As an 11 year veteran of the WWE and an aspiring stand-up comic, Dolph Ziggler was the perfect fit for the Savage Henry Wrestling issue. Ziggler’s wrestling persona has gone through several phases over his career and led to him being one of the most talked about – and possibly, most underrated – athletes in professional wrestling today. In the ring, Ziggler is a cocky show-off. But outside of the ring, in a one-on-one setting, he shows himself to be humble, hardworking, and very self-aware. I talked to Ziggler about his role in the WWE, his stand-up comedy and his plans for the future.
Isaac Kozell: 2014 was a big year for you. You were sole survivor for the second time in your career and were named Wrestler of the Year by Rolling Stone. How do you feel 2015 is treating you so far?
Dolph Ziggler: 2015 is actually going pretty well. A lot of this business is timing and luck. There are hundreds – maybe thousands – in the world who are better than me, yet here I am 11 years later, just a step outside that coveted gold circle, fighting for my career every step of the way. It’s not always about wins and losses, but winning two Survivor Series matches is something I will never forget.
IK: I imagine that you rarely have breaks in your schedule. Give me a Reader’s Digest version of your daily routine.
DZ: I measure my time off in hours. Usually 36-40 a week at home. Friday morning [I] fly out to show. Land. Get rental car. Find food. Find a gym. Find food to go, get to arena. Do show. Drive on to the next town and repeat until Wednesday morning. That day I fly home, only to fly out Friday morning again. It’s nonstop and there’s no off season. We never stop! WWE does over 300 live events a year and that’s not counting charity events and outside appearances.
IK: Which city has the best wrestling fans?
DZ: The best fans for me are all of the East Coast and the very West Coast. But so many cities are unique. That’s what makes this job so great. You may have a plan, but things change all the time. That’s where being a ring general and having improv skills take over. It’s my fav. I will never forget that without these fans I would have to get a real job. I thank them whenever I can.
IK: At the time of this interview, you’re working in the UK. I also just saw that you’ll be in Malaysia next month. What kind of response do you get from non-North American fans? Do they connect with your character?
DZ: At the end of the day, even if you are in a brand new market and no one knows what a WWE show is, the bottom line is to entertain and put smiles on faces. All fans are different, but it’s supply and demand. If we only get to your country once in a while, it’s gonna be a hot crowd!
IK: You’ve been wrestling since high school. At 34, how is your body holding up?
DZ: I’ve actually been wrestling since five years old. The first time I saw a WWE show, I told my dad I wanted to start wrestling. At five, I wrestled once or twice a week. It became much more vigorous and nonstop going into high school and all through college. I’m 34, and except for two concussions and some teeth knocked out, I’ve had no serious injuries. I’ve been very fortunate. Several other superstars have had countless injuries and taken time off, but I have not. I think I’ve missed maybe 3 weeks in almost 11 years – because of said concussions – which is probably the least amount of time of any WWE superstar ever … that’s been here for 11 years. Google it. (Laughs) My body holds up because of my core workouts. I have been circuit training and intense cardio training since college, years before CrossFit became a thing. Continue reading