Knee-jerk reactions are common amongst the Internet Wrestling Community. We're admittedly a critical bunch. We know the difference between what is entertaining and what is not and when the latter is true, we want change and we want it immediately. Sometimes, that is taken to the extreme. That point was very clear in Friday's installment of Ask WNW when I had to explain it wouldn't be a good idea for WWE to force Vince McMahon out. While I have spent a good amount of time criticizing the company's creative direction [or lack thereof] since last Sunday's Night of Champions pay-per-view, there's no way I would endorse such a ridiculous overreaction.
However, I am ready to make a bold statement. It's a statement that isn't a knee-jerk reaction but is going to hinge on a myriad of factors -- including factors in which none of us can control -- to actually become a reality.
Dean Ambrose could be WWE's next "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
In fact, some are suggesting more than that. Wrestling News World community manager Jesse Sherwood commented about Ambrose being Steve Austin and Brian Pillman rolled into one.
This week's episode of Monday Night Raw was in large part another forgettable episode. Pay-per-view blowoff and a company dwindling in disinteresting storylines, there was one very bright spot. Dean Ambrose returned to WWE television just a month after getting Curb Stomped on cinderblocks to film the WWE Studios production "Lockdown."
Here is a GIF of the spot that concluded one of the most hardcore and intense Raw main events of the year:
The program was considered one of the most successful midcard feuds in quite some time, as I noted in my Backstage News from Raw on August 20, 2014:
Dean Ambrose was written off television to film his role in the upcoming WWE Studios production “Lockdown.” That is the obvious part and wasn’t the discussion making rounds backstage. What people were talking about was how the feud of Seth Rollins vs. Ambrose showed the company’s ability to effectively book a mid-card program. The feeling backstage was that it was refreshing to see two guys not in the main event having a great feud.
Ambrose left a midcarder but is back as much more. In fact, this is WWE's big chance to create another top babyface.
Unlike the countless other talents to flash signs of brilliance, Ambrose has a particularly unique package that immediately got the attention of WWE.
After five years of working the domestic independent scene, Ambrose rose to prominence through Combat Zone Wrestling and Dragon Gate USA. Known as Jon Moxley, he played a maniacal hardcore talent that wasn't afraid to bleed. There was much more to Moxley though, who quickly showed superior in-ring skills to go along with some of the best facial expressions the business has ever seen.
In this business, there's no set formula for success. There have been a lot of superior in-ring talents that have flopped. Guys that look the part and can even talk the part but can't garner a reaction from the crowd if their life depended upon it.
One of the things that makes Dean Ambrose so special is his instant connection to the crowd. Since debuting on the main WWE roster in 2012, Ambrose has proved he can garner a reaction as a heel and as a babyface. I credit a lot of his success to his facial expressions.
People that don't understand the wrestling business will question how something as simple as facial expressions could make a difference. Let alone be a defining characteristic.
The idea is simple. It's about building a connection with the audience. While simple in theory, it's much more difficult to execute. So difficult that it cannot be taught and ultimately comes down does the talent have it or not?
If they do, they have to wait for the "chips to the align" and the opportunity to present itself. Then it's time to act. That opportunity has been presented and a one month absence is just what Dean Ambrose needed for his return to feel like a big deal.
Just one week after WWE lost Roman Reigns for "several months" to an incarcerated hernia, the company is in dire need of talent at the top of the card. Babyface top talent is nearly extinct on the WWE roster, so much so they have no idea what to do with WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar. But don't worry, that's not where we're going.
The proclamation is clear - it's time to push Ambrose.
Now let's get one thing straight. I'm not saying that WWE needs to have Ambrose blow through Seth Rollins, hit John Cena with Dirty Deeds and go right after Lesnar and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Ambrose's elevation needs to be handled tactfully. It needs to tell a story. A story that is compelling, entertaining and will result in a permanent spot in the company's main event scene.
Hot-shotting this would be to Ambrose's detriment and would run the risk of ruining a golden opportunity. Surprisingly, the company is off to a good start.
Dean Ambrose's return was expected to happen anytime after last Saturday so the fact he appeared on Night of Champions was not a surprise. Responding to an open challenge issued by Seth Rollins, Ambrose was "ejected from the building." The following night, he was advertised to face Randy Orton but plans were changed for a singles match against Kane.
WWE, seemingly well aware of the reaction he got the night before, had Ambrose open this week's Raw with a promo. Starting the night in the ring with John Cena, Ambrose went on to beat Kane via disqualification when Seth Rollins attacked him and found himself being locked into a room by The Authority. However, as is the case with talent WWE is trying to showcase, he found is way into the closing segment where he stood with Cena when the show faded
The time for Ambrose is now and WWE knows it. The most important point moving forward will be for WWE not to screw this up. This is a big one and one that I wish I had more confidence in. There are multiple reasons to be concerned, especially if the current state of the product is any indication. There is one issue that needs to be solved immediately.
Is WWE looking to blowoff Ambrose vs. Rollins or is it Ambrose vs. Orton? On this week's Raw, the direction wasn't clear.
While Ambrose was initially announced to face Orton, he ended up facing Kane. However, when Ambrose got "out of the room" and back at ringside, it was Orton he went after first. This was a point of criticism that made it to my Backstage News from Raw on September 23, 2014:
If it wasn’t clear by the fact that WWE announced and promoted a match they didn’t end up doing, this week’s show was described as an unmitigated train wreck. It didn’t stop there, with Dean Ambrose running past Seth Rollins to get to Randy Orton putting an exclamation mark on the lack of creative process.
Lack of creative process. In other words, it made no sense for Ambrose, even in a "blind rage," to overlook Rollins and attack Orton. WWE must get it together and decide which direction they want to go. Then it's time to execute. Dean Ambrose is ready and the crowd is ready to make him the company's next big babyface.
After splitting Ambrose from The Shield, I was initially critical of him wearing attire too similar to Luke Harper. While I'll admit I'm still not thrilled with the "plain" look (wife beater and blue jeans) that's already being used, I'm also reasonable enough to admit the crowd doesn't care. They buy Dean Ambrose as a legitimately unstable bombshell ready to explode at the expense of The Authority.
WWE was right to feature Dean Ambrose in the main segments on this week's Raw, now they need to hone in on his direction. It looks like it's Rollins but they need to brush Orton to the side if that's the case. It doesn't matter that Ambrose vs. Rollins was advertised for Battleground and done at SummerSlam. This program is now at a different level and it needs to end with an elevated Ambrose ready to carry WWE forward.
Now is also not the time to feature Ambrose, only to pull him back. The company needs to go "all in" with confidence, assured that Ambrose can handle it. I believe there are multiple feuds that could be done once Ambrose/Rollins is settled and let's don't forget the incorporation of the Money in the Bank briefcase and the fact Ambrose could very well play into to the dethroning of Brock Lesnar.
Ambrose is back and he could be WWE's next "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. In fact, some have suggested he could be even more.