COMMENTARY | On April 8, 2013, one of the greatest crowds in WWE history witnessed Raw the day after Wrestlemania. The fans started the wave, chanted for random superstars, and even started the "Fandangoing" craze. But of all the WWE wrestlers who performed for this incredible crowd, the one who got the loudest cheers was a "heel" (or bad guy) named Dolph Ziggler.
When World Heavyweight champion Alberto Del Rio was injured in a match with Jack Swagger, Ziggler cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and defeated Del Rio for the belt. At that moment, the crowd nearly blew off the roof of the arena with their cheers for Ziggler. What has Dolph Ziggler done to earn the respect and admiration of so many WWE fans?
In his first incarnation in the WWE, Dolph Ziggler had one of the worst gimmicks in wrestling history. Ziggler and four other young wrestlers suffered the ignominy of being male cheerleaders. Needless to say, the Spirit Squad failed to catch on with WWE fans and most of the wrestlers were never seen in the WWE again. Only the Red Rooster and Dr. Isaac Yankem probably would have preferred being a male cheerleader to their horrible WWE gimmicks.
The fact that Nicky (Dolph Ziggler) returned to the WWE and rose through the ranks of the roster is quite an accomplishment. WWE fans know how devastating a bad gimmick can be and they respect Ziggler for coming so far. But this begs the question, how did Dolph Ziggler do what so many others have failed to do in the WWE?
Besides being a great technical wrestler, Ziggler possesses one of the most underappreciated traits that a wrestler can have. He "sells" well, meaning that he makes his opponent look good. Too often, wrestlers are only interested in perfecting their own moves and they neglect the importance of making their opponents' moves look good too. As scripted entertainment, the product is at its best when both wrestlers are working cohesively to deliver a great match.
I can't even guess at how many times I've seen a Dolph Ziggler match and I thought he must have been injured because he made his opponent's strike look so real. Not only do fans respect Ziggler for this, but his opponents do as well. If a wrestler knows that his opponent has his best interest in the ring, this reduces the likelihood of "stiff" punches (hitting for real) and "sandbagging" (going deadweight when being lifted).
Finally, WWE fans are a lot smarter than they are given credit for and in the final analysis, they will choose their own favorites, not the ones that are handpicked for them by the bookers and creative team. The popularity of Dolph Ziggler is a clear example of WWE fans respecting a wrestler who is supposed to be hated as a bad guy. And he has truly earned this respect.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of pro wrestling. Patrick's favorite wrestling promotion was Mid-South Wrestling back in the 1980s. Patrick's favorite wrestling angle of all-time was the NWO and his favorite wrestler is Roddy Piper. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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