Fans rejoiced at Money in the Bank when Dean Ambrose’s threat to cash in the big gold briefcase (should he have won it) was executed.
The result was a rare “you deserve it” type of moment when the underdog, the guy that always fights to the end but never wins the big one, finally takes his seat at the head of table. Not only did the underdog come out on top, the victory came at the expense of two former Shield brethren in Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins that have received the majority of the attention since Seth’s legendary turn. After a title-less stretch of catapulting his body into bulls like Bray Wyatt and Brock Lesnar, Dean Ambrose could now be mentioned in the same breath as Rollins, Reigns, and WWE”s other main event names.
At the end of his guest spot on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast, after sitting through an interview that found Ambrose offering the attention span of a light bulb, he was challenged by Austin to “push the envelope” and basically to amp up his performances in a way that truly qualifies him to carry the nickname of “Lunatic Fringe.” Austin went as far as to say that Ambrose seems to have “rested on (his) laurels” and may be a bit “too comfortable.”
In response, Ambrose had little more to say other than “I like it” in reference to Austin trying to get him to step his game up.
Captivating stuff from the WWE Champion.
Austin’s challenge, in addition to what could only be described as the “Elizabethtown” of podcast interviews, exposed an unfortunate truth: Dean Ambrose, at the moment, is boring. I apologize if that was too articulate.
This was not always the case. As a member of The Shield, when Rollins was the in-ring general and Reigns was the muscle, Ambrose was the beating heart, conjuring a cocktail of charisma that channeled a gypsy-like aloofness of Stevie Nicks and the confident madness of Hans Gruber. He was so creepy, so bewitching, that fans soon could not help but become overwhelming fans of The Shield.
After Rollins turned, Ambrose was in need of a gimmick. The betrayal he experienced at the hands of his former Shield brother was all the reason he needed to kick ass and take names on WWE television. This plight lasted right up to Seth’s knee injury, but was still strong enough to be resurrected for both Money in the Bank and Battleground.
Money in the Bank and Battleground has came and left. Rollins has Balor, hoping to hold on to his spot as WWE’s official in-ring god. Reigns is battling Rusev over the United States Champinship in the hopes of reclaiming even a fraction of the momentum he had before his suspension. Both have intriguing purposes behind wanting to move on to something now.
Then, we have Dean and Dolph Ziggler in a competitive storyline that is all about Ziggler with Dean present as an ornamental WWE Champion.
Regardless of how the Ambrose-Ziggler match ends up, we have to ask again: now what?
Beyond being betrayed by Rollins, Ambrose has acquired the moniker of being the “Lunatic Fringe” by, well, making crazy faces. Sure, he has had a handful of moments when his natural charisma shined through to create captivating segments. However, a lunatic fringe does not make cute wisecracks. A lunatic fringe does not attempt to put over potted plants while in the ring with someone as iconic as Chris Jericho. A lunatic fringe does not care about being the “captain of team blue” and proclaim how he’s got the “SmackDown fever.”
A lunatic fringe conceives lunacy. Period.
Near the end of the podcast, Austin alluded to Ambrose’s nickname before issuing his challenge, a clear hint that he thinks the nickname is false hype until it is earned. Austin put a cruise controlled Ambrose on blast, making it crystal clear that the WWE Universe deserves a better class of lunatic fringe, and Ambrose needs to give it to them. Until that days comes, he will just be a guy making faces.