The curious case of Dolph Ziggler continues.
Actually, there is no curiosity to it. You have to accept the reality of how things can operate in WWE, but once you do, curiosity doesn't exist anymore. The only thing that's left is the understanding that anything is possible, no matter how ridiculous it might seem.
Ziggler is one of the best workers WWE has. Loves the business. Has a good look. Fun to watch in the ring. Sells better than anyone. Remained healthy over time compared to many others. All that equals that he loves WWE, and WWE management has the leverage.
So far they've gotten a lot of dates out of him, since he's worked for several years. They've gotten some merchandise sold. They've gotten anything they want out of him. He's done it, and they haven't had to commit to as a long-term top guy.
He should be a long-term top guy, but somebody important probably doesn't like him. That's how things can work.
There was even a report from F4WOnline.com (h/t WrestlingInc.com) that Ziggler would join The Miz to make a team whose gimmick was their anger toward management for not being utilized better. They seemed like they started to make movement on this months ago when The Miz interrupted a Titus O'Neil match and jumped on commentary to scream his unhappiness before quickly leaving.
Nothing more ever came of this, and I'm not surprised. Why would WWE do this? WWE can book a guy like Ziggler to lose all they want in random spots on a show. However, if they give him the platform of a gimmick revolving around his being upset, that's not good for WWE management. It gives him an opening to speak his mind, which right now would make a great shoot interview. Still might one day.
If they went with that storyline, it would exploit that WWE actually hasn't been properly utilizing some guys, most notably Ziggler.
I think Ziggler's best move is to get out of WWE. He's made good money in his time there. If he left, he would do well on the independent scene for a while. He would outdraw Matt Hardy, who to this day is an independent wrestling phenomenon for how well he's been able to do for the past few years since being done with first WWE and then TNA.
Ziggler could leave WWE when his contract is up and might even be able to set up a sweet WWE return in the future. Right now, Ziggler wants WWE, but WWE doesn't want to do anything with him. They're enjoying getting whatever they can out of him. WWE has no interest in investing in him.
If he leaves, he remains a big star without WWE. It's a game of playing hard to get. If he leaves and begins making it on his own and making money for other people, I wouldn't be shocked at all to see WWE offer him a deal to come back after a few years.
Not leaving WWE was the mistake Zack Ryder made. I don't know when his contract was last up, but I think he must have signed a new one. He was on top of the world with his momentum at an all-time high by the end of 2011. WWE typically signs guys to two-year deals. I don't know for sure, but I can't imagine they offered him anything longer.
It's now the middle of 2014, so somewhere in there he likely signed a new deal. He's making good money as well. But he's another guy who could make a good splash working his own schedule with his own rate on the independent scene.
Ziggler needs to get out, but he's a WWE mark. He grew up on WWE. He loves WWE and loves being a WWE Superstar. He's open about how much of a fan he is and always has been. It's nice to hear and certainly helps his connection with the fans.
He's been a WWE guy for a while now. Been there, done that. Now he needs to go be the biggest star possible with the most leverage. Right now, it seems the independents or another organization could be better for that. Then in time, he can make WWE chase him.
Justin LaBar is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the creator of the "Chair Shot Reality" video talk show and "Wrestling Reality" radio show.