WWE Superstar Dolph Ziggler is sitting by his Phoenix home’s pool on a rare day off, a place he only visits 90 days a year.
Born in Cleveland 34 years ago as Nicholas Nemeth, Ziggler debuted on “Monday Night Raw” in January 2006. The following November he—as Nicky—and Kerwin White were crowned the World Tag Team Champion.
After moving between the wrestling development camps and the WWE, he returned to “Raw” as Dolph Ziggler in September 2008. He has worn the belt for titles like WWE Intercontinental Champion, World Heavyweight Champion and WWE United States Champion.
Ziggler—who appears at “Friday Night Smackdown” on Tuesday, August 19, for broadcast on Friday, August 22—spoke to College Times about his success with the organization, his stand-up comedy career and his acceptance into ASU’s law school.
College Times: I’ve read that you’re a longtime wrestling fan. Why do you think you were able to make it when there are so many others vying for the same goal?
Ziggler: Obviously there’s a lot of luck involved. A lot of people change decisions, like when they’re kids, “I want to be an astronaut.” I went to a WWE live event and I wanted to be a wrestler. I ended up wrestling through grade school, high school and college. I went to college just hoping to break some records and get my foot in the door. I left Kent State the all-time winningest wrestler and [that]gave me the chance to get my foot in the door for the WWE.
I heard that you were accepted to ASU law school.
The reason I’m in Phoenix is when I graduated from Kent State with a political science degree—that’s just to prepare you for law school—my original goal was to go to law school at ASU and find a wrestling school at night. But after I moved out here, I was lucky enough to get my tryout with WWE. Because that was my foremost goal, I went with that.
You’re getting a big push now. For example, you “stole” Layla and Summer Rae from Fandango.
How lucky for them, right? [Laughs] I’m always bouncing around near something important or trying to have the match of the night, or some kind of cool story, whether it’s the world title and stealing somebody’s girlfriends and walking out the door with them. I always find a way somehow to be a part of “Monday Night Raw,” “Main Event” on the WWE Network or “Friday Night Smackdown” on SyFy.
You are a stand-up comedian and perform at Stand Up Live and Stand Up Scottsdale when you’re home. I can see where there would be a lot of similarities between the WWE and comedy.
It’s actually scary sometimes. I’ve been wrestling for a very long time, grabbing the mic in the ring. I feel very comfortable talking about that. It’s a little different in comedy club. Everyone’s staring at you, waiting [for you]to tell a joke. One of these days I’ll be as good as I am in the ring.
“Friday Night Smackdown,” US Airways Center, 201 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix, 800.745.3000, usairwayscenter.com, Tuesday, August 19, 4:45 p.m., $25-$100