Dolph Ziggler vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
The Artist Known as Shinsuke Nakamura completed the first stroke of his masterpiece at WWE Backlash, denying a defiant Dolph Ziggler in the Japanese icon’s much-hyped in-ring debut as a member of the SmackDown LIVE roster. Ever since he bowed on Team Blue two nights after WrestleMania, Nakamura has found himself in the crosshairs of The Showoff, who claimed The King of Strong Style was an overhyped unknown, and little more than a pretender to the throne Ziggler had been holding down for the entirety of his WWE career. Ziggler’s trash-talk reached its pinnacle during the Backlash Kickoff, when he promised to “put on a clinic” against Nakamura as his way of telling “told you so” to all the “fanboys” who came to Chicago in support of the two-time NXT Champion, and preemptively pitied anyone who had to follow him.
Ziggler did, indeed, put on the clinic he promised, employing tricks of both the professional and amateur trade to keep his opponent at bay. The Showoff subjected Nakamura to collegiate-style single-leg takedowns and cradles, as well as the high-style, high-velocity elbow drops that have come to define his sports-entertainment career. Nakamura refused to stay down, however; kicking out of both the Zig Zag and a particularly gnarly superkick to the back of the head, he responded to each of Ziggler’s taunts with something between bemusement and pride, though he never seemed like he wasn’t enjoying the competition on some level. That, of course, changed when some combination of frustration and arrogance led Ziggler to disrespect Nakamura even further and, at that point, The King of Strong Style stopped having fun and put on a clinic of his own. Nakamura draped Ziggler over the ropes, nailed him with a knee to the side of the head, then followed with an exploder suplex and a final Kinshasa knee that brought the curtain down on The Showoff.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Everyone surrounds Braun to start, but he starts tossing people right out of the gate and that ends pretty quick. People are going quick: Kalisto, Simon Gotch, Heath Slater, on of the Usos, Goldust, lots of people going quick. It’s pretty much Big Show and Strowman dominating here. Konnor goes out, and now Show and Strowman turn their attention to each other and everyone else stops to watch. Well, they do until Zayn nails Strowman and everyone else gangs up to try and toss them both. Strowman breaks free and tosses Show, then he tosses Victor and everyone else gangs up to toss Strowman! Wow, that was not expected. The battle royal continues, and now it’s anyone’s game. Curt Hawkins goes out, Ginger Mahal tries to toss Killian Dane without success, and Dolph gets tossed but hangs on and rolls back in to avoid elimination. Ziggler ducks a charge and R-Truth goes out. Ziggler tosses Rhyno, Jason Jordan and Chad Gable both go out, Tyler Breeze and Fandango in rapid succession, and some guy in a blue suit and mask I don’t recognize go. Mark Henry goes, and this is speeding along like the Gimmick Battle Royal at this rate. Okay, I’m calling either Titus O’Neill or Luke Harper wins at this point. We’ll see how I do. Ziggler superkicks Bing to the floor, Sami Zayn uses a Heluva Kick to eliminate Epico, and we’re down to about ten guys left. Ziggler again gets tossed and hangs on, Harper goes to the eyes and tries to boot him out, but Ziggler is hanging on. Mojo Rawley tosses…some guy I didn’t recognize and even the announcers didn’t seem to know. Mojo nails Ziggler with a shoulderblock and eliminates Ziggler as Apollo Crews is tossed.
Winner: Mojo Rawley
Dolph Ziggler vs. Apollo Crews & Kalisto
Crews entered alone first. When Kalisto entered, Ziggler attacked him from behind on the stage and then tossed him hard into the digital board. Crews wasn’t happy. So, it’s a singles match. Crews attacked Ziggler and worked him over with punches in the corner. He was setting up to suplex Ziggler from the apron into the ring but was instead snapped throat-first onto the top rope.
Ziggler worked over Crews, using his boot to choke him in the corner before nailing a hangman’s neckbreaker. Ziggler cinched in a side chinlock but Crews fought his way out. Ziggler went for a superkick but Crews caught it. Ziggler nailed Crews and snapped him down to the mat. Ziggler continued to control him and rode Crews’ back with a rear chinlock. Crews fought back but was snapped with anther neckbreaker. Kalisto began limping towards the ring. Ziggler complained to the referee, allowing Crews to nail an enziguiri from behind. Kalisto pulled himself up on th apron. Crews crawled to make a tag and finally did. Kalisto nailed a big kick and a springboard reverse seated senton for a two count. Kalisto nailed a handspring kick. Apollo tagged in as Ziggler was taking Kalisto down, so Crews slipped in from behind and nailed a sitdown spinning powerbomb for a two count.
Winners: Kalisto & Apollo Crews
After the match: Ziggler attacked Kalisto, wiping him out on the apron before hitting the ring and Pillman-izing Crews’ ankle with a chair. He went and did it again, further cementing how far he’s gone after turning heel. The crowd chanted, “Thank you Ziggler.”
30 Man Royal Rumble
#24 was Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler hit the ring and teamed with Miz to hit a double DDT on Crew, then superkicked Miz and Crews. He tossed Miz over the top but Miz was able to land on the apron. Ziggler and Ambrose battled. Dean was tossed over the top but was able to hang on. More Goldberg chants. Orton battled Corbin. Jericho worked over Miz. Rusev battled Crews.
#25 was Luke Harper. He went right after Crews and tossed him, then locked eyes with Randy Orton. That was playing off of their recent issues. Wyatt tried to calm them. Harper nailed Bray with a lariat and drilled Orton with a kick. Didn’t see that one coming! Luke grabbed Bray and set him up for Sister Abigail but Orton caught him with a RKO. #26 was Brock Lesnar. He tossed Ziggler and Ambrose immediately, eliminating them.
Winner: Randy Orton
WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
They started out hot with Miz hitting a catapult over the top, sending Ziggler to the floor. Miz tried to send Ziggler into a ladder in the aisle. Ziggler avoided it and went for a DDT but was shoved off and kicked in the face. Ziggler ran Miz into a ladder on the floor. He worked over Miz on the floor and grinded his face into the steel of the ladder, Ziggler picked up a side of a ladder and tried to slam Miz inside it but Miz escaped and nailed a drop toehold into the ladder. They battled over the ladder outside. Ziggler tried to do the Famouser on a ladder set against the apron but Miz caught him. Ziggler turned it into a DDT onto the ladder, wiping both men out in the process. Back in the ring, Miz drilled Ziggler into the buckles with the ladder. He bridged a ladder across the buckles and set up Ziggler. Dolph knocked him into the ladder. Ziggler came off the buckles with an awesome flying elbow. A ladder was set up and Ziggler tried to climb up. Miz pulled him down but was nailed with a lariat. Dolph ascended the ladder and went for the belt but Miz toppled the ladder and Ziggler crashed into the ropes. Miz drove Ziggler into the corner and drilled him with a ladder. Miz dropkicked the ladder into Ziggler. He began mocking Daniel Bryan’s mannerisms, allowing Ziggler to smash him with the ladder. If they aren’t doing Bryan vs. Miz at Wrestlemania, they really are screwing with people’s hopes and that’s not cool. If they are going in that direction, it’s an awesome build so far.
Ziggler and Miz climbed the ladder and met at the summit, battling back and forth with right hands. Ziggler knocked him down and reached up for the championship belt but Miz recovered, grabbed Ziggler’s leg and slammed it against the ladder. Miz tied Ziggler’s leg up in the ladder and tipped it over. Miz grabbed Ziggler and drove him knee first down into a ladder that was braced against the ropes. There was a sizable “Miz” chant after the spot. Miz set the ladder up on the mat and began beating Dolph’s knee into the ladder. This has been a pretty damn good match thus far. Miz cinched in the figure four leglock, with Ziggler’s leg trapped in one of the rungs of the ladder. Great idea. Miz went for the Skull Crushing Finale. Ziggler tried to fire away with elbow to break free but was finally nailed with the move. Miz went to the top and grabbed the belt but Ziggler pulled the ladder away, leaving Miz hanging in the air. Ziggler drilled him with the ladder. Miz crashed down and rolled out screaming and grabbing at his leg. He did a great job of selling the big bump.
Ziggler recovered and set up the ladder. He pulled himself up the ladder with one leg but Miz, also on one leg, finally stopped him. Miz pulled him down and used a slingshot off the ropes into a powerbomb onto the ladder that was bridged across the buckles. Miz set up two ladders. He pulled himself up on one while Ziggler made his way up on the other. They battled back and forth on the ladder. Ziggler battered him with right hands. Miz still tried in vain to grab at the belt, which was swinging back and forth. Miz crashed down to the mat after a headbutt. Left alone, Ziggler tried to make it to the top and grab the belt but Miz returned and nailed him twice in the nether regions. Ziggler finally crashed down to the mat. Miz pulled down the belt and retained.
Winner: The Miz
The Miz (with Maryse) versus Dolph Ziggler – Career vs. WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Ziggler goes for the leg but Miz gets to the ropes. Ziggler goes for a super kick but Miz avoids it. Ziggler with a clothesline for a near fall. Miz catapults Ziggler over the top rope to the floor and Ziggler with a drop kick and a Mick Foley clothesline. Ziggler with a clothesline when they get back into the ring. Miz sends Ziggler sterum first into the turnbuckles. Miz with punches to Ziggler and he chokes him in the ropes. Miz with a running splash to the back. Miz with a double under hook but Ziggler escapes. Miz with a clothesline. Miz gets a near fall. Miz punches and stomps on Ziggler’s chest. Miz with a catapult into the bottom rope. Miz goes for a surfboard and he mocks Bryan and drives the knees into the mat. Ziggler gets back to his feet and he kicks Miz in the knee. Ziggler has a super kick blocked. Miz with Reality Check for a near fall.
Miz sets for the running drop kick into the corner and he hits it. Miz hits two more running drop kicks into the corner. Ziggler with a drop kick as Miz runs across the ring. Ziggler with two flying clotheslines followed by a splash in the corner, a neck breaker, and a leaping elbow drop for a near fall. Miz counters a Fameasser attempt and tries for a power bomb but Ziggler with a sunset flip for a near fall. Miz uses the ropes for extra leverage so the referee stops his count. Miz misses a charge into the corner and Ziggler with a rollup. Miz with a counter for a near fall. Ziggler goes for the hesitation DDT but Miz blocks it and then he kicks Ziggler in the knee and hits a DDT for a near fall. Miz with a knee to the hamstring as he sets for the figure four leg lock. Ziggler kicks Miz away. Ziggler has a kick blocked and Miz puts the leg in the ropes and kicks it. Miz with a drop kick and then he goes for a figure four leg lock, but Ziggler counters with an inside cradle and a near fall. Miz with an Awesome Clothesline and Miz goes up top. Ziggler hits the ropes and it crotches Miz. Miz goes for a sunset flip power bomb but Ziggler blocks it. Ziggler counters the slingshot power bomb into a sunset flip but Miz is able to lock in a figure four leg lock. Miz gets a near fall but Ziggler gets to the ropes.
Maryse gets on the apron and Miz exposes the turnbuckle. Ziggler with a Rough Ryder for a near fall. Ziggler sets for the Zig Zag but Miz holds on to the ropes and Miz sends Ziggler into the exposed turnbuckle. Miz with a slingshot power bomb for a near fall. Miz kicks Ziggler. Miz winds up for the round house kick and Ziggler ducks and hits a Zig Zag but Miz kicks out. Miz blocks a super kick and Ziggler with a rollup out of a Skull Crushing Finale. Ziggler with a sleeper and Miz is losing consciousness. Miz reaches for the ropes and he gets to them in full desperation.
Maryse sprays Ziggler and Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale but Ziggler is able to get his foot on the rope to stop the count. Miz punches Ziggler and the referee warns Miz. Ziggler removes the boot and Miz punches Ziggler. Ziggler with a super kick and Maryse signals to the back. Kenny and Mikey come to ringside and Ziggler super kicks Mikey. Miz with a Skull Crushing Finale but Ziggler kicks out. The referee sends Mikey, Kenny, and Maryse to the back. Ziggler with a super kick and he gets the three count.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler