Oddly enough, it’s run of the mill as a wrestling fan to spend more time complaining about things than praising them. We spend so much of our energy talking about what WWE is doing wrong that we infrequently talk about what is being done right.
Thankfully, it’s time for some praise, as Dolph Ziggler’s current character is absolutely perfect for what he should be doing right now.
Don’t get me wrong—if you had shown me the following picture a year ago and said this is what Ziggler would be up to in September of 2017, I’d be concerned to say the least.
However, he’s doing exactly what he should be doing at the moment.
When last we saw him, Ziggler had spent years getting more and more frustrated with his spot in the company. He started off on a more altruistic manner, opposing The Authority’s malevolence even at the spite of his own career, because it was the right thing to do and he had morals.
Eventually, the strain of that started to take its toll and his character started to twist into being less concerned with righting the wrongs on the front line and more about voicing his frustrations that he’s the best performer, but can’t quite get the job done.
It was somewhat of a backhanded compliment to himself. On one hand, he’d tout himself as being amazing, but on the other hand, he’d acknowledge that it wasn’t getting him where he should go.
This continued for a long time with several passionate speeches about how each and every week, he goes out to the ring and lays it all on the line because that’s just what he does better than anybody else.
Then, this turned into more of a complaint. He does this each and every week, but as good as he is, why isn’t he getting more support from the crowd?
Like anyone who is stumped, he did what the best of us do when we can’t figure something out: he stepped away for a while, taking some time off to clear his head and try to find the answer to his conundrum.
Then, recently, he came up with the solution, and in a rare move of continuity within WWE, his character took the next logical step forward in his progression into being a bitter pill of a heel, as opposed to just pivoting to another random storyline.
Instead of merely staying the same (or worse, coming back as a babyface who cuts the same “I’m gonna steal the show” promo like before, having not learned any lessons), Dolph Ziggler came back with an even bigger chip on his shoulder when he realized he wasn’t missed because there was enough bullshit distractions to keep everyone satisfied.
What’s brilliant about this is that his character is 100% right, but we can’t acknowledge that he is, because he’s a jerk and screw him, he can’t talk to us like that!
All the time, heels are cutting promos about how they single-handedly retained their titles despite constant interference or that they’re the toughest in the yard but they back down immediately from any challenge, and that’s great for the most part, but it’s nice to see a heel who has a leg to stand on when it comes to their convictions.
I’ve been a fan of Ziggler’s in-ring work since he was still doing the handshake “hey, I’m Dolph Ziggler” shtick and unapologetically always talk about him as being one of the top few performers in the company, so I’m used to having arguments with people who say they don’t disagree about that, but they feel like he’s missing something.
That missing ingredient is what Ziggler is talking about when he complains that people just want glitz and nonsense. It’s the difference between someone pretending there’s a quarter behind your ear and some David Copperfield magic act with music and showgirls and lighting effects.
Given a choice, most people are going to say they preferred Bayley with the wacky waving tube men than when she would come out just on her own, because there’s more stuff happening and stuff is fun and exciting. That’s why there was disappointment in the air when we found out that WWE was cutting down on pyro, because deep down, we would rather see some sparkly stuff shoot into the sky when Brock Lesnar poses than for him to do it without those fireworks.
Ziggler’s character is another example of someone taking their real life mindset and applying it to their on-screen counterpart, as he’s expressed similar complaints in interviews. To him, his in-ring performance should not only propel him to the top of the company, but it should have kept him there for years upon years.
Instead, he has to continually go back down the ladder, work his way up, get sent back down and start all over again because there are shiny new toys and WWE’s writers get entranced with someone’s flashy gimmick or the crowd starts reacting super positively to Finn Balor’s face paint and that becomes WWE’s bigger priority than pure athleticism.
Fundamentally, this is exactly what Ziggler’s character should be thinking, and from a fan’s perspective, it also opens up the floodgates for more parodies in the future, which could be really fun to see each and every week.
As someone who admittedly spends a lot of his resources nitpicking the flaws of WWE programming, it’s nice to be able to look at something and just feel satisfied with how it’s going.
Here’s a cookie, WWE. You earned it.