The upcoming WWE 2K14’s lineup will have the legends of yesterday and the hottest superstars of today.
When naming some of the company’s brightest young talent, Dolph Ziggler has to be among those at the top of the list.
The man billed from Hollywood, Florida is excited about the latest WWE video game “30 Years of WrestleMania,” released in North America on Oct. 29.
“The ability to have these matches that you could never have in real life is so cool,” Ziggler said. “Speaking of real life, this game looks so real it’s unreal. I’ve seen myself in a game before, and thought, ‘It’s cool. It’s kind of like me.’ This game had the cuts in my T-shirt on the side and the little wiggle when I walk out. It’s unreal. If you are looking far enough away, it looks like you are watching Monday Night Raw. So that is how cool this game is and how realistic it is.”
Ziggler likes the “30 Years of WrestleMania” single-player mode because it can create dream matches he would have loved to wrestle.
“The fact that I can get in there with a guy who may be retired like Ric Flair or someone like Shawn [Michaels], and we could go toe-to-toe is pretty awesome,” Ziggler said. “People who aren’t even with us anymore, legends like Macho Man [Randy Savage], who I never got to step in the ring with. There is a chance to do that, which brings all the ages together.”
Prior to getting signed by the company, the Ohio native excelled in collegiate wrestling and academics at Kent State University. During his collegiate career, he set the school record for most career wins. However, the lifelong WWE fan wanted to make it in sports entertainment and become a superstar like the ones he idolized on television. He did just that, with his first appearance in a WWE video game, adding to a dream come true.
“I was like, ‘Wow, am I that shredded?’” Ziggler smiled, describing the first time he saw himself in video game form.
“There are a few milestones you get: Getting hired by WWE, making it to the main roster, getting an action figure, being in the video game and main eventing WrestleMania. That’s one of those crazy goals that even though I wanted to do this and knew I was going to do this, you don’t know if it will ever happen.
“Every time someone goes, ‘Hey, we should make this action figure.’ Holy cow, this is me. I didn’t make this in some basement and paid some guy. This is real. To have that is unreal.”
Ziggler’s rollercoaster through WWE has been well-documented. From being a part of the Spirit Squad to a caddy for Kerwin White [Chavo Guerrero Jr.] to winning a Money in the Bank match and becoming world champion, the “Show-off” no doubt had ups and downs. However, Ziggler uses the low points and pitfalls as motivation to be the best and ready himself for his next big time to shine.
“If I came to WWE, and they said, ‘We are going to make you our franchise guy. We are going to make you a 10-time champion when you walk in the door.’ I would have been like, ‘Holy cow!’ The ride so far, to know that I have scratched and clawed for every inch that I’ve gotten and then some, and then kicked down the staircase for sometimes no reason, it makes that chip on my shoulder that much bigger.
“To go out there, not to prove it to myself or WWE, it would be to prove it to the fans, because when they get behind someone they know is good, they know someday he will come out on top.”
Ziggler is grateful to be in WWE during a time where the young guns are changing the landscape and getting the spotlight. It’s become more about ring work and how you can get a reaction from the audience than just size.
“It’s great for people like me and Daniel Bryan, who 15 years ago never would have had a chance to carry a ring jacket in this company,” Ziggler said. “To know that we got that chance and became these performers is just awesome.
“It’s different now. The athletic and younger guys are getting a chance, but we have this younger talent. We don’t have a Ric Flair or a Mick Foley or a Stone Cold Steve Austin in that locker room full time to be with us passing down the stories and emotions and ways to read crowds and passing on this information.
“We only have a few guys who have been around since the ‘Attitude Era.’ Triple H has been around sometimes, but now he is more corporate. We have so few legends full-time with us to pick their brains and learn from them. So it’s a learning experience when you have two guys out there who have been in the business for five to seven years. That’s the down part, but the cool part is guys like me get a chance.
“When we go out there, I feel like Daniel Bryan or myself can grab the ball. We get a chance to prove ourselves not just in 30 second things, but they say, ‘You have 20 minutes. We trust you with this. Go kill him.’”
Ziggler has grown as a performer and on the microphone in recent years. The WWE Universe really first saw his potential in expressing and showing more of himself on Zack Ryder’s YouTube show “Z! True Long Island Story.” From there, fans saw him speak more rather than having a Vickie Guerrero do the talking for him.
“I would attribute my success to doing my own thing and not always listening to everybody else,” Ziggler said. “My life I’ve been known as a charismatic person who is a great talker who has fun and could cross over to movies, TV, you name it. Sometimes there is that lost connection at work where I go out there saying, ‘I’m a show-off.’
“I’m a show-off, and that is the end of my sentence? Sometimes I tend to do my own thing, and sometimes you get punished for that. So you take the good with the bad. You fight your little battles and find out where you can pick and choose where you can make this Dolph Ziggler myself. When I can do that, it’s the point where you get that connection with the audience.”
After being paired with Guerrero or AJ Lee, the dedicated superstar is finally on his own to sink or swim.
“The focus is on me,” Ziggler said. “I enjoyed working with Vickie Guerrero because of the crazy reactions she got. I enjoyed working with AJ because of the awesome crowd reactions she got. Whether they are cheering or booing, they will cheer her because they know she is this awesome character. The fact that I’m doing my own thing should lead to that tie-in to that microphone time where I do get to do my own thing.”
During whatever free moments he gets outside of WWE, Ziggler is honing his skills in stand-up comedy. Following in the footsteps of others like Mick Foley, he hopes to improve each time he takes the stage.
“I’m just getting started,” Ziggler said. “I’ve only done a couple of gigs. We don’t have a lot of time off, but when we do I do about one weekend off a month out [in Los Angeles]. You know what I really want? I want to do one of my shows and have the boss go, ‘Oh, he is really good at talking. Maybe we should give him a microphone.’ Also, as much as I’ve studied WWE since I was 5-years-old, I wanted to be on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ I enjoy entertainment. I take all those aspects of awesome comedians and entertainers and wonder why they got a reaction that they did and apply it to WWE. So it’s a win-win situation.”
WWE 2K14 will be available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on Oct. 29. Visit http://wwe.2k.com/ for updates leading up to the game launch.
• Follow Ziggler on Twitter @HeelZiggler.
• WWE Night of Champions
Randy Orton defends the WWE championship against Daniel Bryan 8 p.m. EST Sunday, Sept., 15 at the WWE Night of Champions pay-per-view. Rob Van Dam with Ricardo Rodriguez challenges Alberto Del Rio for the World heavyweight championship. CM Punk faces Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman in a handicap match. AJ Lee defends the diva’s gold against Natalya, Brie Bella and Naomi. Visit www.wwe.com for information.
• WWE PPV in Miami
Tickets are now on sale to see the superstars like Ziggler live at WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view Sunday, Oct. 27 from the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Tickets are available at the box office and ticketmaster.com or charge by phone by calling 1-800-745-3000.
• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN, http://twitter.com/#!/smFISHMAN, where I post links and information. Opinions expressed reflect no other entity. I can also be found tweeting incessantly during wrestling shows weekly.