Posts Tagged ‘aj lee’

WWE’s Dolph Ziggler on Concussion Costing Him the Title: ‘It Kills Me’

August 12, 2013

Dolph Ziggler (WWE)

Everyone’s always talking about “Wrestlemania Moments.” Dolph Ziggler did something a little bit different; he created one of the few “Night-After-Wrestlemania Moments.” In front of a raucous Monday Night Raw audience he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and took the World Heavyweight Championship from Alberto Del Rio. The crowd reaction was awesome. The moment was unforgettable.

The glory was sadly short-lived.

In an unfortunate twist of fate, Ziggler received a concussion in the days after his victory. His reign was put on hold and then promptly ended once he was able to return. From there he lost both his girlfriend AJ Lee and his muscle Big E. Langston. For someone who has been on the verge of super stardom for quite a while, it had to be deflating.

I spoke with the self-proclaimed “Show Off” at this year’s San Diego Comic Con and had a chance to ask him about his rough couple of months, the upcoming SummerSlam card, and his potential second career as a stand-up comedian…

Gordon Holmes (@gordonholmes): Alright, first thing’s first. What’s AJ’s deal?
Dolph Ziggler (@HEELZiggler): You’re telling me. I thought we were pretty tight, but it turns out that…I don’t know what her deal is. I thought I’d taken someone who was kinda cool, kinda into wrestling, kinda had my back and turns out you can’t take the crazy out of a chick no matter how long she can put it off for. And that’s happened to me many times in the past.
Holmes: That’s rough, because the crazy ones tend to be the most fun.
Ziggler: Exactly, you have to take the good with the bad.

Holmes: You cashed in your Money in the Bank briefcase the night after Wrestlemania and it looked like we were headed into this new era of Ziggler. Now here we are two months later, the title’s gone, AJ’s gone, Team Big-E and Zig-E is no more…
Ziggler: Again with that?
Holmes: Sorry. But to go from the heights of your title win, to so much change that seemed to be spurred by a freak occurrence like your concussion, it’s had to be like a rollercoaster.
Ziggler: It literally has. I’ve never heard a reaction in my entire life for anything like that cash in the Monday night after Wrestlemania. It blew my mind. And watching it back days and weeks later it put chills up my back. What a great crowd and what a perfect night to do it. And very soon after that I got kicked in the brain and taken out for a month and a half. It was actually a very scary time because after a couple of weeks I was starting to wonder if I’d ever come back. Luckily I passed all my tests, the headaches went away, and I came back into the title scene. But, thanks to my old teammates I am now out of the title scene.
Holmes: It seemed like you were being set up for a good long run. Have you come to terms with how quickly that was taken away?
Ziggler: No. I have not come to terms with that. I know the business and I love what I do. I go out there every night to not just steal the show but tell the best possible story I can, whether it’s in two minutes or twenty minutes. Sometimes I put it behind me that I once again had another title with absolutely zero defenses.  But, it kills me. And I know everybody works hard, all the Superstars want to be the best. And to be given these opportunities and to have some scenario play out…it’s part of the reason I don’t sleep at night, but it’s part of the reason that drives me to go out there.

Holmes: Now that you’re a fan favorite, for lack of a better term, will there be any tweaks to your act at all?
Ziggler: Honestly, you’ve got to be yourself, and you just tweak it a little. You change some psychological aspects of your character, but you’re still you. You still go out, you can still be cocky and have everybody cheer you because it’s a gray line these days. It’s reality based. I’m trying to be a version of myself out there. If I totally change and start smiling out there, and doing weird things that I normally wouldn’t do, the fans are going to see right through that.

Holmes: What are your thoughts on Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena at SummerSlam?
Ziggler: I hate Daniel Bryan and I hate John Cena.
Holmes: Equally?
Ziggler: Yes.
Holmes: Wow.
Ziggler: Well, I hate Cena more, but Daniel is just a genuinely nice guy and I hate that so much. But, in different ways as a student of a game and a fan, I see what John Cena brings and I see what Daniel Bryan brings. I’m curious to see if on the microphone if Daniel Bryan can hang with John Cena and if John Cena can roll around with Daniel Bryan. I’m actually really looking forward to the match even though I don’t like either of those guys.
Holmes: Who’s your winner?
Ziggler: Cena always wins, it seems. But in this case it might be such an emotional outcry from the fans that they could turn the tide. I’d like to see Daniel Bryan come out on top.

Holmes: What are your thoughts on CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar?
Ziggler: I’ve got to root for the smaller guy because that’s usually me. And we’ve seen Lesnar kill everybody, so I’ve got to say I want to see Punk beat him.

Holmes: You’re a funny guy. We talked about your old YouTube show, you said you were working on some stand-up material and were trying to do a few open mics. Any luck there?
Ziggler: Yeah, I got on two comedy shows in the last month and a half or so. Luckily enough, they went well. But they also made me focus on being VERY funny. It’s like wrestling, you have a match and whether everyone is applauding or not, you know what you have to do better next time. That’s what makes you better. I had very positive feedback. I love doing it. It was such a thrill going out there and I can’t wait to go back and rewrite and find the spots…it’s like telling a story in a promo or a match, you find the ups and downs, you find where to get them, and then you leave on a high note. You leave them wanting more.
Holmes: How many people were there?
Ziggler: The first one 60 or 70, the second one maybe 30-40.
Holmes: Now what’s scarier, wrestling in front of 80,000 or telling jokes in front of 80?
Ziggler: Depends on your timing. If you’re talking about this Wrestlemania it was the easiest thing, I had a blast. It was so fun feeding off of them. And my first stand-up in front of 70 people…I was shaking before going out there. (Laughs) Once I got out there and Andy Kindler was on the show there and I was midjoke and I saw him laughing and in my head I thought, “He’s laughing at something I just said, this is unreal!” I was very fortunate to have that start and I can’t wait to do more.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Watch “WWE: Summerslam,” Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 8 pm ET on Pay Per View.

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WWE’s Dolph Ziggler Intends to Steal Wrestlemania from The Rock

March 29, 2013

Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee (WWE)

Quick Note: Wrestlemania season is heating up and XFINITY has you covered! We’re going to have interviews and insights from top WWE Superstars, on-location tidbits from Wrestlemania weekend, and more. Order Wrestlemania here. And be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute details.

It isn’t hard to figure out who the next breakout WWE Superstar is going to be. It’s usually whoever is carrying a bashed up Money in the Bank briefcase.

Right now, the man with the severely damaged luggage is the same guy who is consistently having the best matches on the show. His name is Dolph Ziggler…

Gordon Holmes: I have a theory about you.
Dolph Ziggler: (Laughs) OK.
Holmes: I’ve always heard that nobody had to teach Beethoven or Mozart how to play a piano, they just looked at it and it made sense. Now, I look at an announce table and I think, “Oh, there’s a place to put a computer, and this chair looks comfy.”
Ziggler: (Laughs) Right.
Holmes: When you look at it do you think, “I could bounce off that table and land in that chair on my head”?
Ziggler: No actually, not at all. Sometimes things just work out that way. (Laughs) I have no idea what’s going to happen. They work out that way and I’m happy and lucky to be safe after doing it.
Holmes: You get tossed and then gravity does its business.
Ziggler: Yes. The important part is at the end of the night it’s entertainment for the fans and any way that I can possibly do that…that’s my way of doing it.

 

Holmes: Right now you are Mr. Money in the Bank. I have never seen a piece of luggage go through such wear and tear. Does that thing still open?
Ziggler: There’s one at TV and one that I take with me at all times. And they’re both so smashed that the locks don’t even stay locked anymore. The one at TV, I don’t even know if I could open it if I had the jaws of life with me.
Holmes: I feel like that’s some kind of loophole. Say tonight you cash in on Alberto Del Rio, if you can’t get that contract out, how is that legally valid?
Ziggler: If you want to get into the legal aspects of it, the briefcase is an actual contract. So, even though there’s paperwork inside, I don’t need it. I just hand over the briefcase.
Holmes: It has to be in the mysterious WWE rulebook.
Ziggler: But don’t worry. If it can happen, it’s going to happen.

Holmes:There’s some confusion about your actual finisher. You’ve used the Zig Zag, you’ve used a super kick. Is there one you’re hoping to cement as your go-to finisher?
Ziggler: I’ve been using the Zig Zag for a long time. The super kick is great and I think I do it really well and it adds to my repertoire. It’s just not always readily available for me to use. Once it is…if it ever becomes fully available for just me to use, I would take it in a heartbeat.
Holmes: So it isn’t available yet. Is there a concern that you don’t have a clever name for it yet?
Ziggler: No, the announcers usually make up the moves. I just do the moves well, that’s my part.

Holmes: Which Superstars did you idolize when you were younger?
Ziggler: I was a big fan at a really young age of Ric Flair. I had an uncle who used to show me beta tapes. And even though kids my age mostly liked Hulk Hogan, I thought this guy was cool. But as I got older I realized that this guy was so good and he could be out there with anyone. That’s been my goal since day one.
Holmes: Does it bother you that he’s rubbing shoulders with the Miz?
Ziggler: I think it bothers everyone in the entire world that he’s rubbing shoulders with the Miz. I even had a match at old-school Raw with him in the Miz’s corner and I was taunting him saying, “You backed the wrong guy. It should be me with you in my corner.” I feel like he’s so good at what he does that we’d make a hell of a team. But apparently Miz needed him more. And I think when they were training (Flair) forgot to show him how to finish the figure four.
Holmes: Well, there are a couple steps to that move. But I think he has it down now.
Ziggler: Yeah…that’s good. Only took him a couple of months. That’s good.

Holmes: XFINITY Watchathon Week is going on until March 31st and we have roughly a jillion shows from HBO, Showtime and everywhere else that are free with XFINITY On Demand.
Ziggler: Wow.
Holmes: Right? If your schedule allowed for a week on the couch watching TV, which shows would you binge watch?
Ziggler: I’m a huge fan of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” “Curb” would be first. I’ve heard “Dexter” is awesome. A serial killer guy out there having fun? That sounds right up my alley.

Holmes: I really enjoyed your “WWE Download” show on YouTube and I noticed that you’d do a different kind of speech pattern on the show. It was lightning quick, it was hilarious, have you ever thought of bringing that onto the TV show?
Ziggler: Yeah, lots of different times. Backstage bosses and agents have complimented it. But when it comes to TV, I haven’t had the chance to do it. On that show, I was so comfortable, I got to write my own material, do my own jokes. And that’s not exactly the same leeway as you have on live TV.
Holmes: You were very funny on that show. Is there any worry that doing it on TV might make you more likable?
Ziggler: The thing was…if you listen to the crowd I think I’m a little popular anyways. So, as much as we can keep it so they still remember that I’m a bad guy, we’ve got to keep it that way. It’s a grey area, there’s not just bad guys and good guys. You get to pick who you like, who you don’t like. A bad guy doesn’t have to be bad at wrestling. Sometimes bad guys have to win the match and be better than the good guy. In some areas, in the Northeast, I’m cheered more than my opponents are.
Holmes: It’s a crime “Download” isn’t on anymore
Ziggler: Honestly, I loved the “Download” show. I loved writing the jokes for it. I loved performing it. And one of these days I’ll get to be myself and be that person that is me backstage in the ring.
Holmes: Oh, so we got a peek at the real you.
Ziggler: Well…keep it PG…borderline…make people think. I write jokes and material on my days off. It was so fun, I used to look forward to just writing the jokes for the show. And a lot of the lines I’d write that morning or while we were setting up the cameras. Other ones I’d just improv as we were doing the show. Something would pop in my head and I’d just throw it out there.
Holmes: Now that it’s over, do you have a different outlet for your comedy? Have you ever considered stand-up?
Ziggler: Absolutely, I’ve been writing for a little over a year now. I have a couple of minutes now that I’ll be sneaking into some open mics in the next two to three months.
Holmes: Live mics as in WWE shows or…
Ziggler: Absolutely not. As in LA at a small bar or twenty people in a coffee shop. Just because I’ve been writing for so long, friends of mine in comedy have given me a lot of compliments and said there’s some good stuff in there. I’ll give it a try.
Holmes: One of the good things about being a wrestler is if the audience doesn’t like those jokes, they’re less likely to heckle you.
Ziggler: Right. They can laugh or not, but if they heckle just let them know that I’ve been wrestling for twenty five years.

Holmes: You guys have a world of really talented guys backstage to help you out. You’ve got Arn Anderson, Ricky Steamboat…is there anyone in particular who helps you out?
Ziggler: Yeah, the first one you mentioned is pretty accurate. Arn Anderson is kind of an unsung hero in the business. He was one of the Horsemen, one of the best working wrestlers of all time. And backstage he’s such a helpful tool for all of us. And for some reason, even though we’re not the same kind of animal, he’s been very helpful, very influential. Him and Pat Patterson have been huge helps for me. Those guys didn’t settle for being good, they wanted to be the best, and I think they see that in my eyes. I try to do that every night and I get frustrated if I didn’t literally steal the show and have the best performance. Those guys appreciate that.

Holmes: Now you’ve got AJ on your arm and Big E. Langston has your back. Has there been a bit of an adjustment period having those two along?
Ziggler: Yeah, it’s been very interesting. I had Vickie by my side and I’ve been by myself. In a weird way I’m becoming one of the veterans of this locker room. Which is crazy.
Holmes: That doesn’t sound right.
Ziggler: I’m 32 years old. I’ve been here eight and a half years.
Holmes: Wow.
Ziggler: As the roster is changing and we have less guys from the late 90s, unless they’re on a light schedule, I’m good enough to be giving back to young up and comers. And it’s really cool to have someone like an AJ and a Big E. I really appreciate that they want the best, they want to know what’s going on, they want to know why I did things in a match. It helps that they were childhood fans. AJ’s dream as a child was to be a WWE Superstar. I was five-years-old and I wanted to be a Superstar. We have that bond. It makes it that much more rewarding. And we’re just getting started.  Once Wrestlemania comes and goes we’ll have more time to settle in and I think you’ll see a nice trio of great talent that could be the future of the business.
Holmes: Has anyone pitched the name Zig-E and Big E?
Ziggler: I’ve heard that, but we’ll figure it out when we need to.
Holmes: Oh man, I thought I came up with that myself.
Ziggler: (Laughs) Congratulations.
Holmes: Just lie and tell people it was me.

Holmes: You mentioned the people on the lighter schedules. We’re approaching a Wrestlemania where four of the six main eventers don’t wrestle that often. Does that annoy you, does it inspire you?
Ziggler: It’s both. It really pisses me off. But, it also is good business. Every year a part timer comes back, but there’s a reason that they’re back. Whether it’s the fans want to see them, if they’re a draw, if they’re a movie star, there’s a reason that they’re back. They’re not back just to do it. There’s business to be had. And it pisses me off and it motivates me a hundred percent. It makes me want to be that guy that they’re begging to come back. I appreciate it, it’s just good business. When people come to Wrestlemania to see the Rock and the Undertaker and they leave that Wrestlemania thinking, “Wow, that Dolph Ziggler stole the show. I can’t wait to tune in to ‘Raw’ to see what he does next.” That’s how I’ve lived my entire career.

Don’t miss WWE Wrestlemania, Sunday April 7, 2013 at 7 pm ET on Pay Per View.

WWE’s Daniel Bryan: ‘I Want to Be at the Point Where (John) Cena Is At’

July 20, 2012

Daniel Bryan and AJ (WWE)

Has Daniel Bryan proved that he can make it to the top tier of WWE Superstars? Has he had several amazing matches with a wide variety of opponents? Has he created a catchphrase that millions are screaming at the top of their lungs?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Will his wedding to WWE Diva AJ go off without a hitch during the 1000th episode of ‘WWE Monday Night Raw’?

That remains to be seen.

I spoke with the master of the Yes Lock in the days before his proposal at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con. While there we had a chance to discuss his unexpected rise to the top, his luck with the ladies, and his ridiculously positive catchphrase…

Gordon Holmes: Everybody has said you don’t have the right look or the right size or the right personality to make it as a WWE Superstar. And yet, here we are. How does it feel to stick those doubts in people’s faces?
Daniel Bryan: I’ve never thought about sticking it in people’s faces…
Holmes: I would.
Bryan: (Laughs) Yeah! But I don’t have that kind of personality. For me it’s always been about pursuing what I enjoy doing. And I’m actually a little surprised by my own success because I know I’m very good at what I do, I just doubted that the machine would get behind somebody like me. Because, they haven’t in the past. So, that’s my biggest surprise.

Holmes: I talked to Sheamus yesterday, and we discussed how nice it was that you guys got to follow Wrestlemania up with that great match at Extreme Rules. He went so far to say it was his personal best match of all time. That’s got to be a point of pride that your peer’s favorite matches is against you.
Bryan: Yeah, it’s a sense of pride, but Sheamus and I have always had good matches. And the reason why is because both of us have very physical styles. And we’re both not afraid to go in there and really hit each other. There’s some people who don’t want to wrestle me. But, everything I do is safe. And I’ve had fans at live events who’ve said, “Man, when you and Sheamus were out there, you were really hitting each other!” And they’re almost taken aback.
Holmes: My goodness, there’s violence in my wrestling.
Bryan: (Laughs) So yeah, I’ve always taken pride in the matches Sheamus and I have had.

Holmes: Now, it’s one thing to be a former WWE Champion. But, it’s quite another thing to have Mattel go to great lengths to properly sculpt an accurate beard for your action figure. Do you think they nailed it?
Bryan: Yeah. I was pretty stoked to have my first action figure in general. Because now guys want to be in the video game. I understand that, they’re video game people. I’m not. I’ve never been into video games. So, for me action figures are like, “Holy cow! I have my own action figure!” And now they have several of them! And some of them have my t-shirt? And they’re so correct with my gear and stuff. And now the beard? It’s pretty cool.
Holmes: Is it weird having a little you or do you still get a kick out of it?
Bryan: I get a kick out of it, like I’ll be in Target and I’ll see one of my figures and it makes me laugh that someone like me has an action figure. It makes me think less of other people who have action figures. I guess it’s not as hard as it looks.
Holmes: (Laughs) Yeah, I thought Batman was cool until…
Bryan: (Laughs) Right! Until I had my own, now I don’t think he’s so special.
Holmes: You’ve got to be hoping for a Daniel Bryan Brawlin’ Buddy plush doll.
Bryan: Oh yeah, I had the Macho King Randy Savage Wrestling Buddy. I’d love to have something like that. Those things are really cool to me. And an ice cream bar, too.
Holmes: But then what would be left for you? You’ve been a champion, after you have the buddy and the ice cream bar it’s got to be all downhill.
Bryan: I want to be at the point where (John) Cena is at. He hasn’t been WWE Champion in a while, but he’s still the main event of every pay per view. He’s the guy. He’s the first guy on the poster. He’s the guy people are paying to see. That’s what you’ve got to go for. I’ve always tried to be the absolute best.

Holmes: You’re in the midst of a huge storyline love triangle between yourself, AJ, and CM Punk. What’s that like for you? Because you’re more known for getting it done in the ring than during an episode of “Days of Our Lives.”
Bryan: It’s interesting because I’ve never been known for this, I was always known for just wrestling. So, it’s been fun for me to go out there and do it. And from all accounts, people are pretty happy with what I’ve done, from within the company. So, I feel like I’ve been doing it OK, you can always do it better and I’m always striving to do better because that’s always been a weakness for me. When I was in high school I’d stand up and give a book report and I’d be shaking. I’ve never been somebody who’s good at acting. But it’s fun to go out there and be a real jerk. (Laughs) And be a lying, conniving kind of person.
Holmes: From what I understand, AJ is into geek culture. Is she going to be upset that you’re at Comic Con and she isn’t?
Bryan: She’d be more jealous that Alicia Fox is here who doesn’t know about that stuff. Alicia Fox came dressed as a Ninja Turtle, she didn’t know which Ninja Turtle she was!
Holmes: What color was her mask?
Bryan: Red, so she was Raphael.
Holmes: This isn’t the first time you’ve been involved with Divas. I remember you were involved with the Bella Twins and Gail Kim. Is there some kinda ladies man swagger about you that we don’t know about?
Bryan: (Laughs) No, no, no. You know what I think it is? I think it’s that I’m such the antithesis of a ladies man that the writers think it’s funny. So, it constantly comes up.

Holmes: Now, it seems like what got you to the dance was your in-ring ability.
Bryan: Right.
Holmes: But with Raw and Smackdown these days, sometimes you only get three or four minutes to put on a match. Did that concern you that you weren’t going to get an opportunity to show what you can do?
Bryan: I was and I wasn’t. I always felt like I don’t need much time to showcase what I can do. And if I’m given any chance whatsoever I’ll go out and do a good job at it. So, maybe once every few months you can get a ten-minute match and you can really do something that nobody else can really do. And I’ve always believed that my wrestling could make me popular.

Holmes: I walked by your autograph signing earlier and was nearly deafened by a legion of fans screaming, “Yes!”
Bryan: I honestly was just doing it to be annoying and that’s all I ever thought. And what’ s interesting is it started to pick up before Wrestlemania. We had done a show in Seattle, and I’m from Washington state, but there were a bunch of “Yes” signs. And then at some of the live events there were people chanting “Yes” in pockets. And then the Monday Night Raw right after is where it really hit. After that they came out with the t-shirt. And I think it’s just fun to chant.
Holmes: You’re hearing it everywhere now. Even at non-wrestling sporting events. What was it like to come out in front of that huge crowd at Wrestlemania to that kind of support?
Bryan: I just thought it was really cool because I literally had zero to worry about. All I had to do was go out and just enjoy the moment. The most important thing was not to trip over my robe.
Holmes: And you did a fantastic job at that.
Bryan: (Laughs) Yeah, thank you. But that thing was right at my feet. I was terrified.

Holmes: A few weeks ago you and Punk were wrestling. He went for a spinning backfist and came up short. You followed it with a running knee to his chest. Was that an intentional tribute to our friends in the UFC?
Bryan: Listen, just because (Chael) Sonnen went for that spinning backfist and (Anderson) Silva hit him with that knee and then coincidentally, CM Punk who’s friends a friend of Sonnen just so happened to go for a spinning backfist and I followed it up with a knee? I learn from what I watch, right? So, I knew the best thing to follow up a missed backfist was a knee.
Holmes: That’s amazing that you could integrate that into your strategy so quickly after having just seen it.
Bryan: (Laughs) Yeah! Yeah! That’s why I have an action figure.
Holmes: Precisely. Screw Batman.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes


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