Posted January 20th, 2017 by 1Wrestling News Team

Will Dolph’s Attitude, Not His Aptitude, Determine His Altitude?

By Travis Voeltz

It was a below zero Tuesday night in January recently, I was bundled up in my favorite chair watching Smackdown Live. Baron Corbin had seemed to be starting to really gain some momentum in recent weeks, as he’d been appearing in more high profile matches.  While this meant good things for his career, that type of drive towards the main event scene spelled possible doom for his opponent that night: Dolph Ziggler. My initial reaction when I saw this match announced for the night was one of indifference.  After all, I myself had witnessed these two go head to head at a live event nearly a year ago, not to mention their subsequent series of matches on WWE programming.  How would Dolph fair this go around?

At the time when Corbin was fresh off the scene from NXT, he was also coming off the heels of his Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal win at Wrestlemania. Back then, there was an underlying feeling that Dolph was the veteran testing the new lion—with a fresh competitor Corbin, coming out the victor in the majority of their match-ups…but not this time.  Something was different. On paper and on one hand, it looked like Corbin was heading towards the main event scene; however, on the other hand, Ziggler was just scratching to survive!  This came after his walking away, with the short end of the stick, from his recent feud with the Miz.  None of that was certainly too different though, as a similar situation was exactly what had been the case for Corbin versus Ziggler, heading into last summer. Not this time though—something was different watching these two lock up—something that I wasn’t immediately able to identify. As I sat trying to figure out what was different, my mind began to wander a bit.  Not being a particular fan of the attitude of Corbin, my thoughts drifted towards fan favorite Ziggler. And the more I thought about Ziggler, the more I thought back on his career.

Like many a wrestler, Dolph Ziggler’s passion for professional wrestling began at an early age, after attending an event where he saw these larger than life characters engaged in the perfect blend of an athletic contest and showmanship. Graduating from Kent State University, where he majored in political science with a minor in pre-law, Ziggler’s mind still gravitated towards his passion for wrestling.  As is obvious during his countless battles in the ring for WWE, Ziggler was also a standout wrestler for Kent State, where he had the most career wins in the team’s history at the time—a staggering 121 career wins within a three year period.  Not only did he win championships in three consecutive years at the collegiate level, but he was also a three-time all Mid-American Conference champion. Between his long time passion for pro-wrestling, and his incredible collegiate wrestling career, he seemed destined to make a big splash on the world wide stage of the WWE. It didn’t quite go that way at first though.

After signing with the WWE in 2004, Ziggler was still trying to find his identity in the chaotic world of pro-wrestling when he debuted on Raw in 2005 as a side kick to Kerwin White.  His position as said side kick didn’t last long however, as Kerwin White never returned from the unfortunate time period when the world lost the legendary Eddie Guerrero.  Still unable to find his true self, Ziggler fell back on his collegiate experiences and joined up with a squad of high spirited individuals known as just that: The Spirit Squad.  Although the group won the tag team championship, it was short lived.  Ziggler once again found himself without an identity, in a world where the most successful have always been those with an easily identified personality.  It wasn’t until around 2008 when he adopted the first name of his great-grandfather, Dolph, that things seem to take off.  Combined with a last name that was similar to famed motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar; one Dolph Ziggler was born.

Immediately rubbing many WWE competitors the wrong way, Ziggler showed off his extreme confidence by introducing himself to the wrestling world by greeting fellow competitors everywhere and anywhere that he saw them. As if his over the top confidence didn’t annoy people enough, his seemingly never ending pursuit of WWE’s female staff quickly created many enemies for Ziggler. In perhaps a bit of irony, this former side kick to Kerwin White, eventually started a relationship with Vickie Guerrero, who began guiding Ziggler’s career for awhile. Guerrero wasn’t the last female to be involved in his career though, as he went on to win several WWE championships all the while having a variety of females along his side.  Eventually winning and cashing in the “Money-in-the-Bank” briefcase, this man with the same first name of the dreaded Russian villain in the film Rocky IV, Dolph would win the World Heavyweight Championship.  Upon his hand being raised as champion—the crowd; seemingly won over by his never giving up ring style, erupted as they witnessed the crowning of who they thought could be their next big star, and now hero to get behind.  However, that isn’t exactly what happened.

My mind turned to thinking about how quickly Dolph’s world title reign ended, and his seemingly 50-50 win loss record since. However, I was suddenly thrust back into the present when I witnessed a startling event transpiring in his current match with Baron Corbin; and that’s when it hit me.  I realized what I had felt at the beginning of this match. Something was different, and the difference wasn’t in newest main eventer, Corbin. It was in the WWE veteran Dolph Ziggler.

After a somewhat predicted loss to Corbin, who was about to continue the damage on Dolph via a steel chair, Kalisto rushed the ring and warded off the attack leaving Kalisto in the ring with Dolph.  As Kalisto stared from that ring at the departing Corbin, Ziggler has gotten to his feet. Then it happened; as Kalisto turned to check on whom he’d just saved from a vicious steel chair attack, Ziggler unleashed a show-stopper-like super kick to the face of Kalisto, dropping him flat on his back.  As the crowd watched in shock, it became clear what was different about Ziggler. What followed next in verbal form was perhaps worse than even the physicality of the super kick.  Ziggler seemed to completely boil over with emotion as he unleashed a verbal tirade down at the laid out Kalisto. Every fiber in him seemed to be exploding as he shouted, “I don’t need you, I don’t need anybody; I never needed anybody!” The crowd now realizing the volume of what they were witnessing quickly changed from shock to more awe as the arena got loud.

Following these shocking events, the cameras followed Ziggler to the back area, where he continued his tirade, this time on anything not bolted down in the dressing room. Upset and confused by what had happened, crowd favorite Apollo Crews confronted Dolph about laying out his friend Kalisto. I fully expected the fan favorite of many years Dolph Ziggler to think better of his actions and apologize—but I was wrong. Ziggler’s emotions continued to rage as he attacked Crews with malice. These shocking series of events led to a match, the following week on Smackdown Live where Ziggler lost again, but this time to Kalisto. Overcome with frustration, he unleashed a heinous steel chair attack to Kalisto prompting Apollo Crews to come to the rescue. Rescue he did not however, as Crews also fell victim to the vicious steel chair swings of Ziggler. Did this mean what it certainly appeared to be?  Was our beloved Dolph Ziggler no longer someone to be cheered?

Following seeing Ziggler on “Talking Smack,” sporting the infamous NWO t-shirt, the subsequent days to follow had me thinking.  Between attacks on crowd favorites Kalisto and Apollo Crews both, and now Zigglar’s been seen wearing the colors of famed villains the NWO, it seems almost safe to assume Dolph had changed how he was going to be doing things going forward. Then my mind’s eye really got going thinking about the possibilities. Had this change in attitude been exactly what Ziggler had needed these last several years of a 50-50 record? After all, before he has gotten in the good graces of the fans, his career had been more successful as far as wins and losses. Since becoming a crowd favorite, he seemed destined to be the loveable loser. However, with this ever growing edgy attitude lately, endless possibilities seem within grasp.

Ziggler has always been full of personality.  Going forward, without the constraints of having to please others, he can let his character, individuality, and celebrity go wild.  Having long since being dubbed a showoff, now he can really let that behavior loose. I, for one, wasn’t comfortable with how Ziggler entered a matchup.  With his endless confidence, and gyrating movements, it seemed more natural for me to boo him.  A mixture of Ravishing Rick Rude, Mr Perfect, and Shawn Michaels for the current age of the WWE, Ziggler has the perfect personality that fans love to hate. Long rumored as someone that has no issue going after the females of the WWE, imagine the possibilities for Ziggler going forward for main event caliber match ups.

Starting at the top, with the ever growing cheers of the crowd for WWE Champion AJ Styles, imagine a matchup between an admired Styles and a hated Ziggler. How about Ziggler and someone…where a personal issue has brewed with years in John Cena?  With many young athletic stars now on the Smackdown Live roster, imagine matches between two wrestlers with the pedigree of Ziggler and the likes of Chad Gable or Jason Jordan.  Formerly, Ziggler was often associated with females who accompanied him to the ring—what if he took a page after his in-ring doppelganger, Shawn Michaels, and tried a body guard type to watch his back?  Between his recent in-ring attacks, and his rumored off camera pursuits, the ire he’s raising with others seems to be growing. Is there a new talent on the horizon who could be introduced to watch the back of Ziggler, or is his appearance in an NWO t-shirt indicating some type of relationship with former body guard and current WWE legend Kevin Nash?  Nash is certainly someone with the ability to come back and both make an impact and share a great deal of knowledge with Ziggler. Imagine an evil, aggressive Dolph Ziggler accompanied by Kevin Nash going after the crowd favorites as he unleashes his years of frustration in pursuit of the company’s top titles.

Ziggler has more than proven himself over the years—as not many have, and has survived the highs and lows that the WWE has to offer. While a veteran, he is still young enough and certainly athletic enough to break through the ceiling of which he’s been under for too long.  Often cited by industry legends as someone with unbelievable talent, could this recent change in attitude be just what Ziggler has needed? Could this be his career re-birth?

You’d be well served to be optimistic that it is. Who knows…an aggressive Dolph Ziggler may have everything it takes to get everything he wants.   What will it cost other superstars?  What will it cost Dolph?  As similarly name Zig Ziglar said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals”.  Will trading the cheers of wrestling fans for jeers and match victories be all he feels he deserves? Stay tuned…

-Travis Voeltz



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