Former KSU wrestler ‘Dolph Ziggler’ wins WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Richie Mulhall

Former Kent State wrestler turned professional wrestler Nick Nemeth, also known as “Dolph Ziggler,” won the World Wrestling Entertainment’s World Heavyweight Championship on “Monday Night Raw.”

Nemeth won the Money in the Bank briefcase back in July, which guaranteed him a shot at wrestling the World Heavyweight Championship to obtain the title. Monday night, after Jose Rodriguez, “Alberto Del Rio,” defended the title against Jacob Hager, “Jack Swagger,” Nemeth cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to steal the show from Rodriguez and to capture the championship belt.

Rodriguez injured his leg and could hardly stand after defeating Hager. Seeing the reigning champ wounded and defenseless, Nemeth jumped on the opportunity to seize the title. Nemeth rushed to the ring, cashed in the briefcase and ordered the referee to begin the match. Nemeth almost lost when his arm got caught in Rodriguez’s notorious Cross Armbreaker submission hold, but Nemeth was able to counter and strike Rodriguez with his signiature finishing maneuver, “The Zig-Zag,” to get the 1-2-3 pinfall victory.

Nemeth’s wrestling career and rise to superstardom in WWE has roots in Kent State University. The Cleveland native arrived at Kent State in 1998 after excelling in wrestling at St. Edward High School, where he set the school record for pins with 82.

Nemeth made an immediate impact as a Golden Flash, becoming a three-time MAC champion and finishing his collegiate career as Kent State’s all-time leader in victories with 121. Nemeth’s record has since been surpassed, but his 121 wins still stand out and rank fourth among all-time career victory leaders.

Kent State head wrestling coach Jim Andrassy said Nemeth was a highly dedicated amateur wrestler who was good at what he did. He said Nemeth’s passion for professional wrestling reflected in his time at Kent State because it was something he always wanted to do.

“I remember back in practices, he used to work on professional wrestling more so than the actual wrestling stuff, so here he is, years later, and he’s doing what he wants to do,” Andrassy said, “having fun with it and making a career out of it.”

After graduating from Kent State in 2003, Nemeth signed a developmental contract with WWE and was trained by Ohio Valley Wrestling, WWE’s professional wrestling developmental promotion at the time. He made his television debut in 2005.

Now wrestling under the name “Dolph Ziggler,” a smug, cocky and charismatic character who calls himself “The Showoff,” Nemeth has won multiple WWE titles, including the Intercontinental Championship, the United States Championship, the World Tag Team Championship and, of course, the World Heavyweight Championship, which he won twice.

With Nemeth’s cash-in and newly seized status as World Heavyweight Champion, his professional wrestling career is sure to flourish as he continues his steady climb to the top.

“He’s an entertainer, and he’s done a good job at it and worked hard to keep his body in great shape,” Andrassy said. “He’s very entertaining in his life career, and he’s doing a great a job, and he’s representing Kent State in a good way.”

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].