(Here’s the link for the match on the WWE Network: http://network.wwe.com/video/v31274227)
#64 is Dolph Ziggler’s first and only appearance on the Best 100…List. He’s one of the many wrestlers let down by WWE’s creative department. Remember that time when he won a match to get rid of The Authority? Remember that time he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and won the World Heavyweight Championship? And what did WWE do to capitalise on those moments? Nothing! The big bumping, great wrestling Ziggler could have been a major star (and is an example of what could have happened to Daniel Bryan, had the crowd not overwhelmingly got behind him), but at least he’s in the Best 100…List! And what a corker of a match he’s involved in.
Both wrestlers were champions at the time: Ziggler the Intercontinental Champion, and Bryan the United States Champion. It was the time of the brand split, and Bragging Rights was an event where Raw wrestlers fought Smackdown wrestlers. The only match worthy of note on the card was this one, the opening bout. Right from the start, you could tell that the two wrestlers had great chemistry, as they chain wrestled and grappled each other like Olympians. However, that was just a prelude to the almost non-stop action that followed. Bryand and Ziggler exuded so much energy within the sixteen minutes they were given to shine. And shine they did.
A wrestling match is often built on peaks and troughs, until the action peaks at the very end. However, there are far more peaks than troughs (such as restholds, etc) in this thriller. The two just did not seem to want to slow down. Yes, they sell well enough (I’d argue that both were among the best sellers of the WWE in an era where selling was/is becoming less and less important, and Ziggler bumps greater than an in-his-prime Mr. Perfect), but they crammed lots and lots of stuff into this match without it ever feeling cluttered or rushed. Ziggler, as the heel, dominated the offence in the early moments, but it suddenly turned into an equal battlefield where both men pull out all the stops to come out on top.
It’s harder to say who’s the more impressive here. It’s probably better to say that they are both equally impressive. Bryan, in his debut year (and already a firm fan favourite!), had other memorable bouts (against Chris Jericho and The Miz), but this was definitely one of his best matches not just of that year, but of his WWE career. The same applies to Ziggler. Neither title was on the line, and the match was picked almost at random to be on the show, but the way these two guys wrestled, you would have thought it was the main event of WrestleMania (and it’s a shame we didn’t get to see them in a one-on-one match at WrestleMania 31!). A classic that is often overlooked.
VERDICT: 9/10. A must-see match between two of the best wrestlers of the WWE’s modern era. Ziggler and Bryan worked harder in one match that some wrestlers do in a year!
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Click here for my review of #66 The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, and Brian Pillman) vs Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust, and The Legion of Doom (In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede)