Most of the reactions were along the lines of this one, from Ric Flair:
Shame On Me For Being So Busy That I Haven’t Kept Up With All Of The Releases At @WWE. I Just Hope That Each And Every One Of You Know That At The End Of The Day We All Love Wrestling, But It’s A Business First And Foremost. I Still After Retiring In 2008, Remember The Day That I… pic.twitter.com/42egoX69ll— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) September 23, 2023
If they didn’t read like that, they sounded like Mark Henry’s comments from the Mon., Sept. 25 edition of Busted Open. The World’s Strongest Man put Ziggler at the “top of list” of released WWE talent he hopes his boss Tony Khan brings to AEW:
“One of the best wrestlers in this modern era, in the last 10 years for sure. His first 15 years, he was kind of cutting his teeth, getting acclimated, and then the next four [years], he started to get in the main event picture, kind of being the foil for other people. But the last 10 years, Dolph Ziggler’s been one of the elite of the elite guys.”
Flair & Henry’s fellow WWE Hall of Famer Booker T has some nice things to say about Ziggler, too. But while talking about The Show-Off on his Hall of Fame podcast, Book also shot straight with a critical observation about the last half of Dolph’s time in WWE:
“It seems like he’s been on cruise control for like the last ten years. It seems like he got to a point where he just said, ‘I’m just going to ride, pretty much ride the thing as long as I can.’
“Dolph is one of those guys that really never changed. You know, his look, he always was the same guy all the time. And for me, I always said if you don’t change with the times, the times will pass you by.
“You got to know how to really be able to keep up with what’s going on out there in the music world, entertainment world and whatnot. And I think Dolph Ziggler just stayed that one character throughout his whole time now.
“Was he a guy who could go out and perform at a very, very high level in the middle of that squared circle? Oh yes. Dolph was a guy that could go out and work with anybody, but then Dolph became that guy that if you needed to get somebody over, you would call Dolph. And I say that because sometimes you can put you can literally find yourself putting yourself in that position when you do not know how to change with the times.
“But there again, I think Dolph Ziggler is a guy that will be okay too. I think Dolph, he’s smart. He’s a smart dude. He’s a college-educated dude as well. He’s not just a wrestler. So I see Dolph being okay in life, period.
“He’s a guy that you could call, and you could trust Dolph Ziggler to go out there and make sure the job was done properly. And one thing about this business, you need guys like that. That’s why Dolph stayed around for more than 20 years. You got to be smart to stick around for more than 20 years in this business as well as people got to like you people, people like Dolph Ziggler. He was a guy just like Shelton [Benjamin]. You’re not going to hear Dolph in the news. you haven’t heard any scandals along his career.
“He’s been a guy that like me, puts his hard hat on, his boots, comes to work, gets the job done, and goes home. But I tried to change with the times at the same time.”
It’s a take that runs counter to the current post-release narrative on Ziggler. But is it wrong? Or even if it’s right, does it ignore factors that might have led Dolph to set himself on “cruise control”, like WWE making it very clear they didn’t view him as a main eventer?
You tell us, Cagesiders.