If rumors are to be believed, Dolph Ziggler‘s current absence from the WWE could be part of a bigger storyline that could culminate at WrestleMania. But on the other hand, it’s also a sign that WWE is once again wasting this great talent and failing to appreciate what he’s always brought to the table.

In a WWE career that has lasted 13 years and counting, Ziggler has worked his butt off to become one of the company’s most talented wrestlers in recent history. As has often been said in many ways, Ziggler sells so well that he can convince an Eskimo to buy a ton of ice, and his in-ring skill has often been compared to that of the legendary Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels. He’s no slouch on the mic either, and we’ve seen that time and again, including in that promo where he dropped his United States Championship and seemingly walked out of the WWE after years of frustration with his place in the company’s pecking order.

Years of frustration with his place in the pecking order – think about that for a moment. Ziggler’s promo may have been a work, but if you’ve been paying attention to the things he’s been saying in many a shoot interview, the words of frustration he says on television seem to come from a very real place. Few other wrestlers in recent years have exhibited all-around skills on Ziggler’s level, yet here he is, inserted into a three-way match for the U.S. Championship seemingly as an afterthought, and made to act beforehand as a gatekeeper for debuting SmackDown Live talents like Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode. You can’t blame him for feeling like he’s been getting the short end of the stick more often than not.

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We haven’t even gotten to some of the other bones Ziggler likely has to pick with the WWE at this point in his career. Over three years ago, he was the last man standing on the babyface side when Team Cena, with the help of a debuting Sting, beat Team Authority at the 2014 Survivor Series. In October 2016, he put his career on the line and triggered many a rumor that he’d soon be leaving the WWE, but beat The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship at No Mercy. Yet these merely appear to be hope spots in a decade-plus career that has only had two brief, unsatisfying reigns as a main event champion, and has mostly been spent running the mid-card treadmill. From IC Champion to impersonator gimmick where he imitates other wrestlers’ entrances. What a difference a year has made for the Show-Off.

With Ziggler ostensibly having walked out of the WWE and the United States Championship now vacant, rumors currently suggest that Ziggler is taking some time off. He will then return to face the winner of the ongoing U.S. Championship tournament at WrestleMania 34 in a ladder match that should make for a memorable moment at the Show of Shows. Then again, there are also rumors that this could be Ziggler’s last hurrah, as his contract is said to be coming up this year.

via wwe.com

If Dolph is indeed leaving the WWE at some point this year, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, given how he’s been criminally misused by the company through the years. And that includes the current walkout storyline. Instead of watching Ziggler make the U.S. Championship mean something by defending it against guys like Bobby Roode, Baron Corbin, or even Jinder Mahal (Ziggler’s feuds with Roode and Corbin have long been played out, after all), the title has been made vacant as WWE promotes the increasingly tedious main storyline on SmackDown Live. You know, the one where commissioner Shane McMahon and GM Daniel Bryan continue to act like a pair of quarrelsome parents fighting over how to raise their troublesome “kids” Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Certainly, the blue brand could use some Dolph Ziggler on the TV screen as an antidote to anyone getting tired of Shane and Bryan’s squabbling, wouldn’t you agree?

RELATED: DOLPH ZIGGLER RUMORED TO RETURN FOR EPIC WRESTLEMANIA MATCH

Assuming Ziggler does return at WrestleMania, he’ll likely put over whomever WWE has booked to win the U.S. title tournament. As is often the case with Ziggler matches, fans can  expect more of the same great wrestling, great selling, and heightened drama. And at the end of the day, Ziggler will likely be another mid-card plot device used to make newcomers look good. That’s not what anyone would have expected from a man as talented as the real-life Nick Nemeth has been, even back when he was a young WWE fan dominating the college wrestling scene at Kent State. But such is oftentimes the life for otherwise transcendent in-ring talents who don’t have the look (read: the height and the muscles) that Vince McMahon still covets in his main event performers.

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