When Dolph Ziggler's time as a member of The Spirit Squad was over, he was repackaged and started a singles run. He credits his passion for the business and wanting to learn everything he can to his success. He recently spoke to Lilian Garcia onChasing Glory about dealing with the desire to be the best in WWE and not receiving that big push.
"If you're not frustrated it almost seems wrong because there's one or two people who are the main focus on Raw or SmackDown and that is the case for them all these years and you go, 'God that should be me that should be me.' When it's not, you're frustrated about it. So if you have an amazing match or you are on last or you are the champ, you know you watch back and go 'my footwork was wrong here, this could've been more me here.' So mostly my frustrations would a lot of times be on me for not having something be more believable.
"A lot of times it's on creative. You want to be the champ. Everybody here works hard and everybody's a good person and they go 'we can have two champs and eighty people not being the champ' and you'll be like trying to have it to not focus on it and go, 'okay, I have thirty seconds tonight if I have everybody to remember my thirty seconds then Vince will remember and maybe next week I'll have two minutes.
"So I was always focusing on if I was in a ladder match or something at WrestleMania, but people were there to see Rock vs Cena and I would go, 'people are here to see Rock vs Cena -- they're gonna remember me one way or another."
Many things helped Ziggler stand out from the rest of the roster. His brightly-colored wrestling attire was a staple of his for a long time. He went on to explain why he decided to go with pink ring attire in an effort to make himself different than the rest as much as possible.
"That's something Chavo [Guerrero] told me my first couple weeks here. Stand out, be better than everyone else. If everyone else is wearing black trunks, wear pink. Randy Orton was just getting hot in his first kinda run when I was learning things and everybody wanted to be Randy Orton. Everyone wanted to have shot, cool regular business haircut, black trunks and they wanted to beat everyone up and be serious. I was like: I got it. Pink trunks, long blonde hair, and I'm gonna be way out there and get kicked in the face the best and flip out of the ring the best and that made me stand out.
"Every time some kinda wave would happen I would try and do the opposite and make it my own and that's what had me stand out all the time."
Ziggler has done his best to remain The Show Off, but he is often compared to another long-haired pro wrestler who utilized the Superkick. He addressed his comparison to Shawn Michaels by saying it wasn't his intention. He only wants to be believable in the ring. As a child looking up to Ric Flair, Ziggler can see why people would think he's emulating Michaels because he strives to be the best he can at the art of selling a move.
"It's a little bit of yes, but mostly no," Ziggler said when asked if he wanted this kind of comparison to HBK. "In the weirdest way, when everyone liked Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior I was really into them but I had an uncle who was really into wrestling and he would show me old beta tapes. He loved the Four Horsemen and Ric Flair.
"So as you get older you start to learn that Ric Flair's awesome at his job and he's awesome at these promos, but when you're a kid you're like, 'what's this guy in the suit talking about? I wanna see Ultimate Warrior with his facepaint run down to the ring. So you get older and get into Ric Flair but as a young kid, I got into Ric Flair.
"As you start to learn the business and psychology behind things then you go, 'oh every night Ric's doing an hour with someone he may or may not know. Someone who may be terrible at wrestling and it's some awesome match. I go I wanna be that guy.'
"So the blonde hair and over-the-top stuff is Flair stuff so... and then when I got to OVW and I was doing some more psychology and doing the homework and I go, 'I believe when Shawn's getting beat up I believe that.' A huge factor is fifteen years with great storylines here with genuine emotion on him. I can't go out there and do the same thing he's doing because no one will give a damn, I don't have any storylines with that backing.
"But I go 'I believe him and most of the guys I don't believe when they're hurt so I try to take that emotion and the selling part of our business,' I try to take what he did and it almost mixed with Mr. Perfect a little bit and Ric Flair and then I had been trained originally to do Memphis style 1970's show the world you're getting beat up and we had just went into the Reality Era so I quickly went back into, 'okay you can do some big things here but it's gotta seem real and focused.'
"I took all those put together and go, 'okay when someone hits me with their finisher I want it to look like I'm dead, I'm knocked out and that was real. So if we have three minutes and you don't care about my story and you don't like me when you see me get kicked in the face you go, 'oh my god! Is he okay?'"
Ziggler said maintaining this philosophy of working hard and striving to be unlike the rest paid off in time. He soon got twenty-minute matches and that translated into much more confidence in his ability from McMahon. He said it's fun to say he's good but, "there's a humbleness to it saying 'I should be the champion damn it' -- but I'm gonna do this thing so great, so cool, and so good at my job that people will wonder why I'm not the champion."
He said after twelve years. six Intercontinental Championships, and plenty of other titles he sees how he has received recognition. Ziggler acknowledged that some of his title reigns weren't very long but some people aren't meant to be long-term champions.
There was a point when he was working hard and not getting on television. Ziggler went on to describe a backstage interaction he had with HBK where the WWE Hall Of Famer affirmed that The Show Off should be on television when he wasn't being featured at the time.
"I was doing everything I could pitching ideas, having guys like Shawn Michaels tell me how awesome I was. I got to a point where I said, 'Shawn I'm gonna go out in this dark match and you tell me why the hell I'm not on TV kicking ass. He goes, 'uh okay.' I had the match and he came back and he goes, 'yeah, I dunno'
"So I got to a point where I was so fed up and that was years ago. It happens. I always tell myself 'do everything you possibly can.' I don't wanna be like, 'I wish I would've told Vince this, I wish I would've represented myself this way, I wish I would've pitched this idea, I wish I would've done this one extra thing where I hit the gym harder and I look better on TV.'"
If you use any portion of the quotes in this article please credit Chasing Glory with a H/T to Wrestling Inc for the transcription