The cell phone of a wrestler rang. “Hey, your name’s gonna be David Diggler. What do you think about that?” A nervous Nick Nemeth reeled at the possibility of making his WWE Raw re-debut with that appalling name. “Honestly, I think it’s awful,” recounts the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star to a group of enthralled local reporters, including UrbanWire during our roundtable interview.
This is the story of how we met Dolph Ziggler and ended up being taught a lesson, albeit in the kindest way possible. But first, what’s the deal with that strange name?
In town to publicise WWE Live in Singapore, which will take place on July 2, Dolph Ziggler (Nicholas Theodore Nemeth) is considered one of World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) most renowned personalities in recent times. In 2014, Rolling Stone named him WWE Wrestler of the Year, 9 years after first appearing on-screen as Chavo Guerrero’s sidekick. Nicknamed “The Showoff”, he’s been crowned United States Champion, Intercontinental Champion, and even World Heavyweight Champion all within a decade of pro wrestling… and he was almost called David Diggler.
He had a grand total 15 minutes to send his boss the ring names he preferred. Family and friends were texted with a desperate “Send me all you’ve got!” and creative juices were wearing thin. He eventually came up with a final shortlist of 3 (not that he remembered the other 2).
“It had to be Diggler at the back, so I sent in “Dolph” because my great grandfather’s name was Rudolph and I was a Dolph Lundgren fan. So I’m like, ‘Okay this will work, it’s a D name, and the 2 other ones I don’t even remember now,” he recollects as he lounges on the sofa at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront, his muscular legs crossed.
“And then I showed up at work and instead of Dolph Diggler, it was Dolph Ziggler!” Not really feeling it, he protested for a more “real-person name”.
To which, he was rejected flat. “So he says nope, it’s different, it stands out, it’s gonna grow on you. That’s it, conversation over,” he shrugs. “It scared me but he was right. It’s a weird name but people know it now so I’m used to being called Dolph.” Even his grandma calls him that, apparently.
What about being nicknamed The Showoff? The ripped 6’0’’ American gives off a confident aura but that can’t be mistaken for arrogance. Before the roundtable interview commenced, a fellow reporter beside us had issued a statement of journalistic intent to Nemeth: “We’re going to ask you questions you’ve never heard before”. “Bring it!” he’d grinned. “I’ve been through a lot of interviews so show me what you got.”
And so, in a clockwise direction, this writer kicks off the questioning – slightly intimidated by the possibility that the questions we’d prepared may not live up to said unrealistic promise. “My question to you has probably been asked before… I’m not sure, bu-”
“Oh come on… Be more confident!” Nemeth sits up and looks us in the eye, albeit slightly menacingly. This writer obliges and puffs up his (much flatter) chest. “There you go! Yeah.” We’re shocked by the well-intentioned words, but instantly hooked by his charismatic presence. And hence, his nickname “The Showoff” seems puzzling to us. Well okay, we get it. He is an actor.
“I had a discussion with Vince (McMahon) a long time ago. I said, ‘My whole life, I’ve played every sport there is. I was always diving to make catches, always wanting to be the star player – I wanted all eyes on me’,” he recalls animatedly, moving his hands around as if attempting to catch a football.
“And as I’m rambling on and telling him my life story – ‘I’ve always done this, I was always the captain of all my sports teams. I was always finding a way to show off and stea-‘ and he says: ‘That’s it! The Showoff, that’s your real life story, that’s it.’”
“I was a little like ‘Ehhh I don’t know…’ but it’s true. I always put my body on the line, and now I’m doing the same thing every night. So I guess it works out, and if you had to crunch it all into one term then I guess that could be one of them. Not my favourite, but it’s definitely one of them.”
Well then, he must be the most endearing show-off we’ve ever met. Perhaps that’s why he’s had many WWE divas as his arm candy (AJ Lee, Vicky Guerrero, and now Lana?!). That’s one thing he’s not afraid to show off in front of us, ironically. Asked if the show’s management set them up for a storyline, or whether the divas were genuinely attracted to him, Nemeth tells UrbanWire: “It’s all me, it’s all me.”
WWE Live in Singapore happens July 2 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, 7pm. Get your tickets at www.sportshubtix.sg
Are there any WWE wrestlers whose name you can’t wrap your head around? Tell us in the comments below!
Pictures courtesy of (C) 2015 WWE, Inc. All rights reserved.