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Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler: Who is the Villain in the WWE IC Ladder Match?

Is there any reason to not to believe Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler will steal the show at WrestleMania XXXI?

There are nine days until the event, which is just enough time for the WWE to continue to build the Intercontinental Title Ladder Match as best as it can – which so far has been one of the highlights of the WM pregame. But if you ask me, the idea of a Bryan-Ziggler feud is about as exciting as it can get in the WWE right now, and in creating such a rivalry, it will help re-establish the title once thought to be the stepping stone to becoming the WWF-WWE champion.

Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin and Triple H were all title holders before moving on to the golden nugget of the promotion. Ziggler and Bryan have both held the brass ring before, which makes the potential for a solid program moving toward the summer months. I spoke of title unification of the IC Title and the United States Title at SummerSlam between John Cena and Bryan before, but adding Ziggler to the mix, with his ability to take over a match and deliver nightly makes this an even more captivating possibility.

Are you listening, WWE creative? This is the kind of match the fans want to see. This kind of rivalry conjures memories of Michaels and Hart, Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage and Savage and The Ultimate Warrior. In other words, make it so.

For everything Bryan and Ziggler are, they do not have rivals like their predecessors did. Austin had The Rock. Michaels had Hart. Sting had Ric Flair. Savage had Hulk Hogan. That might be the missing link to the decline in ratings, creativity and lack of attention from its fan base. Somewhere along the way, the company has gotten away from its core – the fact that feuds and rivalries mean something in this business.

The basic premise of professional wrestling was established on the idea of a face and a heel and interchangeable parts – meaning characters who could move in and out of those roles. While there was a given that Hulk Hogan was always the main face of the WWF, there were other “role” players who filled in, like Warrior, Savage and Roddy Piper. The next generation had its share as well, with Michaels, Hart, Rock and Austin, however those lines were skewed based on the idea that cheering the heel was a “cool” thing to do.

Now, with a company that promotes the 10-minute match and does not revert back to sensibilities of older fans, it loses steam. A great 30-minute “wrestling match” is just as valuable to its viewership, but ladder matches and other hardcore events lead the way. If this is the case, then Bryan and Ziggler are the ideal paring to face each other in a feud, which I hope leads to a confrontation with Cena with the IC and US Title as part of the program.

The WWE has the talent in the mid card, with Stardust, R-Truth, Dean Ambrose and others (yes add the current IC champion, Wade Barrett to that list) to give the fans the matches they want. The company must use this match as a springboard for the next few months, creating more opportunities for potentially great feuds. Ambrose and Stardust could be one. We have yet to see if that could work. What I am trying to get at here is the WWE started to put all of its eggs in the heavyweight basket, trying to prove it could only find success if the bigger, stronger wrestler led the way. While Vince McMahon is doing his best to accomplish that with Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, he cannot succeed like he wants to and now, by switching gears a bit, he has created more drama.

And if anyone loves drama, it’s McMahon.

The WWE World Title match may give the company its desired champion, but it still will not appease the fans. Ziggler, Bryan and the mid card does just that.

And to steal a phrase that is picking up some steam with the show of shows less than two weeks away – You Can Believe That.

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