On this week’s Wrestling with Freddie podcast from iHeart Media’s My Cultra Network, former WWE creative team member Freddie Prinze Jr. discussed his time working with Dolph Ziggler.

The Hollywood actor delved into the beginnings of the Dolph Ziggler character, and how The Show-Off’s in-ring name was decided on the day of his first appearance in 2008.

“So Brian [Gewirtz], who I love, he throws out the name – I think he almost wanted to start with Dolph Diggler, like Dirk Diggler, and it was Dolph Diggler,” Freddie Prinze Jr. said. “My head almost hit the table. The way he would snap a pencil in frustration whenever Vince would make him re-write a show, the day of the show because that’s always a good idea to do.

“That was my feeling. I finally experienced the pain that Brian was experienced, only now it was because of him. And sometimes, the company would do this. They would rib themselves without even knowing they’re ribbing themselves. It was always something to me that made them struggle with credibility at times, because it was – I’m sitting there, and I’m hearing this name Dolph Diggler, and I remember saying this, I said, ‘who’s going to take that seriously? Who’s going to take that seriously?’

“He wasn’t going to be a comedic-style wrestler. He was a serious athlete who could frigging move, and he was going to be built as a heel. So I’m confused, I say, ‘yo, we can’t do that.’ And I straight up say, ‘we’re basically ripping off Boogie Nights with Dirk Diggler,’ which was a movie Vince [McMahon] had never seen. So he didn’t even acknowledge that, ‘oh yeah, we won’t do that.’

“And so, I don’t know if it was Brian, I don’t know if it was Vince, I don’t know who the final say was, you’ll have to accost them digitally to find out, but someone says, ‘what about Dolph Ziggler?’ And again, that, no, ‘that name sucks, you cannot do that. This name sucks.’ ‘What are your ideas?’ I don’t – I’m probably throwing anything out there, ‘John frigging Wayne. Anything just don’t – Shawn Wayne, how about Shawn Wayne? If you’re going to do Dolph Diggler.’

“So, it was not a long argument. I lost quickly. I suppose my punishment for fighting the good fight was I was assigned the segment to produce the first time we’re ever going to meet this wonderfully named wrestler, superstar, Dolph Ziggler.”

Freddie Prinze Jr. stated that Vince McMahon informed him that the two-time World Heavyweight Champion’s first appearance was going to be brief.

“So I get the segment, and Vince tells me what it’s going to be,” Freddie said. “He says, ‘he’s just going to introduce himself.’ I said, I’m laughing, ‘what do you mean he’s just going to introduce himself?’ ‘Every week, he’s just going to come up and say ‘hey, Dolph Ziggler,’ and shake his hand.’ I go, ‘we’re not going to just to do that, that’s a really short segment. That’s not worthy to get on television.’

“He goes, ‘no, no, he’ll always be interrupting people in conversation.’ I go, ‘alright, so you want me to have a couple of backstage talent having a conversation, and he’s going to come up, interrupt them, introduce himself, and then walk away?’ I pitch it like that, which is a pitch off his pitch, and he laughs as if my idea was good. It was not good.

“He goes, ‘yeah, that’s right.’ So now I’m sitting here – this is an unsavable segment as far as what I’m capable of doing. There’s nothing I can do to make the name work, nothing I can do to make the character work because I’m not given any freedom with whom this man is, where he came from, what motivates him. All the things that make you say the stuff that’s going to make you a heel or a babyface.”

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Wrestling with Freddie with a h/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.

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