WWE has confirmed that Dean Ambrose will not be returning to WWE after WrestleMania 35. The timing is certainly random of course, but perhaps this was something in the making of a while. You wouldn’t know it by watching Dean these days, but Ambrose is one of the more decorated superstars in WWE history. He’s held the WWE Title, the Intercontinental Title three times, the tag team titles twice, and has the longest United States title reign under the WWE banner. He is also a Money In The Bank winner and was a member of one of the greatest factions in WWE history, The Shield. So how can someone who has accomplished so much feel like he accomplished so little at the same time?
For one, it should be noted that displeasure in WWE is not unique to Ambrose. We have heard general disinterest in WWE from Dolph Ziggler, The Revival, Mike, and Maria Kanellis, Andrade and probably more backstage in recent weeks. We have also even heard that Hideo Itami has requested (and has been granted) his release from WWE. Some have speculated that this is to get their way over to AEW. Others seem to just be generally dissatisfied with how they have been treated. But for someone with Dean’s accomplishments, he certainly also feels like an afterthought.
The imagery of Roman Reigns holding up the Universal Title, Seth Rollins holding the Intercontinental Title and Dean holding nothing while they had their 2nd Shield reunion run in the fall last year immediately comes to mind. Dean is a grand slam champion just like Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. However, Seth and Roman have obviously both accomplished more than Dean. Or, Seth and Roman just feel like more important characters than him. Both Roman and Seth have won Royal Rumbles and closed out WrestleMania. They are the ones that typically get interviews and spotlights while Dean maybe gets a backstage promo with dimmed lighting here or there.
One harsh reality that we must all acknowledge about WWE is that not everyone can have the spotlight at the same time. There is only so many people that can have the spotlight every week. In terms of pure, raw talent, WWE may never have had a deeper roster than they have now. This is especially considering you have a deep combination of marquee names from WWE’s past, present, and future. We are at the point where we may very well see the first ever women’s WrestleMania main event after all. On a roster that features so many former world champions, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle if you do not offer WWE any main-event mystique. I suppose now the question should be asked if Ambrose had that, to begin with.
Let us think back to when Ambrose had the biggest win of his career. The night where he won the Money In The Bank contract and cashed in on Seth Rollins that same night to win the WWE Championship. I am sure we all remember that moment, but do you remember everything that came afterward? I do remember the triple threat match that he had with The Shield at Battleground. I did remember that he had a few intense promos with Dolph Ziggler on Smackdown, and I do remember his series of matches with AJ Styles. However, the quality of his actual run remains a mystery of me. He did not really elevate the title, and it was a situation where the title made him more relevant, unfortunately.
All of his other title reigns were solid, but perhaps there is no greater metaphor to describe Ambrose’s career than his record long United States title reign. He held the title for just about a year, and while the length was impressive, he often did nothing with it because they were involved in other feuds. This, of course, is not to suggest that Ambrose does not have talent or that he may not have been deserving of a main event title run.
The thing is that you will never know what potential main event talent you have if you do not try experimenting first, and WWE had to take a shot at Ambrose. The grounds for experimentation was set the moment Seth Rollins turned on The Shield, and Ambrose became a white-hot babyface in the summer and fall of 2014. He often had the crowd in the palm of his hands and people enjoyed his intensity, despite whatever crazy antics he would do to garner heat. However, slowly after, Ambrose’s character essentially became somewhat of a joke. The spaghetti-noodle hairstyle, losing PPV matches to Bray Wyatt because of exploding TV’s, losing every big match situation he’s been in, and more. He essentially just became a solid worker, but more a character not to be taken seriously.
I’m sure all of us expected Ambrose was due to a career change when he came back from his injury before Summerslam last year. He changed his haircut, he looked jacked, and he looked like he meant business. However, it was like we pressed the rewind button. We went back to The Shield, and he once again became the least important member in a faction of which all of them are Grand Slam Champions. Perhaps the writing has been on the wall for Ambrose for quite some time.
Ambrose seems like the kind of person that will not miss WWE much because he does things by his own term. He never had that big WrestleMania moment, none of his title reigns felt important, and he was often more a familiar face than anything. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ambrose is deserving of a Hall of Fame induction on the merit of his accomplishments in the ring alone. It will also feel weird watching retro Shield matches knowing that the Lunatic Fringe is no longer on the active roster. And perhaps Ambrose knew deep down that this day would come for him sooner or later. Maybe he moves onto AEW, or maybe he lives a life of solitude away from the cameras. Maybe we will miss him more than he will miss us. We certainly cannot hold it against him for taking charge of his career and doing what he feels is best. Whatever the case, I think we can all agree that an Ambrose-less WWE will take some time getting used to.
With all that being said, do you believe Ambrose’s career in WWE was fruitful? Was it a waste? Will you miss him?