Keeping ‘The Show-Off’ off the show: Dolph Ziggler’s zig-zagging career…

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).

Promos 

Dolph Ziggler’s YouTube show: ‘WWE Download’

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

Dolph Ziggler’s head-standing headlock is hardly seen anymore

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.

Merch 

These tees look great on Ziggler, but would you wear them in public?

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”.

Size

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.

RAW_1012_Photo_071

Dolph is bigger than the average male, but dwarfed by most of the WWE roster.

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.

Feuds

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!

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended. 

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Mid-carder for life?

Cody Rhodes & Kofi Kingston - will they ever be given a push?It’s tough to define the term ‘mid-carder’ in the modern world of professional wrestling. Historically, mid-carders are second-tier performers who wrestle in the middle of programmes, usually competing for the secondary title of the company. Mid-carders often tend to eventually secure a spot in the top-flight division, and end up creating a legacy of their own that cements itself in the history of the business.

Take The Rock and Chris Jericho for example. Both were destined for glory when entering the WWE (WWF at the time), as Rock was a third-generation wrestler and Y2J came into the organisation as an already-established star from the WCW. Both went on to become Intercontinental Champion – the ultimate prize for mid-carders – which then sky-rocketed their careers into the top tier, leading to them both becoming WWE Champions. But as the years of the industry’s existence have increased, so too have the number of ‘smart marks’ (wrestling fans who are aware of how the industry works and what occurs behind the scenes), meaning the term ‘mid-carder’ is being seen in a whole new light.

As previously stated, mid-carders were seen as promising Superstars who would one day climb the ladder to greatness and belong in the upper-echelon of the current roster. Nowadays, it’s a completely different story. Mid-carders are simply seen as ‘gap-fillers’, and are even used to ‘job’ to a current upper-tier Superstar just to promote them further for their upcoming match in the next pay-per-view. The athletic and talented Kofi Kingston, and third-generation Superstar Cody Rhodes, are just a couple of examples. However, their lack of success can be attributed to a number of factors.

The decline of the World Heavyweight Championship would be an ideal place to start. This prestigious belt (once the title of titles of the WCW) has been held by some of the greatest competitors to have ever stepped foot in the squared circle. Possessors of this title include Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, The Undertaker, The Rock, and many more established names that have graced the business. When the WWE acquired WCW, the belt’s degree of reputation and importance was gracefully maintained, if not heightened. Deserved names were given the belt, and so there were two ultimate prized possessions that the roster would strive to achieve.

Dolph Ziggler becomes World Heavyweight Champion after cashing-in his 'Money in the Bank' briefcase.

Dolph Ziggler cashes-in for the gold – but is he quite ‘the man’?

However, as the years have rolled on, the belt’s relevancy has decreased, and so the second-tier – the main habitat for mid-carders – has also become the nesting ground for Superstars competing for the World Heavyweight Championship. This has made current mid-carder wrestlers even more unlikely to excel, meaning that any progression of one day becoming ‘the man’ is at best limited. The belt’s aura has also diminished, as it is carelessly thrown around from Superstar to Superstar. In the past, title reigns lasted for quite some time, which made the belt appear to be a worthy prize to possess and so too made the holder of the belt the current alpha-male.

Speaking of belts being thrown on Superstars, the ‘Money in the Bank’ briefcase should not be a forgotten factor. With the exception of Edge, most wrestlers who have won the WWE/World Heavyweight Championship by ‘cashing-in’ haven’t exactly had an awe-inspiring or memorable reign as champion. Think about Dolph Ziggler’s first reign, as well as the title runs of Jack Swagger, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and most recently, Alberto Del Rio. These rising stars were given the ball to run with, but they never quite made it to the finish line at the time. They all held the belt, but were they ever branded and marketed as top-flight competitors?

Currently, Ziggler holds the belt for the second time in his career, whilst jobbing to anyone he encounters on an almost weekly basis. Is this an indication that despite what belt is thrown on a deserved Superstar belonging to this echelon, they’ll never quite make it to John Cena’s or CM Punk’s level? Do new and future Superstars have to acquire traits or do something at the extreme end of the scale – such as possessing Ryback’s pure size or cutting a highly controversial promo like CM Punk – just to fit into the main-event mould, despite already being exceptionally talented both in the ring and on the microphone?

Another factor to consider would be the demise of tag-teams and the removal of the Hardcore division. Like the Intercontinental division, the Tag-Team and Hardcore divisions showcased matches that people were equally as excited for as the main event. These matches produced some memorable and creative content to say the least, such as the TLC match at WrestleMania 17. But what’s important here is not just the content of the matches, but the Superstars that these matches produced. Edge and Jeff Hardy, both one-half of established tag-teams, were participants of the match just mentioned, whom went on to lead successful careers as single competitors, acquiring both the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships. It could be said that the decline/removal of these divisions mean there are less opportunities for mid-carders to showcase what they have to perform in the upper-tier.

Past and present hierarchical title/division structure

Has the difference in title/division structure impacted the output of flourishing stars?

Let’s face it, the Tag-Team Championships have lost their relevancy, and no-one really cares as to who the next tag-team champions will be. The lack of pure tag-teams have lead to an influx of mid-carders floating around and ending up in pointless tag-teams, such as Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow. This heightens the chances of mid-carders such as these forever remaining in this category of wrestlers. On the subject of today’s meaningless titles, let’s not even dare delve into the subject of the United States Championship, a title that really doesn’t do the holder any justice in establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Take Antonio Cesaro in this instance. What has his reign as US Champion really done for him? He’s a great all-round competitor in the ring, but it seems as though he has been stuck in square one – he never went back to it from a heightened position. Let’s hope current US Champion Dean Ambrose can restore some dignity and prestige to the title belt (which, by the way, he defeated Kofi Kingston for).

All in all, it is clear to see that the landscape of the WWE today has dramatically changed in structure compared to the early 2000s and beyond, which has both directly and indirectly affected the outlook of mid-card wrestlers. WWE have many options to help stabilise the mid-card group, which would lead to the term ‘mid-card’ being perceived as a positive place to be once again. The options include making the Tag-Team division relevant yet again (which would, in-turn, lead to a further influx of noticeable mid-carders who are worthy for a push in the upper-echelon), pushing the Superstar who holds the World Heavyweight Championship as much as the holder of the WWE Championship – letting pure mid-carders shine in the second-tier again – and just generally giving mid-card performers more opportunities to be pushed (both with and without title belts), rather than focusing all storyline attention on the higher cluster of Superstars.

Do you agree with these views? Have your say by commenting below!

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended.