>>> Nick Nemeth’s career path was determined when he was in kindergarten.
“True story. When I was 5 years old, I went to my first WWE live event with my dad. I loved it so much I wanted to start wrestling,” he said in a telephone interview. “Two months later, I was wrestling at 5 years old. It’s been a dream job since I was a child.”
Wrestling — the amateur kind — held most of his attention through school in Cleveland and won him a full-ride scholarship to Kent State University, where he majored in political science with a pre-law minor.
Through the years, Nemeth became Dolph Ziggler (Dolph is his grandfather’s name, Ziggler was suggested by a friend) and he’s been a permanent part of World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE, since 2006. He’ll be among the wrestlers for a taping of “WWE Smackdown” taking place Tuesday at the i wireless Center in Moline.
Ziggler said it’s almost a completely different world when one goes from amateur to pro wrestling.
“If you watch amateur wrestling, you know it’s not very much fun to watch sometimes. I get into (seeing) it because I love it,” he said. “But the higher level you get, the more boring it is and the guys are really talented, so they don’t really score very many points.”
After he was hired for a WWE development deal and made his way to the top level of the organization, Ziggler said he worked as hard as he could, attending two practices a day and soaking in as much as possible.
“I had been coming from the collegiate world and I wanted to be good — I wanted to be great,” the 32-year-old said. “They appreciated my hard work and love for the business.”
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Ziggler caught the attention of WWE fans this month when he won the “Money in the Bank” competition in which the winner gets a jackpot and the loser’s contract is terminated.
“I just theoretically retired Chris Jericho,” Ziggler said.
The man who determined his path as a 5-year-old said that every day with WWE is a dream come true.
“I’d been such a fan and paid such close attention that there weren’t too many (surprises),” he said. “But it’s like any other job. There’s politics involved, there’s being friends with different people, knowing what to say and what not to say.
“I always saw myself as a great sports entertainer and wanted to be the best,” he added. “I have prided myself on my matches and work and entertainment. I want to be, at the end of my career, the greatest ever.”