggler is stunned. He goes to the top rope but lands right into a chokeslam. ‘Taker then nails him with a Tombstone onto the steel steps for the win.

Crowd goes crazy and the streak continues.

Nevertheless, the night isn’t over for Ziggler as he later does something unprecedented by attacking the newly crowned WWE/World Champion (whoever he may be), cashing in his number 1 contender prize from the Royal Rumble and becoming champion.

This would benefit both ‘Taker and Ziggler for numerous reasons.

The Undertaker’s legacy continues as he gets to keep the streak, by beating the biggest prospect in the company.

In putting on such a match, the torch is passed over to Ziggler who proves that not only can he perform on the biggest stage, but the character remains strong due to him capturing the title later on in the night.

Seth Mates (former WWE creative team member) often points out that storylines and who is put over in matches, is determined by “if there’s money in it”. It is clear to everyone who knows the industry that Ziggler has bags of potential and talent. Putting him in an angle with the Undertaker would provide the perfect path to being the number 1 heel in the company.

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