Happy Thursday TJR Faithful! I hope all has been well since the last time I had a chance to write. Summer’s are always crazy busy for me, and tack on the fact that this Summerslam build has been less than enthralling television, and you have the reason why it’s been hard for me to get you brand new pieces every week. With that said, I’m a bit fired up about something and felt compelled to write about it today.
Over the last few days I’ve heard the idea bandied about of turning Dean Ambrose heel at Summerslam by having him turn on Roman Reigns. While I love the idea itself, of turning one of the best talkers in the WWE into a scumbag heel so he can have more to talk about (because clearly babyfaces are boring in the PG era and have nothing interesting to say 95% of the time), I really hope that it doesn’t happen. The WWE hasn’t earned that moment and having it take place will ring hollow.
Don’t get me wrong, the timing would have been beautiful and perfect had they told a halfway decent story on the march to Summerslam for Dean and Roman. As it stands the story is as rudimentary as this: Bray reunited with Luke Harper, so Roman asked his friend Dean Ambrose to have his back. That’s literally all there is to it. We’ve had a promo or two about Dean and Roman saying that their bond is more real that The Wyatt family’s, and promos with Bray saying Dean will regret entering the fray and that Roman should have told him to stay out of it for his own sake, but outside of that we’ve only had a series of singles matches pitting Ambrose or Reigns against Harper for the last few weeks. That’s not compelling WWE. Tell me a story!
It reminds me of the new Fantastic Four movie. Infinite potential ultimately going unrealized. Do you know how good this could have been? Firstly you have a chance to really show that Bray Wyatt is a monster and a mastermind, and more importantly, you have a chance to do a breakup the likes of which the WWE hasn’t pulled off in years. I for one am sick of turns that they try to explain later. Lay out the conflict first, and make the ultimate betrayal hurt by injecting real emotion. Here’s how I would have gone about this:
Let’s pickup right after Battleground where Bray beat Roman with the help of Luke Harper, who returned to Wyatt. The next night on Raw, Roman battled Harper, bring Dean out with him, much to the shock of Bray Wyatt. Let’s stop here… Bray shouldn’t have been shocked by this. He should have been gleefully expecting it. In fact he should have planned on it and it should have been obvious that he had. Have Bray Wyatt one step ahead, always.
Anyway that night goes almost exactly the same way, but instead of a two on two fight, Bray leaves Luke Harper alone to fight both Dean and Roman. Ambrose and Reigns dispatch of Luke as Bray watches from a distance, refusing to enter the fray as his minion continuously enters the ring to fight the two men on his own before he is ultimately laid out by Dean and Roman.
The next week I’d have Ambrose and Reigns cut a promo in the ring about family and what that means to them. They’ll say that you never leave your brother hanging, that you never abandon your family when they’re in need. They’ll say that the Wyatt’s aren’t a family at all. They’re slaves to the empty promises of Bray Wyatt.
Bray interrupts and tells the pair that they’re wrong. “Family isn’t about standing up for one another, front and centre so you get the praise and the accolades for doing what you did. There is no real honour in that! Family is about unheralded sacrifice. Father’s willing to take on the harshness of this reality, shielding their families from it. Family is sacrifice. A mother willing to go without food so that her children may eat. Family is Sacrifice! Luke Harper willing to take a beating so that I wouldn’t feel the pain, that’s sacrifice and that’s a bond greater than any other. What wouldn’t you sacrifice for your daughter Roman? What wouldn’t uncle Dean do for his best friend’s little angel? That’s family… and you’ll soon find that what you’re willing to do for your family, will end up tearing it apart.”
Now you have a battle not only of men with a grudge, but of the idea of what it means to be family. As poisonous and vitriolic as Bray is, he has a point, and that is always the best kind of evil. During the build to their big tag team match at Summerslam, have Bray play mind games with the two men.
For instance have the Wyatts surround Dean in the ring and when Roman comes out for the save. After clearing the ring, and while being stalked around the ring, have Bray get a mic and say “if only you cared about your precious family as much as you care about your friend.” That’s when we hear a 911 call broadcast over the speakers with Roman’s wife speaking to police about their home being broken into and vandalized in a fashion that can only be attributed to Wyatt. Roman loses it and instead of finishing off Wyatt, he and Dean leave to check up on Reigns’ wife and child. Fearing for their safety, Roman stays off TV to be with them for a week, leaving Dean to fight alone, a decision Dean whole heartedly supports, but ultimately leads to him receiving a vicious beating at the hands of their enemy.
Present these situations a couple more times: one where Dean has to make a choice: either he can get his hands on Bray, or he can go help Roman. Another one where in order to save Dean, Roman has to essentially cause himself pain. Be creative. Have Bray mess with them to the point that both Dean and Roman can’t wait till Summerslam to put an end to it… especially Dean “At Summerslam this is over Bray. I will end you. For my brother. For his little girl. For the only family in the world I care about. I will break you Bray… I swear it.”
At Summerslam have the match as planned with Roman’s daughter and wife in the crowd. Have Bray point to her a few times like he’d do something but have him always get cut off by Roman or Dean. Roman and Dean come out on top and while they are celebrating have a beaten Bray slowly trying to get to Roman’s family. Have Reigns grab him, throw him back in the ring and say “it’s over. Stop this Wyatt!” to which Bray will retort “It’s only over when I say it is!”
In that moment, Dean loses it, shoves Roman out of the way and hits Bray with a chair. Then again. And again. And again and again and again. This is merciless side of Dean Ambrose. This isn’y fun crazy Dean, this is pure explicit violence. After a few shots Roman tries to hold him back but Dean shoves him off and continues his assault. He grabs a second chair and places it under Bray’s lifeless head. He winds up for a vicious con-chair-to when Roman begs him not to do that. “We’ve done enough man. Don’t do this in front of her”
Ambrose seems to listen to his best friend’s advice, when he notices that Bray has come to a little and is still staring a hole right through Bray’s wife and daughter, reaching out for them. He crushes Bray’s skull between the two chairs in an act of violence unlike any we have seen (since the glory days of the con-chair-to) from a supposed hero. Roman is crestfallen by his brother’s decision as Ambrose lays next to Bray saying “I told you I’d end you, you son of bitch.” They stretcher Bray out, and Luke Harper leaves without incident following his saviour. Dean and Roman leave, with Roman looking heartbroken by the vile actions of his friend.
The next night on Raw, Dean Ambrose will be forced by management to come to the ring and give a public apology for his uncalled for act of violence the night prior. “I’ve been told I need to apologize for what I did last night. I personally don’t think I have a damn thing to apologize for. I protected my best friend and his family last night. Bray said it, it wasn’t going to be over until I ended him. And I did. I made a a choice. Not only am I proud of that choice… I liked doing it. You’re welcome. I’d do it again and again and again. Because it felt good.”
That’s when Roman comes out and tells Dean that he went too far last night. “The guy that did that last night, isn’t somebody that I know or somebody that I trust. You made a little girl watch one of her favourite people in the world damn near kill a man. That guy is a monster. That guy is reprehensible, that guy isn’t somebody I’d want around my family, especially my daughter.”
Dean is taken by surprise. “You’re going to punish me for keeping your family safe? You’re going to hold them over me so you can contain parts of me you don’t like? What I did last night was always a part of me. I’ve always been capable of that. You have no idea how hard it was to keep that violent aggression contained, and how good it felt to take out the last two years one someone I hate. We’re family Roman, and families are supposed to accept each other for who they are. Like how I accept the fact that you’re a coward who couldn’t do what needed to be done to save the ones closest to him.” That’s when Roman punches Dean. He immediately regrets it and goes to help Dean up, who shoves him away and leaves angrily.
The following week, Roman calls on Dean so that he can apologize, and Dean seemingly accepts his apology, before sucker punching Roman and beating him down. No it isn’t a surprise turn, but it’s an emotional one. Their “brotherhood” is finally torn apart, ironically not because Dean was conventionally selfish or jealous, but because Dean did everything in his power to protect Roman Reigns’ family and went to far in doing so, ultimately alienating them.
In that moment, Bray wins. Even in defeat and destruction, even while being absent for the moment itself, Bray wins. He dissolved their brotherhood. He made them see each other in new lights. He preyed on the darkness that existed inside Dean and drew it out for the first time. Bray loses the battle but wins the psychological war.
The central story here is one of Family, and the WWE has squandered the opportunity to use that to craft a meaningful and heartbreaking story (if a turn is the direction the desire). You have a man who manufactured a family of broken men to make himself feel powerful, a man who never had family until he came to the WWE and found two brothers, and another man who has a family outside of the wrestling world. Family means different things to all three. For Bray it means unfettered influence, for Dean it means belonging to something when his whole life he hasn’t, and for Roman it means being a leader, a protector and a moral compass.
Testing the limits of family and having it be the focal point for this rivalry would have been perfect. Having Bray tear a family apart is terrifying and loathsome. Having Roman forced to choose between his brother and his wife and daughter is a compelling catch-22. Finally having Dean feel like everyone in his adopted family (The Shield) have all abandoned him like his real family did is heartbreaking; and the perfect genesis of villainy the likes of which only Dean Ambrose is capable.
There you have it, but as always I want to hear what you think! Has watching either Dean or Roman face Luke harper every week been compelling TV? Do you think Dean is turning heel on Sunday? Will it have been earned? What do you think of making family the heavy focal point of this feud and having the subjective idea of family and what people are willing to do for family ultimately tear apart the brotherhood of Dean and Roman?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying go see American Ultra this weekend. Max Landis wrote it and it looks like fun. Just something to do between the 9 hours of WWE that you’ll be watching from Saturday to Monday! Have a great weekend everybody!