The early part of Dolph Ziggler's WWE run was filled with some questionable gimmicks. Ziggler was first introduced to fans as Chavo Guerrero's caddy before being repackaged a year later as a member of the Spirit Squad.
Ziggler talked about the origins of The Spirit Squad on the latest episode of the After The Bell podcast with Corey Graves. Ziggler noted that he was told that the group was meant to be on the same level as the Four Horseman. During a meeting Vince McMahon, he talked about his reaction to The Spirit Squad when the idea was first pitched to him.
"[WWE creative said] 'Well, there's gonna be a group of guys kind of like a new Four Horseman. Think of the Horseman but controversial.' We're like, 'whoa. What? Yeah.' That is where I did get to meet Vince, and he pulls into the room saying, 'We're gonna do something that's never been done before. It's gonna be controversial. People are gonna be talking.' I'm like, 'Whoa, this is the craziest thing.' I never met Vince in my life until this point," Ziggler said. "He goes, 'Male cheerleaders!' It's me and four other guys in this room, and my heart sank into my stomach. I go like, 'whatever gets me on the show. Sounds good to me.'"
The Spirit Squad were involved in a lot of storylines with some of the greatest wrestlers of all time. That fact that is not lost on Ziggler as he reflects on the experience he had with some of these wrestlers and learning from them.
"Looking back, it almost ended up being at least one year, and maybe three months of that was weird stuff and getting thrown off ladders and tables. About nine months of that was Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Dusty Rhodes [and] DX every three out of every four weekends on live events," Ziggler said. "Nothing could be better possible training or having the rub or being in the ring with some of the greatest of all time. It got to the point where it would be Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Ric Flair and they kind of rotated like two of those three every weekend, and we got to be in there with them full time for several months in a row. If you can't learn from those guys on how to be the best, draw money and know what works and what doesn't, then you really do need to be done after that."
Zigger also talked about the trust that he and the other Spirit Squad members were given by their veteran counterparts. Despite The Spirit Squad mostly being a joke to a lot of fans, Ziggler credits that time for making him the wrestler that he is today.
"We got to the point where they started to trust us in the ring which is insane. I'm less than a year into wrestling, but we listen to them. We got to a point where I got to take over some matches. Nothing great about them. Nothing fantastic and all, but I got the chance to run and call some shots in the ring about a year into the business with some of those guys," Ziggler said. "That was fun, and that was a learning experience. After that, we learned so much and got to do some of the coolest things ever. It's fun to make fun of the Spirit Squad, but I feel like I'm as good as I am today because of that."
Graves also talks to Ziggler about his endeavors outside of wrestling and his No Mercy match against The Miz. He also interviewed R-Truth in the latest episode of After The Bell which you can listen to the full episode of by clicking here. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE's After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.