When the WWE returns to Chicago tonight for another broadcast of "RAW", superstar Dolph Ziggler will be in the house at the Allstate Arena. I spoke with the self-proclaimed "show-off" by phone prior to the show. We spoke about how social media has affected his career; what winning - then ultimately losing -the World Heavyweight Championship felt like; geek culture; the challenges of stand-up comedy; and whether he likes doing birthday tweets:
(The following is the complete and unedited version of the interview that ran in REDEYE September, 24th)
GEEK TO ME: You’re one of the WWE superstars that’s been most active in social media. I follow you on Twitter and that’s really fun and I know you’ve done stuff on the WWE YouTube channel. How has engaging on social media as you have affected your career and how fans view you?
DOLPH ZIGGLER: It’s great for someone like me who every week is somehow in a match, but usually not talking. It’s cool to know the character a little bit more in depth. If someone’s not in one of the major scenes [on the program] you don’t get the most time to see the character in promo time/backstage segments like that. So with social media, you have a chance to let everyone into that role on your own time. You can actually forward your own career and storylines and that sort of thing through Twitter. So it’s kind of cool for someone like me to know “oh I do stand up comedy.” I can think outside and roast people on the show, anything I want. They start to think that there’s this person, not just this character that shows off. There’s this person who dedicates himself to his job. There’s a reason he goes out there and makes it look so easy. ‘Cuz he tries so hard and does all these things on the side to make himself better.
GEEK TO ME: I saw the match you had with one of the Wyatt’s the other night and [laughs] as they say you can sell ice to an Eskimo. So what do you think when you see a talent like the Wyatt’s who have this big push behind them, and this gimmick that’s really effective, and you see that your careers are going in different trajectories?
DOLPH ZIGGLER: Yeah, it appears so right now, unfortunately. They’re some up-and-coming weird guys with a cool creepy entrance, that even though they’ve beaten up some of the fan-favorites the crowd is behind it and excited. Because it’s something new, it’s something exciting, it’s something that they wanna see. So like when you wanna see it, whether they’re good or bad or whatever, you wanna see something cool and different. And I’m a huge fan of their entrance and their ways and the creepiness about them.
But unfortunately for someone like myself, who two months ago literally was World Heavyweight Champion, would like to be going toe-to-toe and showing my skills even more. You know what? But in this day and age when we have time cues and different things to get to, you just put on the best show possibly you can. And I work as hard as anyone else, if not harder, to go out there and prove that. Last night it was a little bit of a quicker match, came up short, but at least it looked good for those guys coming out. That someone like Bray Wyatt can be in the ring with me, and come out looking pretty good.
GEEK TO ME: I saw that match when you beat Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship and remember that the crowd went insane. It was one of those nights where everything came together. Can you describe that moment when you climbed that mountain and finally hit the top?
DOLPH ZIGGLER: I think it was a culmination for someone who for years, as someone for who the crowd was always a little torn, even though I was a bad guy for seven consecutive years, they new how hard I worked. They knew they were going to see the best match that night when I was out there. They knew they were going to be excited. They knew that there was always going to be a chance that tonight was going to be the night that I won. And that’s what made it so special. These guys [fans] had been on this journey with me. For years. And we’d seen similar guys in the World Title picture and we wanted to see something new. We thought “this was the new guy”, maybe I have a chance when I cashed in [the Money In The Bank contract]. Or maybe I’d be the first guy to cash in and not win? Like you never know what’s gonna happen, but they were on this journey with me. They got behind it. They organically started to cheer. They wanted to see something new.