Nic Nemeth discusses NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 18 appearance, his WWE exit & being a free agent

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Nemeth’s first post-WWE interview. 

In attendance at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 18 was two-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion Nic Nemeth f.k.a. Dolph Ziggler. He was seated front row alongside his brother Ryan Nemeth and later in the show, Nic got into a brawl with newly-crowned IWGP Global Heavyweight Champion David Finlay. 

After a near 20-year career with WWE, Nemeth is a free agent and he spoke about how that feels while on Busted Open Radio. He had been preparing for his time in the company to end for close to a year. He was not surprised when that time came

Nemeth stated that he knew he was being paid too much money to be at home as much as he was. For six months, he sent emails to ‘the boss’ saying it was time to move on. 

It’s weird, because I was preparing for the last six, eight, 10 months going, ‘At some point, they have to make a change here.’ So, as you get ready to go and you see that you don’t have a chance to be in a pay-per-view match and steal the show. You don’t have a chance to have a six-minute match and steal the show. You have a match where at this point, it’s three minutes and you don’t get an entrance on the show and everybody knows who’s winning the match on the show. Can I find a way to have that work? And then once that started happening, you know, a couple of a years ago when (Robert) Roode and I were tagging, we’d have three, four or five minute matches so, I was starting to think about, hey man, at some point I need to be back ready to go. Will my shape and stamina still be there? So, I’ve been preparing for this so long and getting things ready to go that I wasn’t like, what!? What did I do now!? I’m free! Or whatever. It was, I was planning this for the half of this entire last contract with WWE going, ‘I know at some point, I am being paid way too much money to sit at home. So I’m gonna have to get out of here.’ So, I just always wanted to be ready to go, just in case they said, hey, by the way, I know you’ve been doing 90-second matches. Can you do 35 minutes on TV with The Undertaker? You damn right I can. So I was ready to go anyway. I just wanted to have every option available and so, it wasn’t out of the blue and I sent a few emails to the boss for the last six months, definitively saying, ‘I have to move on somewhere else. Can you let me do this?’ And eventually, without exact back and forth, that’s how it worked out so, it wasn’t weird, because it was those six-to-eight, 10 months in place for me going, ‘Here it comes, here it comes. Okay, great.’ Now I have 90 days of sitting around which is gonna break my heart but I gotta do it and I’ll just take up the extra workouts and everything like that.

Looking at what his position could be in the current wrestling landscape, he shared that he’s interested in being the ‘hired gun’ who shows up to different territories, makes something happen, puts on a great match with the champion and then leaves. 

I don’t care what people other say, but I’m really looking forward to going — the things I do behind the scenes or in the ring that I have the last 20 years in WWE, bringing that to several different places and maybe even as a hired gun, bouncing around and just saying, here’s what I pitched to WWE 20 years ago: For me to be a modern-day Ric Flair who shows up in a territory and makes something happen and steals the show with their champ without even knowing who the hell he is and then moves on to the next town. So hopefully something like that which I’ve been really looking forward to for a long time.

Circling back to his arrival to New Japan, he heard from Jon Moxley and other talents that he needed to see what the locker room is like. 

Within that response, Nemeth shared that in past media appearances when he would say he hates wrestling, it was usually a joke and he just hated what he was doing at the time. When he walked out in front of the audience in the Tokyo Dome, he realized how big the opportunity was. He did not get a chance to look around beforehand because he was hidden away. 

So, two different ways, I was thinking about that for a long time, going different places for the last few years, especially focusing on, hey, what do I wanna do for the next move here? And that’s been for a few years, working on a plan, I go, first and foremost, I’ve heard so many different things from Ambrose (Jon Moxley) and all these different guys about how, ‘You need to see what this locker room is like. You need to see what it feels like to be there’ and I go, ‘Man, I wonder if — can I adapt to this?’ I feel like I can adapt to anything. Can I? So you do a little homework and you bounce around and you go, ‘Man, this would be something really special.’ One, I’ve made a career out of famously saying, ‘I don’t watch wrestling. I hate it.’ All these different things. It’s usually a joke. But, I just hated what I was doing, that you couldn’t really critique it at home so I go, ‘Oh, I hate wrestling,’ blah, blah, blah. But then you get a moment where you go, I can, one, be a part of something special but two, see a completely different environment. Not just go to a different state and wrestle, go to a different company in the United States. To expand and go, I feel like I can do everything here. Now I’m gonna start over other places. Can I start from the bottom or the middle and recreate it? Almost like that Twilight Zone where the guy went, ‘Watch me go back in time’ and go, ‘Can I remake my fortune?’ Can I remake my career on a different level on a 2.0 scale? And I really thought after laying into, ‘Nah, I don’t watch wrestling, I don’t care, I’m retired’ that I feel like — and going above and beyond to secretly get to Japan and putting this all in place and just getting there and walking into the locker room and knowing two or three faces which really helped because I was really going somewhere, I brought my brother (Ryan Nemeth) with me and where I didn’t know people. I didn’t know — it was like, well am I welcome in this locker room? Am I a scumbag to these guys? Am I someone who’s okay? Can I earn my way into this locker room? What’s the situation? And it was so weird but fun because you see a couple of faces. Like, oh! Okay and you think, I’m kind of at home, I’m not accepted yet. How can I get accepted? What can I do to prove that I want to be here? Not for myself, but to help, to make the show better, to make the company better, to make more eyes come on this. Can I help out? And you really start to think that you can and you watch and I really got to watch closely a lot of that entire card and some of it from the front row which was really fun and just watching it in person, I go, ‘Okay, this is different, this is special. I can go with this. Oh, I can do something with this guy.’ This guy here, I go, oh, I can really see this aspect of me going here and making things happen and walking — since I was a surprise, I didn’t get a chance to walk around in the arena a couple hours before and go, woah! This a big f’ing deal. I was hidden in the back and when my brother and I walked out, I went, ‘Oh my God. This is not just another level of different. This is big, this is huge’ and I got little shivers down the back of my neck here and I went, ‘Man, this could be something so special. I’m gonna do what I can to make that happen.’

There are several independent dates that Nemeth is scheduled for. New Japan has not announced him for upcoming tours or shows, but in his post-match segment with David Finlay, Nic expressed interest in the Global Heavyweight Title.

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Busted Open Radio with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.