Dolph Ziggler has been in the WWE for far too long for someone with almost nothing to show for it. Any secondary title he has ever won came in an era where they didn't matter. Ricky Steamboat once won the intercontinental title from Randy Savage in front of a crowd of 93,173 [sic] at WrestleMania. Dolph Ziggler beat Kofi Kingston at the now-defunct Capitol Punishment pay-per-view.
The one time he did win a world title lasted for about 10 sneezes.
He's not a transcendent star. Girlfriends and mothers—the ones who hate wrestling—don't know who he is. More importantly, they don't care. The same cannot be said about The Rock and, for the most part, John Cena.
Many have compared him with stars of years past like Shawn Michaels, Curt Hennig and Billy Gunn.
He is none of the above.
The only thing he has in common with Shawn Michaels is that they both do the super kick. He and Curt Hennig only share the frizzy, platinum blonde hair. The Billy Gunn comparisons make sense when comparing the their singles careers. Ziggler's, like Gunn's, is one that seems destined to remain under the ceiling in spite of his potential.
Dirt sheets nationwide swear he is underrated because of his talent level commensurate to his standing in the WWE. Ironically enough, critically acclaimed, underrated wrestlers are overrated. Especially when it comes to becoming major stars in the WWE.
In 2011, Ziggler was the winner of the not-so-prestigious "most underrated" award from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The last five wrestlers selected for that, um, honor? Kaval, Evan Bourne, Montel Vontavious Porter, Shelton Benjamin (three times) and Paul London.
Between these aforementioned six stars lays only one combined world championship reign. That was Dolph Ziggler, and as mentioned, it was more of a drizzle than a reign.
Dolph Ziggler's talent cannot be denied. His main-event potential, however, can, as has been the case for quite some time.
The 2013 Royal Rumble served as the perfect microcosm for Ziggler's career path of two steps forward, two steps back.
Ziggler started the Royal Rumble, bumped like crazy, lasted longer than anyone else and all will be forgotten by next week when he is again needed to bump and job to John Cena.
Ziggler was eliminated right before the scintillating closing sequence that featured Ryback, Sheamus, and John Cena—the WWE's top stars.
The elimination was telling, as the WWE booked Ziggler to get out of the Royal Rumble before somebody made the mistake of confusing him with a real-life star:
Austin had the "Austin 3:16 promo."CM Punk had the "Pipebomb" promo.Rock had too many to count. QUICK! What's Dolph's legendary promo?— Big Nasty (@ThisIsNasty) January 28, 2013
Dolph Ziggler and his stubborn contingent of apologists can take solace in the fact that he still has a Money in the Bank contract. This will guarantee him a title shot anytime before July.
One day, Ziggler may finally cash in his contract and win a world championship. But it will not be because of the same overwhelming fan demand that catapulted the likes of Steve Austin and CM Punk to the top.
It'll be because the WWE was contractually obliged to let him carry a ball. In era where pro wrestling is no longer "cool," Dolph Ziggler will not be the guy to bring it back in vogue. And when his would-be world title run is met with apathy, he will likely return to bumping. For it is the only thing Dolph Ziggler does better than anyone in the business.