Dean Ambrose must shine as the top titleholder on WWE Monday Night Raw
It’s been over a month since Brock Lesnar defeated Goldberg at WrestleMania 33 to become the new WWE Universal champion. At the time, many fans couldn’t wait to see him go over, mostly because they had grown tired of Goldberg.
So instead of giving both men the opportunity to entertain at ‘Mania, which they did, fans chose to automatically pronounce Goldberg’s title run dead in the water. The end of the match didn’t matter that much because everyone knew what the outcome would be. But they didn’t factor in Lesnar’s absence.
The Beast Incarnate has not been seen on WWE programming since the night after ‘Mania, and since then the Superstar Shake-up has taken place. The timing of each event may seem like a coincidence to some, but the arrival of WWE Intercontinental champion Dean Ambrose to the Raw roster was definitely the right move for the program.
At least now, there is a top titleholder on Monday nights. It may not be the ideal situation, especially since the Universal Championship was supposed to be featured as WWE’s second major world title. But it’s missing in action along with the champ, so now it’s Ambrose’s time to shine.
The only question is will he?
The biggest criticism surrounding Ambrose is his work ethic. Many fans feel he takes the night off a bit too much, that he tends to walk through his matches. Indeed his intensity level seems to vary depending on who he’s working, and what stage he’s working on.
It’s that inconsistency that’s caused his critics to immediately dismiss him as nothing more than a gimmick. The loose cannon, the wildcard, the rebel without a cause; that’s what Ambrose portrays, but he’s not the first guy to do so. Couldn’t the company live without him?
Truth be told, Ambrose is all of those things and much more. His character feels real because it comes so naturally to him. When The Lunatic Fringe speaks, he’s not acting. He cuts a promo as if he’s having a conversation, not as if he’s trying to pop the crowd.
Ambrose is himself with the volume turned way up, which is exactly what a WWE Superstar should be. Fans respond to him because they know he’s being genuine. His entire shtick is that he’s clueless but crazy.
The truth is that his character isn’t clueless at all; it’s an act to reel his opponents in. Other guys have indeed run this sort of gimmick before in WWE, but Ambrose is very good at it.
When he’s on point, his ring work is above par. No one’s ever accused Ambrose of being a technical wizard, but he is skilled and he’s got good ring psychology. He does put in an effort, and he can work with anyone on the roster. When he’s on his game, he is very good.
But he must be on his game now more than ever. While some argue that the titles don’t mean as much as they used to, Raw and SmackDown need strong champions in order to function properly. Ambrose has a golden opportunity to get over like never before, because of his positioning as the Intercontinental champion.
The IC title is one of those belts that had a lot of prestige at one time and has regained much of that respect in recent months. However, now is perhaps the best time for the company to elevate the championship for fans of the red brand.
Ambrose has an advantage due to his popularity, which has placed him among the elite of WWE. Fans love to watch Dean perform because he is so unpredictable, and the same can be said of his promo work. He’s often the comic relief, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Fans don’t really laugh at him; he makes them laugh instead.
But now might be the time when Ambrose finally sharpens his intensity. He is the top titleholder on Raw. He is one of the top babyfaces on the brand. He owes it not only himself, but to the company, to deliver every time he’s on TV. The time for fun and games may be over.
Ambrose does have the potential to get down and dirty as the need arises, and he doesn’t have to heel out to do so. Of course considering the number of top faces on Raw, the moment may come when WWE decides to turn Ambrose and if that happens, his spotlight will only get brighter.
He is capable of getting it done, and he’s capable of doing much more. His run as WWE champion may not have been stellar, but he also didn’t have enough time with the belt to really build himself up the way he should have.
Now he has a chance to impress, and he must take it. Of course, much of the work falls on the WWE, as the booking must be right in order for Ambrose to step up and be the man. If the company is not behind him, then it will not work.
Lesnar will be back eventually, that much is certain. But until he returns, it’s up to Ambrose and WWE to give fans a top champion they can get behind. Ambrose isn’t a beast, but he is a player and it’s time for him to prove he can get it done on a very high level. There can be no days off now.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Sportskeeda. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com
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