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Freddie Prinze: Dolph Ziggler Knew His Name Was Crap, He Embraced It And Made People Love It

Freddie Prinze Jr was not a fan of the Dolph Ziggler name, but the man behind the gimmick turned it into a success.

Speaking on Insight with Chris Van Vliet, Freddie Prinze Jr. explained how Nick Nemeth ended up with the name ‘Dolph Ziggler’ in WWE. Prinze said ‘Dirk Diggler’ was an early suggestion, but he knew it would result in a lawsuit.

“Dolph’s the man, dude. I had to direct the very first Dolph Ziggler segment ever. The first three, actually, when he was just coming up. Jamie Noble was like, ‘I know your name.’ We were just trying to do anything we could to make this not suck because I fought against this idea so much that Vince made me do it. They were like, what are we gonna name him? They said, ‘Dirk Diggler.’ Vince was like, ‘That’s great.’ I stood up and I’m looking at the guy who pitched it. I’m like, ‘Dude, we’re gonna get sued. It’s from Boogie Nights. You can’t do that. Why can’t we just give him a normal name? Why does it have to be goofy?’ Then they were throwing all these names out. ‘Well, he looks like Dolph Lundgren.’ He’s like, ‘What about Dolph Ziggler?’”

Prinze said he was eventually told that Dolph Ziggler was the final name they’d go with. Although he had his reservations about it, Ziggler ended up embracing it and eventually won people over despite having a silly name.

“I literally was like, ‘We’re not doing Dolph Ziggler.’ I think this guy DJ had my back too and was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t love that.’ I fought so hard, and Vince was like, ‘Alright, it’s Dolph Ziggler.’ He goes, ‘Freddie, you’re gonna handle that segment.’ I looked at him and I was like, ‘What kind of middle finger is that?’ [laughs] Just tell me to f— off.’ Why would you do this?’ So I went to him and it was either me or Freebird [Michael Hayes] that broke the name to him. He was just like, ‘[Deep breath], okay,’ and he just went for it, man. The same way he goes for it in the ring, he committed right away. He knew it was crap, and people hated it until they loved it.

“It was very reminiscent of the New Day. People hated the New Day, and the same chant that was, ‘You suck’ because ‘Oh my god, we love you guys.’ It was the work on the mic and the work in the ring that got those guys over. In Dolph’s case, it was his work in the ring, and then his mic work, which developed about a decade into his career where all of a sudden, you were like, ‘Here we go.’ Career vs. Miz, let’s do this. Those promos were top-shelf. I remember that storyline, and I shouldn’t, but I do. That’s how good those guys were in that. I genuinely thought he was gonna lose, and that was gonna be it, and he was gonna retire from wrestling. That’s how well he made me believe it. But yeah, I was there when they conceived the name, fought against it, and was punished for my efforts.”

Van Vliet noted that Nick Nemeth (Ziggler’s real name) is a good name for wrestling, adding that no one sells like him.

“No one does,” Prinze said. “No one takes spears better, no one takes DDTs better. He’s the man.”

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