(Almost) 5-Star Match Reviews: Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz – WWE No Mercy 2016

wwe no mercy 2016 dolph ziggler the miz

When I started this match reviews series, never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d end up reviewing a match between Dolph Ziggler and the f**king MIZ!

One is the most blatant failed Shawn Michaels clone in WWE history and the other is perhaps the most unthreatening and hard-to-believe wrestler on WWE’s roster. And yet, these two had a very good match together. Or so many fans have said. So I figured I’d look back at this allegedly great match to see what all the hype was about.

To that end, today we revisit the wager match between Ziggler and Miz from No Mercy 2016.

As a reminder, I am reviewing Five Star and almost-Five Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes back to the 1980s and I’m going to pick different matches from different eras to see how they look today. Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here.

The story

The Miz was on a career high throughout 2016. He won the Intercontinental Championship the night after WrestleMania 32 and soon had his real-life wife Maryse managing him on-screen. Miz won several high-profile title defenses on his own, but then things shifted a bit when he and Maryse were drafted to SmackDown. In one of the most famous promos of the past decade, Miz went on a tirade against SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan. Words don’t do it justice; here’s the promo in all its glory:

How Miz was still supposed to be a heel/villain after that is a mystery. But as I’ve said before, WWE discourages spontaneity. So even though Miz left this promo in a sympathetic light, he still had to wrestle as a dirty and underhanded villain because that’s what was penciled in for him.

Anyway, in that promo, Miz said many things, most of them aimed at Daniel Bryan. But one thing that he also said was that he vowed to make the IC title way more relevant than before. To do that, Miz had to defend it against Ziggler, who challenged for Miz’s title at Backlash in September. Miz won thanks to interference from Maryse, who sprayed something in Ziggler’s eyes. Over the following weeks, Ziggler tried again and again to win the title but kept coming up short. Eventually, Ziggler exhausted all options and decided to make one final gamble: he’d put his career on the line for one last shot at the Intercontinental title. Miz accepted, turning this into the English version of a luchas de apuestas match common in lucha libre in Mexico.

It was do-or-die for Ziggler. He still had many devoted fans in WWE who believed he deserved way more than he got, especially due to his work ethic and in-ring talent. But could Miz beat him one last time and end his career forever? Could Miz continue his positive momentum and do as he promised and truly restore relevance to the Intercontinental title?

The match

This match originally took place on October 9th, 2016. It was rated ****1/2 out of five by the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer and ****1/4 by TJR’s John Canton.

Ziggler goes for Miz’s leg but Miz gets a ropebreak. Ziggler ducks a clothesline and Miz avoids a superkick. Ziggler gets a two-count off a roll-up and hits a clothesline for another two-count. Miz counters a dropkick with a catapult toss to the floor. Ziggler rushes back into the ring and lands a dropkick. Both go tumbling to the floor off another clothesline. Ziggler throws Miz into the barricade and then into the ring but Miz kicks the rope into Ziggler as he re-enters the ring. Miz charges but runs into another dropkick for a one-count. Miz reverses a corner whip causing Ziggler to do the Bret bump hwhich leads to another two-count.

Miz hits a running press into Ziggler against the ropes as the crowd chants “let’s go Ziggler/let’s go Miz.” Miz applies a butterfly lock and Ziggler tries reversing out but Miz hits first with yet another clothesline. Miz gets a two-count off a running kick and then catapults Ziggler throat-first into the bottom rope. Then Miz mocks Bryan with a Romero stomp to Ziggler’s knees and then locks in a double-arm stretch. Ziggler fights to his feet and goes for another superkick but Miz blocks and lands his backbreaker/neckbreaker combo for another two-count. Miz follows with three Bryan-stle running corner dropkicks but Ziggler hits a dropkick of his own to stop Miz’s fourth. Both guys spent awhile on the mat until Ziggler begins his comeback with clotheslines. Ziggler hits a stinger splash/swinging neckbreaker/elbow drop combo for another two-count. Ziggles goes for his Fame-asser. Miz blocks and goes for the slingshot powerbomb. Ziggler blocks that with a Yoshi tonic/Code Red. Ziggler charges and runs into a big boot. Miz covers and uses the roeps for leverage but the ref catches him and stops. Miz charges but runs into the steel ringpost. Ziggler gets a two-count off a roll-up, as does Miz while pulling on Ziggler’s tights. Miz blocks a jumping DDT and hits a kneeling DDT of his own. One, two, Ziggler kicks out.

Miz starts working Ziggler’s leg and goes for the Figure-4 but Ziggler kicks him away. Ziggler goes to boot Miz to block a charge but Miz catches his foot and kicks Ziggler’s thigh, trapping it in the ropes. That allows Miz to dropkick Ziggler’s weakened leg. Miz goes for the Figure-4 again. Ziggler counters with a small package for a two-count. Miz hits a corner clothesline and goes to the top rope. Ziggler hits the top to crotch Miz. Ziggler goes for a superplex. Miz blocks and sunset flips over. he tries the slingshot powerbomb again. Ziggler does the Yoshi Tonic counter again but this time Miz rolls through into a Figure-4 leglock. Ziggler writhes and screams but eventually makes it to the rope. Miz takes forever but eventually releases the hold. Maryse gets onto the apron to distract the ref as Miz pulls off a turnbuckle pad. Miz charges…and runs into a Rough Rider/forward Fame-asser. Ziggler pins but only gets two.

Ziggler hobbles over and attempts a sleeper hold but Miz shoves him off. Miz sidesteps out of the corner causing Ziggler to hit the exposed turnbuckle face-first. Miz connects with the slingshot powerbomb but only manages another two-count. Miz hits Bryan-style mid kicks and winds up for one stronger kick. But Ziggler ducks it and lands his Zigzag finisher. One, two, Miz kicks out. Ziggler fights to his feet and goes for another superkick. Miz blocks and goes for his Skull-Crushing Finale. Ziggler counters into a victory roll. Miz kicks out so Ziggler applies a sleeper with bodyscissors. Miz starts fading but still has the wherewithal to grab the ropes. Miz distracts the ref allowing Maryse to spray Ziggler’s eyes just like in one of their earlier matches. Miz connects with his Skull-Crushing Finale. One, two, and – No, Ziggler survives by getting his foot on the bottom rope. Frustrated, Miz lands hammer fists to Ziggler’s leg and somehow manages to pull of Ziggler’s boot. Then Ziggler hits a superkick out of nowhere. Ziggler starts crawling over for a pin as Maryse signals to the back. Out come Kenny and Mikey, Ziggler’s former Spirit Squad teammates. Ziggler superkicks one of them but Miz takes advantage with another finisher. One, two, Ziggler kicks out yet again at 2.9! The ref turns around and orders Maryse and the Spirit Squad to the back for another huge pop from the crowd. Miz argues with the ref and then turns around…and eats a huge superkick. One, two, and three! Ziggler wins the match. Ziggler’s career continues and he wins the IC title!

Winner and NEW WWE Intercontinental Champion after 19:42: Dolph Ziggler

Post-match, Ziggler has a massive celebration and hobbles around as he high-fives fans all over the place. Meanwhile, Miz looks absolutely dejected. All that talk about SmackDown being his show just went out the window with this loss. But at least he restored importance to the IC title, albeit briefly. It’s also too bad that this match was all for nothing since Ziggler lost the title back to Miz about a month later.


This was definitely a career-best performance for both wrestlers. Ziggler brought his A-game and Miz more than managed to keep up with him. And for all the flack Miz has gotten over the decades, he had some true flashes of greatness here. The match had plenty of tension, some good near-falls and good heat. It was great by WWE’s standards but it could’ve been better in several ways.

Ziggler was great here but Miz’s wrestling fell flat a few times. He botched the slingshot bomb a few times and almost dropped Ziggler awkwardly. His legwork was solid but could’ve been longer to make it more convincing that Ziggler could’ve tapped out to his Figure-4. The beginning of the match saw little happen but luckily they made up for that with a faster and more exciting finish. But Miz made up for these faults by wrestling as a tremendous heel here. It was as if his awesome promo was an afterthought here because he was such a convincing villain with all his cheap-shots, referee manipulation, and constant tricks. He did everything in his power to make (winning) this match feel important and made the fans really get behind Ziggler.

Speaking of Ziggler, as I mentioned above, he was great but not excellent. Despite his top-tier wrestling skills and good selling of Miz’s work to his body, there was something off from before the match even started. This was supposed to be do-or-die for Ziggler. His career was on the line; he had to be more focused and serious than ever before. But one wouldn’t get that impression from how he entered the arena. He did his same trademark poses and gestures and acted as though this was just another match. These are minor details yet they are what separate the great wrestlers from the best. Ziggler tried to remedy this by going for quick pins early on but that didn’t work because no one believed the match would end so soon.

And speaking of believability, there was one problem that hurt this match more than any other: its stipulation killed any sense of unpredictability. There was simply no way Ziggler was going to retire here. At the time he had signed a multi-year contract fairly recently and was still relatively healthy. Plus, WWE needed midcarders like him and there was no real alternative for him at the time. So while the match was solid and had some great near-falls, there just wasn’t a sense that Miz could really win. Ziggler kicked out of everything Miz had, including several SCFs, a Figure-4, and the Ligerbomb he tried five times to land successfully.

Lastly, I would’ve spaced out Maryse & the Spirit Squad’s exit and Ziggler’s final superkick a bit more. those two big pop moments were too close together and felt less like two distinct pop moments and more like one mixed one. They had an opportunity to milk the crowd of that huge reaction that the fans gave the ejection. Instead, Miz and Ziggler went straight for the finish too soon to make the most out of the atmosphere.

That’s not to say this was a bad match; far from it. It was one of the best WWE matches of 2016 thanks to some great work from both guys. Ziggler sold well and had a strong comeback. Miz knew exactly what he needed to do to keep Ziggler’s push forward contained. Both guys had all the tools and had the right plan, but the final execution of said plan was a bit clumsy.

Final Rating: ****

Even though it’s a tad underwhelming, this match still should’ve main-evented No Mercy. This was the best match on the show by a mile and was easily the best match of both wrestlers’ careers. I’ve seen many matches better than this one, but it’s refreshing to see WWE’s bloated midcard have a match that actually tries to make people care.

Ultimately, Miz and Ziggler did a great job but were let down by the environment around them. Some people think Miz should’ve won to get monster heat. Others think that the match sort of fell apart at the end. As for me, I think that Ziggler and Miz were hamstrung by the ‘career-threatening’ stipulation that made this match into a foregone conclusion. Had they swapped it for something a bit more creative – such as a title vs. massive fine, title vs. hair, title vs. title shot ban, title vs. extremely humiliating punishment – I think they would’ve been able to have a more dramatic match. But in the end, this is still a solid match that ends up being one of the few bright spots from SmackDown over the past decade.

Thanks for reading. You can email me with any questions or comments, and be sure to check out my 5-Star and Almost 5-Star Match Reviews series here.