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.” Continue reading
The first title win often becomes the most memorable for professional wrestlers. Dolph Ziggler, however, cherishes his fifth time winning the WWE Intercontinental Title. After all, it means he can keep doing what he loves. “It usually is special for a minute, and then you gotta get back to work,” he said. “This one, I had to put my career on the line for one more chance. So it really was special.”
Ziggler began clashing with then-Intercontinental champion The Miz earlier this year, challenging him for the title several times. It all came down to the No Mercy event in early October, where Ziggler put his career on the line. If The Miz had won, Ziggler would’ve been forced to retire. However, Ziggler overcame the odds — and interference from Miz’s wife, Maryse, and Spirit Squad members Mikey and Kenny — to become the Intercontinental champion. “It’s bigger than any World Title match, or WrestleMania match, I’ve ever had. I had to put my entire career on the line against the title for one more shot, or leave the WWE. So it definitely is special. More special than any other moment I had,” Ziggler said. “I mean, I could be sitting in a hammock somewhere sipping a piña colada, but working’s cool too.”
Ziggler and the WWE Superstars of SmackDown Live will appear at 7:15 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township. Multi-time WWE and World Heavyweight champion The Undertaker will also make a special appearance, as the event marks the 900th episode of “SmackDown.” The card, subject to change, also includes WWE Superstars Dean Ambrose, Becky Lynch, WWE World Champion AJ Styles as well as Randy Orton, The Miz and Natalya. Ziggler came to the SmackDown brand after the WWE Draft in July, where the company split their lineup between it and the Monday Night Raw brand. Now a few months in, Ziggler said before the draft, he had talked about how it would give the younger guys a chance to step up and show what they can do. While it’s done that, it’s also given Ziggler a chance to revitalize his career.
Since he’s not prone to injury, he said he’s faced the obstacle of oversaturation by always being on both Raw and SmackDown. The brand split and separate rosters lets him concentrate more on his character. “For someone like me to get a chance to revamp, start over and let them know that I put it all on the line — I’m a changed man, I’m a winner now — it’s something that’s really helped me out,” he said. “I’ve gotten some freedom on the microphone. I’m actually playing off someone and investing my time more than ever. It’s such a great show.” Now that he’s an “old-timer” at age 36, Ziggler (AKA Nicholas Nemeth outside the ring) said he enjoys mentoring up-and-coming wrestlers, such as one-time partner Big E. The two worked together a few years ago when Big E served as enforcer for Ziggler and then-storyline girlfriend AJ Lee. Continue reading
For years many have considered Dolph Ziggler one of the unsung superstars of the WWE Roster. Despite winning many championships in his more than ten years with the company, in the past few months many believe his stock has risen drastically. With rave reviews for his recent match with the Miz at No Mercy and the Intercontinental Championship around his waist, Ziggler is certainly riding high and thankfully for UK fans, he’ll be arriving in person to entertain us in under a fortnight. We were lucky enough to grab some time with Dolph in as in advance of the tour and asked him about a future UK Pay-Per-View event and more. Read what he had to say below and then get yourself a ticket to see the man in person. A list of tour dates which run from 4-10 November including Raw and Smackdown tapings in Glasgow, follows the interview.
Every year, WWE Superstars tease us with their support for a future Pay-Per-View event, like Wrestlemania, taking place in the UK. Do you think with the brand split, we’re any closer to realising that possibility?
I think you can tell just by having the Raw and Smackdown tapings in Scotland and the expansion we have and how great the fans are. You always think the more loyal they are, the better the chance they’ll get something. I’d always heard, years and years ago, that Cleveland where I’m from – that there were such great responses and such great turnouts that they earned a Pay-Per-View. Now I’m sure there is a huge amount of money that would go into doing a Pay-Per-View overseas but I feel like we’re getting closer and closer. The fans are just so huge and so great and so loyal that of course we as the performers think that they’ve gone above and beyond to deserve it and hopefully at some point, if Vince doesn’t lose too much money just making the Pay-Per-View happen, I’m sure at some point it will be in the works and it will be one of the greatest crowd responses we’ve ever had.
You beat the Miz in your career vs title match but had you lost, what is the one thing that would have brought you out of retirement?
The first thing that popped into my head when you asked that was having a singles match, for a reason, at Wrestlemania. But I’m also a businessman and a team player and I don’t focus my career on thinking “yeah, that was a great year that I just had, I just won the intercontinental championship and put my career on the line but you know what, I really haven’t had a singles match at Wrestlemania. Wah Wah!” It’s about good business and giving it back to the business and I feel like I’ve done everything I possibly can in every aspect. Would it be cool to have something like that career vs title match against Miz at Wrestlemania? Absolutely. But when it happens organically it’s just that much more special anyway and you can’t guarantee when the timelines would be exactly right for that. So it would be cool if I retired, to come back and be in there with someone like a Miz or a Tyler Breeze or a Zack Ryder, someone whose been a buddy of mine from day one here, or someone who thinks they want to challenge me and give it a go. If I could come out of retirement then maybe Shawn Michaels could too, who knows!
It’s not only sports entertainment but you’ve also made a name with your one-man comedy shows. Have you played any practical jokes on your fellow superstars?
Practical jokes are so hacky, bro! We did a show on the WWE Network, Swerved, where once everyone saw me as being associated with that, no-one trusted me for five years backstage! So it’s tricky for me to get somebody to do something real, let alone set up a trick. I’m not really a trick guy and for about six months, everyone thought I was tricking them every single day! I’m still winning back everyone’s trust and respect! When it comes to the comedy scene it’s about writing and trying things out, over and over, hundreds and thousands of times until you find a cool way to do it and that’s what I love about it, being a student of it. Continue reading
Dolph Ziggler is set to be in WWE for a good while yet after saving his career and winning the Intercontinental Title at Smackdown’s No Mercy pay-per-view earlier this month. The Show Off went into his match against then champion The Miz in California knowing that defeat would force him to retire from the company he signed for way back in 2004. Ziggler triumphed in a spectacular bout, dealing with interference from Miz’s wife Maryse and former Spirit Squad pals Kenny and Mikey to prevail with a Superkick. However, the Cleveland-born star admits he did fear his WWE tenure could be coming to an end before his big victory – and had begun plans for a life outside the ring.
“I’d been in talks with an agent for about a year and told him to have a couple of things ready after the date after the No Mercy pay-per-view just so I had my bases covered,” Ziggler told journalists during a conference call ahead of WWE’s UK tour in November. “But while I was prepared to go, I sure as hell never wanted to go. WWE is a business but [WWE chairman] Vince McMahon is a human being and if I went to him and said I need to leave because I can’t go higher on the card, I believe he would understand and let me go.”
“I could go and do other things, too – I am fortunate that I have a stand-up career, while I have also gone on Fox News to talk politics, something I study, write about and have lots of ideas about. But I am still prepared to be the best WWE Superstar I can be and I want to keep doing this.”
Ziggler says his WWE career was “at a crossroads” ahead of No Mercy, having failed to win the WWE World Title at SummerSlam in a match against Dean Ambrose and then been unable to prise the Intercontinental strap from The Miz at Backlash and on Smackdown. The 36-year-old subsequently agreed to put his career on the line for one last shot at The Miz’s title, and reckons the emotion and backstory of the bout made it his best ever. “Any world championship or WrestleMania match I’ve had didn’t have the build that this match did,” said Ziggler, who is now a five-time Intercontinental Champion. Continue reading