With the news that Dolph Ziggler has been released from the WWE, along with other stars like Elias and Shelton Benjamin, we take a look back at The Show Off’s last ever match in the WWE.
His career with the company ended in 2023, after 2017 matches for the WWE (according to Cagematch). These included World Championship matches, WrestleMania classics and even one of the greatest Survivor Series performances in the history of the company.
Making his debut in 2008 in defeat to Batista (under the Dolph Ziggler name – he debuted years before as Chavo Guerrero’s caddy, as well as his run as Nicky in the Spirit Squad), Dolph Ziggler’s WWE career was unlike any other.
While he lost his debut match, he impressed the fans with his incredible athleticism and selling ability. Nobody had the power to draw in a crowd and have them feel immense sympathy for them like Ziggler did, and he used that to full effect, from his first match to his last.
His selling was over-the-top at times, but never in ways that didn’t make sense. It wasn’t quite Shawn Michaels against Hulk Hogan-levels of flopping around, but every punch made Ziggler roll around like he’d been shot.
This helped make his matches memorable, and made him one of the best in-ring workers in a roster that included the likes of John Cena, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk.
However, management never really got behind Ziggler. He won the Money in the Bank briefcase in 2012, which usually signals a big push. Sadly, he just lost, and lost, and lost until fans had given up on the idea of him as champion – then he cashed in on Alberto Del Rio, in one of the greatest moments in Raw history.
For the long-suffering Dolph Ziggler fans, this was such a cathartic moment. Ziggler was finally being given the chance on top, and management finally saw what fans had been crying out for them to notice for years – superstardom.
However, this was not the case. Vince McMahon already made it clear that Dolph Ziggler winning the title was not the start of a push for him, and reportedly never “got” the former WWE Superstar – hence the lack of push throughout his run.
“Sometimes it was second-hand by other people but not in a condescending way. ‘Hey man Vince (McMahon) doesn’t see it in you.’ A few times it was pretty close to the top. ‘Hey man, we just don’t see it. It just doesn’t work for you.’”Dolph Ziggler on Vince McMahon not seeing him as a top star.
After a while of being pushed slightly, then relegated back to nothing status, it seemed Ziggler just gave up.
He didn’t stop putting on great matches, nor refrained from giving it his all in his promos. But something was different. While before, you could see him doing his best to get himself over, impress the boss and work the hardest he could, this time he just did his job.
He clocked into work, made his opponent look good, took the pin fall and clocked out. He was rewarded with a few titles reigns here and then, winning the WWE Tag Team, United States and NXT Championships in his later years, but he was clearly just there to make up the numbers.
This was clear with the amount of time he was off TV. Whether it was to try his hand at stand-up comedy, or just because WWE had nothing for him, he seemed to be gone a lot more than he was there in the end of his career.
This is why, really, Dolph Ziggler’s last match in WWE wasn’t really a shock. He hadn’t wrestled since May, which was only his 24th match of the entire year – in years gone by, he’d have hit that target by the end of January.
Ziggler didn’t wrestle any pay per view matches in 2023, wasn’t included on WrestleMania, and was relegated to appearing on the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal on Smackdown. It was a sad state of affairs, so his last match came more as a mercy than anything.
Dolph Ziggler’s last WWE match came on the May 29th, 2023 episode of Monday Night Raw. Two weeks before, Ziggler eliminated JD McDonagh from an Intercontinental Championship Battle Royal, which enraged the Irishman and caused him to attack the former World Heavyweight Champion, unprovoked.
This set up a sort of “grudge match” between the two, although Ziggler did not really care about the match – that much was evident. His performance in the match still top-notch, even though it only lasted a minute. McDonagh snapped the rope onto his neck, which looked awful, but Ziggler still sold it like his throat had been ripped out by a Bully XL.
The Irishman then took him to the outside, and continued to beat him up until the pair were both counted out. McDonagh then stomped his head onto the steel stairs until he stopped moving, and that was the last we saw of Dolph Ziggler in the WWE.
WWE released Dolph Ziggler, among a host of other WWE Superstars, on September 22nd, 2023. This was following the merger with the UFC, which also saw over 150 behind-the-scenes and office staff let go from their contracts.
Dolph Ziggler is one of the most high-profile releases in a long time. Like Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman, he was a former World Champion at the time of his release, following two World Heavyweight Championship title reigns.
However, they were very different, and both equally doomed. One title reign lasted less than one episode of Smackdown, while the other was taken from him due to a concussion that he never truly recovered from (in the eyes of Vince McMahon).
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.