So many things come to mind when you see Dolph Ziggler. I said it the second he stepped onto the WWE stage (and I really wish I wrote this comparison down somewhere at the time)—man, he reminds me so much of Randy Orton. He has that natural “swag” to him as a heel (bad guy). He has that ability to make people really hate him, which is a really hard thing to find these days.
He has such a great bad-guy quality, much like Randy Orton when he first came up.
Ziggler actually started off his career in the WWE as a member of one of the most unique heel tag teams in the history of the industry. Raise your hand if you knew Ziggler was actually a member of the Spirit Squad that won the tag titles in 2005.
He went back down to Florida Championship Wrestling for a few years before emerging as his own personal character on Raw in late 2008. He adopted the name Dolph Ziggler and was later drafted to Smackdown in 2009.
Ziggler had instant charisma as a heel—even back from when he was part of the tag team champions. The Spirit Squad were probably one of the most annoying group of characters the WWE has ever created. Not a lot changed when he beat Charlie Haas in his first match on Raw. He came out to a theme song that screamed, “I’m full of myself!"
Randy Orton came up very differently. He rose from a generation of superstars who were in his family. Technically, Orton is actually a third-generation superstar, so he got a slightly easier start than Ziggler did.
However, they were each brought up similarly in terms of how they developed their characters. Each was developed in a stable or a tag team. Ziggler was brought up in Spirit Squad (a lot of people don’t know that), and Orton was brought up mainly in the Evolution stable (which consisted of Triple H, Ric Flair and Dave Batista).
Both then went on to win the Intercontinental Championship as their first major title (it was Ziggler's first title as an individual wrestler). Orton held his belt for seven months. Ziggler held his Intercontinental belt for five months.
Both have competed in the Money in the Bank ladder match. Ziggler won it this year, while Orton actually won the Royal Rumble in 2009.
Randy Orton was named the most improved wrestler by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in 2004. He won his first World Heavyweight Championship in the very same year.
Ziggler was also named the most improved wrestler by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in late 2011 and was rated the most underrated.
Ziggler now has the Money in the Bank brief case on his side. History says that he will be the next World Heavyweight Champion. The only downside to Ziggler is that he is a lot older than Orton was when he won his first title. Orton was 24. Ziggler is 32.
I think even though Ziggler is older, he will make his imprint on this industry for years to come. It’s not hard to see that he followed a path that is very similar to that of Randy Orton. Just watching them battle it out the other night at Night of Champions speaks to how far Ziggler has advanced. I think Ziggler could continue that path by winning the World Heavyweight Championship very soon.
And if the comparisons weren't enough for you, they are both 32 years old at the moment.