Without Kurt Angle, Dolph Ziggler might not have made it to WWE. That’s the view of Ziggler, who believes Olympic champion Angle’s success helped amateur wrestling standouts like himself earn an opportunity. Angle, who will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, won gold in freestyle wrestling at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, before embarking on a WWE career which yielded six world titles. And Ziggler, a successful collegiate grappler during his time at Kent State University, says he would be honoured to face the 48-year-old.
“When I was looking to get into the business, Kurt was doing so well with WWE, learning so fast and being so great at his job,” said Ziggler, ahead of Sunday’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view. “Because of how awesome he was, I got a try-out with WWE. Guys like him paved the way for guys like me who wrestled in college. If there was a chance to get in the ring with him, it would be a dream come true. I have nothing but all the respect in the world for him.” Ziggler will be one of the 30 men targeting a world-title opportunity at WrestleMania 33 when he competes in this weekend’s 30th annual Royal Rumble Match in San Antonio, Texas. The Show-Off will be up against, among others, industry legends The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and Goldberg, but believes his endurance levels will help him go far.
“I am never the favourite but I live for that,” said Ziggler, who has competed in the previous eight Royal Rumbles. “I know how good I am and the fans know how good I am. I’d love to be in the ring with guys like Goldberg, Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker as no matter what they’ve done, I know how good my conditioning is. If those three can say the same thing, I’d love to go and hang with them because I don’t think they could hang with me.”
The Royal Rumble, in which wrestlers are eliminated when they are thrown from the ring over the top rope, remains one of WWE’s most eye-catching events, with surprise entrants frequently appearing. AJ Styles made his WWE bow in the contest last year, while in 2015, there were shock returns for Bubba Ray Dudley, The Boogeyman and Diamond Dallas Page. “As a fan or a worker, the idea is pretty cool,” Ziggler added.
“You don’t know who’s going to come out and even if you do have an idea, when you do get out there you don’t know who’s coming after you. Someone could be hurt, someone could be teetering on the edge. It’s a pretty exciting time. Whether you’ve been around for a long time, like myself, or are new, you are always wondering whether you will be able to get out there and show your stuff.”