Dolph Ziggler's Long Road to Respect in WWE

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Correspondent IIApril 20, 2013

When Dolph Ziggler cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase on the April 8, 2013 edition of Monday Night Raw, an outpouring of emotion followed.

Ziggler was the new WWE World champion, something that at one time didn't seem likely in any way.

Sure, he had a cup of coffee with the title in February 2011, but does anyone really count that? After all, he dropped the title immediately to Edge.

After pinning Alberto Del Rio on Raw, Ziggler had achieved his biggest moment yet in WWE.

After winning the Money in the Bank ladder match in July 2012, it seemed a formality that Ziggler would hold the title.

But fans started to question it when it seemed like opportunity after opportunity to cash it in passed him by.

On top of that, Ziggler went on a losing streak just before the biggest pay-per-view event of the year, WrestleMania 29.

Instead of being in one of the top matches at the event, Ziggler was placed in a tag team match with Big E Langston in which they challenged Team Hell No for the Tag Team titles.

That seemed more like a match to get three top superstars (Ziggler, Kane, Daniel Bryan) on the card rather than anything WWE was really invested in.

And then that match took place...and Ziggler took the fall.

Just when Ziggler's supporters were starting to lose hope, he took advantage of an injured Del Rio to win the title the night after WrestleMania.

Ziggler wasn't the only one who was filled with emotion following the win. The crowd in New Jersey that night let out an incredible pop, likely due to the fact that Ziggler had finally gotten his due.

While the focus is placed on guys like John Cena, The Rock and CM Punk, Ziggler has been the guy who consistently puts on great performances.

But Ziggler had to earn his keep, starting in 2005.


Kerwin White's Caddy

Though he only made a handful of appearances in this role, it will always be how Ziggler got his start in WWE.

Chavo Guerrero had denounced his heritage and taken up the persona of Kerwin White, an over-the-top character who used the phrase "If it's not white, it's not right."

However, after the unfortunate passing of Chavo's uncle Eddie Guerrero, the character was dropped from television without explanation.

Ziggler, then using his real name, Nick Nemeth, would disappear for several months as well.


Spirit Squad

When Ziggler returned to TV in January 2006, it would be as a male cheerleader known as Nicky.

Part of the five-man Spirit Squad, Nicky never really did anything to separate himself from the group.

Collectively, they were really just an annoying bunch that WWE viewers never took seriously and the group was very short-lived.


Dolph Ziggler Is Born

After returning to WWE's then-developmental facility, Ohio Valley Wrestling, Ziggler returned to Raw in late 2008 and truly worked his way up the ranks.

Ziggler only appeared sparingly on television but picking up wins over Superstars such as MVP and The Great Khali began to give him some momentum.

What really put Ziggler on the map was his on-screen relationship with Vickie Guerrero.

Having already been an Intercontinental champion, Ziggler was able to use Vickie to gain favorable matchups and ascend the ladder in WWE.

Ziggler would go on to have excellent matches with Superstars such as John Morrison and Edge, but his matches with Kofi Kingston are most memorable.

Kingston and Ziggler put on a classic nearly every time they got into the ring, and their series of matches over the years has helped both men become bigger stars.

At WWE Capitol Punishment in June 2011, Ziggler captured the United States title from Kingston.

With all the success he had attained and all the great matches he had put on, Ziggler was seemingly still not on the radar to be one of the company's top stars.

It looked as though WWE was finally ready to make Ziggler a fixture in the main event at TLC in December.

Facing John Cena, Ziggler was given a big assist by none other than AJ Lee, setting up an on-screen romance between the two and making them the WWE's new "power couple."

Ziggler was then given a big man to watch his back in the form of Langston and as 2012 ended, it looked like Ziggler was on the rise.

It didn't take WWE long to erase all of that, as Cena quickly defeated Ziggler to avenge the defeat. While Cena was on his way to winning the 2013 Royal Rumble and another spot in the headline match at WrestleMania, Ziggler was on his way to the midcard, again.

With Cena and The Rock main-eventing the last two WrestleManias, Ziggler has been placed in a tag team match of some sort at the last three.

Perhaps that will change now.

Outside of Cena, WWE doesn't have a bevy of huge Superstars. Now is Ziggler's time to shine.

WWE has finally given him the ball and it is his to run with it.

Ziggler is one of the best athletes and best in-ring workers the company has. There's no reason to believe he can't become a great World champion.


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