Once again WWE threw some bones at us: Dean Ambrose successfully defended his Intercontinental Championship in a highly entertaining Last Man Standing match plus make us wonder if Dean Ambrose is actually considered to main event WrestleMania against Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. But after all, it’s WWE and these bones just might be bones. At least, we have some great Royal Rumble moments to remember.
Like I wished and hoped, this very obvious final match to the feud between Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens lasted for over twenty minutes. It had been just over twenty minutes but at least. So, to appreciate this Last Man Standing match to its full extend, I have split it into three parts and named every part after the toys that were mainly used in it: Kendo Sticks, Chairs and Tables.
Dean Ambrose vs Kevin Owens: Kendo Sticks
No long introduction was needed for this Last Man Standing match. Everything needed to be said had been said mid-week on SmackDown. And it had to be the first match of the night. Because both competitors still had to compete in the Royal Rumble, so that was a good decision. And even better, I have to add, was having Charles Robinson as the referee. I watched the entire match for one time with my focus only on him.
When the match started, both Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens lost no time. Punches were exchanged in full speed all over the ring. The first real wrestling move was the Running Bulldog by Dean Ambrose. But Kevin Owens rolled out of the ring just after that. Now Dean Ambrose still didn’t want to lose any time, so he hit Kevin Owens with a Suicide Dive through the ropes. And something tells me that it wasn’t really planned that Kevin Owens would slide across the announcers table right into Michael Cole. Because usually these spots are known before, so commentators have time to get out of the way. This spot and what happened afterwards very much looked like improvised — and because of that highly entertaining.
Michael Cole now lost a bit of his neutrality when he saw Dean Ambrose taking a Kendo Stick from under the ring and was about to hit Kevin Owens with it. So, after Kevin Owens already made contact with the steel steps, he was now beaten up with the Kendo Stick outside the ring. But Kevin Owens made it back inside the ring, was beaten again — and fled outside again. There he kicked Dean Ambrose in the head, so Dean Ambrose was laying at the barricade. Next big spot was a cannonball by Kevin Owens on Dean Ambrose, the barricade was broken and Dean Ambrose barely survived the 10-count.
Now it was Kevin Owens’ part to beat Dean Ambrose with the Kendo Stick. Inside the ring the stick was broken in half, so Kevin Owens was able to torture Dean Ambrose’s mid section even more. A Senton wasn’t enough to make Dean Ambrose stay down. So he was brought outside the ring again and pushed right into the barricades.
Dean Ambrose vs Kevin Owens: Chairs
While Dean Ambrose was struggling to get to his feet, Kevin Owens now had quite some time to get six chairs inside the ring. One chair he used to briefly beat down Dean Ambrose; then he made it back inside the ring, set up two chairs and made himself comfortable while he watched Dean Ambrose getting the count again. But he made it back to his feet, so Kevin Owens brought Dean Ambrose back inside the ring and wanted to throw him into the chairs. But somehow Dean Ambrose was able to hit Kevin Owens with the Pendulum Lariat and both men were down for the count.
Kevin Owens was back up first to hit Dean Ambrose with a chair. A little fist fight broke loose around who would be the one to crash back first into the two chairs but in the end it was Kevin Owens who had to suffer this time with a Back Body Drop.
Once again Dean Ambrose thought it was the perfect moment for a Suicide Dive but Kevin Owens caught him outside the ring and bombed him back first into the apron. But that wasn’t enough. Dean Ambrose then was pushed into the steel steps three times. And Kevin Owens now had time enough to erect a double tables construct in one corner outside the ring. In the meantime Dean Ambrose had made it back inside the ring but was still struggling. So Kevin Owens was able to easily get Dean Ambrose into the very ring corner. But Dean Ambrose blocked his attempt to getting thrown into these two tables.
Instead Dean Ambrose was fighting back and got himself back inside the ring. Kevin Owens was now sitting on the top rope in the corner when Dean Ambrose grabbed a chair and threw it in the right way, so it stuck onto Kevin Owens head. Certainly the funniest moment of this match.
I instantly thought of Cesaro having this pumpkin around his head, trying to blindly walk around. Now Kevin Owens seemed a bit dizzy when he walked around the ring with that chair on his head. But Dean Ambrose somehow helped him getting rid of it when he punched the chair away with four chops.
The chops didn’t stop but somehow Kevin Owens connected with a Superkick to Dean Ambrose’s chin. Kevin Owens tried for the Pop-Up Powerbomb but Dean Ambrose was able to counter and right after hit Dirty Deeds on Kevin Owens. He then barely survived the 10-count, so Dean Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds again, this time Kevin Owens’ face first into a well prepared chair. And this time Kevin Owens was only able to survive with rolling out of the ring.
Dean Ambrose vs Kevin Owens: Tables
Now there was a bit of time for Dean Ambrose to set up a table on the commentators’ side of the ring. Kevin Owens almost recovered when Dean Ambrose was ready but with his head to the French announcers table, Kevin Owens was slightly dizzy again, so Dean Ambrose was able to lay out the man on the table. And he lost no time now, climbing right on top of the next ring corner and sending himself with a Flying Elbow on Kevin Owens and through the table. Both men got back up and Kevin Owens was rolling inside the ring while Dean Ambrose stayed at ringside to get another table out. This one made its way inside the ring, too, now followed by Dean Ambrose.
To buy himself a bit of time to actually set up the very table, Dean Ambrose hit Kevin Owens with one of the chairs that were still lying around the ring. And after both men confirmed their love for each other, the table was ready to use. Dean Ambrose set up Kevin Owens on the top rope, then climbed up himself but this time it was for Kevin Owens to counter his opponent’s move. And it was Dean Ambrose who had to crash the table back first. Kevin Owens was furious now when Dean Ambrose beat the 10-count and finally hit the Pop-Up Powerbomb on him. He was even more furious when Dean Ambrose beat the 10-count just again.
Now the chairs were back in use with one chair Kevin Owens used to beat up Dean Ambrose. The other five chairs he put together. Then Dean Ambrose was laid out on top of them. The audience now was looking forward to Kevin Owens throwing himself from the top of the ring corner right into Dean Ambrose and the chairs. But instead Dean Ambrose came back to life, got up and shoved Kevin Owens right into the previously erected two tables. And this was finally enough for Dean Ambrose to win not only the Last Man Standing match but also retain his Intercontinental Championship. Kevin Owens was unable to overcome the 10-count this time, so Dean Ambrose got his belt back from Charles Robinson.
Dean Ambrose and the Royal Rumble match in numbers
The big Royal Rumble match at the very Pay-Per-View is usually something you can’t really describe from start to finish. Because the match usually is rather confusing, especially when we’ve got quite some wrestlers inside the ring. With following just one guy in the Rumble match, it’s much easier. But since there are some times when there isn’t anything to describe, I’m writing about Dean Ambrose in this Rumble match along some numbers. You’ll soon get the idea:
|19||Dean Ambrose made his way into the Royal Rumble match as no.19 and this had been a rather amusing setting by WWE: Kevin Owens came out as no. 18, then Dean Ambrose with both men promptly going for it. And finally no.20 had been Sami Zayn whose arrival brought Kevin Owens into a real mental state. I really laughed my ass off. Great setting, really, but also an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.|
|29||Actually there are two facts about this number: 1) Dean Ambrose stayed in the Royal Rumble match for 29 minutes (and 36 seconds). He didn’t do very much apart from sitting in a few corners, listening to Roman Reigns getting booed. But, of course, this was booked this way because obviously Dean Ambrose had an intense 20 minutes match before, so he wasn’t used that much; 2) Dean Ambrose was eliminated as no.29 and therefore was the last man eliminated.|
|1||Dean Ambrose eliminated a whopping ONE man during the Royal Rumble and that was Chris Jericho. Like I assumed in my last article, WWE might have thought about a coming feud between Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho, culminating into a WrestleMania match for the Intercontinental Championship but maybe changes are lurking at the horizon already because of the finish to the Royal Rumble. I’ll discuss this later in this article.|
|2||Dean Ambrose was the second winner of the Royal Rumble, second last man standing in the end, so also the last loser.|
And for the statistic lovers out there I created this table with the entrants order, order of eliminations, eliminations by who, and for a selected few their duration time in the ring:
|Entrant Number / Entrant||Eliminated as Number / By||Time in the Royal Rumble|
|#1 / Roman Reigns||#28 / Triple H||29:03|
|#2 / Rusev||#1 / Roman Reigns||—|
|#3 / AJ Styles||#11 / Kevin Owens||—|
|#4 / Tyler Breeze||#2 / Roman Reigns||—|
|#5 / Curtis Axel||#3 / AJ Styles||—|
|#6 / Chris Jericho||#26 / Dean Ambrose||58:00|
|#7 / Kane||#9 / Braun Strowman||—|
|#8 / Goldust||#4 / Titus O’Neil||—|
|#9 / Ryback||#8 / Big Show||—|
|#10 / Kofi Kingston||#6 / Chris Jericho||—|
|#11 / Titus O’Neil||#7 / Big Show||—|
|#12 / R-Truth||#5 / Kane||—|
|#13 / Luke Harper||#19 / Brock Lesnar||—|
|#14 / Stardust||#14 / Luke Harper||—|
|#15 / Big Show||#10 / Braun Strowman||—|
|#16 / Neville||#13 / Luke Harper||—|
|#17 / Braun Strowman||#20 / Brock Lesnar||—|
|#18 / Kevin Owens||#12 / Sami Zayn||—|
|#19 / Dean Ambrose||#29 / Triple H||29:36|
|#20 / Sami Zayn||#16 / Braun Strowman||—|
|#21 / Erick Rowan||#17 / Brock Lesnar||—|
|#22 / Mark Henry||#15 / Harper & Rowan & Strowman||—|
|#23 / Brock Lesnar||#21 / Harper & Rowan & Strowman||—|
|#24 / Jack Swagger||#18 / Brock Lesnar||—|
|#25 / The Miz||#22 / Roman Reigns||—|
|#26 / Alberto del Rio||#23 / Roman Reigns||—|
|#27 / Bray Wyatt||#25 / Sheamus & Triple H||—|
|#28 / Dolph Ziggler||#24 / Triple H||—|
|#29 / Sheamus||#27 / Roman Reigns||—|
|#30 / Triple H||new WWE WH Champion||—|
I still say a few things about this Royal Rumble match under the next sub-headline, so I won’t repeat myself. Just go on reading.
The Road to WrestleMania for Dean Ambrose
Before I’ll go into detail about all these different possible scenarios for Dean Ambrose’s Road to WrestleMania, I just had to transcribe the following interview / promo by him. Because Dean Ambrose sat down again for Michael Cole’s mid-week interview and he was brilliant. More FCW, much less lunatic fringe stupidity. If you haven’t watched it already, watch it; if you have watched it, watch it again:
“Yeah, well, I don’t pick a fight with somebody that you can’t keep down. You can’t keep me down. Nobody will ever beat me in a Last Man Standing match. And that’s not gonna change any time soon. Exactly what I said what’s gonna happen, happened.”
“Yeah, I took two things away from that. I took two things away from that night at the Royal Rumble. One, there are a very few people in this world that will ever taste, taste it on their lips, on their tongue, the WWE Championship — main eventing WrestleMania — I came that close. And that’s intoxicating, it feels good. It’s why we do this every day. You know what I’m saying? The second thing I took away with was, I lost fair and square to Triple H. He dumped me over the top rope. I feel like Triple H dumped me over the top rope; I don’t feel like Triple H kicked my ass. You know what I’m saying? And the thing we always gloss over in all this, I’m one of the best in this game. I’m one of the best, period, on this planet. Nobody can do what I do. There’s nobody in this industry that can everything like I can do. Nobody can wrestle on the mat, put people in pretzels, snap people’s arms like I can, nobody can brawl and fight, nobody can fly through the air, fight all around the arena, nobody can do everything like I can do. Alright? Triple H is one of the best of all time, Hall Of Famer, he’s The Game. Fourteen time World Champion, whatever it is. Do I think that Triple H on his best day — and his best day is usually WrestleMania — is good enough? Do I think Triple H has all the tools necessary to beat Dean Ambrose on his best day? No. I’m sorry, I don’t. And if I win this match at FastLane, I get the opportunity to prove that.”
“So what? Of course, it’s intoxicating. It’s why we do what we do. It’s why we drag ourselves into the ring every single night. It’s why we put our bodies on the line every single night — for that rush, for that feeling! That’s what keeps us going. Does it matter that Roman Reigns is in the ring next to me? No. I fought him before. I fight him again. That’s what we do. We’ve never come up with an excuse, a reason why we shouldn’t fight each other. That’s just not how we are. Brock Lesnar? As far as Brock Lesnar goes, [I once fought with Brock with.] I like Brock. He’s a cool guy. You know, he does his own thing. He’s pulling a lot of punches. You know, I like Brock Lesnar personally. I’m starting to get pissed off at the thought of Brock Lesnar. So, you know what I’m saying? Because when you say, The Beast Incarnate … THE BEAST BROCK LES… the beast Brock L… am I supposed to be scared? Am I supposed to be intimidated? I’ve been doing this way too long to be scared by marketing, alright? Should I be scared by Brock Lesnar? Probably, yeah. Could he break me in half at his bare hands? Probably, yeah. You know, what happens though? If I’m gonna be in a ring with Brock Lesnar, I get dumped on my head thirty-six, forty, fifty times. And either, I just get back up and he just eats me alive — which is a good possibility — or he just keeps dumping me on my head and keeps dumping me on my head and he keeps dumping me on my head — and I just keep getting back up. And he starts to get tired and three-hundred pounds start to feel real, real heavy. And he starts to wonder why this isn’t working, why is he still standing back up. And all those injuries from all those years of all that combats start to creep up on him. And he starts to get tired; and his feet start to get heavy; and his hands start to drop; and he starts to wonder, what is going wrong here? And that’s where he gets his ankle broken! And that’s where he gets his finger broken! And that’s where he gets his nose broken! That’s where he gets his eyeball gouged out. And when his eyeballs dangling above the mat, he starts to wonder, man, maybe I should’ve took Dean Ambrose just a little bit more seriously — you know what I’m saying? That could happen.”
Now, this is exactly what I always mean when I say I don’t like this Lunatic Fringe gimmick. Because if Dean Ambrose would be like this all the time, he wouldn’t be this comical character, no-one is really taking seriously — like he said at the end. Now WWE at least gave Dean Ambrose the Intercontinental Championship and made him win important matches on his own. It’s still a slow ride to the top for Dean Ambrose. But WrestleMania 32 already could be that peak he’ll able to climb. And he doesn’t need to drop the Intercontinental Championship for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. If Seth Rollins is able to carry around two belts, Dean Ambrose is able to carry around two belts. I don’t understand this very discussion that I can already read on the internet.
But we’re not that close to WrestleMania. There is still one match to fight Dean Ambrose was talking about: him vs Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns at FastLane. Already in November / December 2015 there was this smell hanging in the air that Triple H could win the Royal Rumble. He wasn’t part of the on-screen Authority anymore, so it wasn’t surprising at all that he came out as no.30 at the Rumble match. Probably everyone thought that Reigns would be the last man eliminated, so did I. For me it was highly surprising that Dean Ambrose was the last man eliminated. And actually this scenario was horribly booked.
Reigns vs Triple H, all this build-up right to the stare-off at the Royal Rumble, could have been great if Reigns was someone that much over like Dean Ambrose is. In this case, the fans would have really hated Triple H. But at the Rumble they cheered him and heavily booed or just stayed silent out of boredom for Reigns. Déjà vu from the last Royal Rumble all over. It was a good idea to take Reigns out completely for 21 minutes. But he was almost dead when he walked out, and he was fresh like a fawn when he came back in – simply not believable. If someone doesn’t really need for the audience to cheer him up, if this someone takes out five or six men with a snap just minutes after he was basically dead, why should the audience cheer him up? There’s no need for it, because this certain someone is able to do it all by himself and just for himself. One vs All: who exactly had the idea for this stupid gimmick? Because “All” also includes the audience when Reigns acts like he almost always does. The audience booed him before. Now taking him out probably should have created sympathy. But it didn’t. The audience just didn’t care for him. And that didn’t change with that booking. You can’t manipulate a crowd like this. If people don’t like one guy, they don’t like this guy.
The horrible thing about this booking was that people cheered for Triple H. But then he happened to be against Dean Ambrose as the last two men. Some people in the audience might have just didn’t know how to react now. Just slowly the crowd went behind Dean Ambrose. There were loud “Let’s go, Ambrose” chants and the man himself was able to push the crowd and get them behind himself. Now people who cheered for Triple H before, had to boo him now. That shouldn’t happen with a clear babyface vs heel concept. But it happened because WWE want so badly that Reigns succeeds everywhere when this will never happen.
There was this moment right at the end of the match when Triple H was standing outside of the ring and Dean Ambrose tried to push him outside. He tried it once and if he would have been successful at the second attempt, I promise you, the crowd would have blown the roof off. Or even better: make him try once, then for the second time, and make him being successful at the third attempt. If you book a possible WrestleMania match between Dean Ambrose and Triple H like this, you’ll have a great finish to the WrestleMania event and the whole season.
So, the plan from the start was to have Reigns vs Triple H as the main event at WrestleMania. And probably WWE made Reigns defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in this Royal Rumble match as some kind of rehearsal for the WrestleMania main event – just to see how the audience would react to Triple H vs Reigns. And everything went horribly wrong. If the crowd would have reacted a bit more positive to Reigns, he probably would have been the last man eliminated and we would have got another Brock Lesnar vs Reigns match at FastLane. But with Dean Ambrose being that guy, we now have a Triple Threat match for the opportunity to face Triple H at WrestleMania for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Now, Dean Ambrose eliminated Chris Jericho during the Rumble match but Dean Ambrose, Jericho and Reigns already teamed up at the coming SmackDown to beat The Wyatt Family. So, maybe this supposed Ambrose vs Jericho feud is already off. It has to now because Dean Ambrose is in this Triple Threat match. He can’t have a match for the Intercontinental Championship at FastLane. So, what’s happening with that belt? Will it need to get the same treatment like the United States Championship in the latter stages of the Dean Ambrose reign? It would be stupid booking by WWE once again if Dean Ambrose would lose the title now because that would make him a weak competitor for the Triple Threat match. But only making him team up with Reigns in various tag team matches isn’t an option as well. So, just let Dean Ambrose defend the Intercontinental Championship at a coming RAW and make him build a more serious character with a few other moves and — most important — make him use the Regal Stretch again. It’s a great hold for his character. And if he could use it as a second finisher, it would give him more variation to his style.
And what’s with Brock Lesnar? He’s a part-timer. And he’s there for the big matches. So, he definitely wants to have his big match at WrestleMania. Maybe he’ll be screwed over by The Wyatt Family at FastLane, so Brock Lesnar could have a 4-on-1 handicap match against The Wyatts at WrestleMania. There is still Vince McMahon who desperately wants Roman Reigns to succeed, so he’ll do anything and everything for the man to get over. When it’d be just for Vince McMahon, Reigns would win the Triple Threat match. When WWE finally give in to what most fans really want, Dean Ambrose would win the Triple Threat match. And if ‘marketing’ and demands play a big part, then Brock Lesnar would win the Triple Threat match.
If I should take a wild guess, I’d say, Reigns will win, because Vince McMahon still thinks and believes that he can get his creation over with the fans until WrestleMania.