Dolph Ziggler has had an odd 2017. Despite an attempted run as a heel, Ziggler has found himself perpetually involved in arbitrary battle royals. In fact, that was the last time we saw him on WWE television - being the first man eliminated in Smackdown's Independence Battle Royal.
So what gives? Ziggler is a very talented in-ring performer who can work on the microphone better than most. According to Bryan Alvarez of the Wrestling Observer, Ziggler is in the process of refurbishing his character:
"I don't know what he's going to do, but he's going to be repackaged, whatever that means."
We can only speculate from here, but it's safe to say a rebranded Ziggler is overdue. While his heel turn had decent moments with Jerry Lawler and Shinsuke Nakamura, it never truly hit with WWE fans.
Another Superstar Shake Up is rumored to be scheduled sometime after SummerSlam. Perhaps a change of scenery could help Ziggler. Besides, Sami Zayn already took his role on SmackDown as the lovable loser.
The routes WWE can go with Ziggler may be endless. As a proven WWE veteran, Ziggler can be dropped in any program and at least have an average amount of success. An interesting point to address is the fact that WWE is considering demoting Superstars to NXT. Much of the wrestling media have been quick to toss Ziggler into the relegation pool. It's hard to imagine someone who has as much salt on their boots as Ziggler accepting such a position, but from our perspective, it's impossible to tell what Dolph's sentiments would be on an NXT run.
However earlier this year, a little birdie named Shinsuke Nakamura may have let Ziggler's plans slip. During an interview on the now dead Talking Smack, Shinsuke hinted that Dolph would likely be "heading to Japan soon." The honest remark caught host Renee Young on her heels and the subject has not been addressed since. For Ziggler, Japan may be his most appealing option.
He’s been a valuable asset to WWE, playing the part of a mid-card gatekeeper for up and coming stars. But for Ziggler, the yearning for something more significant is all too real. He could be fantastic in Japan, if not, at least highly paid.
If the end is indeed near for Ziggler, no one can deny that he’s had a nice run in WWE. He’s developed a solid cult following through the years and still owns one of the loudest moments in recent WWE history (MITB cash-in on Alberto Del Rio). WWE would be losing one of its purest wrestlers as well, but Ziggler’s exit could create breathing room for guys like Sami Zayn.