REVIEW: WWE SUPERSTARS DOLPH ZIGGLER
Ever since I decided to have a closer look at Mattel's WWE Superstars figures, my previously inexplicably non-existent (especially given how long I've been a WWE fan) action figure collection has been growing by leaps and bounds. Whether they're the sorts of leaps and bounds that one typically sees some of the more aerial-inclined wrestlers perform in the ring, I'm not going to bother the speculate here.
One of the additions to my collections is one of the more prominent "heels", or bad guys, of the ring. He goes by the name of DOLPH ZIGGLER, which, admittedly, isn't his real name. Let's have a look at this man's professional history, and then take a look at his action figure.
Nicholas Theodore "Nick" Nemeth (born July 27, 1980), best known by the ring name Dolph Ziggler, is signed to WWE where he currently holds the Money in the Bank Contract for a World Heavyweight Championship match.
Nemeth signed a development contract with WWE in 2004, and was sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). He was brought up to the Raw brand in 2005 as Kerwin White's sidekick. He was, however, sent back to OVW shortly afterwards, where he joined the Spirit Squad. They debuted on Raw in January 2006, and won the World Tag Team Championship once before returning to OVW that November.
In September 2007, Nemeth was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), where he formed a tag team with Brad Allen. The pair won the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship once, and Nemeth later won the championship for the second time with Gavin Spears as his partner.
He returned to Raw as Ziggler in September 2008, and was drafted to the SmackDown brand in April 2009. At the SmackDown tapings on July 28, Ziggler won the WWE Intercontinental Championship for the first time. He held the championship for five months, until January 2011. He was awarded, and lost, his only World Heavyweight Championship on February 15, 2011. That March he returned to the Raw roster, and won the WWE United States Championship for the first time three months later.
Nemeth debuted with OVW as "Nick Nemeth". He feuded with Paul Burchill and challenged unsuccessfully for the OVW Television Championship, losing a championship match against then-champion Ken Doane on August 12, 2005.
Nemeth was called up to the Raw roster shortly afterwards, making his television debut on the September 19, 2005 episode of Sunday Night Heat. He was made the enforcer and sidekick for Chavo Guerrero, Jr., who was going by the ring name of "Kerwin White". His wrestling debut came on an episode of Sunday Night Heat, teaming up with White in a tag team match against Shelton Benjamin and Matt Striker. After the death of Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero dropped the "Kerwin White" character, and Nemeth was sent back to OVW.
Nemeth became a part of the Spirit Squad faction, a group of five wrestlers who used the in-ring personas of male cheerleaders, and adopted the name Nicky in OVW during late 2005. On January 23, 2006, they had their WWE television debut as a group, appearing on Raw and helping Jonathan Coachman win a Royal Rumble qualifying match against Jerry "The King" Lawler. They later became a part of the on-going scripted feud between WWE chairman Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels.
They also wrestled in the tag team division, and on April 3, on Raw, won the World Tag Team Championship when Kenny and Mikey, with outside help from the other three Squad members, defeated Big Show and Kane. After winning the championship, all five members of the Spirit Squad were recognized as the champions, allowing any combination of them to defend the championship.
In May, McMahon signed another Handicap match, with the Spirit Squad facing Michaels. The match never started, however; instead the Spirit Squad attacked Michaels, and, as part of the storyline, shattered his knee with a steel chair. McMahon brought Triple H to the ring to attack Michaels with a sledgehammer; however, after Triple H felt that the Squad had disrespected him, he attacked the group. This led to Triple H and Michaels reforming D-Generation X (DX) and they began a feud with the Spirit Squad. DX played various jokes on the Squad and the McMahons, as well as defeating the Spirit Squad in handicap tag team matches at Vengeance and a clean sweep in an elimination handicap match at Saturday Night's Main Event.
The group disbanded on the November 27 episode of Raw, when they were defeated in a five-on-three handicap match by DX and Ric Flair. In a backstage segment later that night, DX placed all members into a crate stamped "OVW, Louisville, Kentucky", a reference to the developmental territory from which the Squad had come.
Nemeth returned to OVW on January 17, 2007, at the television tapings, again using his Nick Nemeth ring name, along with Mike Mondo, formerly Mikey in the Spirit Squad, as the "Frat Pack". At the end of August, Nemeth and Mike Mondo were moved to the Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) developmental territory and in his debut there, Nemeth gained the nickname "The Natural".
On September 15, 2008, Nemeth re-debuted on Raw, introducing himself in a backstage segment under the name "Dolph Ziggler". In his first match on Raw under the Ziggler name, he lost to Batista on the December 1 episode, The following week he got his first victory as Ziggler, by countout, against R-Truth, The next week on Raw, he picked up his first televised pinfall victory, when he defeated Charlie Haas.
On April 15, 2009, Ziggler was drafted to the SmackDown brand as part of the 2009 Supplemental Draft, He made his debut on the April 17 episode of SmackDown, defeating the United States Champion, Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) in a non-title match, and, as a result, the following week he demanded a match for the championship. On the May 1 episode of SmackDown, however, he failed to win the championship, after he was pinned by MVP. Ziggler then started a rivalry with The Great Khali, losing to him by disqualification after attacking Khali with a steel chair. As a result, Khali began coming out to the ring during and after Ziggler's matches, in attempt to gain revenge and to stop Ziggler from cheating. Over the next few weeks, Ziggler defeated Khali by countout and disqualification after making it look like Khali had struck him with a steel chair.
In November 2010, Ziggler was announced as a Pro for the fourth season of NXT, with Jacob Novak as his Rookie. At Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Ziggler successfully retained the Intercontinental Championship in a three-way ladder match against Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger. On the January 4, 2011 episode of NXT, Ziggler won a battle royal to earn the right to choose a new rookie, and chose Byron Saxton. His original rookie, Novak, was the first rookie eliminated later that night.
On the March 7, 2011 episode of Raw, Ziggler was introduced as the newest member of the Raw roster, and defeated John Morrison in a singles match. Ziggler beat United States Champion Kofi Kingston in a non-title match on the May 30 episode of Raw, leading to a championship match at WWE Capitol Punishment which Ziggler won to earn his first United States Championship. The next night on Raw, Kingston invoked his rematch clause in a two out of three falls match and won via disqualification, allowing Ziggler to retain.
On the September 19 episode of Raw, Ziggler lost a non-title match to Zack Ryder when guest star Hugh Jackman helped Ryder by punching Ziggler in the face. Later that night, Ziggler's manager Vickie Guerrero officially began managing Jack Swagger, and Swagger began interfering in Ziggler's matches to help him win. Ziggler and Swagger unsuccessfully challenged Air Boom for the WWE Tag Team Championship at Hell in a Cell and at Vengeance, where Ziggler also successfully defended the United States Championship against Zack Ryder. He went on to successfully defend the championship against John Morrison at Survivor Series. At Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Ziggler lost the United States Championship to Ryder.
On the February 27, 2012 edition of Raw, Ziggler and Swagger unsuccessfully challenged Primo & Epico for the WWE Tag Team Championship in a Triple Threat tag team match, also involving Kofi Kingston and R-Truth. On the March 19 edition of Raw, Ziggler and Swagger were announced as the newest members of Team Johnny for the 12 man tag team match at WrestleMania XXVIII. On the April 2 edition of Raw, Ziggler and Swagger unsuccessfully challenged Santino Marella for the United States Championship in a triple threat match. After the match, Ziggler would begin a feud with Brodus Clay, who headbutted Ziggler after he and Swagger tried to attack Santino Marella.
On the July 3 edition of SmackDown, Ziggler defeated Alex Riley to qualify for a spot in the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank ladder match. Two days later at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Ziggler defeated Christian, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, Santino Marella, Sin Cara, Tensai, and Tyson Kidd to win the Money in The Bank ladder match; this guaranteed Ziggler the opportunity to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship at a time of his choosing within the next year. Later that night, Ziggler would attempt to cash in the briefcase on Sheamus after Alberto Del Rio attacked him after their match, but Del Rio stopped Ziggler from cashing in. On the following episode of SmackDown, Ziggler again attempted to cash in the briefcase on Sheamus following a tag team match with Alberto Del Rio, but was laid out by Rey Mysterio and Sheamus before he could do so.
On November 18 at Survivor Series, Ziggler captained the traditional 5-on-5 elimination tag team match opposite Mick Foley. Ziggler won the match after pinning Orton with a superkick, making him the sole survivor of the match.
Ziggler then began feuding with John Cena after he would side with Vickie Guerrero to help defame Cena and AJ Lee in a scandal had to do with both of them having a romantic relationship. On December 16 at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Ziggler retained his Money in the Bank briefcase in a ladder match after AJ interfered and turned on Cena. The following night on Raw, while trying to diffuse an argument between Vickie and AJ, AJ unexpectedly kissed Ziggler, leaving him confused. Ziggler then attempted to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Big Show after Show was assaulted by Sheamus, but he was attacked by Cena before the match could start. Later, Ziggler teamed with AJ to face Cena and Vickie Guerrero (who made the match after she and Dolph broke off their relationship), however, the match ended in a disqualification after the debuting Big E Langston attacked Cena, also starting an on-screen relationship between Dolph and AJ. Ziggler ended 2012 having wrestled the second most TV/PPV matches that year with 90, however he had the most TV/PPV losses with 57.
Ziggler ended his feud with Cena after losing to him on the January 7, 2013, episode of Raw, in a singles match and in steel cage match the following week, despite outside interference from AJ and Langston in both matches. On the January 21 episode of Raw, Ziggler won a Beat the Clock Challenge to earn the right to choose what number he can enter in the Royal Rumble match, first or second, Six days later at the Royal Rumble, Ziggler entered at number one and lasted nearly fifty minutes before being eliminated by Sheamus. During the match, Ziggler resumed his feud with the returning Chris Jericho, who Ziggler managed to eliminate. The following night on Raw, Ziggler and Jericho were placed in a match against WWE Tag Team Champions Team Hell No (Daniel Bryan and Kane). The match ended with Ziggler being choke-slammed and pinned by Kane after Jericho framed him for pushing Kane.
On the February 18 episode of Raw, Ziggler was defeated by World Heavweight Champion Alberto Del Rio via submission in a non-title match. Afterwards, Langston attacked Del Rio and then Ziggler made a failed attempt to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase after Del Rio's ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez ran off with it. After defeating WWE Tag Team Champions Daniel Bryan and Kane in singles matches due inteference from Langston, Ziggler and Langston were given a shot at their titles at WrestleMania 29.
Nemeth has been a fan of professional wrestling since he was five years old, and decided to become a professional wrestler at age twelve. Nemeth later revealed in Colt Cabana's "Art of Wrestling Podcast" that he chose the name "Dolph" because that was his grandfather's name and he said that his friend suggested the name "Ziggler".
So, how's the figure? Really very well done. One of my main criteria for picking up any of these WWE Superstars figures is how closely they resemble their real-life counterparts. This line isn't like DC Universe or Masters of the Universe. They need to look as much like the actual individual as possible. It helps that there's a photograph of the individual as part of the package artwork. In Dolph's case, the figure is an excellent likeness.
I'm also pleased with the fact that the figure doesn't have some sort of goofy expression on his face. Some of these figures do, and it's kept a number of them out of my collection as such. Ziggler comes close, but not that badly. He looks like he's trying a little too hard to have a strong jaw line, and ends up looking more like he's just tried to suck a lemon, but I've seen a lot worse looks on some other figures.
Ziggler bleaches his hair a pale blonde, which is definitely reflected on the figure. He has very pale blonde hair. This particular figure has been sculpted to look as though he has significantly shorter hair than Ziggler himself appears to have at the moment, but I consider this a relatively minor detail. So, we just figure he got a haircut at some point. No big deal. The overall detail of the sculpt is excellent.
One of the things I appreciate about the WWE Superstars line is that it uses different body types. Now, common body molds work well in other action figure lines -- such as the aforementioned DC Universe or Masters of the Universe lines. And while I genuinely appreciate the consistency that this practice affords these lines, they're not based on real people, and it wouldn't work for the WWE Superstars, who certainly do not all have the same body type.
I'm of the opinion that Mattel has a number of basic body types available for general use -- excepting such extreme individuals such as Big Show or Kane -- and they use whichever ones most closely match the body type and physical build of the actual individual. In Dolph Ziggler's case, he's of approximate average size for a professional wrestler (which still makes him larger than most people), with an above average amount of muscle definition, and the body parts chosen for the figure definitely reflect this. It's a good match. The figure stands about 6-3/4" in height.
Dolph is wearing black trunks -- a far too common practice these days as far as I'm concerned, it's why I try to pick up some slightly more colorfully-dressed figures every so often -- that, unlike the more speedo-like shorts worn by many WWE Superstars, have a certain amount of legs to them. On the front of the trunks, in letters designed to look like a neon-light marquee, are the initials "DZ" in white, with a blue border, and on the back is the word "PERFECTION" in similar letters, also with a blue border.
This, technically, is not Dolph Ziggler's latest look, but given the advance time necessary to produce toys, it's close enough. Mattel must go a little nuts sometimes trying to keep up with new looks, new colors, new themes. With some of these guys, it's a wonder Mattel can keep up with their tattoos.
Speaking of which, Dolph doesn't have any, at least none that are visible on him. This was likely something of a break for Mattel. They do an excellent job of imprinting such details on the figures, make no mistake, but in the case of Dolph, the imprinted details were limited to the marquees on his trunks.
Dolph's hands and wrists have been painted to look as though they've been wrapped in white athletic tape, leaving his fingers and thumbs exposed. Dolph has been given rather large black knee pads, which were molded separately from a more flexible type of plastic, and attached during assembly. They don't adversely affect the articulation of the figure.
Dolph Ziggler is wearing white wrestling boots with very intricate detailing and a rather fancy-looking securement on the front. I don't know what you'd call this particular sculpted detail. It's not laces, it doesn't look like velcro -- I don't know what to call it, but it looks cool. The soles of Ziggler's boots have been painted black.
Ziggler's facial details have been very neatly painted, not just the hair, but the eyebrows and the eyes. Ziggler has very distinct blue eyes, and they've been very well painted, included the whites, irises, and pupils.
Articulation of the figure is excellent. Dolph Ziggler is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, waist, legs, knees, boot tops, and ankles. Some might notice the fact that there is no mid-torso articulation, and the legs move forward and back, but not out to the sides. Although this is a little restrictive, one should keep in mind that these are the most basic of Mattel's WWE figures. That's their purpose. There are more articulated figures, in the Elite Collection, and they're excellent figures, with the same level of attention to detail, but they'll also cost you about 1-1/2 times as much. I'm content with what I'm getting at the Superstars level.
So, what's my final word? This is a cool figure. Dolph Ziggler has been a perpetual heel, and he's not going to win any popularity contests. But he's also climbed the ladder (after a few mis-stars -- ye gods, that Spirit Squad...) and has reached a level of considerable prominence in the WWE at this time. Certainly he warrants his place in Mattel's WWE Superstars action figure line, and Mattel has done a truly excellent job with him.
The WWE SUPERSTARS figure of DOLPH ZIGGLER definitely has my highest recommendation!