Wrestlemania 32 Preview: Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Zack Ryder vs. Sin Cara vs. The Miz vs. Stardust
This year’s Wrestlemania, as has become tradition since Wrestlemania 21, will feature a multi-man ladder match. In years past, the gimmick match has featured competitors vying for Money in the Bank contracts, Tag team championships and the Intercontinental Championship.
The Intercontinental title has historically been held by a superstar who seems to be on the precipice of greatness, a stone’s throw from being the World Heavyweight champion. Names such as “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Bret “Hitman” Hart and Mr. Wrestlemania, Shawn Michaels himself, have held the title and gone on to further glory as the top dog in the company. However, the title has lost it’s luster and became nothing more than a prop, thrown as a morsel to superstars who never have quite taken off and continued down the path of greatness that those before them walked.
Kevin Owens harkens back to the Intercontinental champions of old. His work as a heel in the company has made him a standout in the company, despite having a different body type than has been featured so highly in the company in recent years. Leading up to his first Wrestlemania, Owens has elevated the performers around him and allowed every person in this match to have a real reason to be involved.
After the unfortunate injury to Neville, the WWE was left without the performer that would wow the audience during this match, but the way the match unfolded and was booked has made this an intriguing match. Originally, there was hope that with the return of Sami Zayn’s that he and Owens would be able to play out the very same feud and program that they worked during their time in the independents, namely Ring of Honor. For the past few weeks, Owens has claimed that he has no one worthy of facing him on the grandest stage of them all.
After the last couple of months, the champion’s actions and brashness were ill-received by three men, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. All three made it clear that they deserved the opportunity against the champion and on last week’s edition of Monday Night Raw, the issue came to a head. After being confronted by all three men whom he openly derided as not being worthy, Owens announced, with Stephanie McMahon’s blessing, a triple threat match for the right to face him for the championship at Wrestlemania. This became yet another platform for Owens to shine as he introduced the combatants for the contest. In a manner that only he can pull off, Owens included his own crib notes for each wrestler, leading the audience to believe that it was Zayn, Ziggler and Sin Cara, only to announce Zack Ryder, Stardust and Sin Cara as the men who would vie for the chance to wrest the title away from him.
The expected participants were rightfully infuriated by Owens’s shenanigans and made it known by coming to the ring, disrupting the match. By the end of segment, all six men turned on the champion, who ran backstage with his tail between his legs, but with the all important title in tow. An agitated Stephanie McMahon lashed out at a still arrogant Owens, decrying that the title would now be defended against all six men in a ladder match in Dallas, this coming Sunday, much to the chagrin of the calculating and crafty champion. The match itself has been made all the more intriguing because all the men has in some way been slighted by Kevin Owens. Invariably somebody seems out of place in a match with this man men competing, but even with the injuries sustained to numerous stars, such as Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan and John Cena.
What Are Everyone’s Chances?
The masked superstar, one half of the Lucha Dragons, seems the least likely to pull-off an upset in this spot. Part of this is impacted by his partner’s feud with Ryback. All signs point to the Big Guy taking the belt off of Kalisto, which would lead to a reunion of sorts for the lucha stars.
The wrestler formerly known as Cody Rhodes has the ability to win the match and carry the title, but this gimmick has been marginalized. There was a bit of a possible push when he was paired with the Ascension, creating the Cosmic Wasteland, but they were underused. A recent post from Cody Rhodes’s twitter account showed him alongside Tyler Breeze and Tye Dillinger in what appeared to be a picture of them as a faction. Wrestlemania could see Stardust lose the match in such a fashion that Cody returns afterwards.
— Hyrule Husky (@PrinceCGR) March 23, 2016
Ryder’s inclusion is refreshing, as he has not been used in a meaningful way on the main roster in quite a while. He has been teaming with Mojo Rawley on Main Event and NXT, so getting some time on the Wrestlemania card for a championship came as a bit of surprise. After years of pitching to face Ziggler at the biggest event of the year, he will finally get his moment. It is unlikely that he would walk away the champion, but a good showing here could bring him back into regular use on RAW and Smackdown.
Ziggler has been an interesting spot for the last couple of months. Despite coming out on the losing end of a feud with Kevin Owen, Ziggler did pick up some steam by feuding with a truly heel in Owens. His interactions with Stephanie McMahon have reminded us all that he was once responsible for the Authority’s downfall, elevating him once more. His work inside the ring is always superb and he will most certainly put life and limb on the line with some death defying moves during the match. Winning the title here would not change his position on the roster right now, as his role as a workhorse will not change and he is more effective chasing the title as opposed to holding it.
The Miz has no real chance of walking away with the belt here. After an injury scare, he has made it clear that he will indeed be participating, but aside from this program, Miz has been used more as a mouthpiece, rather than a legitimate second-tier champion. He will be invaluable in this match as a veteran voice here and brings a bit of balance to the heel face dynamic of the match.
Zayn has shown the same infectious energy and thrilling ring work that got him signed by the WWE in the first place. His shoulder injury delayed what no doubt would have been a marquee level feud, with Owens playing such a perfect heel, using their real-life friendship as a canvas for his villainy. A Zayn victory would be a measure of revenge for him against Owens, however, the two should have more time to meaningfully build this feud between the two of them alone, with Zayn coming out on top at Summerslam in Brooklyn this August.
If you’ve made it this far, it would seem easier to figure out the winner at this point. The truth is that Owens is the most deserving of the title. He has been given the ball during this rash of injuries and has proven himself over and over again. It is likely that he will take advantage of Zayn or Ziggler and slink away with the belt, only to lose it to a face later down the road. A loss here would not really be the true pie in the face that Owens’s bully character warrants. Although this match does not have the same feeling of importance on the night, even with the loss of natural participants such as Neville to injury or Kofi Kingston,due to his inclusion in New Day’s feud with the League of Nations, it should come away as one of the most talked about matches taking place at Wrestlemania, as it features bonafide potential future world championships.