If there is one thing that wrestling fans love to do, it's compare the stars of today with legends from the past. One current superstar in particular who draws comparisons to more former wrestlers than perhaps anyone else in the WWE is Dolph Ziggler.
As the holder of the Money in the Bank contract, Ziggler is likely to become the World Heavyweight Champion at some point over the next few months and he is almost certainly a future star in the business. Ziggler is obviously his own person and is trying to pave his own way to the top, but it's impossible to look at him without thinking of some past greats.
Ziggler himself has admitted to modeling his character and in-ring style after some of the guys he grew up watching. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the guys that Ziggler has mentioned by name should be honored that there are still guys in the business like Ziggler who respect what they did for professional wrestling.
Without further ado, here are the top five WWE legends "The Show Off" is most comparable to. The rankings themselves have nothing to do with the skill level of the legends themselves; rather, they are ranked based on how similar Ziggler is to them.
When discussing the greatest professional wrestlers in the history of the business, it's inevitable that Ric Flair's name comes up each and every time. Flair isn't really even in the conversation when it comes to the best pure in-ring workers, but he made up for that in so many other ways. In terms of charisma, mic skills and overall personality, it can definitely be argued that The Nature Boy is the best ever.
With that in mind, you can't blame Ziggler for wanting to emulate some of Flair's flair, for lack of a better word. Ziggler utilizes Flair's signature strut in almost every match he wrestles in and his overall presence is quite reminiscent of what Flair brought to the table. Because of all that, it is no surprise that fans have been calling for Flair to return to the WWE and manage Ziggler.
That hasn't come to fruition yet, but it would make sense for both Ziggler and Flair. Ziggler is on the road to superstardom by himself, but having a 21-time world champion by his side obviously wouldn't hurt. Flair, on the other hand, is done with TNA and still has a lot to offer as a non-wrestler. He likely sees a lot of himself in Ziggler as well.
Ziggler is already a far superior grappler than Flair ever was and his athleticism is much more apparent than Flair's as well, but few will ever top Flair when it comes to cutting a promo. Ziggler is definitely coming along in that area and could become one of the best presently with a little more refinement, but it certainly wouldn't hurt him to take a few more pages out of Flair's book.
Purely from a physical perspective, "Ravishing" Rick Rude is probably further from Dolph Ziggler than anyone else on this list. Aside from the fact that Ziggler's cut physique is similar to Rude's, their looks are pretty different. Rude was much bigger than Ziggler at 6'3" and 251 lbs., and he didn't have the platinum blonde hair that the others in this countdown do.
With regards to Ziggler's attitude, though, it is very much like Rude's. Rude was probably the most cocky and arrogant heel of his time. He would look at the crowd disgustedly, call them "sweat hogs" and implore them to take a good look as he removed his robe. Rude was as pompous as they came, but that is what made him the ideal heel.
Ziggler hasn't reached the same level as Rude in that regard, largely because Vickie Guerrero did most of the talking for him for so long, but he isn't above degrading the crowd and telling them exactly how good he is. Rude was one the biggest show offs in the history of the WWE, and the fact that Ziggler goes by the nickname "The Show Off" tells you all you need to know about how he compares to Rude.
There really aren't that many heels in the WWE today who are outwardly boisterous about their looks and accolades, but Ziggler is probably the most vocal of all of them. Rude was one of the most natural heels in the business, and Ziggler has definitely followed in his footsteps when it comes to that.
Anyone with a functional pair of eyes can see the similarities between Dolph Ziggler and Billy Gunn almost immediately. Both have athletic bodies, blonde hair and natural charisma. They even wear the same type of boots. Many consider Ziggler to be the second coming of Gunn, and if his career ended now, that would likely be the case.
The reason why Gunn is only third on this list, however, is that Ziggler will almost certainly surpass him in terms of popularity and accomplishments when it's all said and done. Gunn had it all and definitely possessed the potential to be a main-eventer, but it never came together for him. He was on the verge of reaching the next level when he won the King of the Ring tournament in 1999. He was never quite able to fully capitalize on it, though.
Gunn is remembered as one of the greatest tag-team wrestlers of all time with 10 Tag Team Championship reigns, and he was a fixture in the upper mid-card as a singles wrestler as well, but he isn't a legend in the same way that guys like Ric Flair and Rick Rude are. Even so, Ziggler obviously has great respect for him as he utilizes his patented Fame-Ass-er maneuver.
From an athletic and aesthetic standpoint, Ziggler and Gunn are almost mirror images. Ziggler is better on the mic as far as I'm concerned, but he doesn't blow Gunn out in that area by any means. Ultimately, Gunn was a victim of the time he wrestled in. He had to compete with so many elite stars during the Attitude Era that he couldn't be expected to be world champion. Ziggler's competition isn't nearly as stiff, though, and that's one reason why he'll most certainly be a world champion in his own right.
Being compared to an absolute legend like Shawn Michaels is a very difficult burden to carry, but Dolph Ziggler obviously has some Heartbreak Kid within him. The Michaels we saw after he returned in 2002 was extremely different than the Michaels fro 1998 and prior in many ways, and he wasn't all that similar to Ziggler. The Michaels we saw during his initial singles run was like Ziggler in a ton of ways, though.
Michaels first went off on his own in the WWE back in 1991 when he turned on Rockers teammate Marty Jannetty, and he was clearly a star in the making. Not only did Michaels have natural heel charisma, but he was arguably the best in-ring worker in the company. He wasn't yet at a main-event level, but he often stole the show in low or mid-card matches, which is something Ziggler has been doing for quite some time.
Michaels went through the natural progression of becoming Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion before finally winning the WWE Championship in 1996, and Ziggler has already run a similar gauntlet. Their respective paths to the top are quite alike as is the fact that both of them are on the small side and it has been question whether they could thrive as top guys.
There is no doubt that Michaels proved he could be a main-eventer as he earned the moniker of Mr. WrestleMania and is viewed by most as perhaps the greatest in-ring performer of all time. Ziggler has a long way to go, but it's easy to see that type of greatness in him. As evidenced by his use of the Sweet Chin Music, Ziggler probably wouldn't mind following Michaels' precise career path, and while that won't be easy to do, Ziggler has the skill set necessary to make it happen.
Dolph Ziggler has obviously taken bits and pieces from several WWE legends, but it's fair to say that he took just a little more from "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig than anyone else. The late Hennig is most definitely one of the best pure wrestlers and in-ring performers to ever grace a wrestling ring. He showed up each and every night, put in an honest effort and dazzled the crowd, and Ziggler has certainly emulated him when it comes to that.
Ziggler's character is also much like Mr. Perfect's in a lot of ways. Although Ziggler has ditched it over the past year, his theme song used to be titled "I Am Perfection" and his entire gimmick was based on the fact that he was perfect. It was a not-so-subtle nod to Mr. Perfect, and while I wouldn't say that he ripped the character off, he clearly had Mr. Perfect in mind when he came up with it.
Perfect deserved to be a world champion, and while he never accomplished that in WWE, I consider him the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. The IC title was far more prestigious in the early 1990s than it is now and it was usually given to a workhorse who could wrestle seven days a week and never miss a beat. Perfect fit that description then and Ziggler fits it now.
Based on his look, personality, athleticism and in-ring work, it's accurate to say that Ziggler is a modern version of Mr. Perfect. In today's wrestling landscape, Perfect would have been a bona-fide top star and multi-time world champion, but the world title scene was dominated by faces like Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior when he was on top of his game.
Ziggler has a chance to keep Perfect's legacy alive and do something that one of his biggest idols never was able to. Fulfilling his potential and becoming world champion would be the best way for Ziggler to pay homage to Mr. Perfect.