On Tuesday, on the first Smackdown Live following the latest WWE brand split, Commissioner Shane McMahon and GM Daniel Bryan announced a six-pack challenge match for the main event of the show to determine a new #1 contender for the WWE Championship.
The match featured John Cena, AJ Styles, Bray Wyatt, Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler. Eventually, Apollo Crews won a battle royal to become the sixth entrant. The match itself exposed one of Smackdown’s greatest flaws: its lack of depth in the main event.
The show has five legitimate main event guys (Cena, Styles, Wyatt, Randy Orton and Dean Ambrose). After that, there is a major dropoff in perceived star power and the need for new stars is likely why the match ended the way it did.
Corbin and Crews might get there someday, but aren’t ready yet. The Miz has been doing tremendous work in 2016, but he’ll likely never get back to that top spot he once held for a time. Ziggler and Zack Ryder are fan favorites who seemed like the company was just never going to get behind. Smart money would have said either Cena, Styles, or Wyatt was a shoo-in to win and go on to SummerSlam.
But then a funny thing happened. Ziggler won. He won with a superkick (!) and pinned AJ freaking Styles. It almost felt like a mistake at first, like someone botched a spot and was supposed to break up the pin. Dolph Ziggler getting a WWE Championship match at SummerSlam 2016? That can’t be right.
But it is, and to see just how unlikely that is, we have to rewind a little bit.