Most wrestling experts would make the claim that Dean Ambrose is the third most valuable member of The Shield. Roman Reigns is the unquestioned future top star of WWE. Seth Rollins was arguably the strongest pushed WWE Superstar for a period of two years, constantly receiving major wins & accomplishments at the expense of some of WWE’s biggest stars.
Ambrose doesn’t receive the accolades that Reigns & Rollins get. The one thing he’s excelled at over the past five years has been showing up.
Dean Ambrose was the current WWE iron man (1,054 matches between 3/3/2012
and 12/18/2017) when he got hurt. He had a gap of 37 days in 2012 and 35 days in 2014 but 2013 was only 13 days, 2015 was only 8 days, 2016 was only 6 days and 2017 was only 12 days. #wrestlenomics
— Chris Harrington (@mookieghana) December 26, 2017
Some amazing numbers there. While Reigns & Rollins both missed time due to injuries, Ambrose kept going out there and doing his thing. He took some time off in 2014 to make a movie, and was written off of TV by Seth Rollins curbstomping his head through some cinder blocks. It takes a lot to put Dean Ambrose out of commission.
That’s why he connects so well with people in the crowds. Most of us are working-class stiffs whose best skill just might be showing up for work. Whether we’re a little under the weather, or we don’t want to be there, or whatever the issue might be, we go to work to pay the bills. We give everything we have, whether the boss man appreciates it or not. That’s what Dean Ambrose does. Whether he’s appreciated as much as his Shield brothers are or not, he shows up and puts in his time. He might not always have the best match, but he’ll put in as much effort as anybody on any show he’s working. His charisma & presence might not be what certain people think makes a star, but it’s what he can bring to the table.
Unfortunately, every wrestler eventually reaches his breaking point. It’s not a matter of if you’re going to get injured, but when it’ll happen & how long it’ll put you out. Considering the types of things Ambrose has put himself through during his career, it’s amazing it’s taken this long for him to miss a good amount of time.
A triceps tear will lead to nine months on the shelf for the Lunatic Fringe. For a man that’s missed little time over the past five years, that will feel like a lifetime. It’s one thing to get a nice little vacation. It’s another to sit at home for nine months. Even with Renee Young at home, that’s gotta be rough.
Not all is lost. In fact, maybe some time away is just what Dean Ambrose needs. It’ll give him a chance to refresh his batteries. To contemplate his future. To consider new ideas…or perhaps bring back some old ones.
Early this decade, there was a ton of hype surrounding the man then known as Jon Moxley. His charisma made him stand out from the pack. Watching CZW or DGUSA or other independent shows he appeared on at the time, it was obvious that his speaking ability was on another level from everybody else in the indies. He had the potential to go places. The thing people wondered at the time was if he could make the transition without losing his edge.
He got the developmental contract. Dean Ambrose emerged in Florida Championship Wrestling and was like nothing in WWE’s developmental system at the time. People marveled at his promos at the time and declared him the future of the business. Comparisons were made to Roddy Piper, Brian Pillman & other great unhinged bad guys. Dean Ambrose was going to be the next great WWE top heel. That didn’t quite happen. Dean’s career took a different route than we all expected.
The Shield was a great & powerful thing. At the time it launched, we expected Ambrose to emerge as the top star of the group. Roman Reigns obviously had a bright future with his look & low key charisma, but Ambrose had all the personality. Seth Rollins certainly didn’t have the charisma, and he was lucky to be part of that group because he’d be in for a struggle in WWE without those guys. Ambrose was going to be the leader & the mastermind of the group, and when it split he would definitely be the top heel in WWE.
Turns out that was Seth Rollins’ destiny. Ambrose’s destiny was to be one of WWE’s top babyfaces. It’s been a bumpy ride, but one that has been successful overall. Even though Ambrose routinely lost major matches, was considered miscast, didn’t impress Steve Austin on a podcast & was relegated to main eventing on the “B tour”, he still rated as one of WWE’s most popular performers & even occasionally outdrew Reigns & the “A tour” that ran in bigger markets & bigger arenas. Dean Ambrose’s working-class lunatic hero character wasn’t as appealing to Internet fans as his previous persona was, but it worked for the WWE Universe.
Internet fans may end up getting what they want, though. They say that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Dean Ambrose is going to have idle hands for the next several months. He’ll have time to stew over his current predicament & how he isn’t as well-respected as his Shield brothers. Seth Rollins just won the Raw Tag Team Championship with Jason Jordan, not his regular tag team partner Dean Ambrose. Roman Reigns is currently the Intercontinental Champion, and odds are that bigger prizes will come his way soon enough.
Keeping busy is a good way to avoid letting the difficulties of life drag you down. Why do you think I write for so many websites during any spare time I get from work? The more I do, the less I think about the things that bother me. I’m too busy to worry. Dean Ambrose has been almost constantly on the road for six years. He hasn’t had time to worry about the things he hasn’t done. He hasn’t sat around and thought about how he isn’t the revolutionary, business-changing personality that everybody thought he would be. Now, he will.
Don’t be surprised if the Dean Ambrose that returns to WWE television is pretty close to what we saw from him in FCW and independent wrestling.
Cook: Don’t Bet Against Greatness
It’s a mistake that’s easy to make, but it’s an equally important lesson to remember. As Steve Cook says: don’t bet against greatness.
It’s a mistake that’s easy to make, but it’s an equally important lesson to remember. As Steve Cook says: don’t bet against greatness.
It would take at least a thousand columns like this one to explain the biggest mistakes we pundits make. I use the phrase “we” because I’ll never sit here and tell you I’m infallible. I make more mistakes than I care to remember. Today, we’ll talk about one that I’m guilty of pretty often.
Too often, we don’t give greatness the benefit of the doubt.
We jump to quick conclusions when the greats of a genre do things that don’t seem in character, or are different from what we’re used to. We don’t consider the idea that maybe these people, who have already accomplished many things in life, might actually have a better idea what they can do to improve their future than we do.
Hard to believe, I know. This past weekend saw great success for two of the most successful people in the world of sports & entertainment. They serve as perfect examples of my hypothesis.
Example 1: Tom Brady
For years, I have resisted the idea of calling Tom Brady the Greatest Quarterback of All Time. I never like crowning current stars the greatest of anything, as it disrespects the people that came before them. Unless they just accomplish so damn much that it’d be silly to deny them the honor. Sometimes, people get GOAT status that don’t really deserve it. They seem to be on pace to get there, but never make the jump.
Tom Brady made that jump a long time ago. There isn’t really a metric people can use to sell him short at this point. He’s at or near the top of every significant passing category in league history. There’s also the number of Super Bowls won, and number of rings/titles/championships always wins any sports argument, regardless of the sport. It can’t really be denied at this point.
The one thread people had to hang on to? Bill Belichick. The Patriot Way. Brady & Belichick formed a dynasty together. The other players & assistant coaches always changed, but Tom & Bill were always there. Which provided a bit of drama over the past few years whenever we needed something to talk about. Who was responsible for the success? The answer was obviously a little bit of both, but it was always a big debate.
Brady went to Tampa, and some folks thought it might not work. Many talking heads went on about how Tom was just going to Tampa because he wanted out of the cold weather. He just wanted to have fun for the last couple years of his career. They didn’t think that he could do these things and also win championships.
He’s one game away from doing just that. Are you going to bet against him? I’m not!
Example 2: Vince McMahon
How many articles have you read questioning McMahon’s mental acumen? Especially over the past several years as he’s advanced in age? It seems like everybody has dismissed the old man as a fossil that needs to step aside and let the kids run things.
We think we have evidence for this theory from WWE television. I’ll admit it, Raw most weeks is thoroughly unwatchable. You may disagree, but I’m the one typing this thing up. SmackDown is a little bit better, but Raw’s ineptitude overshadows it for the most part. Then there’s NXT, which most people seem to agree goes downhill the more that Vince pays attention to it.
A good percentage of the Internet wishes that Vince would step aside and not be all over everything.
This places us on the opposite side of most investors, who don’t watch the shows religiously, if at all, and don’t get inside knowledge from the dirt sheets & message boards. What they know is that Vince McMahon is the most successful promoter in wrestling history, and that he knows how to make a lot of money. Which, most would argue, is a lot more important than the quality of the shows one produces.
McMahon has shown an ability to make the right business moves at the right time. 1984 was the right time to go national and wipe out the territories, cable television expanding wrestling program reach made it only a matter of time. Vince was the first one to jump.
The late 1990s when the company was at a mainstream acceptance high was the right time to go public. You didn’t see him trying it in the early 1990s when he was fighting off various scandals and the company was at a mainstream acceptance low. Once people forgot about the steroid & sex stuff and saw how popular the Superstars of the time were, it was time to buy in.
Streaming was the wave of the future when WWE Network started becoming a thing. It was the culmination of nearly thirty years of Vince McMahon collecting nearly every bit of wrestling footage he could. He wanted to own wrestling & create his own history, then he wanted to get everybody else’s history too. He got most of it. There’s stuff sitting in the WWE archives that still hasn’t seen the light of day, and maybe it never will. Everybody and their brother has some kind of streaming service now. WWE was there before most, and now they got the chance to cash in from a media company trying to bolster their own streaming service.
Now, McMahon’s business record isn’t perfect. We know about the WBF & the XFL (twice). We remember how WWE wasn’t the original name. The early 90s scandals have been mentioned. And as major UFC and boxing events have shown, Vince was too quick to give up on pay per view. Left some money on the table there.
Every businessman makes mistakes. Its how they recover from those mistakes that matters. McMahon always comes out of his smelling like roses. There’s never really a long-term negative effect afterward. Vince got Dwayne Johnson to buy the XFL. His attempt to compete in bodybuilding led to no hard feelings. We all eventually got used to saying & writing “WWE”.
All those things we get mad at about Vince? They don’t keep most of us from watching his programming. Which is why WWE is so valuable to media companies. WWE has an audience that it can’t scare away, no matter what it does. People will follow them from USA to Fox to Spike TV to the WWE Network, whatever’s got some of that sweet content.
So the next time somebody wants to tell you that Old Man Vince is out of touch and doesn’t get it anymore…ask that person the last time they deposited a billion dollar check. If it was sometime in the last week, then they might have a point.
I might not be in love with most of the wrestling Vince McMahon produces these days. Are you going to bet against him making money off of it? I’m not!
Do not bet against greatness. More often than not, you will lose.
Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 1/24/2021
Well even on a quiet-ish week, all of the bigger NA companies get a version of representation and even AJPW found their way into the Top 5! Let’s see what we’re working with!
Well now, we didn’t have much that really stood out on North American television, but we did get a few additions from All Japan Pro Wrestling!
Last week’s voting was pretty cut and dry, NXT UK: NXT UK Championship: Walter (c) vs A-Kid, managed to control the voting narrative. Now we get this week, and it’s definitely a little more interesting.
Which match will get the most support? Let’s find out!
Quick Top 5:
- AJPW New Year Wars Final Round: Triple Crown Championship: SUWAMA (c) vs Shotaro Ashino
Rating: **** 1/4
- AJPW New Years Wars Final Round: World Junior Championship: Fuminori Abe vs Koji Iwamoto (c)
Rating: *** 3/4
- WWE Raw: Ricochet vs AJ Styles
Rating: *** 3/4
- IMPACT! Private Party w/Big Money Matt Hardy vs Beer Guns (James Storm & Chris Sabin)
Rating: *** 1/2
- NXT: Fight Pit: Tommaso Ciampa vs Timothy Thatcher
Rating: *** 1/2
- NXT UK: Dave Mastiff vs Rampage Brown
Rating: *** 1/4
- NXT: Imperium vs Lucha House Party
- WWE Raw: Asuka vs Alexa Bliss
- AEW Dynamite: MJericho vs Sammy Hager vs Santana & Ortiz
- NXT: KUSHIDA & Leon Ruff VS The Way
4t. NXT: Fight Pit: Tommaso Ciampa vs Timothy Thatcher
The ref checks on Thatcher but Thatcher grabs at Ciampa over the ref’s back! Ciampa uses the leverage for WILLOW’S BELL!! But Ciampa can’t win off a cover, he wants to know if that knocked Thatcher out! The ref starts a count, Thatcher is still conscious but he has to get up before 10! The count is 5, then 6! Thatcher uses the cage and drags himself up at 9.9! But Ciampa CLOBBERS him, underhooks, but Thatcher spins out to throw EuroUppers! Ciampa forearms, they’re brawling back and forth with fury! The fans are fired up as Ciampa CHOPS but Thatcher tackles him into steel!
Ciampa throws elbows, has a facelock, and he RAMS Thatcher into steel! FAIRYTALE ENDING!! And then a SLEEPER HOLD!! Ciampa wants Thatcher to pass out, but Thatcher fights up! And scoops Ciampa to RAM him into the steel! Thatcher gets Ciampa in a sleeper hold of his own, but Ciampa uses the corner to go up! Thatcher shoves Ciampa into the corner! Thatcher CLUBS Ciampa over and over and over, then has the leg trapped in the girder! HANGING STRETCH MUFFLER!! Ciampa shouts in pain, he TAPS! THATCHER WINS!!
Winner: Thatcher Hanging Stretch Muffler
4t. IMPACT! Private Party w/Big Money Matt Hardy vs Beer Guns (James Storm & Chris Sabin)
Fast paced as expected, but early on we see Tony Khan and Jerry Lynn walk out to sit at ringside and watch the match. Storm didn’t slow down too much, which is surprising since aside from his brief stint back in Impact at the end of 2020, we saw him tagging with Eli Drake in much slower, less workrate dependent matches.
Private Party were their usual high flying, fun having, break dance inspired flourishes to some offense we’ve seen for years. Beer Guns had a cool tandem move with Sabin Sunset Flipping from outside in, Quen rolled right into the Backstabber from James Storm. Lots of signature spam, a few dives, highlighted by a nice Fosbury Flop from Quen.
Sabin looked to be setting up for the finish, when Jerry Lynn hops the familiar guardrail, grabs Sabin’s foot while Matt Hardy distracted the ref; and Private Party hit Gin & Juice for the heel tactic upset! Interestingly, Private Party still comes off as great babyface kids who are being swindled by scummy adults. So they aren’t playing heel, but everyone around them is doing it for them.
Winner: Private Party via Gin & Juice
2t. WWE Raw: Ricochet vs AJ Styles
Ricochet is frustrated but Omos is relieved as Styles survives. Ricochet fireman’s carries but Styles fights out. Ricochet mule kicks a leg then back flips into the DEAD LIFT GERMAN! Bridging cover, TWO! Ricochet grows further frustrated but he watches Styles stand. Ricochet runs out from the corner but Styles dodges. Styles runs in, Ricochet elbows back, QUEBRADA into a LARIAT! Styles gets Ricochet up, SNAP BRAIN BUSTER!! Cover, TWO!! Styles fireman’s carries Ricochet for USHIGOROSHI! Cover, TWO! Omos says it’s alright but Styles is still surprised Ricochet survives!
Styles goes to a corner, goes to the apron, and takes aim. Styles springboards, but Ricochet hits the RECOIL!! Both men are down, Ricochet crawls to the cover, TWO!! Styles survives and Ricochet is beside himself! Ricochet goes to the corner, climbs up top, but Styles trips him up! Ricochet lands hard on his stomach and flops to the apron! Omos coaches Styles as Ricochet drags himself up. Styles goes to the corner, brings Styles up, but Ricochet hotshots! Ricochet aims, slingshots, but into Styles’ suplex, that rebounds off the ropes! Into the STYLES CLASH!!! Cover, Styles wins!
Winner: AJ Styles via Styles Clash
2t. AJPW New Years Wars Final Round: World Junior Championship: Fuminori Abe vs Koji Iwamoto (c)
Iwamoto has finally started to blossom as the Ace of the current Junior Division. Fuminori Abe on the other hand, is a freelancer who can do anything and everything. This should be a great test for the Junior Ace, since Abe can hit you from every conceivable angle.
There’s a brief period of feeling out we saw the versatility of Abe. He delved into a little bit of his comedic side with the long set up on a Penalty Kick to the back, but he also snapped off some great Frankensteiners and high spots. He also worked over the upper body well to try and go for his signature Octopus Hold, but Iwamoto was able to get the rope break.
Iwamoto’s saving grace was his Judo background. A few Dropkicks to get distance and just catching Abe with multiple Judo Throws, set up beautifully for the Koko no Geijutsu, because it is also a fast snapping Judo Throw, but he uses the ropes for the added momentum to make it a finish.
Smooth as butter, and only rated under a 4 because of how fast the match was. If it had a longer build or another back and forth, this could’ve been epic. But it was still a damn great match.
After the match Cima challenged via video.
Winner: Koji Iwamoto via Koko no Geijutsu
1. AJPW New Year Wars Final Round: Triple Crown Championship: SUWAMA (c) vs Shotaro Ashino
Suwama’s hand picked opponent because of their similarities. Ashino being the former ace of Wrestle-1, a disciple of Keiji Mutoh and an accomplish amateur style wrestler; this all rings true with Suwama. So we get part two of the Mutoh’s favorite son challenge!
This match did have a few of the same issues as their first one, since a slower mat based style doesn’t resonate well with no crowd or a muted crowd. Suwama did keep up with Ashino for the most part, and the match had many similar elements as the first match. Ashino worked over the Ankle and went for the Ankle Lock; where Suwama showed he could counter most of it and apply his own submissions.
Smartly, Ashino did his best to avoid the Last Ride Powerbomb, which is how he lost his first challenge, and force Suwama to dig deeper. Ashino was explosive with German Suplexes, but he fell into the SANADA trap. Ashino drags Suwama to position him from the corner, even commentary is confused since Ashino is no high flier, but Ashino goes for the Mutoh Moonsault, and hits nothing!
After the miss it felt like Ashino was looking for something he didn’t have to take down Suwama. Suwama did have to pull off numerous Backdrop Drivers and finally the Backdrop Suplex Hold to retain the title. A very solid defense that built off the previous matchup, and would’ve been much better if the mat wrestling didn’t feel like it dragged because of the world situation.
Kohei Sato comes out after to challenge.
Winner: Suwama via Backdrop Suplex Hold
Now I’m really intrigued at how this vote will shake out. A few matches from the lesser view AJPW, a match from Raw, a crossover with AEW & Impact and a gimmick match from NXT.
My vote personally will go to Private Party vs Beer Guns, because this is the first interaction that really does feel interesting for the invasion/war/crossover/takeover whatever story. Great use of former Impact talent, great screwjob and ideally should lead to bigger things. Plus it’s nice to see a younger/undercard team like Private Party getting their star elevated a bit.
Do I think any of these matches touch the first week of the year? No, not at all. But they weren’t stinkers, so let’s make the month interesting before Royal Rumble!
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