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WWE's Dolph Ziggler taking over two Toronto stages

Ziggler spoke with 570 NEWS' Mark Pare ahead of a busy SummerSlam weekend in Toronto
WWE Dolph Ziggler
Nic Nemeth (aka Dolph Ziggler), 2016. © Lionsgate / courtesy Everett Collection

You might call WWE Superstar Dolph Ziggler a people person.

It takes a keen sense to read a crowd, whether it's thousands of screaming fans performing at a WrestleMania, or in front of a gathering of people at a comedy club down the road.

For the 39-year old from Cleveland, he seems to have a handle on it.

But it didn't come with challenges, admitting his first few times doing comedy felt "just as scary as my first couple times wrestling."

"You could be going to an open mic, and no one's expecting anything from you," Ziggler told 570 NEWS' Mark Pare in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

"But when you have someone who is --- I've worked for WWE for 14 years at such a high level --- they expect you to be awesome at what ever job you're doing."

And much like his work with World Wrestling Entertainment, Ziggler got into a groove.

"You feel it, there's a lot of improv involved, which I'm great at.  And the crowd work is fun, once you get a laugh, you get rolling.  You lose those nerves a little bit," he said.

"If you don't have those nerves, wrestling or stand-up, every single day, then you shouldn't be doing it."

Now, Toronto will get a taste of both this upcoming weekend for SummerSlam.  On top of WWE meet-and-greets, he'll have comedy at the Rec Room at 10:30 p.m. Saturday (timed strategically so fans attending NXT TakeOver can walk over after).

And when both worlds converge during a big WWE event weekend, Ziggler says there are a few perks. 

"I'll have tons of surprise guests, which makes it really fun," he said.

Some shows of the past have had the likes of fellow WWE Superstars Curt Hawkins, Zack Ryder, R-Truth and Luke Harper show up.

Now, the WWE product is a little more PG nowadays, so I was curious to see how dark Ziggler gets with his comedy.

He says he's pretty family friendly, and can mix it up a bit --- "If you work blue, you can't get on Carson, so remember that" --- but there is a separation.  He says it is actually Ziggler, the person, performing stand-up comedy, although you can expect some WWE stories in his routine, along with the jokes, a Q+A session and a VIP meet-and-greet beforehand.

But it's not to say he won't go a little dark.

"In the Q+A, if everyone promises not to record, I get pretty deep and pretty candid in the stories," Ziggler added.

But already with a packed WWE schedule, it means more work for Ziggler, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I don't like being at home," he said, "When I can pack it all in to a week or two straight, of just travelling around and doing what I love, you get into a better rhythm that way, you get the shows in, you get the reps in, and it just goes hand-in-hand with me trying to be a showman, trying to be a superstar.  All these shows compliment each other, and just make me that much better."

Even if it means opting to perform stand up on his days off from the ring.

On the days he does make it home, Ziggler is still working, whether it's writing in ways to advance his on-screen character or ways to tell a joke on stage.

But in a classic case of art imitating life, his on-screen rivalry with The Miz --- a fellow Clevelander --- is anything but a laughing matter.

Once Ziggler is off the Rec Room stage, his focus will be on Sunday night and their match at SummerSlam inside Scotiabank Arena.

Or so he thought.

On the final segment of RAW Monday night, it was revealed their match will actually happen at next week's edition of RAW in Toronto.

At SummerSlam, Ziggler will instead face WWE Hall of Famer Goldberg.

Nonetheless, he wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to send a message to his rival, who he called the "part-time Miz."

"The guy whose doing reality shows, and different shows on his own time and calling off, not always being there for WWE cause he's got his head so far up his own butt, making sure he looks good on-camera with his sunglasses on indoors," Ziggler noted.

"I love his work ethic, I love that he's had to work so hard just to get respect from the locker room.  And he takes it, and he makes it awesome.  And that's why he is where he is today."

"But someone like me, who won't ever get that pat on the back from the boss, who won't be told how great he is, whether he's there or not.  Someone like me is someone who challenges him every day to be better.  And the two of us going head-to-head used to be a friendly rivalry.  But when I'm genuinely jealous of someone like Kofi (Kingston) becoming (WWE) Champion, genuinely jealous of someone like Miz constantly getting opportunities and different shows and different ways to make himself better."

"I want to beat the living hell out of him in front of everybody else, just to show how damn good I am."

So whether focusing in on his opponent in the ring, or telling jokes on a stage, it's clear Ziggler is all business.

And SummerSlam weekend will be no different.

LISTEN IN to our interview below.



Mark Pare

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