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What’s next for Dean Ambrose?

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When the Shield literally stormed the ring in late-2012, it gave the trio of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns a very impactful debut. The stable had a meaningful run and a purpose for the year and a half that they were a unit on television. Seth had incredibly athletic matches, Roman was actually given time to get over as a monster, and Ambrose was a wild card that had a sense of danger about him. Granted, the general consensus was that the group was ended too early, but that’s often the nature of the beast for a product that has weekly TV.

Since the Shield split, Seth had a notable run as WWE champion, but injuries hindered much of his progress at the time, especially when he was on the shelf for what were key points in the evolution of his character. Thankfully, Rollins really rejuvenated his career within the past year and he’s arguably the best performer on Raw right now. In fact, the argument could be made that if he avoids any other major injuries, Rollins might have as much potential as anyone to be the top star on the Monday night show.

As was the plan since he signed a WWE deal after a failed stint in football, Roman Reigns was given the super push toward the heavyweight title,which was rejected by the audience. The numerous reasons for that were already discussed previously so there’s no reason to repeat it, but the point is, management had a clear path for what they wanted to do with Roman Reigns.

As mentioned, Dean Ambrose was a wild card, and it seems like WWE brass still haven’t fully utilized the skills that he brings to the table. In some ways, it almost seems like the writing team minimized his potential and put him in scenarios that didn’t effectively present his persona. Even prior to the Shield split, he won the US title, but rarely defended it and thus the title reign didn’t do much to elevate his status. Post-Shield, former WCW announcer Mark Madden summarized it well when he remarked that WWE booked Ambrose as “sitcom crazy” after some of the more cringe worthy segments he did on Raw.

Those attempts at lame comedy from the writing team were completely counterproductive to how to get the most from the Dean Ambrose character. Before he signed with WWE, Ambrose’s work on the independent scene as Jon Moxley garnered comparisons to the late Brian Pillman’s “loose cannon” persona from two decades ago. As a student of Les Thatcher’s HWA, Ambrose has the in-ring skills, but also excelled at promos. Quite simply, Ambrose could make the audience question if he was legitimately unbalanced, which is a rare accomplishment in the modern era.

Instead of being seen as legitimately dangerous, Ambrose was booked for segments with slime and a makeshift talk show set with Mitch the plant. Don’t get me wrong, Ambrose did as well as he could under the circumstances, but those scenarios didn’t showcase the best that he has to offer. Within the past few years, his feud with Chris Jericho is really the only storyline that stands out as memorable.

On paper, his WWE title run in mid-2016 might as the most important stage of his career thus far, but the context of that time frame tells a different story. His MITB cash-in was just two months after he had a very underwhelming match with Brock Lesnar at WM when it appeared that the former UFC heavyweight champion mailed it in for a bout that wasn’t in the main event spot. Ambrose lost to Lesnar, a booking decision that did nothing to benefit Brock since he was already established, and then won the title less than two months later via the MITB stipulation without a lot of momentum behind it. The run as WWE champion was decent, but nothing memorable and at its conclusion, Ambrose wasn’t exactly more over than he was previously.

He had a solid run as IC champion last year, but again, there wasn’t much progression from that because he was put into a Shield reunion during mid-2017 in an effort to try to get Roman Reigns over ahead of his WM 34 match against Lesnar. The reunion was cut short when Ambrose suffered a severe triceps injury that required surgery to repair, putting him on the sidelines for the past several months.

As disappointing as it is that Dean Ambrose got hurt, it actually provides an opportunity for a fresh start for him. Reportedly, he could be ready to return to the ring in August or September so how he resurfaces could point his career in a more progressive direction. In my opinion, the WWE missed the boat initially on Ambrose as a heel so he could return as a heel to give him more of an edge as a character. The key will be to present Ambrose as a dangerous persona on the show.

Too often, the “lunatic fringe” phrase was thrown around simply as a way to get it put on a t-shirt. Instead of monikers, allow Ambrose’s actions to generate an organic reaction from the audience. For example, don’t shoehorn the “hey, Ambrose is crazy” narrative, but rather let his portray of the character get the message across to the crowd. Make no mistake, Ambrose absolutely has the ability to make an unbalanced heel persona work and it would probably be the most effective way to use his solid mic skills. With Brock Lesnar MIA 95% of the time, Raw needs top-tier heels and Ambrose has the ability to do it.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta

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