On this week's episode of WWE SmackDown, newly crowed U.S. champion Dolph Ziggler surprised fans by leaving the belt in the ring and walking away. While this could very likely just be a normal plot turn in the world of WWE, it wouldn't be too shocking to learn that it was the company's way of actually writing the decorated superstar off of its programming for real, at least for awhile. One need only remember names like Dave Batista and Chris Jericho to realize that WWE sometimes uses storyline exits to explain real-life ones.
While Ziggler - at 37-years-old - is by no means at the age where retiring starts to feel necessary, the former world champion has hinted at the possibility in recent years. A standout in amateur wrestling at Kent State University, Ziggler has never known a professional life outside of the confines of WWE. He went straight from college to WWE developmental in 2004, and made his main roster debut in 2006, as part of The Spirit Squad stable. After a brief trip back to developmental. Ziggler returned in his current gimmick, which has grown and evolved significantly since his days of introducing himself backstage in 2008.
Quite skilled in the ring and talented on the mic as well, Dolph Ziggler has gone on to rack up a list of WWE accomplishments that all but guarantees his future entry into the WWE Hall of Fame. In addition to being a 2-time world champion, Ziggler has also held the U.S. title twice, the intercontinental title twice, the tag team titles with the rest of the Spirit Squad, and successfully won and cashed in a Money in the Bank contract. There's little Ziggler hasn't done, and this past Sunday's Clash of Champions pay-per-view saw him capture his second US. title from champion Baron Corbin. One would have expected Ziggler to be jubilant on SmackDown, but that wasn't the case.
Instead, a morose Ziggler ran down his list of accolades, then said that no matter what he does, the fans don't appreciate him. Thus, he'd decided to give them something to remember him by. Ziggler then dropped the U.S. title in the ring, and left. Not only did he seemingly relinquish the championship, but his abrupt exit carried the impression that he's leaving WWE programming entirely.
Now, all wrestling fans know that those within the business love to "work" the fans, especially the internet fans who sometimes think they know all there is to know about the backstage goings on. With that in mind, it's unclear if Ziggler's exit is real or not, but it very well could be, if he's decided to pursue other entertainment industry opportunities outside WWE. That scenario has been floated in the past, and it might finally be happening. If Dolph Ziggler's leaving WWE is in fact real, the big question mark would be why they decided to give him the US. title on the way out, and what will become of the championship next week.