WWE’s Dolph Ziggler on WrestleMania: “This Could Be the Defining Match in my Career”

Dolph Ziggler (WWE)

When the WWE World Championship was dominated by big, bruising brawlers like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, and Sgt. Slaughter, it was the Intercontinental Championship that often boasted the more exciting, fast-paced matches.

So, who better to help return the Intercontinental Title to its previous show-stealing prowess than the “Show Off” himself, Dolph Ziggler?

I spoke with the former host of “WWE Download” (man, I loved that show) in the days leading up to WrestleMania and asked him about his upcoming ladder match, Sting’s return, and Roman Reigns’ arrival…

Contact Gordon Holmes on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Gordon Holmes: The term “WrestleMania Moment” gets thrown around a lot. This ladder match seems like a golden opportunity to make one of those happen.
Dolph Ziggler: I’m really good at talking about how great I am, but let’s talk about everyone else in that match. It’s jam-packed…I have a reputation for stealing shows when I’m not supposed to. Going above and beyond to make myself stand out. And every single person in this match is a person who gives everything he can possibly give. We have these Superstars, some are up and coming, some have been around a while, they have to find a way to define themselves and have a WrestleMania moment. I don’t think I’ve had a WrestleMania moment. And so this could be it. This could be the defining match in my career that sends me to that upper echelon level, and there are a bunch of other guys that feel that way. That’s what’s so great about it. If this match doesn’t steal the show, then we didn’t do our jobs. We’re going to pull out all the stops.
Holmes: Looking at this list of guys; yourself, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Wade Barrett, Stardust, R Truth, and Luke Harper…in my notes I just wrote “Guys with a grudge.”
Ziggler: (Laughs)
Holmes: And by that I mean, in the past few years WrestleMania has featured top matches with a lot of part-time performers.
Ziggler: Sometimes other people come in for a couple of weeks and get the giant matches. But if I had a career like that, I wouldn’t want this as much as I do now. I know I have to take it. And that’s what everyone in this match feels like.

Holmes: You mentioned elevating the Intercontinental Championship. When I was a kid, that was the belt that the quicker, more technically sound wrestlers held. Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Curt Hennig…and now it doesn’t seem to have that same prestige. Is this the first step toward returning that title to prominence?
Ziggler: The first step was a couple of months ago when I became champ and defended it not only with the Authority trying to take it off of me, but it almost felt like an old Saturday Night’s Main Event with it constantly being on the line and you thought this was the time I was going to lose it. This Smackdown I was going to lose it, this Raw I was going to lose it. I defended it twenty something times in thirty days or something like that. And I loved it because I knew every day I was making it mean a little more. I’m not going to pretend that it’s been this prestigious title. It’s been on the backburner a lot of the time with other storylines. But when I get an inch, I try to take it a mile. When I say, “I dare someone to try and pry this out of my hands,” I mean it. And now, all the sudden people are talking about the title. And that’s real. People are talking, and that’s the start.

Holmes: Were you a WCW fan back in the day?
Ziggler: Yeah, but I always felt a little disloyal because in my head since I was five I was WWE.  But I was such a wrestling fan that it didn’t matter. And luckily for me I didn’t sleep a lot. So, WCW would rerun right afterward so I could watch Raw, then when it was over I could turn to WCW.
Holmes: Was there ever an instance where a young Dolph Ziggler was running around in white and black face paint?
Ziggler: No, there never was. I wasn’t a face paint guy. I was a Stone Cold, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Billy Gunn…well, I did enjoy watching Ric Flair vs. Sting ten thousand times. That was awesome. And I mean that in the most positive way. I was a big Goldberg fan. I’d watch him beat someone in ninety seconds then flip back to Raw.
Holmes: I was more of a surfer Sting kind of guy.
Ziggler: Oh yeah, I loved 80s Sting. I wasn’t one of the young teens who loved the Crow Sting. But, obviously he’s an icon and I loved Flair so much that I had love for both of those guys.
Holmes: So, the hot pink, Sgt. Pepper’s jacket…the Bart Simpson haircut…
Ziggler: Yeah! (Laughs) Big fan! I didn’t even mind the rat tail.
Holmes: Must’ve been nice to get to be a part of his WWE debut.
Ziggler: It’s unreal. As a fan, it blew my mind that his first-ever appearance helped me win a match. That blew my mind. Period. Survivor Series down three to one, scratching and clawing, Triple H trying every chance he could to knock me out. And then Sting’s first-ever appearance…it was goosebumps down my back as he threw me on top of Seth Rollins. I couldn’t believe it. As bitter and with a chip on my shoulder and grunting every day to get an inch in the WWE, there’s a small part of me that is a huge wrestling fan who lives for moments like that. And it doesn’t matter how that match goes, it’s gonna be great because Sting and Triple H are in it. It doesn’t matter how it goes. The spectacle will be unreal.
Holmes: That had to kill you that for his big appearance you were knocked out.
Ziggler: (Laughs) Yeah, luckily when I woke up he was in the back for about thirty more seconds and I said, “Hey kid, thanks for everything.”

Holmes: Our main event is going to be Roman Reigns taking on Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I was in Philly for the Rumble, and the crowd wasn’t too kind to him.
Ziggler: Roman had a hell of a match with Daniel Bryan, so let’s give this guy a chance. He’s done nothing wrong but take advantage of every position he’s been in. I can’t be down on that for one second. And last year, I was one of the guys cheering for him to get rid of Batista out of the ring. Now they’re booing him because it’s cool to do. He has every possible ounce of respect from me. I want to see if he can prove himself because proving yourself at WrestleMania is one thing, doing it against Brock Lesnar? Nobody has been able to do that for the last two or three years now. My career has been built on being flashy, but I was the all-time winningest wrestler at Kent State. I can be a hard-nosed wrestler if I need to be. But nobody can do what Brock does.
Holmes: Seeing Lesnar in person is something else. It’s like if you were to create a perfect wrestler in a lab, it would be Brock Lesnar.
Ziggler: You can hit him with an object and I don’t know if he’d know it happened. There’s nobody like him. I saw him do that moonsault against Kurt Angle where anyone else’s neck would snap in half. He just kind of shook it off. They’re going to beat the hell out of each other and it’s going to be cool.
Holmes: It’s a shame that ladder match is going to steal the show.
Ziggler: It is absolutely not a shame. It’s exactly how it should be. Certain matches get the build, they get the time, they get the story, they get the creativity, you get everything. And then certain matches go out there with a chip on their shoulder and go, “This is the one we’re all talking about tomorrow.”

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