Dolph Ziggler

First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with family and friends. I am finishing up my series on my all time favorite wrestlers. In late September I started my first blog about my first favorite wrestler Brian Pillman. After Pillman, it was Lex Luger, Ultimate Warrior, Crush, The Rock and Edge. Now that brings me to my current favorite wrestler, Dolph Ziggler.

Ziggler first came to WWE as a caddy for Kerwin White aka Chavo Guerrero. He then resurfaced as a member of the Spirit Squad. After the run with the Spirit Squad he went back to developmental and was repackaged. I want to say it was a round 2007, 2008 when he showed up as Dolph Ziggler.

I can vividly remember when he first came to WWE as Ziggler he would walk around introducing himself. “I’m Dolph Ziggler”. I want to say he picked up his first win against Batista via count out. A win is a win, and a win over Batista in one of his first matches is quite impressive.

When he started I immediately liked his in ring style. His offense was good, but it was the selling he did that I thought was very Shawn Michaels like, and I loved that. Nobody was selling like he was and it started to get noticed. His character was always the sleaze ball, better than you, ladies man type. The best way to describe his character is a mixture of Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Rick Rude.

He made a great heel and when Edge was no longer the “love interest” of Vickie Guerrero, Dolph Ziggler was next. Vickie help catapult Ziggler into the main event picture. He was becoming one of the best heels in the business. Then something happened. He started gaining and earning respect from the fans.

April of 2011 my favorite wrestler at the time was Edge. He was forced to retire due to injury, and even though I was sad to see Edge go, I knew Ziggler was the wrestler I would be rooting for next. And once I started rooting for Ziggler, I noticed I wasn’t the only one. By late 2012 early 2013, I would say he was getting more cheers than boos on a regular basis.

Then, in 2013 the night after Wrestlemania, something amazing happened. It was one of the most memorable moments in WWE history. Dolph Ziggler had won Money in the Bank the year prior and cashed in on Alberto Del Rio. When he won the title that night, that was the loudest I have ever heard the WWE universe.

From that night on Ziggler went on to begin a baby face turn. The next pay per view he put his newly won World title on the line against Del Rio in a rematch and then the turn was official. It was a double turn that night as Alberto who as supposed to be a fan favorite, beat Ziggler in ruthless fashion. Using short cuts and cheap shots, Del Rio was able to regain the World title.

The next night Monday night RAW was in Grand Rapids, Michigan and yours truly was in attendance that night. Del Rio started the show and immediately turned on the fans. Ziggler would come out towards the end of the night and attack Del Rio. Ziggler was on his way to becoming one of the most popular guys on the roster.

A little side note about RAW from Grand Rapids that night. That was the night. Mark Henry gave his infamous fake retirement speech. I can tell you first hand, that man had everyone in that arena fooled that night. If someone tells you that they knew it was a rouse, they’re lying to you.

Back to Ziggler who is now a good guy and embracing his new role. He went on to have some feuds with some of the top heels, but was starting to lose… a lot. So much so that it was becoming predictable. Although Ziggler could have you interested in any match he was having, you knew he was going to lose.

For what seemed like years, he was putting anybody and everybody over. New guys from NXT, old vets and even jobbers who Ziggler should have easily beat we’re getting victories over him. You could see Ziggler was starting to get frustrated and I think he was close to leaving WWE on a couple of occasions.

It wasn’t until the brand split that Ziggler got somewhat of a reboot. He started to win matches and even went on to wrestle Dean Ambrose for the WWE title at Summerslam 2016. But it was a feud later that year with The Miz that really helped Ziggler get over the losing slump he had been on.

Ziggler and Miz had a several pay per view rivalry and it was also during the feud that Ziggler gave one of, if not the best promo of his career. Ziggler had multiple chances to win the intercontinental championship from The Miz and was unsuccessful. It was a Smackdown from Cleveland, Ohio when Ziggler asked for one more chance at the title. He said if he didn’t win he would leave WWE. Ziggler was emotional that night and you could tell the guy legitimately loves wrestling. I believe the promo he gave that night was from his heart. The career on the line angle was storyline, but the words he used that night had to be his own.

Ziggler went on to win the title and save his career at Backlash, only to lose the title back to The Miz a few weeks later. Ziggler started losing on a regular basis again. This led to a frustrating heel turn. He would spend most of 2017 as an irrelevant heel until the end of that year.

Ziggler was placed in a United States Championship match at TLC that year and won the title. The following Smackdown he came to the ring to celebrate and in a shocking move, relinquished the title and walked out of WWE. I think there was some serious thoughts of leaving WWE at this point.

No one had heard anything from Ziggler until he was the 30th entrant in the 2018 Royal Rumble. Although he didn’t stay in the match long, I was relieved that he was back. I would later learn that he signed a multi year, multi million dollar deal with the WWE.

2018 has been one of the best years in Ziggler’s career. He left Smackdown for RAW and aligned himself with Drew McIntyre and has been in the main event picture all most all year long. He had an amazing rivalry with Seth Rollins over the summer. The two of them put on some classic matches including an iron man match.

He also won the RAW tag team championship with Drew McIntyre and has had some of the best matches of his career. Earlier this month he was in the World Cup tournament and should have won it, but Shane McMahon foiled those plans. Still he picked up wins against hall of famer Kurt Angle and Seth Rollins in the same night.

I feel like Ziggler is entering a cool down phase of his career very soon. It will be within the next few months that he and McIntyre are split. I would be ok to see Ziggler do one more face run before he calls it a day in wrestling. I think he could incorporate his comedy into his character and be a huge fan favorite again.

I will always be a fan of Ziggler the wrestler. But he is growing on me as a comedian too. I love that he is an Ohio guy and that he in some fashion pays homage to his hometown of Cleveland. Here’s hoping we get several more years of Ziggler in the WWE.

I hope you have enjoyed the favorite wrestler series. All seven wrestlers on this list have impacted me in some way. Thanks for checking out gohomepwb.com and be sure to check us out on Wednesday for the weekly top ten.

Edge

Last Friday I talked about The Rock. Number six of eight in my favorite wrestler series. As I inch closer to my current favorite wrestler, today I write about number seven. The Rated R Superstar Edge.

Just a quick recap, my favorite wrestlers in chronological order are Brian Pillman, Lex Luger, Ultimate Warrior, Crush and The Rock. The Rock may be my all time favorite, but it’s Edge who was my first favorite as an adult. The Rock was my favorite from 1998 to about 2003. It was probably 2005, when I started rooting for Edge. John Cena was the new Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold of the WWE, but I have never really been a big fan of the “mega baby face”.

I can remember Edge’s first match way back in 1998 against Savio Vega and if I remember correctly Savio broke his neck in that match. Edge portrayed a mysterious vampire like character when he first came to WWE. He was in The Brood faction with Christian and Gangrel and that was the first of many great entrance themes for Edge.

After The Brood he found success as a tag team wrestler with Christian. Edge and Christian had great chemistry as they had been friends since grade school. They dropped the vampire stuff and started more of a comedy type team. Still heels, they started doing a “five second pose, for the benefit of those with flash photography.” I thought it was hilarious and so did a lot of WWE fans.

Along with The Dudley’s and The Hardy Boyz, Edge and Christian went on to make history in several ladder matches. The three teams have had some of the most memorable matches in WWE history with the TLC tag matches. These matches were brutal and if you haven’t watched them yet, check it out on the WWE network.

After his tag team run with Christian, he had a singles run as a baby face and won the King of the Ring. He was able to capture the intercontinental title and the U.S. title. He then suffered a serious neck injury and had to leave for nearly a year. Upon his return, he noticed he was getting booed as a baby face. And so, he turned heel and The Rated R Superstar was created.

In 2005 the WWE was transitioning from a risqué attitude era product to a more family friendly PG product. However, Edge was the exception. He was able to be rated R on PG rated show. As for me, now an adult and a product of the attitude era, I did not want the PG stuff. So with Edge being the guy to go against the grain it caught my eye and I started rooting for him.

Edge, Matt Hardy and Lita had a very personal issue in real life play out on RAW. Lita and Matt Hardy were an item, but Edge and Lita began a relationship behind Hardy’s back. This set up an incredible rivalry between the two. And let me just say, Lita with Edge was great. Lita added so much to the Rated R character. She was with Edge when he won his first WWE championship. After he won, the next night he and Lita had a live sex scene on Monday night RAW. All adding to the Rated R persona.

Edge spent many years play a sleazy scum bag heel that would take the low road to get what he wanted. And although he was a great heel, he was my favorite wrestler. For me it was his character, look, Lita and his entrance music. Metallingus by Alter Bridge is by far the best entrance music in history. Edge’s entrance was one of the best, if not THE best.

Unfortunately, Edge has had as many injuries as he had titles. I think he wrestled through most of them, but it was only a matter of time before all those bumps in the TLC matches caught up with him. He won the 2010 Royal Rumble and was starting to earn the respect of the WWE universe. He spent the next year as a baby face and had his last match at Wrestlemania in 2011.

I remember the Monday night RAW when he came out to the ring and told everyone he had to retire due to his neck injury. I was bummed that I wasn’t going to see him wrestle anymore. It was a relatively short career in the grand scheme of things, but what a career it was. I have his farewell shirt and on the back it says “done it all, won it all!” There is no denying Edge is one of the most decorated wrestlers in WWE history. He has won every title, a king of the ring and a royal rumble. And in 2012 he was inducted into the WWE hall of fame.

Edge still makes appearances on WWE television every now and then. Usually hosting the Cutting Edge, a Pipers Pit like talk show on Smackdown or RAW. I remember he always had long hair and he cut it all off shortly after retiring. I hated it, because I always thought he looked so cool. He is the inspiration behind the long hair that I sport today. Anytime I play WWE 2k games and create my wrestler, I always pick an Edge type look and his entrance music.

If I had been able to be a pro wrestler, I would have chosen a look very similar to Edge. He will always be one of my favorites, and he’s a very very close second to The Rock for my all time favorite.

The next wrestler on my favorites list is my current favorite and has been since Edge retired in 2011. It will probably be next week before I get to it, but if you followed this blog, you probably have a pretty good idea who it is.

I am only writing three days a week for a while. On Wednesday I will have my RAW and Smackdown top ten. On Friday I will have my Take Over and Survivor Series predictions. I hope you enjoyed the read today and as always thanks for checking out gohomepwb.com

The Rock

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Welcome back to the my favorite wrestler series.  After taking a few weeks off due to all the pay per views, I was waiting for a slow week to resume the series.  As you may or may not know for the past month or so I have been talking about my favorite wrestlers in chronological order.  It started with Brian Pillman, then Lex Luger, Ultimate Warrior, Crush and now, probably my all time favorite, The Rock.

It was probably late 1997 or 1998 I started taking notice of The Rock.  Not Rocky Miavia, but The Rock.  I, like just about everyone else, was not a fan of the Rocky Miavia character.  I would say by Summer of ’98 I was fully invested with The Rock as my favorite.

In 1998 I was sixteen years old, and was back into wrestling for about a year at this point.  All my previous wrestlers were not cool to me anymore, except for Pillman but he had passed away in October of ’97.  Stone Cold Steve Austin was all the talk in WWF at the time, and although I thought he was cool, he was no Rock in my opinion.  You were supposed to cheer for Stone Cold, but you weren’t supposed to cheer for The Rock.  And I think that is why I liked him more.  He was a cool bad guy, the first cool bad guy since Ric Flair.  Yes, there was the N.W.O. but by ’98 I was over it.

If memory serves me correct, The Rock lost an intercontinental title ladder match to Triple H, and then started a brief baby face run.  I also started my junior year of high school that fall and I was acting a lot like The Rock.  Calling myself the people’s champ and raising my eyebrow.  But, at the 1998 Survivor Series, The Rock turned heel again.  Calling himself the corporate champion, instead of the people’s champion.  That did not stop me from rooting for The Rock.  I liked him before his brief good guy run, and I wasn’t going to quit rooting for him.

The 1999 Royal Rumble was probably the closest I came to not liking him.  His “I Quit” match with Mankind was absolutely brutal.  I believe Mankind took well over a dozen chair shots to the head that night.  More than a violent scene, but a great match.  Mankind took so many hard bumps that night, including one where he fell off a balcony and onto some electric wires that cut the lights to the arena and caused sparks to fly everywhere.  An incredible scene and I think it really added to the match.  The Rock won that night when a recording of Mankind saying “I Quit” played as he lay on the entrance ramp unconscious.

At the end of WrestleMania 15 in 1999, the Rock was starting to turn baby face again.  Once he did he never looked back.  He was a good guy for the next four years.  He went on to star in movies, write books and host shows like Saturday night live.  Most everyone in the world has heard of The Rock by now.

In wrestling he went on to become a multi time world champion.  He had so many great lines and promo’s during his baby face run.  His matches were great too.  He would stand over a lying opponent and look at the crowd, pull his elbow pad off, hit the ropes and drop the most electrifying move in sports entertainment, the people’s elbow.  He received reactions like I have never heard before.  I remember one of the funniest segments on RAW was in the fall of 1999 with the “this is your life” skit with him and Mankind.  Mankind brought back “significant” figures from his past.  YouTube it and watch it, it is worth your time.

The Rock left wrestling in late 2002 and would only be back on a part-time basis.  He came back around Wrestlemania in 2003, this time as a heel.  It was nice to see him play the bad guy one more time.  He went on to beat Stone Cold at Wrestlemania that year which ended up being Stone Cold’s last match.  The Rock would only appear sparingly in WWE over the next few years, before leaving for several years.  He eventually returned to take on John Cena at a couple of Wrestlemania’s and even won the world title one more time.  The Rock is rarely involved in WWE anymore, but he is quite the ambassador for the company.

Ryan Kessell aka The Rock

For Christmas in ’98 all I asked for were clothes like The Rock.  I cut my hair as close as I could to his and if I could have grown sideburns at the time, I would have sported those as well.  I was obsessed with everything The Rock.  My friends at school would call me The Rock, as well as some of my teachers and coaches.  I worked for a grocery store and even my associates and a few supervisors would call me The Rock, and I loved it.  I would walk like the Rock, talk like him, dress like him and act like him.  This went on well through my senior year in high school. When I would pull in the parking lot at school I would turn my c.d. player to the Rock’s entrance music as if it were my own entrance music for school.  I would walk through the hallway’s and get small chants of “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky.”  Or a lot of the time it would be “Rocky sucks, Rocky Sucks.”  Either way I would give a flex of the eyebrow and tell them to “know their role and shut their mouth!”

I can remember specifically my senior year speech class, was an opportunity for me to talk about wrestling.  I was never more comfortable speaking in front of people than I was that day.  I was able to get some great Rock quotes and ask for volunteers, or victims, now that I look back on it.  I would ask people for help and then I would ask “what is your name?” Of course when they started to talk, I would cut them off yelling “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME IS!” It always gets a reaction. I still, nearly twenty years later, use that line on my kids.

My career aspirations at that time was of course, to be a pro wrestler. I had the drive, I had the knowledge, I knew more about ring psychology than I should have, for never being in a ring. But I studied wrestling, I mean really studied wrestling. There was absolutely nothing else I wanted to do. The problem was, I was 145 pounds soak and wet. I had a baby face and would not be taken seriously as a wrestler. So, I went to college and dropped out, then eventually started dating a woman who would become my wife. So, time to get a real job and give up on those hopes and dreams of being a pro wrestler. And that’s exactly what I did. You start buying cars and houses, then kids come along and you realize the dream you had as a kid is just that… a dream. Your priorities change, your responsibilities change and what was once you love and passion, is now just a hobby.

It’s kind of sad when you think about it. To love something so much, only to put it on the back burner for fifteen years. Thank God for my kids. I have been blessed with two great kids, who love their daddy. And they watch my every move. They say what I say, do what I do, act like I act. My son wants to grow his hair out like mine and beat up his stuffed animals much like I did as a kid. My daughter and I have been to several WWE events and though she is a teenager now and doesn’t care about anything, I like to think she will look back fondly on those trips with her dad. For probably the past five years my kids and I have an annual Kessellmania match. We put on a match either in our living room or on the trampoline in the back yard. This is quite a production, and the kids and I look forward to it, even more than Wrestlemania itself now.

I may have given up on my dream of being a pro wrestler, but I hope I never take for granted the blessing of my wife and kids.

This could have probably been a completely separate read. It sounds crazy, but in a small way, The Rock helped shape me into the person I am today. I can’t go to a high school reunion without raising my eyebrow. I look back on those years with a smile and wouldn’t have changed a thing.

I was able to dig up some footage of me as a teenager acting like The Rock. I actually forgot, but I walked across the stage at my high school graduation and gave one last people’s eyebrow. A fun way to put a period on that chapter of my life.

Enjoy the videos and thanks for reading. On Monday I will jump right back into my favorite wrestler series. As I discuss my sixth favorite wrestler.

Crush

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Continuing my week to week favorite wrestler blog, next on the list is Crush!  So far my favorite wrestlers have gone as follows: Brian Pillman, Lex Luger, Ultimate Warrior and now I am to Crush.  It was 1992 and 1993 when I was in the fifth grade and I thought Crush was the coolest wrestler on the roster.  He was incredibly strong, had a sweet mullet, had colors that no one else was wearing and his entrance music was awesome.  I thought it was so cool that he was billed from Kona Coast, Hawaii.  I was so enamored with Crush, that I insisted that I be referred to as Crush.  My fifth grade teacher allowed me to be called Crush in her class room, and I along with a lot of my classmates thought it was cool that I was being called Crush.  It allowed me to come out of my shell a little bit, as I was a shy awkward kid with glasses and pretty much the only kid that liked pro wrestling.  Being referred to by a wrestlers name would happen to me again in my High School years, which I will get to next week when I talk about my fifth favorite wrestler.

Crush was a lower mid card wrestler at best at the time, but I was really a big fan of the guy.  He had a few opportunities at the intercontinental title, but was unsuccessful.  His greatest rivalry was with Doink the Clown, which kind of tells you how well he did as a baby face.  He originally started as a third member of Demolition, with Ax and Smash.  When Demolition left or retired, that is when he became the Orange, yellow and purple wearing Crush.  About a year of this character and a lackluster run, WWE decided to turn him heel.  He was much better and more successful as a heel, but I didn’t like the character.  Which means he was good at his job.  Crush as a heel, went on to have a great feud with Randy Savage.  That was probably the most successful he would be in his career.

It was probably 1996-97 and WWE at the time was big on factions.  They had The Nation of Domination, Los Boricuas and the Disciples of Apocalypse, a biker gang which he was a part of.  The three factions battled for the better part of a year, before Crush left the WWE in late 1997.  Some have speculated he left in protest to the Montreal screw-job.

In 1998, now going by his real name Brian Adams, he jump to WCW and joined the nWo.  He was a staple in the nWo faction for a good year, but was not used in any high card matches.  I believe he wrestled Goldberg for the World championship once, but obviously didn’t win and the match was forgettable.  After his nWo stint he was The Demon and I think Kronik, but truthfully I wasn’t really watching WCW at that time.

My fondest memories of Crush will always be the Kona Crush character.  After that I really didn’t follow his career much, but for that year when I was in the fifth grade, Crush was all I talked about.

Unfortunately Crush passed away in August of 2007 from an accidental drug overdose.  He was only fourty-three years old at the time, but his wrestling career was over.  He had moved on to boxing, but never really had much of a career at it.  He left the wrestling business quietly and you didn’t hear much from him after WCW was purchased by WWE.

Although he was number four on my favorite wrestler list, he had the shortest tenure as one of my favorite wrestlers.  After he turned heel and after his feud with Randy Savage, I took a couple of years break from watching wrestling, and focused on sports.  I became a big fan of the NFL and the San Francisco 49ers.  That took over my fandom for a couple years until probably 1996, when I started watching wrestling again.  That’s when I took notice of a wrestler who became my fifth and all time favorite.  A lot to talk about with this next wrestler and I will dive into that next week.

Quick read today, but I wanted to get to Crush.  An important figure in my wrestling fandom and my childhood.  Have a great weekend and as always thanks for checking out gohomepwb.com.