There may not be a WWE Superstar with more going for him than Dolph Ziggler. Let's run down his virtues:
BODY: Dolph's chiseled physique isn't notable for its size, but in many ways he exemplifies the lean, cut look desired by modern society. The level of discipline necessary to maintain this fantastic level of fitness is unbelievable. This guy must live at the gym... and work at Whole Foods.
ENDURANCE: Nobody takes a beating like Dolph Ziggler. From the way he goes down, to the way he gets right back up, he's a model victim of sanctioned violence.
EXPERIENCE: It seems like he's a fresh-faced newcomer in some ways, but Ziggler is a grizzled vet in this business. He's been a WWE mainstay for nearly a decade and shows no signs of slowing.
LANA: Ladies love him, and Rusev's former flame is no exception.
LONGEVITY: Ziegler sports a very impressive track record in the ring, including a run with the old World Heavyweight Championship and several very solid seasons in the Wrestler Wrankings.
For all his considerable assets, Ziggler has failed to break out as a star. Contemporaries such as CM Punk and Daniel Bryan have come and gone, reaching far greater heights. Meanwhile, young guns like Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens have surpassed him already. With that in mind, let's review some of his weaknesses:
NAME: What were his parents thinking? Dolph is a distinctive moniker that, if paired with the proper surname, could be passable, but Ziggler? Thanks to Boogie Nights anything that rhymes with Diggler is creatively bankrupt and thanks to the 90's the letter Z is absolutely played out (Zack Morris, Boyz II Men, Zebras). Momma and Poppa Ziggler could never have foreseen these events back in 1980, but geez, Ziggler is saddled with one idiotic name. The only solace is that at least he didn't pick it himself.
ATTIRE: Quick, what is Ziggler's signature outfit? Sometimes it's booty shorts, sometimes it's traditional trunks. Sometimes it's pink, blue, or metallic. Maybe a cartoon zipper on the front, maybe not. Lately it's a denim vest, but it could be leather, or a mutilated t-shirt. Basically, it's a mess.
The best wrestlers have an instantly recognizeable look that they can subtlely tweak over time or for special occasions. Generally, there are three tried and true methods for successful wrestling wardrobe:
#1. Same thing every time (Stone Cold Steve Austin, Nasty Boys, Hulk Hogan, Legion of Doom).
#2. Same basic design with minor changes or color palate swaps (Mr. Perfect, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon).
#3. A never ending parade of different outlandish outfits (Macho King Randy Savage, Ric Flair's Robes, Ravishing Rick Rude, RVD)
For Ziggler, I recommend option #2. CM Punk was a master of this. He maintained his Chicago trunks and kick pads, but rolled out an endless string of palette swaps. Similarly, Bret Hart would wear either Pink on Black, Black on Pink, Black on Black, or rarely, Pink on Pink. Consistency is key as it makes the few times when you do change it up a big deal. Randy Orton, for instance, made waves with his bright trunks with tribal tattoo accent at Wrestlemania 31 after years of black trunks with a tribal tattoo accent.
Don't get me started on Ziggler's current "chain" trunks. I can't even read what it says on the back! They're too plain and too busy at the same time!
FINISHER: The Zig Zag isn't working. It rarely finishes matches and looks far too similar to the Famouser that Dolph uses as a mid-match signature. So, it's neither super effective nor visually distinctive. What a disaster!
FORMER WORLD CHAMPION: His abbreviated run with the World Heavyweight Championship was the worst thing that could have happened to Ziggler. It didn't advance his career and it robs him of the ability to have a magical first title chase that Daniel Bryan enjoyed a couple years ago. This is by no means a death sentence, the late Dusty Rhodes made a career of repeatedly chasing the title, but it's a tougher road to mainstream fame.
Let me be clear, I am a big, big fan of Ziggler's. He's enjoyed a distinguished career in a very challenging professional wrestling environment. Yet I can't help but think that he has so much more to give.
In a best case scenario, we're witnessing the Stunning Steve Austin phase of Ziggler's career. As Austin himself is so fond of saying, "what was so 'stunning' about Stunning Steve? Nothing!" Austin was a blue chipper among blue chippers in WCW but he didn't break out until he lost his manager (Paul E. Dangerously), lost his partner (Brian Pillman), lost his job (c/o Eric Bischoff), and lost his hair (blond locks, sound familiar?). What he found was a renewed focus on vicious mat wrestling and a healthy disrespect of authority. In other words he found himself. That got Austin noticed. Adding to the legend, was that Austin didn't really become the "global icon and national treasure" that he is today until injuries to his knees and neck robbed him of his ability to scientifically wrestle on a world class level.
In other words, Steve Austin, the guy who had everything going for him, had to lose that which made him desirable as a professional wrestler to become the greatest of all time. Addition by subtraction.
I'm not saying that Ziggler requires a catastrophic injury or a follicular failure to become an icon, but if he's as good as he says he is, he could overcome that type of loss to become better than ever.
OFFICIAL WRESTLER WRANKINGS FORMULA
ANY WIN = 2 POINTS
US OR INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE BOUT = 1 POINT
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE BOUT = 3 POINTS
NON "BIG 4" PPV BONUS = 1.5X
SUMMERSLAM, SURVIVOR SERIES, ROYAL RUMBLE = 2X BONUS
WRESTLEMANIA = 3X BONUS
The WWE season begins on the day after WrestleMania 31 and culminates with WrestleMania 32. The wrestler who accumulates the most points over the course of the season, wins the coveted Wrankings Championship!
Monday Night Raw-- 6/22/15
Main Event-- 6/23/15
WRESTLER WRANKINGS, WEEK 13 *TOP TEN*
1. Seth Rollins -- 41 points
2. Neville -- 38
3. Ryback -- 33
4. Dean Ambrose -- 32.5
5. John Cena -- 31
T6. Dolph Ziggler -- 23.5
T6. Roman Reigns -- 23.5
8. Randy Orton -- 23
9. Bad News Barrett -- 22.5
10. Sheamus -- 21.5
Thanks for reading, Cagesiders. We'll see you back here next week!