Editor’s Note: Bill Bodkin is filling for Michael Dworkis this due to Michael’s observance of the Jewish holiday.
There’s so much we could talk about in this column. The El Rey Network’s Lucha Underground received an official premiere date (October 29th), Prince Devitt made his NXT debut and got a new name (Finn Balor) and there’s rumblings TNA will either sign a new deal with SpikeTV or go to another network very shortly. And of course there was Chikara’s King of Trios and Colt Cabana’s amazing podcast with Diamond Dallas Page.
But, none of them are even worth talking about this week, because we need to talk about how we’ve seen the future of the WWE and his name is Dean Ambrose.
Ambrose made his return to the ring this week and man did he make people care again. How can I gauge that? Well, let’s just say the two most well-read RAW reviews on this site in the last quarter were when Ambrose got curb stomped through concrete and his return this week. The difference between those weeks and the weeks he was gone is exponential.
Why is Ambrose the hottest thing in wrestling right now?
The answer is simple — he’s unpredictable.
Dean Ambrose has done absolutely nothing different to his character since when he first came into the WWE. Yes, he’s altered his ring attire. But, he’s the exact same guy — the lunatic fringe, the wildcard, the maniac, the trash-talking motormouth who reads the book of DILIGAF every single day.
He isn’t kissing babies and pandering to the audience. He isn’t running to the aid of the top baby face. He isn’t an altruistic superman who defends the honor and integrity of the people.
He’s still, in essence, a villain, who people just happen to love.
Hmmm…does this ring a bell?
I said does it sound familiar?
You’ve heard this one before.
That’s right. This is the exact same formula that got “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to become one of the most popular wrestlers in the history of the business. The right thing is being done with Dean Ambrose right now — they’re letting him be an exaggerated version of himself. He’s different in every way — he has a non-traditional wrestling physique, his promos are wild and feel unscripted, his in-ring work is highly unorthodox but still grounded in tradition. He defies the standard that the WWE has set for what a “top guy” looks like — muscle, an arsenal of catchphrases, silly signature moves and the ability to read the WE script verbatim and sell the product.
Ambrose is anything but this and because of this fact, he’s perceived as adding this dangerous, unpredictable element to the show. There’s nothing patented or vintage about Ambrose. We can’t expect the same match from him every night. We can’t expect the same promo every night. And, as evidenced by his mic work with John Cena — we can’t trust him to be a traditional baby face, who blindly supports the other baby faces.
And yeah, I’m an Ambrose guy. When he was the member of The Shield I always thought he could become the next Roddy Piper. The guy stands out. His bounce through the ropes clothesline (first made famous by Nigel McGuinness) makes me pop every single time. Dirty Deeds has evolved from a silly finish to a bad ass maneuver. The way he brawls with reckless abandon is great — he throws his punches like a guy in a fight not someone who’s wrestling. I also feel he gets “it” more than other wrestlers. He pays attention to the little things — the details of a match and storyline. He understands how to sell for his opponents and all his bumps are logical, not big, over-the-top circus flops that look cool but make no sense in the context of the match.
Dean Ambrose, more than Roman Reigns and in some respects Seth Rollins, has the best chance to become a massive WWE superstar. He has all the tools, he stands out from every other performer from an atheistic and in-ring perspective and most importantly, he adds a sense of unpredictability to a sport that has become nothing but predictable. Here’s hoping the WWE sees this too.