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The highs and lows of Ziggler's last four months
By JAN MURPHY - Chinlock.com


Dolph Ziggler claims the World heavyweight title in East Rutherford, NJ, the day after WrestleMania 29. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

It's been an interesting year in the life of WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler. Heck, it's been an interesting four months, to be specific.

In that short time, Ziggler cashed in his Money In The Bank contract to win the World Heavyweight Championship, suffered a serious concussion that sidelined him for several weeks, then promptly dropped the title upon his return and since has been embroiled in a story line with his former protege Big E. Langston and his ex-girlfriend, AJ Lee.

As he prepares to team with Kaitlyn to face his former friends at SummerSlam, Ziggler is his usual honest self when asked about the last four months of his career.

First came one of the most memorable moments of his life, when he cashed in his Money In the Bank briefcase to defeat Alberto del Rio for the world title.

"I remember watching the night before even, just watching at WrestleMania ... listening to the crowd while Jack Swagger versus Alberto Del Rio happened and everyone in the crowd seemed to be caring about someone who wasn't even in the match, just chanting my name, and I was like 'alright, if tonight's not the night, hopefully it's tomorrow," Ziggler said in a telephone interview. "And the next night, from segment one, as soon as Raw started, there were a couple of cheers for me. Then when that match started, it was cheers for me and they got louder and louder and honestly, I go, 'wow, if I end up cashing in tonight, this is going to be special because this crowd is great.' "


Happen it did. With a prone Del Rio lying inside the ring, Ziggler's music hit. The crowd exploded, to put it mildly. We're talking glass-shattering "Stone Cold" Steve Austin crowd explosion.

It's something, Ziggler admits, he's relived over and over.

"I've watched that back on YouTube a hundred times," he said, "and it is one of the most mind-blowing things for me. I've (seen) it so many times that I'm looking at people in the crowd ... I see some guy running up the staircase, cheering ... it's such a special moment because in this day and age, you don't really get too many of those special moments and, wow, just my music hitting and hearing that raucous crowd, who had been through Axxess all week, who had been through half of a Monday Night Raw, who had been through a four-hour WrestleMania pay-per-view, and these guys were so good and so crazy and so fun I think they were as relieved as I was to be finally cashing that thing in and saw an injured Del Rio and said, 'maybe this is the night, this is the special.' Honestly, I don't know that I'll ever hear a response like that to anything I ever do again."

At that moment, as the referee counted 1-2-3 and the crowd exploded even further, it seemed as though David had finally slayed the giant Goliath. Ziggler has long been touted as the future of wrestling. His rise has been slow but steady, seemingly methodical. At that moment, it felt not unlike that magical moment when Mick Foley captured his first WWE title. All the pieces seemed in place, and finally Ziggler's long and arduous push made sense.

Perhaps that was what was meant to be. We'll likely never know for sure. Not long after that amazing night, Ziggler suffered a concussion, which sidelined the world champ for a month.


Dolph Ziggler on Tuesday night at the Smackdown taping in San Jose, California. Photo by Devin Chen, www.chdevinphotos.com
The high of his world title win was matched, and exceeded, Ziggler says, by the low of his month-long battle with a head injury.

"Just not being on the road or at work was hard to deal with," he said. "For a couple weeks, I couldn't drive my car, I had pounding headaches, I wasn't able to do anything, I had to sit in a chair, I couldn't go to the gym, I couldn't be at work, I couldn't be out there defending my title that I had just won ... I couldn't do anything. I felt helpless.

"Weeks had gone by and my headaches were not going away and I was starting to become nervous about, 'am I ever going to be able to come back, period.' And finally, after tests and being checked out over and over and the headaches started to go away, I finally felt kind of normal again, (and) it was back to work."

If a month of headaches, worries and concussion-like symptoms weren't enough, upon his return, Ziggler dropped the title he so richly deserved and had so vehemently fought for.

"To go out there and lose that title, it was legitimately heartbreaking for me," Ziggler said. "For all the hard work, for the people who've been cheering me for five years knowing that one day something special was going to happen, and (for) myself, being handed that title a couple of years ago that meant nothing and losing it right away, going, 'ok, this time, this is going to be the real first time, this is where it counts, this is going be the run that shows Vince that I can be WWE champion, I can be the franchise, this shows the fans who weren't behind me, now it's time to get behind me' ... so many plans and so many different things that I wanted to achieve ... and one match. Once again, two-time world heavyweight champion, zero defences and not a day goes by that I don't think about that."

A lesser man might quit. Not Dolph Ziggler. The man has no quit.

"That was pretty much my first match back from the concussion and you never know if there's going to be some (issues) afterwards," Ziggler said, "and I see that part of it ... (wondering) if I'm going to be able to go full-time. Obviously, I can only do so much. Had I had some weird brain issue or something and they found it ... I can only work so hard and then they go, 'sorry, you're done.' "

Ziggler plans to use this latest setback to his advantage.

"It's another chance for me to even make the chip on my shoulder that much bigger, to have to go out there and prove myself, again, and find a way to get back in that world heavyweight title picture. Even though I'm not in it right now, I'm lucky to be in a story, in a feud, something that makes sense, something that's actually been engraved and happened organically. My entourage is now against me and there's a story there and people can get behind one or two of the people and choose their sides and while that's happening, we can get through this, build myself up, get some mic time, show the boss and show the world that I'm good at this, not just in the ring but on the mic, and then maybe, in the next month or two, get back to showing (everyone), 'hey, wait a second, I'm the workhorse champion around here, I deserve to be in that match.' "

RELATED LINKS

  • Dolph Ziggler bio and story archive

    Jan Murphy is the news editor at the Kingston Whig-Standard and has written about wrestling for 15 years. He recently launched Chinlock.com to archive his wrestling stories, and this is his first original interview for it. You can follow Jan on Twitter at @Jan_Murphy.