Dolph Ziggler has been with WWE for over 15 years. Ziggler, whose real name is Nick Nemeth, made an appearance on Corey Graves' podcast, After The Bell, to talk about how he got his name and how he originally thought he could use his real name with WWE's transition into the "Reality Era".
"We had just started something called the 'Reality Era', where it was more realistic people like John Cena [and] Randy Orton, real names. Nobody was a plumber or a lifeguard. We're making sure it's real people that you can Google online either their name or someone like me where you can check my stats. I thought we could use my real name because if you Google me you can see that I broke these records at Kent State, that's the only reason I'm here to get a try-out," Ziggler said. "I bump into Vince and said, 'Vince McMahon, I love this. We're doing the Reality Era. You can Google my name. Everything works. I would love for you to use this name.'
"He goes, 'well, nope. It's Dolph Ziggler. It stands out. No one's gonna forget it, and we're gonna shove it up their butts every time they see your face on TV.'"
While many fans remember Ziggler's early run in WWE with The Spirit Squad, he was a caddie to Chavo Guerrero before that, who was going by the name Kerwin White at the time. Ziggler talked about how he was slated to be paired with Kurt Angle initially, but ended up being a caddie.
"At one point, a few months earlier, they said, 'we really like you as this clean-cut guy. You have this awesome amateur wrestling background. We would like to put you with Kurt Angle.' I go, 'whoa. what?' Meanwhile, that's just somebody saying it would be cool if you were with Kurt Angle. You guys are wrestlers, but I took that as next week they'll be calling, and it's gonna be like sidekicks. It was nothing like that," Ziggler said. "That never came to be, and they said by the way you're gonna be a caddie, but don't worry there's gonna be a golf cart. It'll be cool. Meanwhile, they didn't tell me that I'd be walking behind the golf cart, but whatever gets your foot in the door much like becoming a cheerleader a little bit later."
Ziggler recalled going on an overseas tour with WWE early in his run. He was thrown into a match with Tajiri despite only being a few months into his wrestling career.
"I went on an overseas tour without Chavo. It was just me, and I go, 'what am I managing or something?' I'm a few months into wrestling, and I've been training hard. I do two practices a day, but I don't know the business. I just know that I'm a fan, and they put me on the first match on the show with Tajiri on an overseas tour for two straight weeks," Ziggler said. "They're like, 'we don't know what we're gonna do with you, but we're gonna put you on this first match with Tajiri. You guys do 10-12 minutes. You guys will be on first, and the show starts in 20 minutes. He doesn't really speak English. Let me know what you guys are doing.' I go, 'what?', and somebody just walked away."
He talked about the experience of opening a show where no one knows anything about you. While he was told he did a good job, Ziggler thought he would be fired soon after assuming WWE had nothing for him to do.
"It was little weird starting the show coming out to Chavo Guerrero's new country club, Frank Sinatra music that no one even knows, and they don't know who the hell I am. People say crickets sometimes when people come out sometimes, and I can hear ice in someone's cup melting in his hand. 'What the hell am I doing here?' It ended up being a fun tour," Ziggler said. "I pick up things fast. I was working hard. At the end of the tour, they said, 'hey, you did really well. We thought you were gonna suck, but C plus.' I'm like, 'hey great.' They go, 'hey, just want to give you a heads up with creative: this is over with now.'
"I just assumed that I'm fired now and that's the end of my run."
Ziggler would move on to become a member of the Spirit Squad in 2005. After the group was disbanded in 2006, he returned to the main roster in 2008 as a singles wrestler with the name 'Dolph Ziggler'.
Ziggler also discussed his endeavors outside of wrestling and his No Mercy match against The Miz. You can check out the latest episode of After The Bell by clicking here. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE's After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.