He was a three-time All-Mid-American Conference champion, winning the 165 lb (75 kg) tournament in 2000, 2002, and 2003; as of 2010, he is the last wrestler from Kent State University to have won three amateur wrestling championships.

He was assigned to their developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), debuting as "Nick Nemeth".

On the February 26, 2010 episode of Smack Down, Ziggler defeated John Morrison and R-Truth in a triple threat qualifying match to compete in the Money in the Bank ladder match at Wrestle Mania XXVI, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

On the January 4, 2011 episode of NXT, Ziggler won a battle royal to earn the right to choose a new rookie, and chose Byron Saxton.

His original rookie, Novak, was the first rookie eliminated later that night.

On March 22, Nemeth and Allen won the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship by defeating defending champions Eddie Colón and Eric Pérez, but lost the championship to Colón and Pérez on April 15.

Ziggler competed in the 2009 Royal Rumble match, in which he was eliminated by Kane after 21 seconds.

They later became a part of the ongoing scripted feud between WWE chairman Vince Mc Mahon and Shawn Michaels.

The heel Mc Mahon brought in the Squad to attack Michaels on numerous occasions, including placing them in multiple handicap matches.At the same time as their feud with DX and their alignment with Mc Mahon, the Squad also wrestled other teams in Raw's tag division over their World Tag Team Championship, successfully defending the championship against the teams of Jim Duggan and Eugene, Charlie Haas and Viscera, and Snitsky and Val Venis.The group disbanded on the November 27 episode of Raw, when they were defeated in a five-on-three handicap match by DX and Flair.The match never started, however; instead the Spirit Squad attacked Michaels, and, as part of the storyline, shattered his knee with a steel chair.DX played various sophomoric jokes on the Squad and the Mc Mahons, as well as defeating the Spirit Squad in handicap tag team matches at Vengeance and a clean sweep in an elimination handicap match at Saturday Night's Main Event.but lost the title to Kingston at Smack Down on January 4, ending a five-month reign at 160 days.