When you hear the words “lunatic fringe,” you think of a person or people on the edge. JBL would have people believe it is just supposed to mean crazy. And for a time, that was the correct way to describe Dean Ambrose. Ever since FCW, he was essentially the same character, just slightly tweaked to fit the situation he was in.
Lunatic, unhinged, crazy, psycho, all words to describe the old Dean Ambrose. The Dean Ambrose that provoked Brock Lesnar and had an asylum match with Chris Jericho.
The new and current Dean Ambrose can be summed up in one word thanks to Mauro Ranallo: kingpin. When you hear that word it can make you think of a mob boss sitting at the head of the table giving out orders. The kingpin is the absolute leader and boss of a group. Ambrose has introduced this new character for himself, and is working it to perfection.
He is the self-proclaimed, “captain of the blue team,” SmackDown Live. He is the WWE World Champion and acting like it. There are no wacky in-ring segments or backstage promos. The comedy segments he was doing were very entertaining, and he had a good feud with Jericho, but Ambrose was missing something. He was well-liked by the WWE Universe, but not taken very seriously. People know how great Ambrose is and can be, but what was presented on-screen was not helping.
The mini-feud Ambrose had with Triple H planted the seed for this current Ambrose character. He had a plan for once, and on the Roadblock show executed that plan almost to victory. More of this character was shown during the Raw before he won the Money in the Bank briefcase. He told Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns what he was going to do and he did it. Ambrose took that love from the crowd and gained more and more credibility through singles matches and promos.
In his SummerSlam title defense against Dolph Ziggler, Ambrose was the obvious heel, and he played the role beautifully. He showed just the right amount of disdain and disrespect to Ziggler that was necessary to get the match over, but not turn Ambrose completely heel. Ambrose was cocky and proved that he should be champion and the leader of the SmackDown brand.
The SummerSlam match was more along the lines of what Stone Cold Steve Austin was trying to get across in his podcast with Ambrose. It was evident that when doing research for the show, Austin came across videos of Ambrose as Jon Moxley and was impressed at the talent he has. Those Moxley videos are aggressive and edgy, and not something Ambrose would be able to do on WWE television. But against Ziggler, Ambrose definitely had more of a sense of urgency in the ring and took to heart what Austin said.
Look for Ambrose to continue perfecting the nuances and details of this kingpin character. As WWE World Champion, Ambrose needs to be the best version of himself. It was fine being the lunatic fringe while climbing to the top, but sitting on the throne requires a different tier of character. The lunatic was good as Intercontinental Champion, but the kingpin has a chance to be great as WWE Champion.