Dolph Ziggler is a talented and accomplished WWE Superstar, there’s no doubt about it. From his days as Kerwin White’s (Chavo Guerrero’s) sidekick and being a member of the Spirit Squad, all the way to his ‘perfection’ era and present day, Ziggler has proven his worth with five-star performances no matter what role he’s been delegated. He can sell like no other, and possesses a superior athletic ability. For years, most WWE fans have recognised this, only to watch his run of success become short-lived time and time again. There’s been a lot of speculation as to why his career encounters frequent fluctuations, and this article will try to identify the reasons as to why ‘The Show Off’ isn’t where he should be (excluding injuries).
Anyone who’s followed Ziggler’s career closely has realised that he can cut a good promo or two. Dolph Ziggler used to steal the show on WWE’s YouTube channel, as we got to see his true character on a weekly basis. He was arrogant, brash, cocky, witty, and funny. He was a heel that most loved to watch. It’s just too bad that this persona wasn’t exhibited as much on RAW or SmackDown. Even to this day, Ziggler cuts great promos outside the ring, whether this be via backstage segments or interviews with sports journalists. However, when given the opportunity to cut a promo on television – which is rare – he just doesn’t bring his all. The promos are quite generic, and no way near as passionate, clever, or witty as they are elsewhere. It’s a big shame really, but hopefully WWE will allow him more mic time for him to really show the world what he’s got up his sleeve.
Consistency of moves
Wrestling fans always look forward to the performing Superstars’ signature/finishing moves. Take The Rock’s ‘People’s Elbow’ for instance. When Rock set his opponent up for this move, the fans went crazy. The camera would pan-out, and it would be obvious what was coming next. With Ziggler, it’s a different story. Sure, the ‘Zig-Zag’ (his finishing move) is like every finishing move. It can come out of nowhere and finish the opponent off. That’s cool. However, Ziggler possesses other moves that fans love to watch, but encounter infrequently. Take the flurry of ten elbow-drops. Ziggler displays an awesome level of athleticism and energy as he bounces back up from every elbow-drop delivered. He also finishes the move with one last mega elbow-drop. Now this move has all the makings to be a signature move, but it is so inconsistently performed. Sometimes, Ziggler will do it right in the beginning of the match, sometimes in the middle, sometimes at the end, and sometimes, not at all! It’s not consistent, and doesn’t make sense at times. You would never see Cesaro’s ‘Cesaro Swing’ right in the beginning of a match.
And what about Dolph’s head-standing headlock? This move was an awesome display of athleticism, balance, and cockiness. Why has he stopped doing it? One thing is for sure, performing these moves on a more consistent and frequent basis will help Ziggler develop an arsenal of moves that fans can instantly recognise and engage with, further securing Ziggler’s rise to main-event status.
One way to describe Dolph’s WWE merchandise is, “different”. His t-shirts are cool somewhat, yes, but one of his t-shirts describes the problem at hand in one line: ‘You Wish You Could Pull This Off’. Exactly. Ziggler’s blasts of pink and turquoise gear make it hard for ‘Dolphins’ (Ziggler fans) to wear. These unorthodox and vivid colours only appeal to a certain demographic, resulting in a poor turnover for his products. Heck, as a huge Ziggler fan, I just about bought one of his t-shirts as it was the black version of the ‘It’s Not Showing Off If You Back It Up’ tee. If black wasn’t available, my WWE t-shirt collection would be Ziggler-less.
How does this affect his push to stardom, you ask? WWE are known to push and stick with Superstars who sell a lot of merchandise, it’s plain and simple. It’s one of the many reasons as to why John Cena and CM Punk are/were consistently in top-flight positions in the company. Cena sells merchandise by crazy amounts – why do you think WWE release a t-shirt for him every other month? It’s hard to blame them, as business wise, it makes a lot of sense. In the great words of Triple H, “it’s best for business”.
There is no doubt that Vince McMahon likes big guys (perceive that how you want to). In an era where performance-enhancing drugs are strictly prohibited, extracting wrestlers with Ultimate Warrior-esque bodies is one tough job. One can only get so big naturally, and this makes it harder for wrestlers to stand-out. While Ziggler has a very impressive physique, he is belittled in size and mass by the majority of the WWE locker room, making his climb to success even rockier.
We shouldn’t overlook the likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, two mega-stars in the WWE with less than average physiques. You may be thinking, if they can do it, why can’t Ziggler? Well let’s not forget, Daniel Bryan’s whole gimmick is based on the small underdog who shouldn’t be where he is, and the fans love it. He’s the complete opposite of what WWE usually look for, and this works well for Bryan. Of course, let’s not say his amazing in-ring ability hasn’t got him to where he is as well. As for CM Punk, well, he was just absolutely incredible on the mic, and brought an aura of realness with him. Fans could relate to what he was saying, and be entertained at the same time. And, like Bryan, his superior in-ring work topped this all off. He didn’t seem to be concerned with his aesthetics, and handled all his business on the mic and in the ring. It showed in his persona, and it worked. With ‘The Show-Off’, it’s a different story.
Who knows, maybe this factor is irrelevant in today’s industry, but it’s definitely plausible as even Ziggler himself has claimed that he’s constantly been told “you’re too small”. Hey, do you think Roman Reigns would be as over as he is if he was the size of someone like Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins? Do you think Big E Langston would be the Intercontinental Champion if he was 50lbs lighter?
The factors mentioned above are both in Ziggler’s and the WWE’s control. However, this last factor is something WWE needs to do to help push Ziggler all the way.
Any pro wrestling fan knows that a key ingredient to building a Superstar is a good feud. The Rock wouldn’t have been where he was without his legendary rivalries with DX, Triple H, and most notably, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Hell, he was pushed even further when feuding with Hulk Hogan and the nWo. Most recently, he feuded with John Cena and CM Punk, which helped further solidify their statuses as WWE legends. Cena is now feuding with Bray Wyatt, which, in turn, will help push Bray’s career massively. It’s an ongoing cycle, and it works.
We thought we were getting something similar when Ziggler feuded with Cena last year – only to be disheartened once again. The story between the two fizzled away fairly quickly. Prior to this, Ziggler also had a temporary rivalry with Chris Jericho. Although Ziggler ‘terminated’ Y2J’s career and then eliminated him in the Royal Rumble upon his return, it was again short-lived. Had WWE built this feud up even more, it could’ve been something special.
Currently, Ziggler is on a slight winning streak, but is in pointless feuds with the likes of Damien Sandow and Alberto Del Rio. The buildup for these feuds have been poor, leading to a lack of real motivation as to why fans should tune-in to these feuds and want Ziggler to triumph over his opposition. We should thank our lucky stars for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WMXXX, for if it wasn’t for this, poor Dolph would’ve ended up competing in a meaningless singles match in a meaningless rivalry. Some ‘WrestleMania moment’, right? At least this Battle Royal will allow Dolph to show what he’s got under a bigger spotlight.
If Dolph Ziggler can tackle at least some of these issues, he would have a better chance at securing his spot in top-flight competition. It’s then up to the WWE to put him in an intense and engaging rivalry, and if this is done right, we could finally have our next, long-awaited, main event player.
What do you think? Do you agree that these factors are contributing to Ziggler’s fluctuating career? Have your say in the comment section below!
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Great read. You’ve thought about this a lot! DZ is championship material and should’ve been in the top tier at least a year ago!