According to a recent report from F4WOnline by way of WrestlingInc.com, Dolph Ziggler's comments about Randy Orton in an interview with MLive.com from last September are responsible for the push of WWE's resident Show Off being halted.
In the interview, Ziggler discussed his impatience with his position in the company and specifically mentioned Randy Orton, who was WWE champion at the time.
I've made it clear; I'm not patient at all - several times. I've been very vocal about my position on the card and in the company. I'm not trying to say 'Hey, everybody sucks and I'm great!' But I love doing this, and at some point you go 'OK, It's not my time right now and I got to figure something out' And when it's time, that's when I must go out there and make as huge of an impact as I can and let everyone know 'I dare you to follow that, I dare you try something better.'
And when they don't (counter or match what I'm doing in the ring) I'm very outspoken about it and it can get me into very hot water (with the company). Then you never know where we're going. Everybody can be just so outspoken about taller guys, and guys like Randy Orton being the face of the WWE, the WWE Championship. I dare you to put me in a back alley with Randy Orton or someone like that. I guarantee I'm not afraid of someone taller.
This was not the first time that Ziggler had mentioned Orton by name and received heat for it.
Back on August 29 of last year, the former World Heavyweight champion spoke with Mike Jones of radio station DC101 about the company consistently backing Orton.
The following transcript is courtesy of WrestlingInc.com:
So, the fact that it's now out in the open, and I'm allowed to comment on it, it actually makes me sick. I'm really happy from (sic) Randy, he's awesome, he's so good at this. It makes me mad how good he is. But the opportunities that he gets over and over again makes that chip on my shoulder feel that much bigger to me. I wanna go out there and prove that they're wrong, prove [to] Triple H that he backed the wrong guy for the last 10 years, and no matter what, I'm going to come out on top, one way or the other.
Ziggler even took to Twitter to address the heat he received for the August 29 interview.
sites carrying the interview that got me in trouble, at least plug the shows its for😉 BOSTON-SAT DC-SUN @WWE LATER MARKS👻— Dolph Ziggler (@HEELZiggler) August 30, 2013
The comments and the heat that followed indicate a change in backstage philosophy from years past.
There was a time where voicing dissatisfaction with your spot on the card would catch Vince McMahon's eye and indicate that a given Superstar had passion to be the very best in the business. Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Steve Austin were a few performers who gained the boss' admiration because they spoke up and out when they felt something was not being done correctly or were unhappy with where they were in relation to where they thought they should be.
Now, it appears as though speaking out against a top star or voicing one's opinion about their spot in the company earns them heat with management.
What possessed Ziggler to single out Orton specifically is unknown. Perhaps he was attempting to discuss the Authority angle that had started right around the time of the two interviews and simply got a little too personal, earning the wrath of The Viper.
Could frustration over his world-title reign being cut short have boiled over and Orton, who had just received another opportunity to run with the WWE title, was on the receiving end of said frustration?
Whatever the case may be, Ziggler rapidly fell from grace.
He found himself doing jobs on television to Superstars significantly less talented than him. Worst of all, he has yet to be involved in any stories or matches of any significance since August's SummerSlam, when he and Kaitlyn beat Big E Langston and AJ Lee to wrap up their months-long program.
Outside of a three-week rivalry with Damien Sandow that largely meant nothing, he has competed in random matches against fellow midcard performers and more often than not, has lost.
A recent concussion suffered at the hands of Ryback has sidelined Ziggler until he can pass WWE's strict concussion tests.