The Shield is on top of the world again in WWE and many fans are happy to see them in that spot. The Hounds of Justice carved out a very unique niche for themselves during their first run and their level of dominance had really never been seen before. Fans missed that about the group as there was indeed an electricity surrounding the trio every time they were on camera.
But things are a bit different this time of course. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are no longer hungry new Superstars looking to prove themselves in Vince McMahon’s company. They’re now individuals looking to write the next chapter of their stories as a team once again. But this time, the real story is about one individual. It’s about Dean Ambrose.
Dean is the most unpredictable of the three and because of that, fans have a difficult time knowing what he will do next. This has become evident in his booking recently, which has taken a very curious twist. Instead of trying to take Ambrose down, Braun Strowman’s Dogs of War are trying to recruit him.
It’s a unique move and one that was perhaps unexpected for anyone following this angle thus far. It began as a typical three on three feud, with The Shield back in the saddle against three upstarts vying for their spots atop the company. Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre and The Monster Among Men wanted to steal The Shield’s thunder and they were willing to do whatever was necessary to accomplish that mission.
Watch Braun Strowman play mind games with Dean Ambrose:
Chaos ensued and all six men were on a path of destruction. This was a paint-by-numbers storyline and everyone knew it. But WWE knew it as well. So instead of giving fans something routine, the company opted to go a much different route.
Strowman and his crew are turning the tables on The Shield and suddenly the emphasis is on the brotherhood between Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose. Mind games are now being played on The Shield, so it’s a strategy involving mental warfare and not just physical violence. Instead of uniting for one cause, The Shield is in disarray. So why is this game pan so effective?
Braun Strowman is a thinking man’s monster. He could’ve continued with business as usual and just demolished each member of The Shield until the group fell apart. But Braun knows that the unit is much too strong and will not fall easily. So instead, he’s playing all three men against each other.
The fact is there’s some truth in what Stowman and company have been saying about Dean. Yes, Roman and Seth have championships while Dean does not. Yes, Ambrose is the one that often ends up carrying the load though he gets no recognition for it. There’s an element of truth in all of this and that’s why it’s working so well.
Watch Baron Corbin give Ambrose a choice of match:
When fans look at The Shield now versus four years ago, it’s a completely different animal. There was no standout star in the beginning. The Shield was a cooperative effort and no one was really leading the way. It was a situation in which the group existed to get three individuals over and that’s exactly what happened. But all three men appeared to have an even shot at greatness.
But how did that turn out? Roman is the top guy and the face of WWE. He’s fought the greats in the company and he’s beat them all. Seth is perhaps the best hand in WWE today and he is surely in the top five best in the world. Both men are main event talents and both men are the cornerstones of Monday Night Raw.
So where does that leave Dean Ambrose? Since his return from injury, The Lunatic Fringe has been less insane and more determined. He’s no nonsense now. Ambrose doesn’t have time to play games or deliver silly one-liners. Now Dean is all intensity, all the time. He has an undeniable drive and he faces every challenge head on. This is the Dean Ambrose that his longtime supporters likely wanted from the very beginning.
Of course the Ambrose that WWE has presented from the start has been a slightly unhinged yet entertaining babyface, who’s a mid-carder at best. That was his role and everyone seemed okay with it. He was WWE champion however, so he did get a taste of the big time. But many fans believed his title run was just a placeholder and nothing more. Even Dean’s heart was questioned at the time of his WWE Championship reign. Again, this was the norm and almost everyone seemed to agree on it.
Watch Dean backstage with Roman and Seth:
So this current storyline indeed centers on Dean Ambrose because once again, WWE knows what the fans are talking about. As usual, the company is aware of the chatter online and so WWE is working it into the angle. Of course it’s also a natural progression for Dean’s character, who sits back and watches his brothers headline atop the company while he works just below them.
For perhaps the first time, Dean Ambrose is beginning to doubt his place in the world. He’s suddenly looking around and realizing that maybe, just maybe, he doesn’t need his partners anymore. Maybe he doesn’t need anyone anymore. This is all thanks to Braun Strowman.
It’s impossible to know if this storyline will end with a Dean Ambrose heel turn. WWE keeps teasing it on the air, which could mean it’s nothing more than sleight of hand, a little misdirection to keep fans wondering what will happen next. Despite how this angle plays out, it’s safe to say that the drama is certainly there. Whether or not that drama will ultimately lead to The Shield’s demise is anyone’s guess.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes,YouTube, iHeart Radio, boinkstudios.com and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live