This time last year, Dolph Ziggler was the World Heavyweight champion.
More often than not, he was stealing the show with his energetic style, regularly putting on some of the most entertaining matches on the card and establishing himself as one of the best workers in the entire company.
Fast-forward to now, and Ziggler could hardly be further away from the main event scene. Yet he continues to steal the show with his energetic style, he regularly puts on some of the most entertaining matches on the card and he remains one of the best workers in the entire company.
So what went wrong?
Much is made of the backstage politics that rage away within the WWE, and there are many fans who deem this to be the main reason behind Ziggler’s fall from grace. Others have cited the “Vanilla Midget” argument as a barrier to the 213-pounder’s progress.
But recent news suggests that none of this hearsay explains the true reasoning behind the WWE’s underuse of Ziggler. According to PWInsider Elite (via Marc Middleton of WrestlingInc):
It's said that a big part of why Dolph Ziggler isn't getting pushed is one of the same reasons that Christian isn't being used - his history of injuries and concussions.
It was said that WWE can't push Ziggler and trust him a top guy because he's injury prone and had a history of taking time off. This applies to a few other talents as well. There's a feeling that some talents are just "snakebit" in that regard.
Though Ziggler’s career has hardly been plagued by injury, in the last year he has suffered two legitimate concussions.
The first came from the boot of an overeager Jack Swagger—a kick which infamously seemed to derail Ziggler’s world title run—while the second came after a stiff clothesline from the heavy-handed Ryback.
Given that these injuries were purely accidental, and that neither of them were Ziggler’s fault, it seems mightily harsh for the WWE to be punishing the former world champion for incidents beyond his control.
But such injuries are one of the dangers of professional wrestling. And if we consider this from the company’s perspective, then it’s easier to understand their reluctance to push one of their most talented performers.
It has been observed, per momsteam.com, that there is an “increased likelihood of recurrent concussions” in athletes with a history of previous concussions.
Therefore from a logistical standpoint, it’s hard for the WWE to book someone so prone to injury. Two concussions in one year means that more could be on the way, and thus to thrust Ziggler into the limelight would be a very risky storyline indeed.
Furthermore, the WWE’s actions are in fact protecting Ziggler. We all know the long-term effects that multiple concussions can have.
So is there any hope for Ziggler’s future?
Of course there is, but he may need to consider adapting his style. His eccentric approach and commitment to selling mean that he often takes some of the biggest bumps of the night. Toning down his performances could be a necessary step, but at the same time that’s such a vital part of who he is.
Would he be able to maintain his popularity if we stopped seeing those over-the-top moments that we've grown accustomed to?
Who knows, but one thing that's for sure is that if this news is indeed correct, it looks like odds are not in the favor of Dolph Ziggler. Still, given how far he’s come from the days of being in the Spirit Squad, it would take a brave man to bet against Show Off coming up trumps.
So what do you guys think? Is Ziggler ever going to return to the main event scene? Or will the rest of his career be haunted by an unfortunate history of injuries?
Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on this one, as well as any opinions you may have about the issues discussed in the article.