Unshackled from his feud with The Shield, Dean Ambrose’s transition to SmackDown put him in a perfect position to turn heel. It is, of course, very common for the IWC to declare [insert Superstar here] “desperately needs to turn heel.” Were this to be honored, the WWE wouldn’t have any babyfaces left; but let’s just focus on Dean Ambrose.
At present, creative is gradually implementing some big changes to Dean Ambrose’s character. What once was an out-and-out good guy has begun to show all the tropes of a tweener. While he doesn’t cheat to win and will always jump into the fray to prevent a beat down, he seemingly isn’t above disregarding the opinions of the fans. Last week he openly implied that he doesn’t care what “these people” think of him, and met Dolph Ziggler’s firebrand determination to please the crowds with sneering derision. This week, he took it a step further, suckering Dolph Ziggler with Dirty Deeds when he posed no immediate threat and was even congratulating him on his victory. Another more subtle indicator of a turn came earlier in the night, when he took what was an obviously accidental superkick to the face from Ziggler as an act of deliberate malice.
The WWE ought to brave it from here on out, and grant Ambrose a full 180-degree turn to the dark side. Since the brand extension, we have seen the company slowly reintroduce some staples of classic WWE programming – from the return of squash matches to post-match interviews. Now that the company is in the fortunate position of having a top guy who is actually over with the crowd, it ought to make a classic villain of a guy like Ambrose; a guy who looks, sounds and acts like a villain.
It would also be vital to the heightening of tension between Ambrose and his challenger. Dolph Ziggler is impossible to dislike at this stage, because he is the classic, held-down-by-the-man underdog who is finally getting his big opportunity. Dolph Ziggler has got to be the guy that smarks and marks alike want to see win. The smarks because they know Ziggler is a guy who has stalled so many times before that one more loss is going to consign him to the dustbin of wasted talent; the marks because they have been lavished with love by the guy who has devoted himself to stealing the show, and seen him suffer unwarranted verbal and physical abuse from Dean Ambrose for his troubles.
Every wrestling promotion needs a top heel and a top babyface. It doesn’t matter whether or not people cheer the guy they’re ostensibly supposed to hate (Seth Rollins) or boo the guy they’re supposed to love (John Cena); nor does it matter that on very rare occasions it is perfectly acceptable for two popular guys to have a straight-up match without a heel-babyface dynamic. Dean Ambrose’s top card career is in its infancy, and he has proven himself capable of getting over, whether he’s good or bad.
It would be a wasted opportunity if the WWE didn’t take a chance on presenting us with an old-school hero vs villain clash, and with one more edition of SmackDown to go before SummerSlam, they have all the pieces in place to have him take that final step.
He’s come too far at this stage, and if he finds himself against another heel after his program with Ziggler is over, it’s not going to make for an engaged audience if both guys quite openly don’t care what they think of them.