At one time, Dolph Ziggler was one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling. That may seem strange to people who watch him in WWE now, but he was on the cusp of greatness at one time. After a few bumps in the road (Spirit Squad, Chavbo Guerrero's caddy), he finally started to pick up fans as a cocky heel who could bump like a madman.
With AJ Lee as his manager and Big E as his bodyguard, Dolph Ziggler became the world champion, and the future looked bright. Now, years later, Ziggler is booed more often by fans who are bored with him, and he barely wins when it counts. Here are five matches that should have made Dolph Ziggler a star and five that helped bury him.
10 ALBERTO DEL RIO - SHOULD HAVE MADE A STAR
The day that Dolph Ziggler proved he was a major WWE star came when he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Monday Night Raw. Alberto Del Rio was in the middle of a face turn that no one wanted, and Dolph Ziggler was a red-hot heel that fans loved to cheer.
Del Rio had just lost a match and had an injured leg. He was lying in the ring when Ziggler's music started, and he came out with AJ Lee and Big E and his briefcase. The cheers blew the roof off the place, and when Ziggler cashed in and won, the fans showed that WWE had made the right decision. Sadly, it didn't last.
9 ALBERTO DEL RIO - BURIED
At Payback 2013, it was time for Albert Del Rio to get his rematch for the WWE world title from Dolph Ziggler. WWE had soured on Ziggler in the meantime due to something out of the champion's control. Jack Swagger inadvertently kicked Ziggler in the head and concussed the champion.
Ziggler missed time, and when the rematch against Del Rio came two months later, WWE pulled a double turn. Del Rio turned heel, and WWE turned Ziggler face, something he was never comfortable doing. Del Rio won, WWE broke up Ziggler, and AJ Lee and Dolph's career coasted after that.
8 DANIEL BRYAN - SHOULD HAVE MADE A STAR
If there is one thing that Daniel Bryan has mastered, it is putting over his opponents. At Bragging Rights 2010, he made Dolph Ziggler look like a million bucks. This match was an interpromotional match. Bryan was the United States Champion at the time, and Ziggler was the Intercontinental Champion, the match ended up a non-title match for bragging rights.
The match opened the PPV and ended up being one of the best matches on the show. Bryan won the match, but he sold like a madman for Ziggler. By the end, Ziggler looked like a bigger star than ever, and this was proof that WWE had someone they could rely on in the main event scene for years to come.
7 ELIMINATION CHAMBER 2012 - BURIED
The 2012 Elimination Chamber match was for the WWE championship. CM Punk had to defend his title in the structure against Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho, The Miz, R-Truth, and Kofi Kingston. Not only was this a match that made Ziggler look terrible but it was also the opening match on the show, meaning the title was not as important as the one with Daniel Bryan as the champion.
Both Elimination Chamber matches ended with the champions retaining, slightly making the entire danger of the cells less intimidating. As for Ziggler, he was the third man to enter the ring and the second eliminated, an afterthought as his world title hopes became a distant memory.
6 TRIPLE H - SHOULD HAVE MADE A STAR
People like to claim that Triple H buries people. However, when he sees someone who needs a push, Triple H will often help them more often than not. He did that with Dolph Ziggler on Monday Night Raw on March 14, 2016.
Triple H was the world champion in 2016 and Ziggler got a chance at the title. He was in the ring, talking down the locker room when Ziggler came out to stand up to the boss. He challenged Triple H to fire him, but Triple H refused and said he would fight Dolph that night and if Ziggler won, he would get to choose his match at WrestleMania. Triple H won, but it was a long, hard match, and the crowd loved it. Sadly, instead of following up on the big match, WWE used it to push Roman Reigns vs. Triple H.
5 JOHN CENA - BURIED
John Cena buried everyone. When interviewed about it, Cena said that if someone can't take a loss to him, they might not be ready for the main event scene. Cena buried everyone from Rusev to Bray Wyatt to Dolph Ziggler. In 2012, Ziggler was not entirely out of the minds of the fans for a world champion.
However, 2013 started with back to back burials for Ziggler at the hands of John Cena. On the Jan. 7 and Jan. 14 episodes, Cena battled Ziggler twice. Cena won at TLC and Ziggler should have moved on. The two men put on amazing matches but Cena pretty much no-sold Ziggler's offense and beat him every single match.
4 SURVIVOR SERIES 2014 - SHOULD HAVE MADE A STAR
If there is one match outside of the Money in the Bank briefcase win that solidified Dolph Ziggler as a WWE superstar, it was Survivor Series 2014. The match was Ziggler, Big Show, Erick Rowan, John Cena, and Ryback against Kane, Luke Harper, Mark Henry, Rusev and Seth Rollins.
If Ziggler's team won, the Authority was forced to step down from their positions of power. Not only did The Authority lose, but Ziggler was the last man standing for his team and got the rub from Sting showing up to put him over. If WWE had run with Ziggler beating The Authority, it could have been career-defining. Instead, the Authority was back two months later.
3 WADE BARRETT - BURIED
The episode was Monday Night Raw on Jan. 5, 2015 and Dolph Ziggler came into the show as the reigning Intercontinental Champion. So, this match took place less than two months after Dolph Ziggler was last man standing at the Survivor Series and helped end the threat of The Authority for good.
Except that it wasn't for good. The Authority was back by the new year, and they used this chance to take revenge against Ziggler. After The Authority thanked John Cena for helping reinstate them, they put Ziggler up against Wade Barrett and cheated to help Wade win. Ziggler's chance to lead WWE against The Authority died on that night.
2 U.S. TITLE WIN - SHOULD HAVE MADE A STAR
There is a lot of times that it seems WWE has no idea what they are doing. Dolph Ziggler was bouncing around the card for years since he should have become a legitimate world champion. Clash of Champions 2017 saw Baron Corbin defending his U.S. title in a triple threat against Ziggler and Bobby Roode.
The U.S. title was the opening match on the show, and in a shocking move, Dolph Ziggler won the match when he hit the Zig-Zag on Corbin and pinned him. For months, Ziggler was talking about being underappreciated, and he finally proved himself once again. The next night, for no reason, Ziggler dropped the title on the ground and walked out.
1 SPIRIT SQUAD - BURIED
This event might not be a match, as much as it is the most significant burial of anyone in WWE history. The Spirit Squad came in as male cheerleaders, who annoyed fans and tormented babyfaces. They even started working for Vince and Shane McMahon in their feud with DX.
That was the mistake. These five were all very talented but saddled with the cheerleader gimmick in a feud with two men they could never beat 5-on-1 destroyed all their WWE careers. The only one to rebound was Dolph Ziggler, who came back and won a world title. Sadly, everyone will remember how his career started, in a feud where he was shipped back to developmental.