From the ashes of the best faction to grace the squared circle of World Wrestling Entertainment in recent memory has risen a truly captivating feud between two of its former members – one which is already showing the promise of some day taking its place alongside the all time classics. I’m talking, of course, about the ongoing war being waged between ‘The Lunatic Fringe’ Dean Ambrose and ‘Mr Money in the Bank’ Seth Rollins. When wrestling fans prophesied the inevitable demise of The Shield, it was most commonly envisaged as resulting in a big singles push for Roman Reigns, with Ambrose going the way of the heel and Rollins the face. Whilst the Samoan superman part has been thus far utterly on the nail, Ambrose and Rollins have both set off down roads this last couple of months that were seemingly paved for the other guy.
Seth Rollins, arguably shining the brightest in the group’s final few months, was ‘the architect’ of The Shield and he was also the destroyer. Eyebrows were raised in the aftermath of that shocking night when Rollins delivered a chair shot to the back of each of his comrades, with many sensing his high octane displays in the ring had him naturally gravitating towards a strong face run. As the weeks have passed, though, all has become clear; he suits this new character who has such sheer arrogance in his ability, and the ambition and attitude he is exuding has been entertaining to watch and will surely be a platform for greater things.
Dean Ambrose deserves equal credit for developing his own new persona, though many might not have perceived that his insane facial expressions, dirty fighting style, and cold-blooded promos were such a great recipe for one of the company’s top faces. I couldn’t see it myself until it was right there in front of me, and now it feels like the most natural thing in the world to have happened. I remember witnessing Stone Cold Steve Austin’s rise to superstardom in 1996 – through to Wrestlemania XIV in 1998 when he was officially given the ball – and the similarities are astounding. Like the Texas Rattlesnake, Ambrose has proved to be equally fearless, unhinged, offensive, violent and aggressive in the last few months – whilst also exuding that same rare charisma which you just can’t help but get behind. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to create (or get given) ‘that’ moment like Austin did at Wrestlemania 13, but stick him in his place in that match and this is a guy who would be passing out in a pool of blood before he submitted to the sharpshooter as well.
These two personas that Rollins and Ambrose have created have seen both men flourish, but they owe as much to each other as they do themselves. Having once worn the same black uniform and performed simultaneous suicide dives side by side, they have now become almost polar opposites of one another. This has long been a necessary ingredient in the creation of some of the truly great feuds in the history of professional wrestling. Ric Flair, the limousine-riding, jet-flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’ ‘n’ dealin’, son of a gun, against Dusty Rhodes’ American Dream, a working class hero and the salt of the earth. Flair again with his pageantry, his pomp and his vanity, against Ricky Steamboat with his humility, his discipline and determination, and his family man persona. Bret Hart’s heart of a champion, his quest for respect and a need to be the hero twice met it’s match with HBK’s flamboyant, cocky degenerate, and Stone Cold Steve Austin, who showed him no respect, spat in the face of his every accomplishment, and tried to stomp a mud hole in his legacy and walk it dry. CM Punk vs John Cena, Triple H vs Mick Foley, The Rock vs Steve Austin – it reads like a list of wrestling’s all time greatest feuds.
Rollins has been cut-throat in his ambition to reach the top. He cuts a chiseled physique without the riot gear now and strolls around and to the ring with total confidence in his ability, total disdain for his perceived lesser opponents, and carries a belief that he will cross the river on fewer stepping stones than anyone that has come before. He is a poster boy for the authority and a sell-out who is only in it for his own personal glory. He only fears his confrontations with Ambrose because it gets in the way of his goals, and because he knows what his former partner is capable of.
Ambrose, indeed, is seemingly capable of anything right now. He is unpredictable in what he’ll do next, but we all know that he’s probably waiting right around one of the next corners with a chair, steel pipe or god knows what else he’s managed to get his hands on. His promo style is unique and the man can veer from making little sense in a crazed rant, to suddenly having the conviction of a cold-hearted killer who singles his opponents out for a slow and painful demise. As with his current quest to destroy Seth Rollins – just like The Terminator – he absolutely will not stop. Ever. He doesn’t care about titles right now, and he doesn’t care about kissing up to The Authority. He’ll get where he needs to go his own way regardless of how many times he is knocked down, and will only come back more dangerous every time he is.
Rollins and Ambrose are still very much in the early stages of this feud, and thus far it is shaping up to be something very special, but the matches really must come next if it is to make that giant leap into the company of the elite. As disappointed as I was not to see an actual match at Battleground (especially after that video promo), the various scuffles between the two were still very entertaining, exciting and built on their already heated rivalry. At Summerslam we will see this match, and in fact the PPV as a whole is potentially teeming with feuds that are being given the proper time and development to make this event one of the most hotly-anticipated in recent memory. Cena/Lesnar, Jericho/Wyatt, AJ/Paige, Brie/Stephanie, Reigns/Orton and even the likes of Rusev/Swagger and Miz/Ziggler have caught my interest at times. The one that I believe will steal the show, however, is Ambrose vs Rollins and I hope it is the first of many great matches to come between these two rising stars. This is a feud that, somewhere down the line, can take a seat on the back burner if it needs to, before eventually blowing up again and engulfing everything around the pair in flames.
It is pleasing to see that WWE appears to be once again acknowledging and practicing that which it always did best. “Anything can happen here in the World Wrestling Federation” Vince McMahon would say during his commentary days and, in just a couple of years, these words couldn’t have been more true. Beer baths, burials, arrests, crucifixions, guns, hit and runs, weddings, funerals, brawls in hospitals and supermarkets – you name it, it happened. I watch wrestling for the great matches, yes, but the larger than life characters and storylines are what make them even more entertaining. I want to see feuds like Ambrose and Rollins waged over the course of many years, and at times spill into the outside world of gyms, amusement parks, churches or space shuttles orbiting the earth. Then watch them bring it all back home to the squared circle and put on some classic matches. Television at its finest I’d say. Over to you WWE – so far so good.
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