Dolph Ziggler, the Villain I call my hero.
Some say it’s fake, scripted, stupid.
But I remain an ardent fan of professional wrestling.
Pro-wrestling is a theatre, where wrestlers are actors who temporarily transfigure into larger than life characters , crafting beautiful narratives of scripted violence.
In the world of wrestling, where one indulges in it as escapism, through watching two behemoths collide, once in a while, a story of the man behind the wrestler takes the limelight, providing us the inspiration we need to remind us that we too, can conquer the world.
In his recent run of 2016/17, he has just turned heel again (becoming a villain once more. And as i saw him use the unforgiving steel chair to bash Kalisto and Apollo Crews. Before I go into how I believe the past year has been a tremendous showcase of his talent and we are just about to enter the renaissance of Dolph’s career.
I was reminded of how I first became a fan of him.
Dolph Ziggler (Nick Nemeth) has been my favourite wrestler for years. This was how he first became my inspiration.
I watched him since I was a secondary school kid, popping up on my screen as this snarky, slimy wrestler whose presence was punctuated by his arrogance.
He walked out to the Theme of “I am Perfection”, a reminder of Mr. Perfect. His aura of swagger was on full display, as he strutted his way to the ring. He believed himself to be Perfect, as he sat on the middle rope, proclaiming to the audience and the world of his perfection.
Between the ropes, his work was a spectacle to behold. He was doing headstands when grappling on the mat. He would flick his hair at his opponent. Often times, shaking his hips, just to show how much of a premier wrestler he was, serving as a taunt to his opponent.
He would use any method to cheat in order to secure a win. (Go check out how he was gifted the World Heavyweight Championship by Vickie Guerrero)
He was the perfect archetypal villain, whom people loved to hate.
However, like many fans, casual or hardcore, beyond the persona, I saw the amount of hard work he put in the ring. He sold every move like a million bucks, selflessly sacrificing his body to elevate the other wrestler. He poured his soul into his body of work of professional wrestling.
His in-ring performance spoke volumes of his passion for wrestling. I watched every match of his intently, what was plastered on his shirt “Stealing The Show” was an accurate depiction of what he was doing.
When he finally cashed in his Money in the Bank Contract against Alberto Del Rio, the entire arena went off. Flanked by AJ Lee and Big E (Langston), he successfully cashed the contract in, becoming the World Heavyweight Champion.
Watching this drama unfold through my PW.net app in high school, as Twitter exploded, I remember running to the toilet just to catch a glimpse of his victory. I hid in my cubicle, ravaging through clips and snapshots of the match, just to see him cash his contract in.
As the match came out on Youtube, I watched it again and again. My heart was overflowed with such joy. The wrestler whom I fervently cheered for, finally won the World Heavyweight Championship he truly deserved.
I would think about how his career had unfolded and could only imagine how he would have felt at that time.
Remember this was a man, who was an all-star wrestler from Kent State, winning the Mid American Championship three times and held the record for the most wins in Kent State’s wrestling history with 121 wins.
Despite such a pedigree (get the pun?) , he was denied on his first try. He had to continue to train and grind, eventually landing himself his first developmental contract.
Yet, in his first years of WWE, instead of being pushed, he had to eat the humble pie, playing a male cheerleader as part of the Spirit Squad, and a caddy for Kerwin White (Chavo Guerrero) . His talent, in my opinion was being squandered.
A man of his calibre, who was excellent in his skill, was relegated to the sidelines, watching wrestlers that he could simply outwrestle headline events.
While the rest of the Spirit Squad left, he stayed true to the course. With an insatiable hunger, he clawed and fought his way through every obstacle.
When people commented, he didn’t have the chops for speaking well on the mic, hence needing a Vickie Guerrero. He worked on his mic skills, fine-tuning it to perfection. He stayed true to his love of wrestling, time and time again.
So, when he finally won, when Dolph, the arrogant cocky show-off won that title, he became the villain we all loved. It was a moment etched in wrestling history as one of the best cash-ins ever.
Not because he won the title (after all he did hold titles before that), but because finally after so many years of scratching and clawing, he made it to the mountain top. As his theme song “Show the World” blared, he triumphantly held the belt in his hand, it was that night he truly showed the world, how damn good he was.
This narrative could never be scripted, his passion for wrestling overflowed the show-off character infecting the entire crowd, as they saw a man who paid his dues, stay true to the course finally emerge victorious.
So Dolph, if you ever read this, thanks for being the villain that showed me that every once in awhile, if you put your being into something, you can conquer the world.
P.S: Please win the Rumble.