Recent news within WWE has stated that the Lunatic Fringe, Dean Ambrose is to leave WWE once his contract expires after April this year. I was surprised about this news and to be honest, a little sad to hear he would be departing. Dean has had a very good stint in the WWE and since his Shield debut in 2012 at Survivor Series (he was part of NXT before this, but I’ll just stick to the main roster for now). In just over six years, Ambrose became part of one of the most popular factions in the history of professional wrestling and managed to capture multiple titles. Like many, I’ve always liked the Shield and all three of its members, but as it looks like the faction will never reunite again (although this is professional wrestling, and anything could happen) I wanted to take a look back at some memorable Dean Ambrose moments.
The Shield Debut
This was the night when three unknowns stormed into the arena and wreaked havoc on anyone they came across. It’s easy to forget that NXT was in its infancy back in 2012 and though there was a fan base for the product, it was nowhere as widespread or popular as it is today. WWE took a big risk by bringing in a relatively unknown group of men and having them high up the card. Some fans knew Seth Rollins’ former incarnation from Ring of Honor (Tyler Black), but Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose were new to a large majority of the WWE Universe. Their debut was impactful and memorable. They stated their intent from the off and were a devastating trio. WWE was experimenting with factions around this time and though the New Day weren’t established at that time, the Wyatt Family debuted that year too.
First Individual Title Win
It was at Extreme Rules in 2013, mere months after the Shield debut that Ambrose captured his first individual title, the United States Championship. Ambrose would hold the belt for a total of 351 days, just shy of a calendar year before dropping the belt to Sheamus via a 20-man Battle Royal on an episode of Raw. Though Ambrose did defend the title successfully during his lengthy reign, his Shield brethren always ensured the odds would be stacked in his favor. It would be the first of many titles Ambrose would capture. The above video is of the rematch the following night on Raw.
Credit: Big K Live! for the above video
Feud with Seth Rollins
After the inevitable breakup of The Shield in 2014, Ambrose and Rollins began feuding while Roman was hoisted up the ladder to compete in the main event. This wasn’t a bad thing for Rollins and Ambrose as they have excellent chemistry and have been around one another long before they tussled on Raw. Rollins, to his credit, played a great heel; changing his appearance, aligning himself with The Authority (led by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon) and carrying himself like the arrogant traitor we all wanted to believe he was. Rollins is a curious case in that he can be a great heel or face, and he did really well in elevating Ambrose from being the third Shield guy to a big name WWE. Ambrose, by contrast, is a better heel than face in my opinion, but through Rollins’ great work on the mic and his taunting of Ambrose, he managed to elevate his former brother into a main event guy. I’ve included a clip here of Ambrose’s return on Night of Champions to confront Rollins. Listen to that crowd pop.
The Night All Three Shield Members Held the Heavyweight Title
First Roman Reigns, then Seth Rollins, then Dean Ambrose. June 2016 saw the annual Money in the Bank PPV where the champion Roman Reigns would defend his title against his former Shield partner Seth Rollins. The crowd was hot for a Rollins win as this was peak boo-Roman time, and they popped when Rollins captured the gold. The celebrations were short lived however as Dean Ambrose’s music hit and while Rollins watched from the entrance ramp, Dean sneaked in behind and clobbered him with the MITB briefcase. The crowd was loud as Ambrose cashed in his contract and with one swift Dirty Deeds, stole the title and thus was born the night where all three Shield members held the WWE Heavyweight Title in less than an hour.
Ambrose’s Return from injury
In December 2017 Ambrose suffered a high-grade triceps tendon injury which would initially rule him out of action for a good few months. The situation was further complicated when it was discovered Dean had contracted a staph infection and had to undergo more surgery to get him back on his feet. I don’t think many fans realized just how serious his situation was back then, but he summed it up quite well when he simply stated ‘I could have died’. His lengthy absence coupled with his natural low profile outside of the spotlight meant there weren’t many updates on his condition during his time away. It was with great surprise then that his appearance had changed so much on his return to action. Gone was the unkempt hair, the black T-shirts and in its place was a significant gain in muscle and weight, a trim and a beard and what looked like a new hard-nosed, determined attitude. The fans had clearly missed him and we were all happy to see him back.
What does the future hold for Dean Ambrose? With all the talk of AEW looking to recruit new talent, could he be a headed there? His success in WWE would be a big boost for them in building their new brand. Let’s not forget that Ambrose is a Grand Slam Champion in WWE, having captured United States, Intercontinental, Tag and Heavyweight gold in his career. Or is a stint in NJPW a possibility? Having seen how Chris Jericho reinvented himself (yet again) over there, perhaps Dean could try his hand at a new fed outside of the US? Perhaps he may just want some downtime and relax away from the bright lights of professional wrestling. Maybe the whole thing is a work and he’ll turn up on a Monday Night Raw in June? Who knows? This is wrestling after all, where anything can, and usually does happen.
Whatever he decides to do, I hope it makes him happy. Dean Ambrose has scaled some of the highest heights in professional wrestling. He’s been part of one of the best factions in recent memory and has come back strong from a life-threatening illness. He’s a fighter and a determined guy and I wish him all the best for the future.