Paul Heyman is right. Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar is the main event of WrestleMania. And because of some epic moments to the build-up already (after one RAW and one SmackDown after Dean Ambrose vs Triple H), I decided to put together all that lead to their match at the biggest wrestling event of the year. Enjoy!
RAW | 14 March 2016 – Mick Foley passes the Barbed Wire Torch to Dean Ambrose
Two days after the inevitable loss by Dean Ambrose to Triple H at Roadblock, Dean Ambrose went almost straight back onto the other road towards WrestleMania. He came out inside the ring to reflect on his loss, but just a little. Because WrestleMania is just a fortnight ahead, so all attention of Dean Ambrose is straight back at Brock Lesnar – no time to demand a re-match against Triple H because of “controversy”.
And Dean Ambrose didn’t lose any time but instantly called out The Beast. Paul Heyman though begged Dean Ambrose not to provoke Brock Lesnar any further because if he did, then he wouldn’t be able to separate both men from each other any more. And that would mean, Dean Ambrose wouldn’t make it to WrestleMania and Brock Lesnar wouldn’t have an opponent for that event plus consequently the WrestleMania audience wouldn’t get their main event.
Of course, Dean Ambrose couldn’t be stopped, demanded for an instant confrontation, so Paul Heyman left the arena to bring an end to that “nonsense”. But Brock Lesnar had other ideas and finally went straight to the ring. Usually, Dean Ambrose enters the ring with his leather jacket opened, but this time he had it closed. And we now got to know why. Because hidden under his jacket there was a crowbar that he swung now to defend himself against Brock Lesnar every time he would dare to come close to him – just to give him a taste of what a Street Fight with Dean Ambrose was all about.
Aware of the crowbar, Brock Lesnar just circled the ring and finally left together with Paul Heyman after Dean Ambrose almost hit him. Later on, we saw Dean Ambrose again backstage when someone entered the room. It was Mick Foley. And because I’ve got a few loose thoughts about this segment and the conversation in mind, I put their chit-chat in here first:
Ambrose: “What are you doing here?”
Foley: “Dean, ever since I’ve heard about this match between you and Brock Lesnar, I felt the need to talk to you.”
Ambrose: “Don’t tell me, you’re coming here and trying to talk me outta it.”
Foley: “No, actually, I came to bring you a gift. But first I want to clear my conscience. Like, you and I both know, this is a really bad idea. Like, you and Brock, it’s a bad idea. Like, you know what he does, right? You’ve been there.”
Foley: “You’re about to get hurt. Bad.”
Foley: “For a long time.”
Foley: “You accept that?”
Ambrose: “I mean, am not a baseball player, you know.”
Foley: “So, a part of you is even looking forward to it?”
Ambrose: “Uh, I mean, it’s the deal. It is what it is, you know what I’m saying?”
Foley: “Then, before I proceed, can I ask you one simple question? Why? Why, Dean? Why?”
Ambrose: “Let me ask you a question. When you were standing on top of that Hell In a Cell, fighting The Undertaker… right here.”
Foley: “Here? Right here? In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?”
Ambrose: “Yeah. When you were up on top of that cell, were you afraid? Were you scared?”
Foley: “Yeah. Dean, people down below looked like ants. And I was terrified.”
Ambrose: “So, why did you keep going?”
Foley: “Because I was Mick Foley, and that’s what I did.”
Ambrose: “And I’m Dean Ambrose, and this is what I do.”
Foley: “It was long since I knew that your mind is made up, I want you to take Brock Lesnar on a little journey at WrestleMania. Because I’ve heard all I can stand about Suplex City. I want you to take Brock Lesnar somewhere considerably more dangerous. I want you to take him into your past, to dig the dark resources in your mind. And I want you to have something unique for your gift… All due respect. May I, please?”
Ambrose: “Oh, yeah.”
Foley: “It’s nice. Crowbar is nice but we’re talking about WrestleMania here. Hundred-thousand fans. You gotta need something special. Consider this to be a passing of the torch. Bang, bang!”
And now for a few loose thoughts about this promo and what was said. First of all, this is what WWE legends past their 50s should be for: putting over talent, giving advise backstage, being a helper and having an open ear for young talents. They shouldn’t be in the ring anymore, taking away more than 50 percent of “fighting” time from the most important WWE event of the year, WrestleMania. But I said this before, and it’s not my sole opinion.
In Dean Ambrose’s case and what WWE does with him towards said WrestleMania, I like the direction. And still I’ve got mixed feelings. Because it’s still WWE and they are prone to cutting off threads or taking the wrong road at a junction. So, it’s nice that they are going a little more hardcore with Dean Ambrose. And they should really have William Regal being the latest legend before WrestleMania handing over Dean Ambrose his infamous brass knuckles. But since William Regal is basically ignored on RAW and SmackDown, I can’t see that happen unfortunately.
I’m also afraid that WWE goes the comical hardcore road with Dean Ambrose, you know, putting him in a lot of gimmick matches, making him jump from a lot of things like an insane “lunatic” and so shorten his wrestling career by a few years. The man already wears his elbow pads at live events, so he certainly already feels the effects of his intense in-ring style. What I still don’t really get is, (in Mick Foley’s voice) WHY the barbed wire baseball bat? WHY the chainsaw? WWE is still PG (kinda), so Dean Ambrose won’t be allowed to actually use those items in the actual match. In the end, he will have got an item of his own choice – or should have – something we haven’t seen already, something PG. And I still have to think about what that might be.
So, obviously I wouldn’t like the comical route for Dean Ambrose. I still hope for a more serious path he is able to walk in the future, more anti-hero. But with all this hardcore, lunatic thing, I guess, WWE just want to make him less appealing for the general audience, so he can’t take away from one certain golden boy.
SmackDown | 17 March 2016 – Dean Ambrose introduces Brock Lesnar to the streets of Cincinnati
Since SmackDown stationed in Cincinnati, Ohio, and because this is Dean Ambrose’s hometown, he was sent to town again to film on a few locations and send his message to Brock Lesnar. First, there is a video with all segments together. Then, I separated the segments, transcribed the promos, illustrated them with a few pictures and finally have my say about the meaning and maybe foreshadowing for the match at WrestleMania and beyond.
First stop for Dean Ambrose in Cincinnati was the Great American Ballpark, home to the baseball team of the Cincinnati Reds. And he wasn’t just accompanied by one WWE camera man to film his promo on Brock Lesnar, also one media pal from the Cincinnati Reds was there to take some pictures.
“When I was a kid, going to see the Cincinnati Ohio Reds play baseball is a great escape. You don’t have to worry about anything. You just get to sit back, relax, get your Big Red Smokeys, some Cracker Jacks, enjoy the game and learn about life watching these warriors doing battle on the field.
Warriors like Frank Robinson, warriors like Charlie Hussey himself, Pete Rose. And you learn from these warriors when you’re getting knocked down. You just pick yourself up, you dust yourself up, and you keep on swinging. And at WrestleMania against Brock Lesnar I am swinging for the fences!
Two on two out bottom of ninth. Ambrose steps up to the plate. And here comes The Beast. Bam! Right in Brock Lesnar’s face! The Beast is reeling; The Beast is falling; and The Beast is outta here!”
Next stop for Dean Ambrose on his little guide tour through Cincinnati was some backyard at a chainlink fence, probably his favourite place for cutting a promo. Those were his words of wisdom for Brock Lesnar at this lovely location:
“At WrestleMania I get a Street Fight with Brock Lesnar. That’s my kind of fight. The thing about the streets is, there’s no room for fear. You can be afraid of the dark; you can be afraid of shadows; you can be afraid of loud bangs, screams, sounds – if you’re afraid, they can smell it on ya.
Brock Lesnar’s never had to deal with fear, he’s never had anything to be afraid of. He’s Brock Lesnar; he’s The Beast. But at WrestleMania, the longer this fight goes, the more he starts suck in wind and the more frustrated he gets, he will grow weaker. And I’ll get stronger. And for the first time at WrestleMania, the world will see on Brock Lesnar’s face: fear. Cause for the first time in his life he’ll be afraid when he realizes that he’s human.”
After most certainly a little car trip with the WWE camera guy, we saw Dean Ambrose standing on the periphery of his city, with a great view over his hometown, having just another message for Brock Lesnar and the audience of SmackDown in the arena:
“Cincinnati, Ohio, has a lot of names: Queen City, Fountain City, a good looking Cleveland, my hometown. Now Brock Lesnar has been training for a fight his entire life. He trained to be an NCAA champion, he trained to be a UFC champion, a WWE champion.
But down there, you train to fight for your life. You train to fight for a better life. Down there, every day is WrestleMania. The stakes couldn’t be higher. The pressure? Pressure offers chances; the pressure makes diamonds. So, every time I got a brick thrown on my head for being on the wrong block, every time I got jumped, I leaned a valuable lesson.
Cincinnati taught me everything: how to live, how to fight, how to survive – how to be Dean Ambrose. And this knowledge I plan on passing on to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. And I hope, I hope he’s ready because in my experience, nothing hurts like an education.”
A few Cincinnati natives (including Dean Ambrose’s former trainer, Cody Hawk) were ordered to Madonna’s Bar to celebrate Paddy’s Day on the Ides of March. And now Dean Ambrose came up with a serious threat for Brock Lesnar:
“Madonna’s Bar. It’s a great place to lick your wounds, to numb your pain and they’ve got a hell of an open mic night on Thursdays. That’s why you’re my guy. You’re my guy; you already know.
Over the years you learn a lot of valuable stuff at a bar like this, over a few beers, few rounds of pool, you start thinking about the fights you won, the fights you lost. You start dreaming about fighting for the big money on the big stage. All the fame and fortune that goes with that.
And then you realize that’s all crap and none of that matters. What matters is fighting for pride, fighting for who you are, fighting for what you come from. At WrestleMania against Brock Lesnar, I am bringing the entire city of Cincinnati with me. So, it’s gonna get ugly. Brock Lesnar doesn’t know what pain is! Brock Lesnar doesn’t know what a Street Fight is, not yet. But he’s gonna find out. And he’s gonna find out at WrestleMania. Bottoms up.”
And finally Dean Ambrose made it into the show of SmackDown to interrupt a really horrible promo by the four Social Outcasts (Curtis Axel, Adam Rose, Heath Slater and Bo Dallas) and beat them all four up with a Kendo Stick. Now, those are the weapons Dean Ambrose already introduced to Brock Lesnar and several audiences as his possible weapons of choice for his WrestleMania match:
- a table;
- a crowbar;
- a barbed wire baseball bat (gift from Mick Foley on RAW, 14 March 2016);
- a Kendo stick;
- a chainsaw (gift from Terry Funk on RAW, 21 March 2016);
- steel pipes (packed into his wagon from under the ring on RAW, 28 March 2016);
- an extinguisher (packed into his wagon from under the ring on RAW, 28 March 2016);
- nunchucks (packed into his wagon from under the ring on RAW, 28 March 2016);
- the steel steps (packed into his wagon from under the ring on RAW, 28 March 2016);
And when all four Social Outcasts were gone, Dean Ambrose had yet another message for Brock Lesnar:
“Oh, I’m sorry. Were you guys done? It doesn’t matter. You’re done. Because tonight, we’re in the ‘Nati, baby! I swear, today I was walking the streets in my home town, taking in the sights and sounds, re-energizing myself, eating a cheese coney and heard a rumour. Rumour is, Brock Lesnar’s gonna be on SmackDown next week.
So, Brock, you big bone head, I’m gonna make this real simple for ya: this past week on RAW, you walked away from a fight with me. So next week, I’m gonna be standing right here, right in the middle of this ring, ready to rock ‘n’ roll. So, let’s see if you’ve got the baseballs to step up to the plate!”
Now, as much as I liked those vignettes and promos, there remains this bad taste in my mouth. Dean Ambrose, of course, portrays himself as the tough kid with a bad childhood – nothing new here, he’s been doing this all his career. There’s also nothing wrong with it. Doing it the right way would be finally making Dean Ambrose climb this mountain, making him stand on top of WWE together with that WWE Championship. But holding this title once, would that make him a stand-out performer in WWE? Compared with the 10+ WWE Championship runs the certain golden boy will be thrown at?
No, of course not. Because WWE still doesn’t see Dean Ambrose as a stand-out performer. And I have to say, I agree with them on one point: Dean Ambrose looked much better before and around WrestleMania 31 than he does today. I’m usually all against overly big muscled guys who probably had some help from steroids, pills and drugs. But there’s nothing wrong with lifting some weights to get a toned body that can stand all the crazy in-ring performances that Dean Ambrose does. So, yes, Dean Ambrose should definitely do something in that department. Just biking and hiking aren’t an enough workout for WWE.
So, Dean Ambrose tells us that he’s tough, that he’s able to stand pain, that he’s there to give Brock Lesnar a real good street fight. It basically says: don’t be afraid if I’ll have to take 2,734 F5s. I’ll also take the 2,735th one and will stand up again. And again. How many matches I’ll lose, I will always lose the next one. But I’ll get up, so I’ll be able to lose just another one. And maybe, just maybe, when I’m 46 years of age, maybe WWE might give me an honorary WWE Championship for a few days for putting over other talent and make your chosen golden boy look great.
The right path would be: building Dean Ambrose as the guy who always comes back to finally climb and stand on top of this mountain and stay there for a couple of years.
The wrong path would be: basically Sisyphus – always trying, never reaching the top. And I’m afraid, WWE will go this wrong path for the whole career of Dean Ambrose.
RAW | 21 March 2016 – Dean Ambrose is gifted a chainsaw and a horrible opponent in Braun Strowman
Footage during RAW showed that Dean Ambrose was at just another pub, this time at the Philadium Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to cut a promo on Brock Lesnar. And he was joined by another legend who gave him another present:
“Yeah, it’s about what’s on the inside, you know? I’m not so sure about what’s inside of Brock Lesnar. I feel like deep down inside of Brock Lesnar there may be quit. I know what’s deep down inside of me.
And I’m gonna reach down there and I’ll put up all that pain, all that heartache, all that frustration, all that anger, all that bile, all that crap, and I’m gonna smear that all over Brock Lesnar’s face.
So, I don’t think that Brock Lesnar is willing to go as far as he will need to go to beat me in a Street Fight at WrestleMania, you know what I’m saying?”
Dean Ambrose directed his last words to a person on his left. And Terry Funk appeared in the picture, using a lot of colourful metaphors to describe what Dean Ambrose is going to do with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. And he finished with stating that if he had a son, he wished for him to be just like Dean Ambrose. And if he had a daughter… (there was nothing else). And finally Terry Funk came over with the chainsaw that Dean Ambrose first was just a little resisted towards to. But finally tried it on a table in the very tavern.
And Dean Ambrose also had a fight this night. It actually was the main event of RAW but it was nothing enjoyable. For almost six minutes, Dean Ambrose somehow tried his best to make this match at least a little interesting but as soon as the crowd chanted “This is boring” and “We want Lesnar”, he just brought this segment to an end.
Braun Strowman had a handful of matches at NXT live events when he was called up to the main roster to join the Wyatt Family. That was just over a year ago. And the man still can’t wrestle or act or sell at all. He was just added as manpower, as an ugly monster. But those days are over. The days of a slowly walking 7-footer without any wrestling abilities are over. It can be a nice little David vs. Goliath story. But then, the Goliath must have an edge, he must be intimidating, you have to be afraid of the guy. But Braun Strowman is just ugly, slow and boring. I was glad when Dean Ambrose took a chair and put an end to this drama.
I surely get it. This was done to demonstrate just for another time that Dean Ambrose always comes back, that he’ll never back off against anyone, that he’s lunatic enough to know no boundaries. Braun Strowman just isn’t a guy who can make you actually being concerned about Dean Ambrose. You just want for it to be over. And so, the most interesting thing about this “match” was Paul Heyman on commentary and Dean Ambrose presenting himself on the commentators table to Paul Heyman.
Interlude | 24 March 2016 – WWE acknowledges that Jon Moxley existed
A few hours before WWE aired this weeks episode of SmackDown, they put this nice little video compilation on YouTube. Once again it’s Dean Ambrose’s life story combined with his preferred training of running, biking and climbing in the deserted Red Rock Mountains in Nevada – like they did for last year’s WrestleMania plus in the documentation “The Destruction of The Shield”. But they actually also put in some PG pictures of Jon Moxley at WWN and CZW. Usually, WWE ignores everything that happens outside of WWE but in the recent past, they acknowledge more and more that especially their ex-Indie stars aren’t made by WWE but at the Indies all around the world.
I refuse to transcribe the Dean Ambrose narration in here. It’s nothing really new actually. But the pictures are great, and seeing Jon Moxley in a WWE video is all worth to put this in here.
SmackDown | 24 March 2016 – Brock Lesnar can handle a Kendo stick, too
As if we needed further proof, we were witnessing that a Street Fight isn’t really advantage for Dean Ambrose because – like Paul Heyman explained during his promo – every weapon, every tool, every toy that Dean Ambrose is able to use, Brock Lesnar is able to use as well. The weapon of choice for Dean Ambrose on SmackDown was a Kendo Stick.
After Paul Heyman was done hyping the WrestleMania match of his client, he called out Dean Ambrose but out came the Wyatt Family. They circled the ring and Brock Lesnar started the beat-down when Dean Ambrose’s music hit. Now Dean Ambrose beat down Bray Wyatt while Brock Lesnar cleared the ring. Then Dean Ambrose went for Brock Lesnar but The Beast got his hands on the Kendo Stick, so he beat down Dean Ambrose to close this segment.
What I still don’t get is this involvement of the Wyatts. They are clearly heels and are always booed. But isn’t Brock Lesnar heel, too? Or shouldn’t he be heel in his feud against Dean Ambrose? Why involving the Wyatts and make people – who already cheer for Lesnar because it’s kinda cool – even more cheer for Lesnar? Will WWE really kill the Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar match by making the Wyatts interfere at WrestleMania? Like they killed Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins at Hell in a Cell by making Bray Wyatt appear? Making the Wyatts destroy great matches isn’t heel behaviour, it’s an annoying and useless behaviour and just lazy booking.
I hope, this is just a teaser for Brock Lesnar vs Wyatts after WrestleMania. I want to enjoy a one-on-one match between Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar – no interference, no appearing out of nowhere. I only accept one single guy who’s allowed to interfere, and that is William Regal.
RAW | 28 March 2016 – Dean Ambrose goes shopping at ringside
Now this is the video I got the second teaser picture of this very article from, just slightly edited, so you get the Ambrose=Street / Lesnar=Fight equation. And on the last RAW episode before WrestleMania, Paul Heyman hyped their match once again with a promo inside the ring.
The main message from Paul Heyman was, like he told the fans two years ago that Brock Lesnar would conquer the streak of The Undertaker, that a win for Brock Lesnar against Dean Ambrose won’t be prediction but a spoiler, so not just likely to happen; it will happen. But Dean Ambrose interrupted Paul Heyman once again when he came out with a nice little red wagon with his initials sprayed on one side that he dragged to the ring. As it turned out, Dean Ambrose went shopping from under the ring, and he put a few extra toys into his red wagon that we haven’t seen before: besides the barbed wire baseball bat and the chainsaw, Dean Ambrose lay his attention on some steel pipes, an extinguisher, a pair of nunchucks plus the top of one steel steps. During his shopping tour he ignored both, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman completely and then went off again like nothing happened.
A little later we saw Dean Ambrose showing off his nunchucks skills backstage – filmed in the dark with no flashlights, so his actual really good skills weren’t that obvious. So, even though I still hope that William Regal’s brass knuckles (and William Regal himself) do make a supportive appearance in this toy-gifting fest plus a fork will actually be the toy that makes it to the match against Brock Lesnar (as just another reminiscence to Dean Ambrose’s past as Jon Moxley), I also like the nunchucks in Dean Ambrose’s hands. I just don’t know how he should be able to use them on Brock Lesnar in PG WWE times.
But as for the actual WrestleMania match, there needs to be a toy that we haven’t seen so far. Brass knuckles would be great because Dean Ambrose would be able to hide them somewhere (in contrast to the extinguisher, for example). And a fork would be perfect as well because it would certainly fit Dean Ambrose’s character.
SmackDown | 31 March 2016 – Dean Ambrose has got another match against a beast – and this time he wins
For the last SmackDown before WrestleMania we got just another promo video to hype the match Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar – as if we really needed more hype! But it’s actually nice because this video basically summarizes what I did with this article here. In a very short form.
Now, the last hurray match for Dean Ambrose before WrestleMania happened to be against Erick Rowan, another sidekick to Bray Wyatt. And this match of just over ten minutes was far better than the one Dean Ambrose had to fight against Braun Strowman. Erick Rowan still could be a bit more nasty, especially with his facials. But it was a decent match with an amazing Superplex by Dean Ambrose on Erick Rowan and Dirty Deeds basically out of nowhere for the win to Dean Ambrose.
A few last ramblings before I try to enjoy WrestleMania
WrestleMania always is the event that every participant wants to be on his or her top. A one-on-one match is the best way to shine. And I hope – in Dean Ambrose’s case – it stays like this: just a one-on-one street fight all over the arena without interference, at least twenty minutes of match time and much freedom for both guys.
WrestleMania also can be the end of something and the start of something else: big heel / face turns, the return of someone unexpected, new alliances. I just hope for at least one really unexpected / surprising act during this show. If it’s a Reigns heel turn, then the WWE would finally do something right with the guy. If it’s Dean Ambrose actually winning against Brock Lesnar on his own, that could be the starting gun for the push the man deserves.
On wrestling forums and dirt sheets, we’ve already read anything that could possibly happen. Vince McMahon sometimes likes to collect any gossip he reads on the internet and then makes up an entirely illogical, never-read-before scenario that he makes happen. Conquering the streak of The Undertaker was like this; Seth Rollins cashing in wasn’t – I read this a lot before WrestleMania 31 took place. So, I’ll be surprised if Vince McMahon / the WWE actually does something we all haven’t and weren’t able to expect. Or if they’ll finally do something the fans will be pleased with.
Let’s also hope, no-one gets seriously hurt during the street fight. Because we all know what Dean Ambrose a.k.a Jon Moxley is capable of. Yeah, I actually fear for the well-being of The Beast. Let’s pray for Brock Lesnar that he’ll be able to deal with the fork in the fist!