He shouldn’t have achieved this. His ascent to the top is among the most unlikely of stories. In fact, if someone bet their entire life savings that Dean Ambrose would be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, they would have got great odds as the likelihood of winning seemed remote. However, as many saw, after winning the Money In The Bank ladder match, he cashed in his championship opportunity against the winner of the Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns championship match. As it turned out, it was Rollins that had an opportunity cashed in on him.
Even with Ambrose capturing the title, there had to be doubted among wrestling fans. The fairy tale would end before it ever had a chance to be told. That in some way, when Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins squared off against one another there was little likelihood of Ambrose walking away still the champion. If we were to play the odds, there was a 33% chance of him, compared to a 50% chance of him winning a one-on-one match up against either Reigns or Rollins. However, something unexpected happened. The Draft between Raw and Smackdown Live put Ambrose in a very different light; he was no longer going to have to play second (or third) fiddle to Rollins or Reigns. He would undoubtedly be the one that would represent a brand entirely on his own.
While he is surrounded by several top tier talents, Ambrose has had the title of flagbearer bestowed upon him. In every sense of the word, Ambrose is the anti-leader. He is the counter culture that really embodies Smackdown. That isn’t just a cliché or a buzzword that either Daniel Bryan or Shane McMahon has stated. Ambrose to Smackdown is similar to what CM Punk meant to ECW when WWE created a third brand. It seems like the right fit for all involved; his championship reign, while somewhat surprising, we have seen this coming if we paid closer attention to his recent the Intercontinental championship reign. While capturing that title doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the victor will one day hold the top championship, it certainly heightened the odds.
What the company wanted was for an underdog to come out on top and defy the odds, which is what happened when Ambrose rose to the top of the card. Despite often being compared to the likes of Roddy Piper, Ambrose appeared to be headed in a different direction. He was cool and calm at one moment and completely unhinged the next. Everything he did or said in the ring is and was believable. He had become the wrestler everyone wanted to see succeed, much like Daniel Bryan. Truth be told, Ambrose’s real life story is one of overcoming a bad home life, among other obstacles, and making it to WWE. While some wrestlers often wish and dream to become bigger, and hope their time will come, Ambrose overcame the odds in so many ways to achieve that dream.
He dropped out of school, was homeless, and did whatever it took to make ends meet while training under Les Thatcher. Through it all he competed in matches that saw him spill blood in promotions such as CZW, before being given a shot as part of FCW, Florida Championship Wrestling. Whether it meant selling concessions at the arena, putting the ring together or handing out flyers to promote events, Ambrose was determined to succeed. During his time in FCW, Ambrose took part in feuds with Rollins, among others, but it seemed as though he was being put on the backburner while others received accolades for their work.
When The Shield arrived on the main roster, fans believed that, in the event the faction was to split, it was Ambrose that appeared to be the odds on favorite to move forward and achieve on his own. This was partly because when the group debuted, he immediately contended for a singles title whereas Reigns and Rollins were put together as a tag team and became the tag team champions. However, after the faction split, Ambrose appeared poised to contend in the companys mid-card as Reigns and Rollins were thrust into the main event. However, as fans became more and more disenchanted with Reigns, it was Ambrose whom they gravitated towards. He was unpredictable and appeared unscripted, and that’s what fans seemed to want to watch and listen to more of.
It is often said that the most successful characters are those that are a reflection of real-life, but turned up to 10, and Ambrose embodies that concept. His promos seem more empowered, and in fact lead his opposition to be taken aback. This was no more evident than Ambrose and Rollins’ exchange prior to Battleground. When Ambrose said something to the effect of ‘if you think I’d go through all of this just to get the title, what do you think I’m capable of doing to keep it?’ Rollins appeared almost frightened by the thought, as Ambrose showed that he wasn’t going to be pushed around and was just as much a threat with the title as without it.
As fans are aware, Ambrose captured the title and was now poised to defend the belt at SummerSlam against Dolph Ziggler. The match pits two men who have had their share of obstacles in a match against one another with the focus on wrestling. There isn’t animosity or jealousy between them, it is just clean, tough competition, despite their best efforts to try to get the better of the other.
A recent conversation that I had with a couple of friends was about Ambrose, and whether or not he is well suited to be head of the Smackdown brand. This wasn’t about whether or not he has the skill and ability to be the face of Smackdown, but rather if he’s surrounded with enough talent to have him in the role of World champion. Some had questioned Dolph Ziggler as the challenger for the title at Summer Slam, since he is someone that many haven’t cared about recently. This being the first major one-on-one defense for Ambrose, on an event that had to contend with Rollins and Balor WWE Universal heavyweight championship match, we had to conclude that the decision was for him to face another solid worker in order for the defense to be considered somewhat credible.
In Ziggler, fans knew what they are getting. He will sell Ambrose’s offense and work to look good himself in the process. Ambrose is equally equipped at making his opponent look good and while hitting his own offense as well. One of the most important things fans hope for from this match, in order to have a convincing story told, is time. Provided these two are given the time needed to make it as good as it can be, there won’t be doubt as to why Ziggler was the right choice for this title defense.
The company is firmly behind their decision to have Ambrose lead the Smackdown brand, or they wouldn’t have put the title on him and separated him from Rollins and Reigns. Fans can’t take the initial booking of Smackdown as being a slight on what he is capable of doing. Over the course of the year, his value has been growing with each and every opportunity presented before him. Since January he has: been one of the last two competitors in the Royal Rumble match; faced Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight championship at WWE Roadblock; battled Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania; won the Money in the Bank ladder match; and won the WWE World Heavyweight championship. While some wrestlers don’t accomplish one of these throughout their entire career, Ambrose has elevated to these heights over the past six months. He has either headlined or co-headlined events and have been a major part of the company’s popularity. If that doesn’t scream belief in you, then nothing will.
While comparisons to former WWE Heavyweight Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin are premature, WWE may have been able to capture that same spirit and energy that Austin had in Ambrose. He still appears reckless and unpredictable, but can seem more contained, then Austin was during his time. While they competed in two completely different eras, Ambrose possesses all the necessary characteristics to make him endearing to fans. His humor, while somewhat cheesy, does earn him a few laughs. His laidback nature that can quickly elevate to ten in a heartbeat also makes for some interesting television as well.
Moving him to Smackdown rather than having him on Raw wasn’t intended to dismiss him, but to attempt to create balance within the roster. With the upcoming additions of former champions Shelton Benjamin (recently delayed indefinitely due to an unfortunate injury) and Rhyno, Smackdown appears to be headed to add more depth and options within each tier of the roster on the brand. An Ambrose and AJ Styles feud is inevitable as well, and that’s a good thing. The question remains, does their feud result in Ambrose holding on to his title or is he simply holding it for Styles? Many will speculate that a Styles championship run is inevitable. However, it may not be that simple. In order to maintain Ambrose’s value, he needs to face several challengers for his title, including renewing an old feud that he had with Bray Wyatt. The new era is supposed to be about opportunity and creating new and fresh matches, but that isn’t to say renewing old hostilities is something that shouldn’t be considered as well.
Ambrose is primed to lead the Smackdown into the new year. With time, patience and a will to win, Ambrose has overcome many obstacles, and a little bit of criticism really is nothing in comparison.
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