“Everything I do is to become better, the best ever and I’m not going to stop.” – Dolph Ziggler
The most recent episode of Smackdown paved the way for one of the most interesting and long awaited moments that every wrestling fan has waited to see: Dolph Ziggler turning heel. There is no doubt that a Ziggler heel turn is long overdue and it is probably the only way that his career can be saved.
Now, the phrase “if done correctly” is used often in professional wrestling and it will be used time and time again in these next few weeks as this heel turn progresses.
If we cast our minds back to the night after WrestleMania 29, Dolph Ziggler cashed in his Money in the Bank contract on Alberto Del Rio. Some consider it to be the best crowd reaction of the modern era and it showcases to the highest level just how much crowds appreciate Ziggler because he was used correctly at that time.
It was during his feud with Alberto Del Rio where WWE decided to turn the “Show Off” face after almost 7 years within the business working as a heel.
Dolph Ziggler wins the Intercontinental Championship at No Mercy, 2016.
This at first was a big change, it was something we had not seen before but again, it was done correctly and fans instantly grew to like the new Dolph. During his face run Ziggler has been involved in some 5* matches such as a TLC match with Luke Harper for the Intercontinental Championship at TLC 2014 and the Team Cena vs Team Authority match at Survivor Series 2014.
However, in 2015 Dolph Ziggler was featured in not one but two terrible on screen feuds, the worst being with Rusev and his on screen relationship with Lana. I remember these words I had read at the time and they instantly stuck in my head:
“Dolph Ziggler’s character is dead. He used to get a great pop coming out, but now the fans are conditioned to know that he’s gone as far as he’ll ever go, so they sit on their hands when his music hits now.”
In 2016 it was with his feud with The Miz that let Dolph shine once again like the star he is. Their ongoing battles of words and matches combined made it the best feud of the year as voted by many wrestling fans, by many wrestling associations.
During his programme with The Miz, Dolph Ziggler won his fifth Intercontinental Championship however lost it 37 days later, again to The Miz. In 2016, Dolph had two shots at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship but failed in both attempts against Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles.
On Tuesday’s Smackdown we finally saw Ziggler hit breaking point. In a losing effort to Baron Corbin, he attacked Kalisto who had came to rescue him from a further beating from the “Lone Wolf”. This would not be all we would see of the frustrated Dolph as he would then go onto brawl with Apollo Crewes backstage.
The attack on Kalisto received huge cheers from the live crowd.
Whether or not his actions are an indicator of a full heel-turn aren’t yet clear, but it seems like this is where his storyline is headed. This turn marks a change in the attitude in Dolph Ziggler. It was done so perfectly and was hinted this entire time. If you look at how WWE have potentially turned Dolph heel you will see that it is by his frustration of constantly losing the big chances he has had.
This makes for perfect storytelling and in some ways can reflect on real life. There is no doubt Dolph Ziggler thinks he should be in the main event and be a potential champion. Why would he not think that? He’s as gifted an in-ring performer as the WWE has had over the last decade, and — when given the chance — has showcased the propensity for his character to be more than that of the “tough luck” loser guy he has portrayed for the better part of four years now. He now has a shot at reaching his full potential once again.
Don’t think it can happen? Look at how well The Miz has done since being allowed to work outside the comfy confines of traditional WWE (safe) booking. Or look at Corbin emerging as a legit heel since being given more time on television. The room of heels to grow on SmackDown is evident.
Maybe all Ziggler needed to reach old heights, or maybe even some new ones, was a relatively fresh start. It appears as though he was given one on Tuesday. Now it’s only a matter of time before we find out if he can take advantage of it or not. As importantly, we find out if the WWE allows him more leeway in developing his character as opposed to theirs.