Dolph Ziggler may have made his inevitable return in this past Sunday’s Men’s Royal Rumble Match, but according to a report from Mike Johnson at PWInsider.com, original plans called for Ziggler to take part in a much different role on the show.
— WWE (@WWE) January 29, 2018
According to Johnson, the original plans this past Sunday called for Dolph to answer the U.S. Championship Open Challenge on the Royal Rumble Kickoff. Though Ziggler vs. Roode was penciled in initially, sometime during the weekend the decision was made to have him return in the Men’s Royal Rumble Match and instead have Mojo Rawley answer the Glorious Open Challenge.
— WWE (@WWE) January 28, 2018
The last time Dolph Ziggler was seen on WWE TV was the 12/19/17 edition of Smackdown following his 2nd WWE United States Championship win over Baron Corbin & Bobby Roode at Clash of Champions, when he laid down his title in the middle of the ring and walked out. Following his storyline walkout, an 8-Man Tournament to determine the new United States Champion was ultimately won by Glorious Bobby Roode.
— WWE (@WWE) December 20, 2017
Rumors have swirled in the aftermath of Ziggler literally dropping the title that whoever won the U.S. Championship would be entered into a feud with him, in a flashback to Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels feuding over who was the “real” Intercontinetal Champion, with the blow-off coming at WrestleMania.
He was also scheduled to be on the road at Smackdown last night, but did not make an appearance on TV.
Tommy’s Thoughts: Surprisingly, there’s a lot to take in here. Did plans change for the Kickoff Show with the United States Championship? Have the WWE already abandoned plans for Dolph Ziggler’s potential first-ever one-on-one WrestleMania Match? Was it meant to plant the seeds as the first encounter in a U.S. Title series, despite the fact that they fought more times in the last quarter of 2017 then we can even keep track of?? And most importantly, how come Dolph ALWAYS gets tossed in less than 3 minutes every time he gets #30??
For those who are upset for no follow-up on last night’s episode of Smackdown: considering the trouble they have getting all of their main eventers on any given show (Randy Orton is officially the odd-man out at this point), you can’t say it was unexpected. Plus, if any storyline could benefit from some breathing room, it’s a Dolph Ziggler storyline. It’s better than his default role of eating losses every week.
If there’s any hope for Kerwin White’s former caddy & WWE’s most successful male cheerleader to escape Battle Royal duty at WrestleMania again this year, cross your fingers for Dolph Ziggler to interject himself into Bobby Roode’s business sooner-than-later. Maybe we’ll even get a continuation of Dolph’s bitterness towards the fans missplaced appreciations with an attack on Rusev Day?
Either that, or I’m using too much logic again.