The biggest WWE news of the week (and probably the year so far) is that former WWE Champion Dean Ambrose is not going to stay with WWE when his contract expires in April. Following the initial report from Pro Wrestling Torch, WWE issued their own statement on the matter:
“Dean Ambrose (Jonathan Good) will not be renewing his contract with WWE when it expires in April. We are grateful and appreciative of all that Dean has given to WWE and our fans. We wish him well and hope that one day Dean will return to WWE.”
It was very peculiar to see WWE issue a statement like that about a wrestler’s contract set to expire in a few months, but with Ambrose turning down millions in a new deal, WWE likely felt it was the best way to address the situation. The WWE statement also led fans to speculate that it might be a storyline. I think that’s unlikely because several credible websites have reported that Ambrose really is leaving. It’s WWE, though, so people are always going to question things and that’s understandable.
In a follow up to this story, Mike Johnson of PWInsider wrote that at Smackdown this week in Phoenix, there was a “big flurry of activity” backstage at Smackdown with WWE officials wanting to meet with wrestlers who have deals that are set to expire in the next year or two. Apparently, WWE was seeking out these people because they want to sign them to new deals.
It was reported by Johnson that WWE wants to sign some talents to five-year contracts similar to The Miz and Kevin Owens last year. The Miz, who is 38 years old, signed an extension last July while Owens, who is 34 years old, revealed last May that he had re-signed with WWE for five more years.
The story from Johnson continued with him speculating that the departure of Ambrose and the possibility of him going to All Elite Wrestling likely caused all this. The report concluded with Johnson noting that wrestlers backstage were “in amazement” watching management trying to secure new deals for talent.
“Man, I can look at it from the office’s point of view. I can look at it from the wrestler’s point of view. The thing that screamed out to me [from Mike Johnson’s report] was if it was a work why would WWE be trying to sign everybody to longer term contracts?”
“It sounds like this situation has them nervous. Because if they’re scurrying to sign everyone to longer deals what would force them to do that?”
He makes a good point. I don’t know if nervous is the right word, but clearly, there’s more of a sense of urgency for WWE management to want to keep their talent from leaving because they know that AEW has the funds to offer the talent some big contracts.
TJR Thoughts: Will this lead to fewer people wondering if this Ambrose story is a work? Probably not because wrestling fans are always going to assume things are a work. I strongly believe the story is legit and that Dean is leaving in April because he wants to try something else in his life whether that’s AEW or some career that isn’t pro wrestling. He has reportedly saved his money well, so if he wants to move on, that’s his choice.