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Dolph Ziggler on tough times in the WWE: “I thought, ‘Well, the checks keep coming.’ They never missed one check, so I appreciate that.”

NXT champion Dolph Ziggler sat down with Corey Graves on this week’s “After The Bell” to discuss winning the title, Brok Breakker, and the difference between NXT and OVW.

Ziggler talking about his move to NXT and becoming champion:

“Everyone’s asked me like, ‘Hey, what is this? How do you feel? Were you surprised?’ I go, ‘I came here to scout talent, and two weeks later, I’m the friggin NXT champion.’ That wasn’t in the cards. That wasn’t even a thought process. I’m constantly working. I’m never out sick. But I felt stale,” Dolph shared.

“Roode and I are really good at what we do, and it didn’t seem like we’re doing anything that important right now. It’s, ‘What have you done for me lately’, and at the moment, we’re not crushing it. It didn’t seem like we’re gonna have a match at WrestleMania unless we made something happen. Then we saw an opening and said, ‘Hey, let’s try this out. Let’s go see NXT.’ Half the time, anybody who shows up from NXT, they have their first match with me anyway. Now, I’m gonna cut out the middleman and go down to NXT and start wrestling there. But I really came to scout talent and see if a few people had some up and coming things that I could possibly work with that aligned, and I got thrown right into the mix.”

Ziggler describing Bron Breakker:

“I’m very happy to be in this moment with Breakker who’s got 20 matches under his belt, but somehow can go. He has this insane speed and power. I’ve been speared by Goldberg, and I’m like, this guy has knocked the wind out of me and put me down. I’m like, good God, this kid hits harder. I’m not even not even making that up. Like that spear put me down.”

“I was happy to be able to kick out and keep moving. But I go, holy crap. He’s got that prime in their career linebacker closing speed for everything, not just for this spear, but for every movement. When he figures out how to hone that in a year or two or three, he’s going to be someone who’s kind of unstoppable.”

Ziggler describing the difference of what he sees in NXT compared to when he broke in WWE with OVW:

“This facility, ridiculous. It is an Olympic training facility for up and coming developmental talent. It’s unreal. The chance that you have Shawn Michaels walking around backstage helping you figure out how to wrestle. Are you kidding me? I’m hanging out with Luciano Pavarotti talking about singing. It’s ridiculous, and there’s 75 others that are here that have done everything that you can imagine in the business, and they’re just walking around. Fit Finlay is here, Norman Smiley is here, and I want to ask them so many questions. That part is amazing, unstoppable, and unreal. That blows my mind.”

“I appreciate the kind of upbringing that I had to where it was, you’re on your own. I wasn’t in independent wrestling. I didn’t know many independent wrestlers. I went to Cleveland All Pro shows and watched them, but I wasn’t friends with anybody. I didn’t know anyone in the business,” Ziggler continued.

“When I got here, I came not from the independents and not from having a cool tryout. I was from college wrestling. I wrestled my whole life and I was a fan. I had a tryout with Lashley right after I wrestled 165 for Kent State. I’m standing next to Bobby Lashley. Who do you think WWE will pick to be their guy? So I was like, man, this sucks.”

“But I had another chance to come back. When I made it, I still knew Lashley. I had his number from our tryout. That’s it. I didn’t know anybody. I came in. I didn’t know you were supposed to shake everyone’s hand. I didn’t know people who are giving you advice, a lot of it is to screw with you so they can have your spot and you’re like, ‘Whoa, okay, no one told me that’, I wouldn’t know. I was just there to learn. There’s just so many aspects of that.”

“But it also made me DTA. Don’t trust anybody, watch your back, be ready for anything, and just know that you probably won’t have a friend backstage or someone in a meeting rooting for you or trying to help you. You’re on your own.”

“So in that aspect, I was very much like this lone wolf for seven, eight years, because I didn’t know who to trust. I didn’t know what to do. I just knew that if we had practice three or four days a week, I was going to go twice a day and try and get two years of experience in three months non stop just so I could catch up because I didn’t know any of the ins and outs, let alone trying to fall down when someone punches you in the face and not breaking your own neck and stuff.”

Ziggler was asked how he’s maintained a level head all these years in WWE:

“It’s not even, ‘You don’t always get to do what you want to do.’ It’s, ‘You rarely get to do what you want to do.’ You might be a champion one day, and then the next day, you’re not on the show. You go, ‘What did I do?’ It’s show business. What have you done for me lately? One day you’re hot, one day you’re not. ‘I got these ideas, everybody’s reacting to me in the crowd? Why am I not on the show?’ and you will drive yourself mad because sometimes it’s not personal.”

“It’s like, ‘We need to get this Roman-Brock story on. This is the part, and we need you to do this, this, and this, and you’re gonna have to sacrifice a few other pieces.’ A lot of times, two thirds of the roster is being sacrificed. and you go, ‘That’s going to be you no matter whether you’re new or old.’ But when you get a high once in a while, it almost makes it worthwhile because you trucked along, and two years went by, or a year went by, and you didn’t even get a win anywhere. You’re like, ‘What am I still doing here’, and I thought, ‘Well, the checks keep coming.’ They never missed one check, so I appreciate that.”

If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit After The Bell with Corey Graves with a h/t to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription


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