When one thinks of the greatest pro wrestlers of all time, names like Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Macho Man Randy Savage and Ric Flair come to mind. These are men who were talented performers, great in-ring workers, and were all entertaining with a microphone in their hand.
By the time he's done with his career, Dolph Ziggler wants to be better than all of them. From a recent interview with College Times:
"Of course, I want to be champion, I want to wrestle a main event at Wrestle Mania and another very realistic goal of mine far down in my career is that I want to be know as the greatest ever. Not everybody wants that. Some people want to be champion, but in ten years when people say my name, I want them to be saying ‘he was the guy who was the best ever.'"
As much of a mark as I am for Ziggler, he's got an awfully long way to go before he could even be mentioned in the same sentence as some of the greats in the history of the business. He's charismatic and can bump better than anyone in the world right now but he's got a lot of growing to do on the microphone and he has yet to truly establish himself as a main event player.
The issue, naturally, is that some of the widely accepted criteria are things that are not in any given superstars control. Part of what makes Ziggler so great is the fact that he overcame a horrific gimmick as a male cheerleader in the Spirit Squad to become what he is now, "The Showoff" who routinely has great matches with whomever he's tasked with working with at any given time.
The problem now is whether or not WWE will choose to get behind him and push enough to get him over as a top level player. There's an argument to be made that if he's good enough that will happen on its own but politics are still running wild, so to speak, in the locker room. If you can't play the game (hey, I slipped another one in), you're not going to get very far.
My fear with Ziggler is that he'll always be the upper level mid card guy who is called upon to give great matches to the main eventers without ever elevating up to their level. For example, he was the guy tasked with giving Edge a great match at the Royal Rumble last year in a match for the world heavyweight title. This year? He's got one against CM Punk for the WWE championship.
And he's probably going to steal the show, like he so often does.
But will he come out of it with the air of a guy who is destined to win a major title soon? I'm not so sure. And if he's still fighting that uphill battle a few years from now, there's simply no way he will ever be considered the greatest that ever did it, though he obviously has enough talent that it's not a notion we should simply pass off to the side as ridiculous.
Thoughts on this, Cagesiders?