Last week at Money in the Bank, the unthinkable happened: Dean Ambrose walked away as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Seth Rollins, the former champ, had returned to action no more than a month ago and was eager to recapture the title he had to forego as part of his recovery. Roman Reigns, on the other hand, was defending. In a Shield reunion, Ambrose, who had just captured the Money in the Bank briefcase that night in a hard-fought victory, decided to cash in.
This was a surprising moment in and of itself, especially because WWE likes to tease the Money in the Bank drama for as many months as possible, making fans constantly question whether the briefcase holder will finally claim his shot at the gold. Even then, there’s the question whether the wrestler will be successful. Unfortunately, what seemed like a pure moment on that Sunday night has already be tainted, as news of Roman Reign’s wellness violation suspension surfaced.
So just what does this mean for WWE and Ambrose? Well, as it turns out…nothing, really. Allow us to explain. There are plenty of reasons why Ambrose’s title victory is just too little, too late, such as…
15. It Feels Like Begrudging Fan Service
This will be mentioned a lot: WWE’s ratings are low (very low), with TV numbers as bad as they were before the Attitude Era back in 1997. With that in perspective, WWE writers know that they can’t continue to do whatever they want week in and week out when it’s just not attracting fans. They have to throw us a bone every now and again. Remember when Daniel Bryan was vying for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship? You could just tell that Vince McMahon and company didn’t want to do it, which is why we got that demoralizing B+ player Authority storyline.
Dean Ambrose is the new Daniel Bryan. His look, his personality, and his skills aren’t what WWE wants as the face of the company. However, the writers were backed into a corner with Reigns’ suspension. They could have done the obvious by giving Rollins another shot, or throw us yet another bone. In an act of fan service, they tossed the title to Ambrose.
14. The Rest Of The Roster Is Still Underutilized
Of course, the cost to get there was steep. For a long time, Ambrose toiled in the mid-card, trading the Intercontinental and United States Championships. Yes, sometimes WWE would hint at bringing him into the main title picture, but he’d always be overshadowed by someone else who WWE thought would be a bigger draw. Even as recently as the Money in the Bank event, Ambrose was awkwardly wedged into the mid-card, fighting Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Cesaro, and Alberto Del Rio.
So yes, Ambrose finally escaped the mid-card, but he’s far from the only deserving one. While Jericho may never get that kind of spot again, and while Del Rio will probably have to work his way back up there, hungry talents like Zayn, Owens, and Cesaro all deserve to be rescued from mid-card monotony, too.
13. He Stole Rollins’ Thunder
In a freak accident in November 2015, Seth Rollins didn’t land a powerbomb perfectly and wrecked the ligaments in his knee. This took place at the height of his WWE World Championship reign. Since his injury was so severe, and would require surgery and months of recovery, Rollins was forced to vacate the title. There were rumblings that he could have returned at this year’s WrestleMania 32, but he wasn’t cleared yet. Instead, he came back just in time for May’s Payback event, targeting the man who won his title – Roman Reigns.
However, with Reigns’ suspension, WWE writers must have thought it was too soon to put the title on Rollins (either that or Ambrose’s title reign is designed to be very short), so they slapped it on Ambrose instead. It really snatched the thunder away from the returning Rollins, who now has to fight one more man to get back at what was rightfully his.
12. It’s Too Soon
Dean Ambrose has been a fixture in WWE since late 2012, when he debuted with The Shield (more on them later). It was clear from the beginning that he was always the standout member of the group, yet out of all three of them, he was treated the worst. It could be because Ambrose’s popularity developed naturally, but it felt like Ambrose’s figurative glass ceiling was set considerably lower than that one of Rollins or Reigns.
That said, it’s not like Ambrose doesn’t deserve some significant gold around his waist. He absolutely does. However, considering, as mentioned before, how he was just toiling around in mid-card obscurity, now doesn’t feel like the right time. It would have been better to see an organic ascent to the top of the card and then have Ambrose capture the title in a believable way.
11. He’s Not As Hot Anymore
Remember that rumor in 2014 that claimed Dean Ambrose was outselling John Cena in the merch department? Yeah, that wasn’t exactly a rumor. WWE tried its best to cover the real story because it didn’t fit in with its narrative that John Cena is the best at everything, but it was indeed true.
However, that was back in 2014, at a time when Ambrose’s popularity was probably at an all-time high. After The Shield split, he had proved he was a force to be reckoned with on the singles wrestling scene. Like WWE does with a lot of talent that gets over on its own, Ambrose was stifled instead of given the room to fly. He was bumped ever so subtly down to the mid-card. So while yes, Ambrose is back on top now, it doesn’t matter as much as it would have two years ago.
10. Too Many Fans Have Already Tuned Out
Let’s go back to what we said before about ratings (it was warned that this would be discussed a lot): they’re “1997” bad. They’re “every-wrestler-has-a-real-life-job-used-as-a-gimmick” bad. And honestly, that’s a damn shame, because between WWE and NXT, the company has signed some of the most talented and entertaining wrestlers on the planet. However, fans just aren’t biting. Why?
Because they’ve watched for far too long as WWE has slid into a deeper and deeper decline. They’ve seen their favorite NXT stars like Tyler Breeze, Neville, and the Ascension get moved up, buried, and abandoned. They’ve had Roman Reigns and John Cena crammed down their throats more times than they can count. They can predict matches, outcomes, and story lines before they happen. That gets tiresome. So yes, Ambrose is champ, but for the fans who have already given up on WWE’s current product, that’s not going to necessarily bring them back.
9. Ambrose Can Only Be On One Show
In just a few short weeks, there will be a huge shakeup in WWE. The company plans on returning to its draft format, where some Superstars will appear exclusively on Raw and others exclusively on SmackDown. We’re still not sure what the format will be for upcoming live Pay-Per-View events (rumors that are churning suggest we may get up to two PPV events monthly, one for each roster), but what he know for sure is that these changes take effect on Tuesday, July 19 on a live episode of SmackDown.
Will Ambrose even still have the title then? Who can say for sure. While that would make this a moot point, what won’t change is that Ambrose can only be on one show. Also, with two separate rosters, there’s a bigger chance of WWE reinstating another World Heavyweight Championship so both shows feel equally significant. All that suggests that Ambrose will once again get lost in the shuffle.
8. It’s Still Kind Of Sad To See The Shield Fighting
The Shield were arguably the most important faction in the last 10 years of pro wrestling. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns were indie darlings who finally made it to the main roster. Rollins and Reigns had even graduated from NXT, which was then in its infancy as a televised developmental entity. Together with Ambrose as The Shield, they were seemingly unstoppable.
Of course the group couldn’t last forever, but at least Ambrose and Reigns had an ongoing friendship that transcended the split. Now, all of that is thrown out the window as these three Superstars meet for the first time as true opponents. Is it a groundbreaking? Sure. But it’s also a bit sad for those who truly miss The Shield.
7. Roman Reigns Will Return Within the Month
Watching the Money in the Bank event, it seemed as though perhaps WWE writers had come to their senses and wanted to give Ambrose what everyone wanted for him. However, on the Tuesday after the show, we learned that Roman Reigns was suspended for 30 days due to violating WWE’s strict wellness violation. The story is still a little fuzzy; some say Reigns was caught smoking weed, others say WWE staff were aware of the break in the rules on the night of Money in the Bank, but they kept Reigns around until the SmackDown tapings the following Tuesday to tie up loose ends with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
We may never completely know the truth, but here’s what we do know: Roman Reigns will be back in time for Battleground to participate in the Triple Threat title match against Ambrose and Seth Rollins, at least at the time of this writing.
6. He May Only Ever Be a Transitional Champion
The whole concept of Money in the Bank is to potentially give a WWE wrestler the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance they’d otherwise probably never get on their own. That’s why mid-card talent typically grapple for the briefcase; it would make no sense for John Cena or Sheamus to try to win the Money in the Bank when they could theoretically get a WWE World Heavyweight Championship shot whenever they wanted.
However, those who have won that title from a Money in the Bank briefcase don’t exactly have the greatest track record. Just look at Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler. Their championship reigns were woefully short, and once the title changed hands, it never returned to them again. Somehow we have a feeling the same may be said of Ambrose in the weeks or months to come.
5. He May Not Be Taken Seriously After This
We mentioned just now about what happened to past Money in the Bank winners after their championship gold was taken from them. The answer? Not much. It’s hard to have the same level of respect for a wrestler who was once regarded highly enough to be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but who, after losing it, can’t even seem to get an Intercontinental title shot.
WWE writers sadly don’t seem to take Dean Ambrose as seriously as they should, for whatever reason. It would be truly heartbreaking if fans began to feel the same way because he was just a stepping stone for a grand title scheme involving Roman Reigns.
4. It’s Not Enough To Sustain Ratings
Raw ratings are still kind of in the toilet, as it’s been said again and again. While sure, Ambrose as WWE World Heavyweight Champion may appeal to more viewers than if Rollins held the gold again (since that’s been done before), we’ve seen this happen a million times, most recently with the shocking return of Shane McMahon. Viewers get all excited for a return (be in Shane, Rollins, The Rock, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, or anyone else), they tune in for that week, and then by the next week they tune back out.
Even if Ambrose does manage to hold onto his title past Battleground, he himself cannot restore the ratings losses that WWE has been dealing with for the past year or so. It would take major changes, perhaps even more so than the upcoming draft, for that to happen.
3. He’s Champion At One of the Worst Times in WWE History
A champion is only as good as his opponents. Besides tossing the title around between his Shield brethren like a friendly game of hackey-sack, who else is there really who’s worthy of a title shot in WWE? Who has been built to that level? John Cena is always an obvious choice, but who else? Perhaps AJ Styles, but he’s slipped quietly back into the tag team scene. So who else? Jericho? Del Rio?
Not only is there the issue of a weak main event scene, but, just to hammer it home one more time: the ratings are bad. Does Dean Ambrose’s title reign even count if people aren’t watching?
2. In the End, Dean Ambrose Still Isn’t THE Guy
We’re not saying that Roman Reigns’ suspension, which would slate him to return just in time for Battleground (literally he’d be cleared to wrestle the day of the event), was a bit underhanded and nefarious, but it certainly smells fishy. Reigns goes around on Raw and claims that he’s “the guy,” and that is indeed true, or WWE intends it to be.
It’s been clear for about a year now that Vince McMahon has selected Reigns to be the face of the company. However, even his shared heritage with The Rock has done nothing to endear him to the WWE Universe. That said, for better or worse, WWE is hell-bent on him being the guy. Ambrose, with his disheveled, almost homeless look, hardcore abandon, and unbridled in-ring skill, doesn’t fit the mold as well as Reigns, and he never will.
1. It’s Clear He’s Just a Placeholder
Okay, let’s forget the Roman Reigns suspension drama for a minute. Even if that had never happened, even if the WWE writers had had a change of heart and decided to give Ambrose a legit shot, how long does anyone believe he’d really hold the WWE World Heavyweight Championship? One reason WWE fans are majorly turned off is because of how predicable the storylines are.
This is just like when Triple H claimed the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at this year’s Royal Rumble. Yeah, it was cool for a moment, but in the next breath, you couldn’t help but ask, “how long will he have the title?” For Ambrose, he could drop it next month at Battleground for a returning Reigns. Even if that doesn’t happen, he’ll certainly be walking out of SummerSlam without any gold around his waist.