The life of a professional wrestler is one of chairshots, title shots and a whole lot of travel. I recently sat down to chat with WWE's Dolph Ziggler to discuss how he handles the rigours of very regular travel.
Before you ask, no, his parents didn't name him Dolph Ziggler. That's his stage (or in the WWE's case, "Superstar") name. Ziggler was in Sydney for a whirlwind 3-day visit prior to the already concluded (by the time you read this) WWE Royal Rumble in Arizona, meaning he'd already clocked up more than a few frequent flyer miles by the time I talked to him. So what's in his essential travel bag?
I need a book or two with me at all times, because we do a lot of flights; a lot of waiting to catch a connection to a flight, or this — a fourteen hour flight over to Australia — some kind of snacks — I'm always hungry, so there's a protein bar in there somewhere — and right now, my Money In The Bank briefcase.
All that travel brings with it the dread prospect of airlines losing his luggage:
It happens all the time. I keep the mandatory stuff with me by carrying it with me. I've got my boots, my trunks, and that Money In The Bank contract no matter what. But everything else is in my luggage — anything you can think of. Extra underwear, extra socks, clothes, tanner, toothpaste, I've had it lost before overseas. It's a real bummer.
Many may think of wrestlers as meatheads, but that's a very broad stereotype. Ziggler was en route to a law degree before getting his WWE developmental contract, and lists his favourite thing to do while waiting for transit as reading. However, he's still a fan of the old-fashioned paperback:
I got a Kindle a year ago and I still haven't used it much. There's just something . . . I don't know. It's great, I love the technology, I love that you can download all these books and my favourite time to read is on a plane. I'm on them all the time, but a lot of the time you hit that warning "OK, turn off all your electronic devices" and that's key reading time, so I put the Kindle down and open up one of my books. So it's a great invention, but I like holding a book in my hands.
He also spends spare time writing. Over the last year that's included writing comedy for his just-concluded YouTube Show WWE Download, which he admits is filled with "cheesy" clips and his own carefully-written quips:
"For this last year, it was mostly jokes for Download, but I just write basically . . not quite standup, but jokes and material. I have a long laundry list of things, and maybe in the next couple of months I'll try it out somewhere. I usually write on my phone; just jot an idea down, and something else comes for it, and I throw it in there.
His phone of choice is an iPhone, but that wasn't always the case:
I use an iPhone. I had a Blackberry forever, because I love those clicking keys; the first couple of weeks with the iPhone I hated touchscreens. Now it doesn't leave my hand.
Wrestling is a physically tough profession, but it's one that Ziggler approached with a backup career plan, as he was already (US) college educated, having studied political science and pre-law at Kent State University.
That was a deal I made with my parents and myself: I'm going to have a degree, a possibility for a job if WWE doesn't work out. I want it to work out, I've trained my whole life for it to work out, but you never know. So I had a backup plan.