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    Wednesday, December 28, 2016

    31 Days of Wrestling (12/28/16): Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz, No Mercy

    Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. It's that time of year again when we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match a day for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling this calendar year produced for us.

    Today, we’ll be looking at one of the defining matches in a long and emotional rivalry: Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship, at No Mercy 2016.

    For all their differences, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz share many things in common. Early on in their careers, they were saddled by uninspired personas bound for that vast dump of failed professional wrestling gimmicks. For all intents, they were bound to be supporting actors: the show wasn’t going to be about them, and the comedy/entertainment aspect will always overshadow the show of athleticism and wrestling knowledge. Still, the former caddy to a deluded caricature of white people, and the one-time Diva Search bikini contest host, became the key figures in one of the year’s hottest rivalries.

    There’s no doubting Ziggler’s ability to work a match, and there is no denying Miz’s in-ring charisma. However, both men—both former World Champions—have almost always been seen as main-event placeholders, at best. Ziggler has always been frustrated by it, yet Miz’s character has always been deluded by it. The Ziggler-Miz rivalry went on for months, with Ziggler—the hard worker who can never seem to win (or hold on to) “the big one”—always at the losing end, with the scheming and cunning Miz scoring the pinfall.

    At the center of this rivalry was the WWE Intercontinental Championship (one considered by many wrestling fans as the “worker’s title”). To up the ante a little more, Ziggler put his career on the line: if he can’t win the Intercontinental Championship on that one match at No Mercy, his career was over.

    Career-ending stipulations typically end up highlighting shenanigans more than underscoring the implications of pro wrestling feuds. However, the match between Ziggler and Miz ended up being one of the true wrestling classics of the New Era. With his back to the wall, Ziggler pulled out all the stops to not only keep his career alive, but also to win the championship that he feels legitimizes the struggles of his career. Not to be outdone, Miz’s heel antics brought not only his wife Maryse to the mix, but ghosts from Ziggler’s checkered past: Kenny and Mikey of the Spirit Squad.

    Still, the expected shenanigans helped highlight the most emotionally-charged chapter to what is probably WWE’s feud of the year. In the end, following a heated argument with the referee, Miz ate a crisp superkick from Ziggler for the latter’s fifth Intercontinental Championship reign.

    Ziggler’s reign at the top would be cut short, however, as Miz once again defeated him for the title 37 days later at the 900th episode of SmackDown. Ziggler had another chance to reclaim the title, but was ultimately defeated by the reigning champion The Miz in a Ladder match at TLC. Both men have since gone on to different feuds—Ziggler, in particular, for the WWE Championship—but the feud will probably go down as one of the best-written and most successful stories in the New Era (perhaps, in all of professional wrestling).

    And who knew that this would come from two men once treated as side-shows: one being a “chick-magnet” type, and the other being a male cheerleader?


    31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2016.

    Read our previous entries:

    #1: The Final Deletion
    #2: Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship, SummerSlam
    #3: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Wrestle Kingdom 10
    #4: Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, NXT Takeover: Dallas
    #5: Main Maxx vs. Crystal for the PHX Championship, PWR Renaissance
    #6: Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte for the RAW Women's Championship, Hell in a Cell
    #7: Prince Puma vs. Rey Mysterio, Ultima Lucha Dos
    #8: AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, Wrestle Kingdom 10
    #9: American Alpha vs. The Revival for the NXT Tag Team Championships, NXT TakeOver: Dallas
    #10: TJ Perkins and the WWE Cruiserweight Classic
    #11: One Versus All Royal Rumble Match
    #12: Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito, G1 Climax Block B Finals
    #13: Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens, Payback
    #14: Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay, Best of the Super Juniors Tournament 2016
    #15: #DIY vs. The Revival, 2 Out Of 3 Falls Match for the NXT Tag Team Championships, NXT TakeOver: Toronto
    #16: Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg, Survivor Series
    #17: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Championship, Wrestle Kingdom 10
    #18: The Return of the Brand Split
    #19: Kota Ibushi vs. Cedric Alexander, Cruiserweight Classic
    #20: Hirooki Goto vs. Kenny Omega, G1 Climax Finals
    #21: James Freakin' Ellsworth
    #22: Brock, Punk, and their Gall to Hunt in MMA (UFC 200, 203)
    #23: Sexy Star vs. Mariposa in a No Mas Match, Lucha Underground
    #24: Chris Hero vs. Katsuyori Shibata, RPW/NJPW Global Wars
    #25: AJ Styles vs. John Cena, SummerSlam
    #26: The DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship US Tour
    #27: Cody vs. Jay Lethal, Final Battle
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    Item Reviewed: 31 Days of Wrestling (12/28/16): Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz, No Mercy Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Marck Rimorin
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