Dolph Ziggler made his debut in WWE way back in 2005 and he is still one of the best performers in the world today.
The Showoff is a two-time world champion, a two-time United States champion and a six-time Intercontinental champion and few would dispute he has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career.
talkSPORT had the chance to catch the 39-year-old during WWE’s tour of the UK as they made their first pit-stop in Brighton.
For the full 16 minute interview, watch the video at the top of the page, but the best bits are below:
Hi Dolph! Survivor Series 2014 is one of the best moments of your career in many eyes. How was it to have the WWE make you such a focal point of Sting’s debut and let you go for around an hour?
Absolutely. Had I had half that much time, it would have been a big moment and a special thing and it would have been like ‘Yes! I’m the guy that can have this intensity, be beaten up and still be out there for 30, 40, 50 minutes an hour and keep everyone interested’. Which is much like a comedy show; a couple minutes in, if nobody cares…’We’re here to see Dolph! Ah, that wasn’t that funny, I’ll talk to him afterward but I’ll sit here because I paid for the ticket’. But you have to keep everyone’s attention over the course of an hour and it was on me to do that and I relished the fact that the company has done that to me on millions of occasions to go out there and do this and make it the best. And you go ‘I got it. I’ll do it’.
As a longtime fan of your work, I still get bothered sometimes at how Survivor Series 2014 ultimately went for you. You put on a great performance and was really spotlighted, but nothing really came of it. My question is, was there any plans that maybe got changed?
Sadly there was no ‘Let’s see how this goes and if it’s awesome, we’re going to go with Dolph’. Because it was. So even if you didn’t know that you’d be like ‘Man, what happened?’
It’s much like when I won the world title and I cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase, that contract. There wasn’t long term plans, period. I’m not one of those guys in that small circle that no matter what will be there [with a storyline]. And that’s what drives me to constantly be in those positions and go ‘Ok, they said this is a one night thing, but let’s see if I can be so damn good tonight that I tell them to make it a two night thing, then after that I force them to make it a one month thing’. And I’ve had a bunch of positions to where I was in that spot, thought I delivered above and beyond, but if it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen. It’s like Hollywood, you have to deal with it.
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But every Monday or every Friday you come in and go ‘this will be the time where I can make that change happen. So that’s why you can’t let a random two minute match go on a random week because that could be the one out of 10,000 where they go ‘See, I told you Dolph didn’t have it!’ So that’s what constantly drives me to do it that way every time.
I remember I couldn’t get out of saying something the next line. Some line. I wanted to say ‘I fought because that’s what I live for, what I dream for, to be the best ever!’ and I was forced to say something – I couldn’t get out of it – ‘I knew when I was in dire straights, with everything on the line, I just wanted to entertain the WWE Universe!’ and I went ‘I can’t do this, I can’t say this! That doesn’t make sense! Entertain? Are you kidding me? This is a fight to the death!’ And that was a ‘you’re saying it or not talking tonight’ kind of thing. A real bummer. I don’t forget.
This is years ago and I still think about that. Once in a while, you got to do your own thing on your own and even then, you can still get in trouble, but a little trouble is OK, that’s good! That means you’re going above and beyond trying to be the best – that’s OK.
Another huge moment for you was the Money in the Bank cash-in for your second world title the night after WrestleMania 29. I know you’ve been asked about this a lot, but is it fair to say the concussion derailed that?
I’ll elaborate on this in the book next year, but I knew that wasn’t long term. I was blatantly told to my face ‘this is not long term, it is just to get to this point’. So everyone, a lot of times, are like ‘Ah, well, if you didn’t get concussed, who knows!’ – No, no, no. I was there to be in that position for another month and then it was going to be for someone else. It was a transitional moment, sadly. No matter what I did. When I was told that, I said ‘I will do everything in my power for the next four weeks to change your damn mind’.
So hadn’t I gotten kicked the next week, it would have been the same situation, sadly. But that moment, I’ll never forget. I love being bitter, snarky and zinging everybody, but that accumulation of noise based on ‘This is a guy we know they’re not going to let become world champion, we want him to become world champion, he’s a bad guy but we know he’s good and there’s something special here’ – for all that to happen on that night when the music hit… and it hit me like needles on my body, I went ‘Oh my god, this is fantastic’.
The best part was, I was supposed to come down there, smack him with the briefcase and one, two, three. I said ‘that’s not what Dolph Ziggler would do. Dolph Ziggler would almost lose that cash-in a couple of times’ and we made it special because [Alberto] Del Rio is a real pro, him and I had some awesome matches and he was fun to work with, but he knew it too and he said ‘They’re all going to buy you losing’.
Ah man, when he had you in the armbar I was like ‘noooooo!’
Yes! I said ‘They’re all going to buy it!’ So I tried to get it in there a couple of times. Little teases.
You also had the opportunity to work with Goldberg at SummerSlam. It seemed like WWE did that because they needed to rehab Goldberg’s image after his match with Undertaker in Saudi Arabia, and you’re the reliable guy they call! How was that and were you a fan of him as a kid?
As a kid, yeah. You know now, I’m a grown-up and I see these guys and I go ‘Ok, I’m here to do business and special things’ So I try not to be like ‘the fan’. I find out what the business is and I’m like ‘Cool, this will be a special moment’. But yeah, as a kid, big time [fan].
Then having that ‘You’re the guy to do this’ to set the record straight and give this guy and awesome match you go ‘Fantastic’. And they go ‘It’s going to be a bell, spear, pin’ and I go ‘come one’.
I fought all day long, threatened to leave, threatened to quit, did everything I had to – ‘Give me two damn minutes!’ And I got a minute, whatever, what you going to do?
Also, we hear reports John Morrison is coming back, got anything for us on that?
I keep hearing that too! What the hell? He’s a friend of mine. We hang out and do things together. I just did a little cameo in a short movie he did a couple of weeks ago and then he posted these pictures of the two of us, and then I posted them like ‘this is cool’. Then everyone is like ‘Confirmed! These guys are a tag team, they’re dressing like double dragon, they’re back!’ And I’m like ‘guys’ [laughs].
He’s a friend of mine and I was doing him a favour. He keeps it under his coat about what he’s doing but for three years he’s been telling me he’s coming back! So, I don’t know if he’s messing with me or what so I stopped asking him. I hope he comes back. It’s been a really longtime, it’ll be so refreshing to see him. He and I 10 years ago on these overseas tours, we’d either start the show or wrestle before the intermission, first-half main event, where we were given free reign to tear it down and have a blast. Hopefully he’s back soon, I don’t know.
Much like yourself, he’s a man that keeps himself busy.
He stays busy and he stays jacked, too. He’s another guy I graviate to because he does outside projects to make himself better. Always looking to make a movie, always looking to do something bigger and better, goes to acting classes – how do you not gravitate towards people who want to be that extra piece of successful other than being good at your job?
What’s thew worst thing Vince McMahon has ever said to you?
Oh, boy. I can’t say those things! It’s very passionate in the backstage gorilla position where something either really special happens or it doesn’t. And, of course, as much as I brag about being great, I’ve been yelled at a million times because you either went the wrong direction or did something or went heavy [on time].
Something along the lines of ‘This isn’t the Attitude Era, you can’t just go as long as you want out there’, with some yelling back and forth between us.
There’s something about Vince McMahon referencing the Attitude Era that’s very funny to me!
Yeah, there is something about that! So, like, I’m almost there? No, no your not [laughs].