Why Dolph Ziggler Will Excel as a Babyface in WWE
One thing has become abundantly clear in the last few weeks: Dolph Ziggler is going places as a babyface in WWE.
Ziggler, who turned at last month's Payback pay-per-view, is, in many ways, a natural good guy. In fact, the real surprise here may be that the company didn't elect to turn him sooner.
He's a smaller guy—in the Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart mould—meaning he's perfect to play the plucky underdog figure that the fans can't help but root for.
He's also got a flashy, awe-inspiring in-ring style that just screams “babyface.”
Even before he officially changed sides at the pay-per-view, the 32-year-old was often the recipient of huge cheers from the crowd, most notably in New Jersey the night after WrestleMania 29 when he cashed in on Alberto Del Rio and won the World Heavyweight Championship to one of the biggest pops in company history.
Additionally, the serious concussion Ziggler suffered in May served to make him even more of a sympathetic figure. The star was out for over a month from the injury and, as WWE.com detailed, suffered from bouts of amnesia and headaches. All things considered, it was a horrendous situation.
Who wasn't cheering for the guy to make a comeback?
So you can understand why WWE chose to turn him when it did. But the really great thing here is how the company has handled Ziggler since the character change.
In the last few weeks, Ziggler has emerged as that rarity in WWE: a babyface who is actually likeable.
He doesn't force everyone to suffer through his corny, asinine jokes like John Cena does. Unlike Sheamus, he doesn't bully midcarders. He's not an unhinged whiner like Daniel Bryan is. He doesn't throw his weight around in backstage segments (Triple H).
Nor is he annoyingly squeaky clean (Cena, Kofi Kingston). As his very good promo on last week's SmackDown attests to, Ziggler is still as cocky and arrogant as he used to be, there's just no spite there anymore.
The star's antics when he crashed Alberto Del Rio's party on SmackDown two weeks ago were also hilarious and highlighted just why he's so good in the role. He genuinely looked like he was having a great time, particularly when he interacted with the mariachi band after taking out Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez, and this helped make the segment.
There is another thing that convinces me Ziggler will be the company's next big babyface—his marketability.
Sure, Ziggler may not be as tall or as big-muscled as certain WWE main eventers from the past, but he's still blessed with a great camera look.
Eminently photogenic, Ziggler is somebody the image-conscious company will feel perfectly comfortable putting on the cover of magazines or sending on to talk shows. The guy looks like a movie star—literally, his almost-scary resemblance to a young Kurt Russell has often been mentioned.
Not that everything is necessarily smooth sailing from here on.
This is the erratic and often-fickle WWE we are talking about, after all. The bookers may change their direction and start booking Ziggler to be as insufferable as all the other babyfaces.
There's also his strongly hinted-at future breakup with on-screen girlfriend A.J. Lee to consider. Will Ziggler end up getting abandoned by his girl and looking as bad and as gullible as Zack Ryder did when Eve Torres dumped him in the middle of the ring at WrestleMania 28? (Ryder's career hasn't been the same since.)
Ideally, though, WWE will learn from the mistakes that it has made with others and allow Ziggler to develop and flourish in his current role. Because he really does have the potential to be something very special in the future.
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