Over the past few months, Dolph Ziggler has been one of the many Smackdown wrestlers that had seemingly disappeared from television. Ziggler had been a major part of Smackdown over the past year due to a feud with The Miz and a run as Intercontinental Champion. He was even the person selected to wrestle Shinsuke Nakamura in his Smackdown debut. Despite Ziggler’s reputation being of good performer, this match did not steal the show.
A few weeks ago, Ziggler reappeared after his absence claiming that he was going to debut a new gimmick. In typical WWE fashion his unveiling was delayed a week as a way to get the few people who cared to anticipate further. His promo in which he described what he was going to do left many very confused as he was trying to get too real. Dolph Ziggler voiced his frustrations but it was the same whiny interview everyone has seen him do before.
This was a really good promo for Ziggler as he ran down every gimmick on the roster but he went the wrong way with it. Ziggler decided to embrace the flash when he should have shunned it and acted more serious. The issue with him is that he has been an over the top character for too long. If he were to be a more serious technical wrestler it would be enough of change to really freshen him up.
The direction that Ziggler chose to take is one that has ruined careers in the past. Recently, Ziggler has started coming out and impersonating current and former WWE superstars.
Now that this has become a regular thing Ziggler has been slotted as the comedy guy for Smackdown. Historically there have always been a few people on the roster whose sole purpose is to make people laugh. The fan’s in the arena or at home may not be laughing but there is certainly someone in a suit backstage who is.
The idea of a wrestler imitating other wrestlers has been done many times in the past. Every time this has been done it has been more harmful than helpful to their career.
In 2008, Charlie Haas had an issue. Even though he was a great wrestler and a former multi-time WWE Tag Team Champion Haas was not connecting as a singles wrestler. To freshen him up he was given the copy cat gimmick. Haas would imitate wrestlers such as John Cena, J.B.L., Carlito, Hulk Hogan, and many others. This change in character may have gotten him a small role on Raw but by the next year he was losing on C-level shows like ECW and Superstars. Haas was ultimately released from WWE in early 2010.
The wrestler who is more fondly remembered by fans for his imitations is Damien Sandow. Sandow was in and out of the WWE developmental system before finally gaining relevance after his debut in 2012. His greater than thou intellectual character helped him have success and he won the Money in the Bank contract in 2013. Sandow would join a small group of people to unsuccessfully cash in the contract and win a championship. His career went downward from there.
Thankfully his career changed in April of 2014, when he dressed as Magneto the night Hugh Jackman was a guest host on Raw. After that moment, Sandow would go on to impersonate many different characters such as Paul Revere, Abraham Lincoln, Vince McMahon, and Bret Hart. The impersonation that was the most popular was his portrayal of The Miz. After on appearance as Damien Mizdow he became known as Miz’s stunt double to go along with his new Hollywood gimmick. These two were an extremely entertaining duo and would go on to win the WWE Tag Team Championships.
As with every comedy based gimmick it can not last forever. Miz and Mizdow broke up after Wrestlemania 31 when the Mizdow threw Miz out a battle royal. After the split, Sandow started teaming with Curtis Axel, doing a Hulk Hogan tribute gimmick, and now became Macho Mandow, a Randy Savage character. Shortly after this pairing formed Sandow was released from WWE.
Now after a nearly a decade in WWE Dolph Ziggler has been given a historically doomed gimmick. Ziggler has proven to be a great wrestler but there has been many different waves of new wrestlers that have passed him by. Despite the numerous reigns as Intercontinental and Untied States Champion Ziggler is in at a critical part of his career. There are very few spots on the Smackdown roster given they only have two hours of television every week.
The one thing that Ziggler has working in his favor is that WWE has not done major roster cuts in a very long time. A decade ago it was not out of the ordinary to see roughly a dozen wrestlers all get cut at once. Now that the WWE has a brand split there is also a greater need for talent, even if many do not always get featured. If Ziggler where to be on the chopping block there at least a handful people who should be released before him.
While Ziggler is only a few weeks into his new gimmick it does not seem to be helping. He may be talented but this gimmick has a cursed past that may ruin Ziggler’s career.