There’s been a lot of discussion around the name Dean Ambrose over the past few months, dating back to a comment made by The Miz on an episode of Raw where he called Ambrose complacent and lazy. A comment which many associated to big names in the back sending the former member of The Shield a message. So what exactly happened to the man who many once lauded as the potential break out star of The Shield? Well, hopefully, I can tell you.
Let’s start by going all the way back to the break-up of the aforementioned Shield. The program itself could have been handled much better than it was, but for the most part each of the 3 members came out of the gates looking strong and each one their own man (We can ignore the fact that Reigns continued to use the music and attire). Fast forward and it was Dean Ambrose who truly “earned his stripes” by working his way up the card, in much the same way as many wanted Jinder to be built. Hot feuds with Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt, as well as a 351-day reign as the United States Champion, the third longest reign in history, solidified his dominance over the mid to upper-mid card and it was time to start looking up. Ambrose was put into a program with “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar, going into Wrestlemania 32. A true step up for the “Lunatic Fringe”, and a worthy opponent for someone who WWE at the time saw as one of the top guys. Ambrose, however, went on to be very vocal about how he found Lesnar hard to work with (An issue we’ll touch on again), and their match on the grandest stage of them all was less than inspiring.
Following Wrestlemania, Ambrose went into a feud with Chris Jericho. The feud was over well enough, but for all the wrong reasons. Ambrose was suddenly being treated as more of a joke character than before, with WWE going full-board on the lunatic side of his character. Although Ambrose wasn’t quite at the levels of comic-relief, the feud’s reliance on a plant called Mitch (Good name btw) wasn’t the best of routes to take for such a hot prospect. Another dud pay-off with the Ambrose Asylum match and the warning signs were there. The WWE didn’t see it this way though and great things were still to come.
The trigger was finally pulled at the 2016 Money In The Bank PPV, where Ambrose climbed the ladder, retrieved the briefcase and went on to cash it in later that night against the man who broke up The Shield, Seth Rollins. In what would be a historic night due to the entirety of The Shield holding the WWE Title at some point on the same night, it would also be the beginning of a decent run as Champion for the lunatic fringe.
After successfully defending the Championship against Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in a long desired Triple Threat match, Dean Ambrose was the 1st Draft Pick for Smackdown, going over to the Blue Brand, title in tow. Then things started to go down hill.
It’s hard to pinpoint where the blame exactly lies for what happens next, but there a number of reasons we can look at for why Ambrose just didn’t work on Smackdown. A kick-starter feud with Dolph Ziggler, who had been a solidified mid-carder for years at this point, was the first miss-step made. The feud wasn’t over with the crowd and Ambrose was losing steam quickly. His very next title defence came against the hottest act in the WWE, AJ Styles, who he dropped the title to first time around. That was it for Ambrose as Champion, his reign was over and his only notable feud had come in the form of Shield triple threat that people had wanted to see for years. One James Ellsworth feud later and Dean Ambrose was fast on his way to the mid-card as a borderline comedy act.
It’s my own personal opinion that the WWE blames Dean Ambrose for his own downfall, citing the disappointments of his feuds with Lesnar and Jericho as examples of him not taking the ball and running with it. They likely also noted that his feud with Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns was always going to be massively over, regardless of the effort put in by the 3 men. I think, however, that the answer is more evenly balanced between Ambrose, who I think became very apathetic once his character became less serious and more comedy-reliant, and the WWE writing staff who booked him into that corner.
Ambrose certainly didn’t help his cause by outwardly criticising Brock Lesnar and by delivering a famously flat performance on the Steve Austin network interview. Being put down by Austin and getting on the wrong side of Lesnar was probably one of the final nails in the Ambrose coffin, and whilst many will blame WWE for that, you have to take into consideration that the WWE gave Ambrose plenty of opportunity to succeed. They made a big deal out of Ambrose, but it didn’t work, these things happen. Ambrose isn’t finished in the company, and he certainly isn’t entirely to blame, so let’s see if things can be rekindled. Only time will tell.
But that’s just one Mark’s opinion. Let me know what you think by finding me on Twitter @Mitchadams2013