Dean Ambrose & WWE Ring Psychology


The WWE psychologist, Dean Ambrose

The WWE psychologist, Dean Ambrose

A funny thing happened when the Shield broke up. Everyone assumed there’d be a Marty Jannetty, that Roman Reigns would go on to become the face of the WWE, that Seth Rollins would find some success as a heel being attached to the authority and that Dead Ambrose would get lost in the shuffle, if not by design, then by necessity. WWE has had a problem recently of keeping heat on mid-card feuds, but Ambrose is willing himself into the minds of wrestling fans everywhere, because he knows his character and playing it incredibly well, in and out of the ring.

“Psychology” in wrestling is a hard concept to explain. It’s one of those “I know it when I see it” things, but you only have to see Dean Ambrose to know it. Back in the indies as Jon Moxley, back in FCW before he was in the shield and through today, Ambrose has been perfecting this “unstable” type of character. He’s part “Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman, part Heath Ledger’s Joker and part Charlie Kelly.

It all started with the above promo when Dean was in FCW. This worked shoot has Ambrose blaming Mick Foley for a generation of wrestlers putting their bodies on the line doing the unsafe spots that Foley used to do. Ambrose then seems to trail off incoherently. The important thing to note is that Ambrose is right. Of course, all psychopaths believe they are right, but Ambrose actually is, and that’s what makes him get that much more heat. His rambling is spun around a kernel of truth – Foley himself used to cut anti-hardcore promos back in the day…

Then, Ambrose joined the Shield. He seemed to be the leader of the Shield, and the Shield’s brand of inconsistent “justice” seems like it could have been doled out by a madman, but Ambrose was nowhere near his level of crazy as he was when confronting Foley. Well we eventually found out, at the insistence of the WWE announce crew every week, that the “architect” of the Shield was Seth Rollins. Ambrose might have been their “front man”, but his strings were being pulled behind the scenes. Rollins was controlling the lunatic fringe.

Rollins severs Ambrose's conscience with this shot.

Rollins severs Ambrose’s conscience with this shot.

This brings us to today. The Shield is no more, thanks to the chair shot heard ‘round the world. When Rollins hit Ambrose with that chair, he not only activated Ambrose’s maniacal tendencies, but Rollins also severed any puppet strings he used to control Ambrose as “the architect” of the Shield. This gets into why Ambrose won’t let Rollins cash in his money in the bank briefcase. A lot of people are asking “why doesn’t Ambrose let Rollins cash in the briefcase, then ruin his match after the bell rings?” Ambrose doesn’t do that because, free of any semblance of conscience, he is trying to extract the maximum amount of punishment and embarrassment from Rollins. He wants Rollins to have the discomfort of looking over his shoulder every night. He wants Rollins to feel the embarrassment of being the first person to go wire-to-wire with the briefcase to not even register a cash in attempt. All this is natural payback for the pain and embarrassment Ambrose felt at the hands of Rollins.

How does this translate in ring? See below in the match of the month section.

A Trip to the Indies

I’ll be at Chikara’s Living Daylights show tomorrow in NY. If you are in the area and you’re not going, seriously think about checking it out. Chikara is full of fun and full of excellent wrestling. If you are going, hit me up on Twitter and let’s get an Untied meetup planned.

They’ll also be in Boston on Sunday. All of Chikara’s upcoming shows can be found here.

Around the World

New Japan Pro Wrestling has announced that Kota Ibushi will be withdrawn from the nig G1 Climax, due to his concussion suffered in his match with KUSHIDA. If he’s not fully recovered, this is absolutely the right move, and I hope Ibushi gets all the time he needs to recover. There is no word as of yet who will replace him. The annual round robin tournament is set to start 21 July and can be seen on NJPW’s UStream Channel http://www.ustream.tv/njpw

Match of the Month

Here is our man facing off against William Regal. Like today, Ambrose is working with a shoulder injury. Regal, like any good villain, works the shoulder. Ambrose does an excellent job of selling the shoulder, even when he is delivering offense. That’s one of the tenants that separate great workers from the best workers. Later in the match, he runs his injured shoulder into the corner over and over again under the guise of “popping it back into place”. This display of trading off short term gain for long term pain is a great part of any head case type of character. Ambrose is gonna feel worse for wear tomorrow morning, but it’s OK because so will Regal. Also, he did something similar recently in a match against Randy Orton and I totally marked out for it. Finally, towards the end, we see Regal extend the olive branch, knowing he’s been bested. The crowd is expecting Ambrose to capitulate, instead they see an absolute beat down from Ambrose with no sense of remorse whatsoever. Ambrose know his character and plays it perfectly. He knows the crowd expectations and plays with it. He displays incredible psychology in the ring.

Well, see you next time everybody. It’s time for me to head back to parts unknown.

P.S.: If you run an indie fed, there’s nothing wrong with booking Colt Cabana.

Dennis Mongello

I have unusual thoughts about wrestling and even less usual thoughts about music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>