It looks as though one of WWE’s most chaotic characters might be cutting ties with the Connecticut company. WWE confirmed that Jonathan Good, who performs under the ring name Dean Ambrose, will be parting ways once his contract ends in April.
Make no mistake, this is one of the most shocking talent losses WWE has suffered in years. In his seven year main-roster run, Ambrose captured almost every major championship (becoming both a Triple Crown and a Grand Slam Champion), feuded with the biggest names in the business, and cemented himself as one of the company’s go-to guys.
So with this chapter of his career coming to an unceremonious close (that’s another way of saying “a feud with Nia Jax”), what will we remember Dean Ambrose for?
The Shield Debuts
Ambrose was initially involved with one of the most shocking debuts on WWE TV ever – put it up there with the NEXUS’ arrival, Chris Jericho’s RAW IS JERICHO segment, Eric Bishoff’s return to pro wrestling, Brock Lesnar’s debut, or Goldberg’s first appearance in the E.
At Survivor Series 2012, CM Punk was finishing up a tepid feud against Ryback in a triple-threat match that included John Cena. It seemed like the odds were stacked against Punk when, out of nowhere, three combat-attire dudes showed up and triple-power bombed Ryback through a table.
That became The Shield’s calling card: Running in from the crowd and interfering on behalf of Punk. They attacked Cena, Bryan, Kane, and more. But the group’s early run will likely be best remembered for the young trio’s unique promos.
In the videos, the group showed up guerilla-style, from an undisclosed location, and espoused ideals about The Shield of Justice overcoming WWE’s numerous injustices. Ambrose quickly became The Shield’s de-facto mouthpiece, partnering wordplay, eccentricities, and man-man intensity in a way wholly different than anything else in WWE at the time.
Blood Feuds and Brand Flagships
As a member of The Shield, Ambrose was involved in numerous high-profile feuds, perhaps none more memorable than their tussle with a reformed Evolution. They fought – and won – a tough contest at 2014’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view. Then, In a no-holds barred, elimination-style, match-of-the-year candidate, The Shield conquered Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton without seeing a single member of its own team eliminated.
Of course, The Shield couldn’t last forever. The first meaningful main-roster singles feud Ambrose battled was against the architect of the trio, Seth Freakin’ Rollins himself. Rollins had shockingly turned on Ambrose and Reigns in the middle of 2014. So Ambrose carried the team’s honor on his shoulders as he brawled with Seth Rollins across every major WWE TV event throughout much of that summer.
The feud fought its way into the hearts of fans and, eventually, into the Hell in a Cell itself.
Dean would spend most of 2015 in a weird recap of his previous years. He fought over mid-card championships, partnered with Roman Reigns, feuded (again) with Seth Rollins, and revisited a cooly-received rivalry against Bray Wyatt.
Subsequently, Dean Ambrose tangled with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 32, where Ambrose took the “no holds barred” stipulation farther than it had ever been taken before when he attempted to use a chainsaw against his opponent. Dean lovingly recalled the match later on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast with this gem of a synopsis:
“We went out there, whacked each other with weapons, I got suplexed a bunch of times.”
Ambrose would continue his rebound later in 2016 by hosting his own talk show, battling Chris Jericho in a TNA knock-off match, literally climbing the ladder of success to capture his first Money in the Bank briefcase, and cashing said briefcase in later that same evening to win his first WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
And so it finally seemed like Dean Ambrose was poised to be the face of the company. After the Brand Extension, he became the de-facto World Champion, conquered both Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, defeated John Cena cleanly on TV, and feuded with AJ Styles to end the year.
In recent years, Dean has bounced between mid-card monotony (an Intercontinental Championship feud with The Miz) and career retrospectives (re-teaming with The Shield and feuding yet again with Seth Rollins). Ambrose spent much of 2018 on the shelf after suffering a career-threatening tricep injury. Even after returning to action with a beefier physique and more intense persona, Ambrose was still saddled with lackluster creative decisions
When people talk about Dean Ambrose, they often reflect on his personality rather than his in-ring accomplishments. Yet, at only 33 years old, the wildcard Ambrose had accomplished more in WWE than many squared-circle veterans. But neither wrestling championships nor persona showcases proved enough to keep this squirrely superstar around.