Donald Wood: You will be fighting for the Intercontinental Championship in a Ladder match at WrestleMania 31. Through your first five years wrestling at the WWE’s premier event, you hold a 1-4 record. How have you prepared differently for this match and how much confidence do you have that you’ll walk out of WrestleMania with the IC Title?
Dolph Ziggler: I have a one and four record? What match did I win?
RRR: Was it Team Johnny? Yea I am pretty sure it was Team Johnny.
Dolph Ziggler: Oh that counts as me winning?
RRR: Yea that was a huge victory, what are you talking about (laughing)?
Dolph Ziggler: I’m so proud of that team effort of all those guys I was on a team with. Here’s the deal, ladder matches are crazy the Intercontinental title is starting to barely mean something again, not just to me, but the fans. I’ll say what I always say going into WrestleMania: You’re going to see Sting, you’re going to see Brock Lesnar, you’re going to see John Cena, so my goal and the chip on my shoulders goal is to have you talking about my match the next day. I promise you, there are so many hungry guys in there who want to prove to everyone just how damn good they really are. It’s going to be hard for me to keep up but trust me I will.
Mike Chiari: The IC title obviously has a storied history in WWE, but one of the big complaints among fans is that it isn’t necessarily prioritized now like it might have been in the past. If and when you win the title at WrestleMania what do you feel needs to be done on your end and from a company-wide perspective to restore some of that prestige?
Dolph Ziggler: Well to restore prestige, you’d have to do something similar to what I did a couple of months ago. I finally beat Miz for the title, and then constantly, the Authority wanted to take it off me. So it became that much more exciting because every Monday, every Thursday, every weekend, every pay-per-view I was defending that title. They were trying to stick it to me, and you didn’t know if I was going to win it or if I was going to lose it because the odds were stacked against me. Or you thought that whether they are trying to take it off him or not, it’s constantly being defended and I think that was the right track in starting it to get seen as the workhorse title that gets put on the line all the time. Brock Lesnar is not always around, this could be the up and coming title, and for a couple of months I defended that thing twenty times and that’s the absolute way to get that title more prestigious. It’s obviously on the back burner right now, there’s other stories going on, it’s not the top story right now and I’m not going to pretend it is. My goal is when I’m given an inch I try to take a mile. So when I had that title I was always wanting to defend it, tell Triple H to call whoever he wants, have him at ringside, because the more I defended it, it slowly began to gain prestige as a title that wasn’t just a workhorse title, but a title that was going to be defended sometimes and that’s what needs to happen.
Brandon Galvin: You pride yourself on being the showoff, the wrestler nobody can outperform in the ring. Who is the consensus measuring stick in the WWE now, and all-time?
Dolph Ziggler: Oh wow, I don’t know, my opinion all time would be Shawn Michaels. Measuring stick now? I mean, it depends, and do you have to be in the main event scene? Do you have to be one of the handpicked guys to talk every week, or can you be one of those guys that goes out every week whether it’s for two seconds or two minutes or twenty minutes or thirty minutes, walks to the back, and says to all the producers and talent in the back “follow that”. If that is the case then it’s me.
Donald Wood: You are a two-time world heavyweight champion, but many fans believe you have the drawing power to return to the top of the mountain. I know you’re fighting for the IC title at WrestleMania, and that’s where your focus is now, but where does winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship sit on your priority list and do you believe you’ll reach that level again?
Dolph Ziggler: I’d like to think so, but also it all depends. Obviously I have to set my sights on the Intercontinental title right now, as I do I focus on that going into WrestleMania. Even if I wasn’t focused on that title, I would have to be because I am in no position on the card to say I am next in line for the World Heavyweight title. I am not dumb enough to think I am. Here’s the deal though, I can be, I have been, and I will be again one way or another. Whether I get that chance, that is out of my hands. It is in the hands of the WWE Universe, the hands of Vince McMahon, the hands of the Authority, and however you want to view that it’s in their hands. Can I pry it out of their hands? Yes. I’ve done it in the past when I wasn’t supposed to. There’s been a lot of guys who weren’t supposed to be champs that actually were. I will have the drive like I have had every single day since day one to be there and be the best. If I have to prove myself without that title, I’ll continue to do that until I get the chance to get that title.
Mike Chiari: There was a lot of talk about you potentially having a singles match against Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania. You guys had a little back-and-forth going on Twitter and it seemed like a lot of fans were really excited about the possibility of it. Why do you think that ultimately didn’t materialize, and also how do you think it might have played out in terms of the build and the match itself?
Dolph Ziggler: I randomly suggested it. I was pissed at my Royal Rumble match, I was pissed. I felt bad about Daniel Bryan with the entire World behind him and getting shot out after a couple of minutes. So I thought I have this chip on my shoulder, he’s got a chip on his shoulder, why the hell don’t we show people who the real main event match should be? If you want to pretend that there is no story, what are you kidding me? This guy went from nothing to being the biggest chanted name in this business; he changed history in the main event of WrestleMania that he was not supposed to be in. I on the other hand, on a slightly smaller scale, was told that I would never be champion. I would never be Money in the Bank winner, I would never have the chance to be on top here, and damn it I earned it. I said you know what? Daniel without these people behind you, I don’t know what type of situation you would be in right now, maybe mine, but if you want to prove who is better, this isn’t about who can steal the show, this is about who the real main event is in this business should be. I sure as hell wasn’t going out there to shake his hand and shake his hand after. I was out there to kick his ass and prove that I’m the best. It’s unfortunate it didn’t happen because there was a little buzz all based on me suggesting to him lets show the WWE universe what a main event should be and I dare someone to try and follow that. It didn’t happen, but I don’t quit. I come up with my own stuff on my own time before, that almost turned into something, so that means maybe next time it will turn into something.
Brandon Galvin: With WrestleMania coming up, obviously two names synonymous with the event are The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. What do you think it’ll take for you, or any other performer, to become the next Mr. WrestleMania?
Dolph Ziggler: For me, I would have to get a singles match at some point. We’re going on ten years of being under contract and five and a half of them being on television full time. To become Mr. WrestleMania, it doesn’t have to be a premier match, you can just be a standout, but at some point you need to be in an important match whether you earned yourself or you got it handed to you, but you need to be in an important match, it needs to be a singles match. Stealing the show is one thing, everyone’s going out to do that, but you need to stand out though and make your own WrestleMania moment. Everybody’s is different, and I’ve got to find a way to stand out against 6 or 7 upcoming superstars that want to outperform each other. I have to do that and once that happens, then I have a chance to stand out as a Mr. WrestleMania.
Donald Wood: You are widely regarded as one of the best in-ring workers in the wrestling industry. How much pride do you take in your wrestling ability and how much do you focus on keeping your matches fresh when you’re on television so much?
Dolph Ziggler: I will answer that if each of you can tell me one reason why I’m not wrestling for the championship.
Dolph Ziggler: You give me your own personal critique of why you think I’m not.
RRR: I think its politics personally.
Dolph Ziggler: Take that part out. Any job you will have in your entire life, even when I was a janitor had politics. Think of something else. What do I have that is a weakness?
RRR: I can’t think of anything conceivably.
Dolph Ziggler: Oh come on its not going to hurt my feelings.
RRR: You’re too blonde?
Dolph Ziggler: I’ve actually switched it out to highlights so you’re wrong. Most importantly honestly I can’t think of anything either. The internet has a different point because they think for some reason I can’t talk cause I say show off all the time, to be fair when I get a chance to talk candidly or however I want or how passionate I am about this business I deliver every single time. I can’t think of anything either, so one of these days it’s going to have to break through.
Mike Chiari: Aside from wrestling, it’s well known that one of your passions is stand-up comedy. When you’re cutting a promo with WWE how much does improvisation generally come into play for you, and also what’s your preference in terms of getting a scripted promo or going completely off the cuff? What are you most comfortable with?
Dolph Ziggler: My favorite thing to do is to go on the WWE app. It’s not a joke or a plug because you have freedom. It’s like the 80’s all over again. They say, “hey, you have a match against Luke Harper at the Sportatroium, on December 13th at 7:30 for the USWA title” and you go “got it”. They bring you on and you got the bullet points in your head and you have the passion to put over the title, to put over your opponent, to put over how great this match is going to be, how it’s going to steal the show, how you’re going to walk out of there as the champion, the peoples champion with the title over your shoulder, that’s what I love. On the fly, no one can top me. It comes down to a lot of improve. In the ring, obviously it’s a television show with a script. Some of us are allowed to deviate from the script and some are not, I am not one of those.
Brandon Galvin: You strive for perfection in the ring and professionally and it’s been documented that you’re never satisfied with a performance. What would it take for you to be ultimately satisfied with a match or performance?
Dolph Ziggler: I honestly don’t know that’s a great question. Thinking of some of my favorite matches in my entire life, like my match against Edge at the Royal Rumble for the World Heavyweight title. I was a nobody who lost every single week. Going into that match I lost every week for six months. Edge is so good and he was a mentor of mine, and I held my own in that match where he took the lead. For the last twelve minutes of that twenty five, everybody was on the edge of their seats thinking the guy who loses every single night was going to become World Heavyweight champion and damn it I am proud of that. Whenever I see a clip of it, I always think I could have done this better, and being a perfectionist like myself, I may never be happy about it. Is that really a problem if my entire job is to outdo what I’ve already done? I’m ok with it.