After a four month hiatus, Dolph Ziggler returned on the May 21 episode of SmackDown Live, appearing via the wild card rule, and viciously attacked WWE Champion Kofi Kingston. Ziggler then challenged Kingston to a match for the WWE Championship at Super ShowDown, which Kingston accepted.
Kingston won the match thanks to interference from fellow New Day member Xavier Woods, and Ziggler challenged Kingston to a steel cage match at Stomping Grounds that Kingston won via escaping the cage. Ziggler was also officially moved to SmackDown around this time.
Ziggler lost to Kevin Owens at Extreme Rules in 17 seconds. In a long interview with The News-Press, Ziggler commented on coming back after his hiatus: “It was the first time I’ve had a vacation in almost 14 years.
I needed a little time off and I asked for it. It was like 2½ months or something. And by the way, during that 2½ months, I still worked out once or twice a day and got a ton of stand-up comedy in. I was doing a ton of traveling.
I was a little bit nervous getting back in the ring. But someone who’s an old pro like me, who’s done it for so long, the muscle memory was still there. Everything worked out. Maybe about two minutes in, I was right back to being me and getting everything accomplished in there and jumping high and running the ropes and going, ‘OK, here we go!'”