Despite making the final four of this year's Royal Rumble on January 27, Dolph Ziggler has yet to appear on WWE programming since the event. This extended absence, as well as previous rumors suggesting that Ziggler was preparing to wrestle his final dates before his WWE contract expired, has led many fans to wonder about his status with the company.
In an interview Wednesday on the Wrestling Inside the Ropes podcast, Ziggler broke his silence by discussing his contract status and explaining that he is "technically" still under contract with WWE. As quoted by Wrestling Inc., the 38-year-old Monday Night Raw wrestler said that he has something akin to a "handshake agreement" with the company that allows him to focus on non-wrestling endeavors, such as his stand-up comedy performances.
"It's weird because for the last two years I've had somewhat of a handshake agreement, kind of behind closed doors deal with WWE. I've been able to do a lot of things, on my own, not at WWE, just because of the relationship we've had for the last 14 years."Although he did assure fans that he hasn't quietly left WWE despite what his long absence might have suggested, Dolph Ziggler followed up the above comments by promising that there will be "more details" to come regarding his status with WWE in the months to follow. Due to how he is widely seen as a talented wrestler who has never gotten the big main event push he deserves, rumors suggesting that Ziggler might be leaving WWE once his contract expires have been swirling on and off for more than a few years. About a week and a half before this year's Royal Rumble, PWInsider reported that Dolph was believed to be "done" with WWE after rejecting an offer to shift to a backstage producer role. The outlet's sources noted that Ziggler had changed his social media information to reflect his real name (Nic Nemeth), and was expected by some to be departing WWE by the end of January.
As reported by The Inquisitr on January 27, Ziggler said in an interview that he was "on hiatus" from WWE and was not going to be appearing at the Royal Rumble that same night. However, he surprised fans at the Chase Field in Phoenix by showing up as the 28th entrant in the show's titular main event, as he most notably threw former tag team partner Drew McIntyre out of the ring before getting eliminated later on by eventual runner-up Braun Strowman.