Dean Ambrose: One Year Later

Welcome to Last Word on Mania month at Last Word on Sports! All month long we will be doing articles to build up for WrestleMania 31 on March 29, 2015. Be sure to read everything this month by clicking this link. Enjoy!

In a year’s time, plenty can change. Championships can switch holders, wrestlers can lose their place on the ladder, and even gimmicks can be altered in an attempt to get a character going. For Dean Ambrose, his Unstable persona is a testament to the year he’s had, leading up to this year’s instalment of WrestleMania, and viewers across the globe have not been shy about pointing out Ambrose’s shortcomings, especially considering his surge in popularity after the dismantling of The Shield. How did that all unfold and lead into the biggest event of the year, coming this Sunday? Let’s have a look.

Before WrestleMania XXX

Still a member of the Hounds of Justice, Dean Ambrose was the holder of the United States Championship, and well over 300 days into his reign. Seldom featured in title defense matches, Ambrose stood tall as a trio with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, as the three decimated anyone who got in their way, proving to be one of the most dominant factions in WWE history. With Rollins and Reigns pushing to re-capture the Tag Team Championships, held by The Usos at the time, The Shield members were close to doing so before Corporate Kane got himself involved, attacking Reigns. The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) joined in on the action, leading to a 3-on-1 assault, giving Reigns a taste of his own medicine.

With Rollins and Reigns unable to regain the Tag Team Championships, and Ambrose not scheduled to defend his US Title, the only way to keep the exciting trio from missing WrestleMania XXX was to book them in a 6-man tag against the Outlaws and Kane. And so it was.

WrestleMania XXX

It was a match-up of new blood versus Attitude era alumni. The ageing Outlaws and Kane were out to prove to the world, and to themselves, that they could still lace them up and get the job done, while The Shield intended to live up to their hype, and make an example out of their opponents that the Attitude era was in the past, and they were not only the present but also the future.

What makes things even more interesting is the turn of fan reaction towards The Shield. Once deemed as thugs overpowering their opponents by playing the numbers game, and displaying inconsistency regarding their morals and purpose, they were now the favourites, and heavily cheered by the audience. Fans were captivated by the three individuals who formed a stable that could not be stopped, and salivated over the future of each of the members,  but for the time being, they were at WrestleMania as one powerful group, and the Outlaws and Kane proved to be no match for them. The trio dominated their Attitude-era opponents, decimating them with force and rag-dolling them, both inside and outside the ring. Their opponents didn’t get as much as a few shots in, and Road Dogg didn’t even have the chance to finish his signature promo entrance.

It was all Shield. While the three hit their finishing manoeuvre on, hoisting an Outlaw onto the shoulders of Reigns and triple powerbombing him to the mat, it was Rollins who earned the pinfall.

Extreme Rules

After defeating their WrestleMania foes, it wasn’t long until the Authority placed their full attention on The Shield, making it clear that they wanted to pick the trio apart, tearing down their walls from the foundation up. This all started the following Monday, when Triple H announced a handicap match, pitting the Shield against 11 opponents. Following their win, the three took part in a 5-on-3 handicap match on Smackdown, where they once again defeated the odds. Meanwhile, Ambrose was still running strong as the US Champion, something Triple H wanted erased. Ambrose defended the title in a fatal four way match, defeating Alberto Del Rio, Curtis Axel, and Ryback.

When all attempts failed, Triple H turned to a familiar situation, one that worked many years ago. Teaming up with Randy Orton and Batista, the trio re-ignited Evolution, a stable that The Shield were often compared to. While Reigns earned the pinfall to give The Shield yet another convincing win, Ambrose won over much of the crowd with his unhinged style, attacking Randy Orton all around the arena, and fighting through the crowd, using the announce tables as leverage to hurl himself onto his opponents, and even locking on the figure-four leg lock, a patented move by a founding member of Evolution, Ric Flair. Dean pulled out all the stops to give his team a helping hand in the win, and there was not a single part of his body he did not use to hurt his opponents.


Their celebration was short-lived, as the following night Triple H booked Dean Ambrose in an over-the-top-rope battle royale, forcing the Lunatic Fringe to defend his Championship in a match where the odds were severely stacked against him. While Ambrose was able to make it to the final two, Sheamus eventually eliminated Ambrose to become the new US Champion, ending Ambrose’s 351-day reign. After failing to re-capture the title and losing a match to The Wyatts, The Shield were out for retribution, once again focusing their sights on Evolution.

Heading into Payback, the Shield vied for just that. This time, the two teams took part in a six-man elimination tag match with no holds barred. Ambrose earned his team their second elimination, delivering a Dirty Deeds to Randy Orton onto a chair, taking out the Viper, making it a 3-vs-1 match, with Triple H being the only member for Evolution left. Hunter brought his signature sledgehammer into the mix, and took out Ambrose with a vicious blow, but was immediately downed by both Rollins and Reigns, earning The Shield a clean sweep and their second straight victory over Evolution.

Money In The Bank

With fuel added to the fire of the Shield’s overgrowing flame, it came as a shock to the WWE Universe when Seth Rollins turned on his Shield compatriots, revealing his alignment with The Authority, dropping both Ambrose and Reigns with chair shots to their guts and backs.

Splitting up the trio allowed the three men to finally test the waters as individuals, and while Reigns made it clear he was going for the man responsible for Rollins’ change of heart (Triple H), Ambrose sought revenge over Rollins himself, promising to re-arrange his face an tear the hair out of his head, among other things. The two were put into a 6-way Money In The Bank ladder match, where the winner received a guaranteed shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Before the bell could even ring, Ambrose charged down the ramp and made a bee-line for his long-time brother. As the heavy favourite, Ambrose came close to capturing the briefcase, and he would have won it all, had it not been for Kane. Knocking the Unstable superstar off the ladder, Kane then held the prop in place, allowing Rollins to safely climb up his way to becoming Mr. Money In The Bank.


The feud continued into Battleground, as the two continued to torment each other in backstage segments and in the ring. At the PPV, Ambrose couldn’t wait for his match, attacking Rollins backstage. This led to Hunter breaking everything up, and throwing Ambrose out of the building, which seemed to put an end to any possibility of their match taking place later on the card. Rollins, however, had other ideas, making his way down to the ring, and announcing that he be crowned the winner of the match, via forfeit.

Leaving the arena proud of himself, he was attacked by Dean in the parking lot, where he had been hiding in the trunk of a car. Ambrose knocked him around the lot for a few moments, even tackling him onto a car, but Rollins was able to slime his way out of the sticky situation and escape by driving away. The battle came to an end, but the war was far from over.


The following month, Ambrose and Rollins competed in a one-on-one match with a stipulation set by Ambrose; a Lumberjack match, featuring every superstar that The Shield targeted over their year of terror. The move was to show that Ambrose didn’t want an advantage, he wanted mayhem and carnage. As the two fought in a spirited battle of blows, Ambrose appeared to be primed for a win after delivering Rollins’ own curb stomp to him, but Kane once again intervened, preventing Dean from picking up the win. After that, all hell broke loose, as every superstar on the outside got involved. Once Ambrose clotheslined both Luke Harper and Erick Rowan over the top rope, Rollins clocked him over the head with the briefcase, and picked up the pinfall victory, defeating Ambrose for a third straight PPV.

Night Of Champions

On the Monday night after Summerslam, Rollins took Ambrose out of the picture for an undetermined amount of time, after he delivered a curb stomp to The Lunatic Fringe on a pile of cinder blocks. Following a eulogy to the career of Dean, Rollins was attacked by Reigns, who was there to stand up for his fallen friend. This set up a one-on-one encounter between the two for the first time since The Shield were split up, but unfortunately, that match never happened, as Reigns was forced to undergo emergency hernia surgery.

At Night of Champions, Rollins forced referee Charles Robinson to initiate a 10-count for Reigns, who was still in a hospital bed, to determine a winner. Once more, Rollins won via forfeit, but his cockiness was his own undoing that night. Issuing an open challenge while in the climax of his pride, Dean Ambrose arrived on the scene in a taxi cab, much to the excitement of the audience. Ambrose made his way to the ring and viciously assaulted Rollins, throwing rights and lefts and anything else he could use. As The Authority attempted to put a stop to the attack, Ambrose moved his attention to the growing entourage, dropping an elbow onto the group and eradicating them all. While the match was ruled a No Contest, Ambrose got the last laugh that night.

Hell In A Cell

In a culmination of the events that took place in the year that was, Rollins and Ambrose were booked in a hell in a cell match at the PPV of the same name. A match where the contestants could not escape, nor could anyone get in, or so we thought. During the match, the two took turns with momentum until the very end, where Ambrose looked to be on his way to finally putting Rollins down for three. Then, the lights went out. For a brief moment, nobody knew what was going on, until a dimly lit lantern sat in the middle of the ring. Displaying a hologram of a woman in a robe, and an eerie voice repeated a symbolic message, Bray Wyatt emerged from the fog and attacked Dean. Hitting Sister Abigail on Ambrose, Wyatt laughed hysterically as Rollins wormed his way over to make the pinfall and once more, defeating Dean. The final chapter in the book of Rollins versus Ambrose was now over, but a new book was about to be written.

Survivor Series

In a match where two superstars who are out of their minds in their own respect, it was expected to be a hellacious encounter of words and fisticuffs and on that aspect, both Ambrose and Wyatt did not fail to impress. The two brutal superstars took turns clobbering one another, both in and out of the ring. As Bray failed to put Ambrose away, he set his sights on adding some arsenal to the match, throwing a chair into the ring. Once inside, Ambrose grabbed a hold of the weapon and watched on as Wyatt dared him to use it. Ambrose lived up to his unstable attitude, knocking Wyatt in the gut, and then smashing the chair over his back. Unconcerned with the disqualification, Ambrose hit a Dirty Deeds onto the chair and persisted to put the Eater of Worlds through a table. The Lunatic Fringe continued his insanity by throwing a dozen steel chairs into the ring, burying Wyatt in a coffin of steel, before finally putting a ladder into the squared circle. Ambrose then set up the ladder and climbed to the top, taunting his fallen foe.

Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, and Stairs

The two superstars would continue their feud heading into TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs…and Stairs, where they’d settle their differences in a good, ol’ fashioned TLC match, where it would be legal to use all the weapons that were featured in their confrontation last month. Ambrose once again won the crowd over with his violent use of anything he could get his hands on, from chairs to kendo sticks, and even landed an elbow drop off the top of a 20 foot ladder, planting Wyatt through the Spanish announce table. Unfortunately, his creative mind became too much for him to handle, and when he attempted to bash Wyatt with a television panel that he found from underneath the ring, the wiring malfunctioned, causing the screen to explode in his hands and face. The turn of events allowed Wyatt to regain himself, hit Sister Abigail on Ambrose and get the pinfall.

Royal Rumble

Having successfully undergone a psychological evaluation, requested by Stephanie McMahon, Dean Ambrose was allowed into the Rumble match, and entered at #25, to a generous ovation from a Pittsburgh crowd that was already disgruntled over the early elimination of Daniel Bryan, and the obvious, inevitable result of Roman Reigns winning it all. Ambrose gave it his all, eliminating Titus O’Neil with the assist of Reigns, and made it to the final five contestants, but he was double teamed by Kane and Big Show, and easily thrown out of the ring.


After forcing Bad News Barrett to sign a contract for a title match at Fastlane (literally), Ambrose got his chance to add some more gold to his history. The two exchanged relentless assaults, and on two separate occasions, Barrett attempted to leave the arena, even escaping through the crowd, before Ambrose had to catch up to him, and drag the Intercontinental Champion back into the ring. Once again, however, Ambrose’s unstable style got the best of him, and after refusing to stop his assault on Barrett in the corner, the referee had no choice but to call for the bell and disqualify Ambrose after not responding to the 5-count.

Ambrose indeed got the last laugh when he left Barrett laying in the middle of the ring. Adding salt to the wound, Dean left the arena with Barrett’s championship. The belt may not have belonged to Ambrose, but he sure didn’t care about whose name was on the nameplate that night.

Dean Ambrose: One Year Later

So the burning question is whether or not Dean Ambrose is better off now than he was a year ago.

First, we take a look at his ex-compatriots, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Seth has picked up a few wins over Ambrose, has managed to defeat John Cena on a few occasions, became Mr. Money In The Bank, and even caught the attention of popular celebrity Jon Stewart, propelling him into the limelight of the mainstream media. Roman Reigns has been predominantly featured in the main event picture over the last few months, defeating the likes of Randy Orton, Seth Rollins – who Ambrose failed to get one over on – and became the winner of the 2015 Royal Rumble. In just one year, Reigns went from the muscle in the Shield, to the main event at WrestleMania 31, challenging Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Meanwhile, Ambrose has failed to pick up a victory at a PPV event since the split. He has gotten the last laugh on a number of occasions, as mentioned earlier, with the likes of Rollins and Barrett, but his record still reads a winless result. Suffice to say, he’s trailing both Reigns and Rollins in terms of progression.

Then there’s the factor of how his popularity has grown since making his own way through the ranks. Already a United States Champion, and in the mix for a chance at the Intercontinental title, Ambrose continues to get one of the biggest pops night in and night out. His unstable character has been appreciated thus far, and the fans seem to enjoy his mix of hard knocks and insane methods, when it comes to using weapons and his body to hurt his opponents. When you look at Rollins, who is quickly becoming one of the bigger heels in the company, and Reigns, who is having a hard time convincing the crowd that he could be a legitimate threat in a main event scenario, Ambrose’s slow rise could benefit him greatly, as fans seem to love a true underdog story.

Maybe this isn’t a case of him losing all the time, or being buried, as the internet wants you to believe. Perhaps it’s a case of making him look good during the matches, losing out anyway, and building a sympathetic nature, where you hope he can finally win a big one, after spending most of the match knocking his opponent around and acting like his crazy self. At a continued pace, whether he can capture the Intercontinental title, or he chases it after WrestleMania, the fans will always take his side. The WWE has made their mistake with pushing Reigns a little too hard, too fast, but with Ambrose, a slow-cook process can only benefit a large pay-off, when it happens.