Everything Currently Wrong With ‘The Lunatic Fringe’ Dean Ambrose

The wacky, crazy, insane superstar that is Dean Ambrose. Or whatever his nickname is this week. Since Seth Rollins caused the destruction of The Shield, Ambrose has arguably been the most over out of all 3 members.

His feud with Rollins fresh out of the split was great and really cemented him as a firm fan favourite, one that they could truly get behind. He wasn’t given the Roman Reigns treatment. He was popular with the fans because he was unique and a superstar the fans organically supported.

Fast forward to today. Dean Ambrose has just lost recently lost his WWE World Heavyweight Championship title to AJ Styles and it is unlikely he is going to be walking away champion come No Mercy. But it’s not just the results that are costing Ambrose.

His whole character has been in a state of confusion for months now. Look at why fans have turned on Roman Reigns. Part of it is because he has refused to change his act at all and has instead repeatedly forced the same tired act down the audience’s throats.

Since the split of The Shield, have we really seen any change in Ambrose whatsoever?

He’s the exact same character he’s been since they split. At a time when NXT is booming and more and more exciting characters are being bought into WWE, he is beginning to become more and more bland.

His crowd reaction has certainly gone down. If we’re being honest his match performances have been average at best. How many great matches has Ambrose even been in? His move set is mediocre, his finisher is poor and his entrance is him walking straight to the ring with no change in movement or facial expression.

It’s not a complete knock on his ring work, as we have seen him perform in some decent matches. But as John Cena said on Talking Smack this past Tuesday, ‘how many great matches has Cesaro been in?’ Cena also hit it on the head when he said that Ambrose was ‘still trying to figure it out’.

This is true, as at the moment he is most certainly spinning his wheels, as his character lacks direction.

‘The Lunatic Fringe’, which is also one of the worst nicknames in WWE, really has nothing crazy about him at all. Stone Cold was a crazy character as you never knew what exactlyyou were going to get from him. Bray Wyatt is a crazy character as he acts more like a cult leader, god figure than a wrestler. Dean Ambrose doesn’t offer such luxury as he does genuinely come across as a normal man who has been repeating the same tired act on TV for months on end.

He doesn’t act crazy in or outside the ring, deeming the nickname ineffectual.

WWE looks to be teasing a Dean Ambrose heel turn, as in his feud with Dolph Ziggler he was a lot more serious, focused and a lot harsher with his words. He almost played the heel in that feud. Now with John Cena he has taken a very critical route calling him a ‘lazy part timer’.

A heel turn may just be a blessing for Ambrose as it may allow him to explore new aspects of his character. Perhaps a character where he is allowed to express himself a lot more and really find his true identity. He always excelled as a heel in The Shield and he really doesn’t have much left to offer as a babyface.

It was illogical to turn him heel previously as his constant feud with Rollins meant he could never really be portrayed as a bad guy. Now he is on Smackdown away from Reigns as well, he doesn’t have to act like his best pal every week. He can become his own character away from The Shield members. Him being on the opposite brand to the two of them should mean that he can finally begin to separate himself from the two of them and really excel as the bad guy he once was.

There are ways to save Dean Ambrose before it’s too late. But the current version is one I know I’m tired of and judging by current crowd reaction, I can’t be the only one.

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Breaking Down Major Talking Points from WWE Clash of Champions

So the first Clash of Champions under the WWE umbrella is in the books and what a show it was to kick start the Raw exclusive Pay-Per-View era. OK so perhaps not, but one thing Clash of Champions wasn’t void of was a little bit of controversy.

Clash of Champions delivered, on paper, a much superior card to Smackdown Live’s first brand exclusive PPV. However, Backlash in terms of storyline progression managed to knock COC out of the park as it managed to tie up some loose ends along with beginning a few more narratives.

This is where Clash of Champions ultimately failed. Below will look at talking points from Clash of Champions and discuss several moments from Raw’s first brand exclusive Pay-Per-View of the new era.

Results:

Pre Show

Nia Jax defeated Alicia Fox

Main Card

The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (c) (with Xavier Woods) defeated Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship)

T.J. Perkins (c) defeated Brian Kendrick via submission (WWE Cruiserweight Championship)

Cesaro vs. Sheamus ended in a no contest (Final Match – Best of Seven Series)

Chris Jericho defeated Sami Zayn

Charlotte (c) (with Dana Brooke) defeated Bayley and Sasha Banks (WWE Raw Women’s Championship)

Roman Reigns defeated Rusev (c) (with Lana) (WWE United States Championship)

Kevin Owens (c) defeated Seth Rollins (WWE Universal Championship)

Are Gallows and Anderson Dead and Buried?

Gallows and Anderson suffered yet another defeat to The New Day, surely ending their quest to become Raw Tag Team Champions. The question now is, where do they go from here?

Coming over from Japan after being a part of the famous Bullet Club, they were initially presented as being hard hitting bruisers who wanted to dismantle all competition. It was not long until they were in doctors coats making testicle jokes and referring to The New Day as ‘The Old Day’.

Gallows and Anderson have gone from being one of the most feared tag teams on the planet, to AJ Styles’ lackeys, to doctors in the space of 6 months. Now after failing to gain the championships from The New Day, is there any coming back for the former Bullet Club members?

It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult not to agree that the initial pedigree and aura surrounding them has all but vanished and seeing them with gold around their waists right now is tough to picture.

WWE needs to find a way quickly to prevent them going down the route of so many of WWE’s current tag teams (See The Ascension, The Vaudevillians) and becoming complete jokes.

Did the Cruiserweights Deliver?

TJ Perkins defeated Brain Kendrick to remain WWE Cruiserweight Champion on his Raw and PPV debut. The two put on a good match, but were ultimately let down by a nonchalant live crowd. The crowd were dead throughout the majority of the match, maybe highlighting how a lack of character can affect the crowd’s attitude to a match.

There is particular concern for TJ Perkins’ character. As you know full well, the nice guy shtick can only go so far and eventually the crowd will more than likely turn on you.

One of the biggest cheers came when Kendrick planted a post-match head-butt on Perkins. This is a problem that WWE are going to have to address with the cruiserweights quickly, otherwise expect to see a trend of live crowds being disinterested in the cruiserweight action.

Feel free to check out a more detailed review of the concerns WWE may have with the Raw Cruiserweight Division: https://backbump.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/raw-cruiserweight-division-destined-for-failure/

Cesaro vs Sheamus – What Did the Non-Finish Accomplish?

Firstly, for two superstars who were completely thrown together to compete in this series, what a fantastic match Cesaro and Sheamus managed to put on.

They managed to create drama for a clash that most had next to no enthusiasm for coming into the bout. But by the end they managed to have audiences invested and desperate to see who was going to come out on top.

But in the end, none of them did. The match finished when Cesaro clotheslined Sheamus over the barricade and both men were rendered unable to compete.

The question is, what do they do now? We found out on Raw from Mick Foley that they will now compete as a tandem and attempt to capture the Raw Tag Team Champions as opposed to competing for individual Singles Championship.

For the sake of saving the discussion (perhaps for a future blog) this won’t be touched upon in too much detail. But in short, I am personally a big fan of this.

Should Jericho Be Defeating Zayn At This Stage In His Career?

Chris Jericho has managed to reinvent himself into a goofball, annoying yet loveable moron and is managing to do some of the best work of his career.

He defeated Sami Zayn at Clash of Champions to prove that not only is his trash talking as good as ever, but can he back it up in the ring.

However it does beg the question, what does this do for Zayn?

After defeating the now WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens at WWE Battleground, he has since been bumped to the Pre-Show at Summerslam and has now eaten this loss Sunday Night.

Although he does have an underdog character, he cannot afford to keep losing the way he does. Crowd reaction for him has already been sucked dry since he first arrived on the main roster. WWE are taking a similar approach with Bayley. Rather than play into an underdog style of character, they’re instead just making them lose and hoping that this garners sympathy from the crowd.

At the moment, it only serves in making Zayn look weak. Rather than a loveable loser, he is instead just looking like a loser. Let’s just hope he manages to ultimately come out of this program with Jericho the overall winner.

Charlotte- Best Heel on RAW?

3 of the 4 members of The Four Horsewomen managed to put on a stellar contest at Clash of Champions that was arguably match of the night. Bayley and Sasha managed to come off as two warriors desperate to take the title from the current ‘Queen’ of WWE, Charlotte.

I put Queen in brackets then, but that moniker sure as hell belongs to Charlotte right now. Not only is her in ring work superb, but she carries herself like a superstar. She manages to look like a dominant force in every match she has despite losing to both Sasha and Bayley in recent times.

The promo she cut on Raw following Clash of Champions was typically grating and obnoxious. Some fans genuinely hate her mic work and not in a good heel ‘heat’ kind of way. But I think it’s the fact that her mic work isn’t 100% there which makes her promos particularly irritating.

She can be so pretentious and obnoxious that fans couldn’t wait to see Sasha slap her in the face, which is exactly what you want from a top heel. Other than perhaps The Miz over on Smackdown Live, Charlotte is arguably the best heel in the company.

Was Reigns Winning The Title A Good Decision?

Roman Reigns lifting the United States title is something that nobody could have claimed to have predicted. It appears as though his suspension has had quite the impact on his career.

Sure he is still winning a championship, but he has spent the past 2 years fighting for the top prize, all of a sudden it seems he has now been dropped into the mid-card.

It does make sense somewhat, as there was clearly no chance of him getting over as a main eventer and WWE would also have liked to keep him looking as strong as possible.

After a clean losses to Rollins and Balor, WWE needed to do something to maintain his credibility. Too many losses would of hurt him and the last few years spent pushing him would have been all for nothing.

Where does this leave Rusev? Unfortunately, without US Title he is once again in limbo. Putting him into chase mode is ineffective as it is obvious to everybody that he isn’t going to conquer Reigns and win the belt.

It will be interesting to see where the feud moves from here.

Owens vs Rollins – Could It Have Been More?

The main event saw Kevin Owens defending his Universal Championship vs Seth Rollins in what could have been so much more.

Although a good match, it was affected by all the shenanigans surrounding the contest. They were probably saving a more brutal, wrestling heavy contest for an event such as Hell In A Cell. But this match didn’t need half the overbooking in which it suffered.

Chris Jericho, although being Kevin Owen’s BFF, really had no need getting involved. It was quite an extreme length to go too, just to avoid Rollins suffering a clean defeat. Stephanie McMahon coming out at the end and seemingly costing Rollins the tie was kind of awkward and kind of left a sour note coming out of the PPV.

You can have heels win main events without making the audience feel like they have come away so disappointed, and Sunday just made you feel as if you’d been robbed of a great main event.

Owens booking as champion has been mediocre at best and Sunday only helped ensure his tag of a ‘Lucky Champion’. Look at Styles on Smackdown. He had to beat John Cena and then overcome Ambrose to claim the title. A little bit of cheating against Ambrose sure, but it was still only him.

Owens at the moment just looks like he’s been undeservedly handed the belt and nothing more.

Please feel free to like, share and follow for more WWE blogs and comment below what you thought of WWE Clash of Champions.

Clash of Champions 2016: Will Triple H Get Involved in the Main Event?

Sunday night we will witness the first Raw exclusive PPV since the new era brand split. Clash of Champions has a lot of exciting matchups, with potential match of the night contenders across the board such as Sami Zayn vs Chris Jericho and Rusev vs Roman Reigns.

But arguably none of them are as exciting as the main event.

Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship promises to be a top quality match up with high stakes and high intensity hopefully leading to an exciting main event.

However, the proverbial elephant in the room is the possibility that Triple H will show his face and presumably cost Seth Rollins the chance of winning his first Universal Championship.

Seth Rollins is on the way to turning into a complete babyface and Triple H costing him the title would be an effective way of making the guy more likeable.

This is the only outstanding issue with Rollins as a face. He has a moveset more suited to a babyface and his general ring work and skill on the microphone make him a likeable performer.

But remember, this is a man who threatened to break Edge’s neck in order for the authority to be reinstated. It’s difficult to forget such a shocking act from someone we’re supposedly meant to cheer.

This is why Triple H costing Rollins the title will go somewhere towards completing the Rollins face turn and giving us the long overdue end to The Authority storyline.

As groan inducing as it can be to see Trips once again getting involved in main event programmes when he is not a full time member of the roster, this feels somewhat different.

Not quite on the emotional level of the Daniel Bryan vs The Authority storyline, but the Teacher/Student narrative Rollins and HHH can create promises to be an exciting story, perhaps as soon as Survivor Series.

Look out for Triple H sticking that famous nose of his in Seth Rollins’ business Sunday night at Clash of Champions.

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Raw Cruiserweight Division: Destined For Failure?

This past Monday night, the cruiserweights exploded onto Raw and displayed in abundance what made the Cruiserweight Classic so successful. Cedric Alexander, Rich Swann, Gran Metalik and Brian Kendrick delivered a show stealing performance with a combination of out-of-this-world athleticism and high flying dynamism.

The match was a great one and an exciting way to kick of the cruiserweight division on Raw.

However, have cracks already began to appear in how Vince McMahon wants the cruiserweights to perform? It’s been reported that the cruiserweights have been asked to tone down their style ahead of the division becoming a permanent fixture on the show. One can only assume this is in regards to cutting down on certain high risk manoeuvres. The belief is that WWE are simply trying to protect the cruiserweight from obtaining serious injuries.

The superstar’s health is of the upmost importance, but that only helps in watering down the action as the risky and more dangerous moves are what made the Cruiserweight Classic so successful. It was fun to watch, the lack of Face/Heel dynamic meant the performers had to use their actual wrestling moves to help make the matches good (I know, shocking right).

Some will argue that the superstar’s safety is always the most important aspect, which indeed it is. Others will say -and this is a rumour that’s been doing the rounds this past week- that people backstage don’t want the cruiserweights to outshine the main event talent. There is a rumoured fear that if the cruiserweights manage to get themselves over too much, then it will dilute the rest of the product as a result.

But surely a successful cruiserweight division will only add to the quality of the product? By the division becoming a success, this will only make the product better, get more butts in seats and eyes on TV screens. Or is there something that I’m missing? Not a shrewd wrestling booker by any means, but surely the logical thing would be to let the cruiserweights do their thing and wow the crowd into a frenzy, thus creating a better show for audiences?

By stripping the cruiserweights of certain moves and asking them to tone down their high octane style, you’re asking them to perform in a way that takes away the very thing that makes them special.

A big problem there could be is how the cruiserweights will fit into the Monday Night Raw show itself. It does seem odd that creative will allow for a whole division in the show to be so different to the rest of the product. As previously mentioned, the lack of Face/Heel dynamic helped make the Cruiserweight Classic feel like a legitimate fighting contest. The only story told was in the ring and I don’t necessarily believe this is a bad thing.

However, is this likely to remain the case on Monday Night Raw? I mean, are the talent going to continue to lack this dynamic and proceed to wrestle how they did in the tournament, with no allegiances either way?

Trying to believe this will be the case becomes more and more difficult the more you think about it. A WWE product will surely want to stay a WWE product and not allow for such an alternative ‘mini show’ to intervene between the rest of the show. Something so different may distract from the rest of the show and create something so different that it becomes better than the style of show WWE have been producing since its inception. It’s not hard to imagine WWE being terrified of this fact and wanting to fit the cruiserweight into a nice pocket where they can perform a few flashy moves each week and have the same old stale Face and Heel acts. This will allow them to protest ‘Hey we gave you cruiserweights dammit!’ without making them so good that they outshine the rest of the show.

McMahon’s previous attitude towards cruiserweights has to be a slightly worrying factor also. He managed to devalue and diminish the last cruiserweight division so much that Hornswoggle became the last ever cruiserweight champion. No wonder WWE are simply pretending this title doesn’t exist and have crowned TJ Perkins the first ever cruiserweight champion.

You’d like to think that Vince has stepped away from his big muscly men fetish and I believe he has, but it’s still difficult to tell whether he’ll be inclined to treat the cruiserweights as equals to the rest of the roster.

There’s absolutely every chance this division could be a success. The talent available at WWE’s disposable is frightening and they have the chance to create something truly unique and special. If WWE replicate the same sort of style that the Cruiserweight Classic followed, then there’s no reason why the division cannot take off. If the cruiserweights are left to do their own thing (No feeding them to Braun Strowman or Bo Dallas please).

Given how WWE love mainstream attention and loathe being perceived as a ‘fake sport’ they should be looking to shift to the dynamic of making their fights seem more legitimate. The Classic proved that you don’t necessarily need amazing characters to put on great matches. Granted, the CC crowds were a lot more hardcore wrestling fans than the casual WWE fan and that ensured that the crowd respected great wrestling as opposed to a great story. But the tournament style did aid in making the whole thing just seem that little more real.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments whether you think the Cruiserweight Division will be a success on Raw or whether it will be a failure. Don’t forget to follow for more news and opinions surrounding WWE.

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Why Vince McMahon is taking the biggest risk of his career pushing Indie stars to the top

We currently live in a world where the two top champions on Raw and Smackdown are Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. If you thought this was a possibility 5, maybe 10 years ago even, then I would be hard pressed not to call you a liar.

Both have travelled the world, wrestling for promotion after promotion in an attempt to prove to everybody that one day, they could make it to the ‘big leagues’. To the hardcore wrestling fan, they proved this years ago. Extremely talented individuals who had quality matches with just about every top indie star on the planet, it was obvious that they were talented enough to succeed on the big stage. Right? Well not exactly.

WWE has long been criticised for its unwillingness to sign top indie talent, however talented they may be. Deemed injury prone (more on that later) and ‘unsafe workers’, WWE never really bought in to the idea of their own top talent being stars from around the independent scene. But sitting back and reflecting on the current crop of stars on Raw, Smackdown and NXT, it’s now becoming more and more difficult to remember a time when this was the case.

Alongside AJ Styles and Kevin Owens, we have Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, Cesaro, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries and NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. These are just a handful of superstars that are currently signed to WWE and not only that, but they are all seen as major players on their respective shows (yes even Cesaro, sort of). Slowly, these indie stars are rising to the very top of the mountain.

However, as the title suggests, this doesn’t come without a certain risk factor. Vince McMahon is indeed taking a monumental risk pushing these indie superstars to the top of the card, maybe not as big a risk as the XFL per say but in wrestling terms, this is the biggest risk he has taken for an extremely long time.

The dreaded tag that indie wrestlers are still to this day associated with, ‘injury prone’. The IWC would be quick to tell you that this is wrong and that WWE superstars are just as likely to get injured as an indie star and to a certain extent this is true.

However, it’s difficult not to agree that independent stars do seem to suffer their fair share of injuries.

CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are two superstars who arguably pioneered the indie revolution within WWE. Both (eventually) ended up as main event talent in the company and proved to McMahon that they could indeed cut it in his so called big leagues.

Nonetheless, Bryan’s career was bought to an end after a series of concussions meant he was unable to carry on. A superstar that should have had another 10 years left in the tank, he retired despite having so much more left to give in the company. Now this may not all be because he was a so called indie star, most will attribute it to his persistent use of the diving head-butt, which we all know has claimed a few victims in its time. But Bryan certainly did have a style which naturally seemed to increase the chances of picking up injuries. After being forced to vacate the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the Intercontinental Championship in consecutive Wrestlemanias, his career was bought to a halt.

Finn Bálor has received a monster push onto the main roster, winning the Universal Championship in his debut PPV match within the WWE. During this match, he received a turnbuckle powerbomb from Seth Rollins onto the barricade which caused a dislocated shoulder. Just like that, Bálor was out for a period of up to 6 months, forcing him to vacate his newly won championship.

You could argue that this was just a case of bad luck and that he just took a bad move at the wrong time. But in the eyes of Vince McMahon, he’s seen yet another star have to vacate a top title due to injury.

Seth Rollins is another one who was force to vacate his WWE World Heavyweight Championship, this time due to a knee injury. Sheer coincidence you might say, but in the eyes of top management, they will be seeing a pattern emerge that they might not exactly enjoy. That’s why it was so surprising to see KO and The Phenomenal One win the top prizes so closely together. Of course both men have indeed earned their respective runs at the top of the card, but to see Vince still continue to push these indie stars to the top of the promotion does proceed to bat an eyelid or two.

I mean, if you step back and think about it, is there really any wonder why McMahon continues to push Roman Reigns to the top of the card?

He might not be the best superstar in the company, but he certainly has what Vince is looking for, alongside a clean injury record. If a pattern of top stars vacating titles continues to occur, maybe Vince may have to change his attitude and push another product of the WWE machine to the summit.

If AJ Styles or Keven Owens were to get injured and be forced into vacating their respective titles, questions may have to be asked if the old WWE attitude towards independent talent was correct and that they are simply injury prone.WWE can’t afford to keep placing their top titles on superstars who they are unsure will last the length of their title reigns.

Maybe it is too late for them to reverse this process and that the consequence of having these stars at the top of the promotion is that they may encounter one or two more injuries a year. He’s definitely gone on all on these stars, so it’s unlikely that he’ll conduct a full U-turn and change his mind completely, but you could definitely see him at least wondering to himself if this is indeed the case and that his new up an coming indie stars are indeed injury prone.

This is by and large a very debatable topic, however one should definitely try and look at it from both sides of the coin. Turn your fandom off for a moment and reflect on how you felt when Bryan vacated his championships, or when Bálor vacated his. Would this have happened if they hadn’t spent years toiling on the independent scene? It’s absolutely worth thinking about.

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