WWE Stock Watch: Finn Balor Wins Either Way

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1. Rising: Dolph Ziggler

I wanted to go in a different direction with this one, because tabbing Jinder Mahal or Shinsuke Nakamura would be too obvious. Instead, I’ll go with a man who lost at Backlash and was on the losing side of the tag team main event on SmackDown Live.

Dolph Ziggler hasn’t done anything of significance in kayfabe since winning the Intercontinental Championship at No Mercy in what was a laughably short reign. His feud with Kalisto and Apollo Crews seemed to drop him out of even the upper mid-card picture, so I thought that he would move on to a program with someone like Tye Dillinger upon completion of a one-off match with Nakamura at Backlash.

Instead, it looks like Ziggler will remain in the upper mid-card/main event picture on SmackDown Live. In his loss to Nakamura, Ziggler looked as crisp as usual, and he’s been wrestling in a different style ever since turning heel. Yes, his signature moves are as unprotected as ever and his opening sequences pay tribute to his amateur wrestling background, but he’s been giving his opponents the comeback sequences and flashy offense. Nakamura and Sin Cara have played the old Ziggler role in “The Show-off’s” most recent matches, and that’s a testament to the work Ziggler is putting in to become a more believable heel.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tag team main event, which came across much better than most of these types of matches, especially the ones that are so commonplace on Raw. Ziggler and Kevin Owens put on a clinic in tag team wrestling, and it was interesting to see that Ziggler, who had a much more competitive match with Nakamura than expected, didn’t eat the pin.

Next: Was Nakamura's debut a disappointment?

On top of all of this, Ziggler will be in the Money in the Bank ladder match, vying for his second briefcase victory. He’s by far the least likely of the six participants to come away with the guaranteed title shot, but the fact that he’s in the match and able to continue working in programs with the best in the business is huge. Ziggler has his fair share of detractors, but he also has his fair share of fans who understand that he’s capable of making important multi-man matches, particularly ladder matches, run incredibly smoothly. No, he’s not getting a push, but at least it doesn’t feel like he’s completely dead-in-the-water.