NoDQ.com > Columns > ViRTUE's RAGE: Ambrose & Total Nonstop Deletion
Posted by ViRTUE on 12/23/2016 at 01:33 AM


December 23, 2016

Twitter: @EGW_FOW_Virtue

Dean Ambrose’s Niche

Finally, I am back with an all new ViRTUE’s RAGE. Before I begin my discussion on Dean Ambrose and his niche in professional wrestling, I want to briefly discuss my thoughts on last week’s TNA Total Nonstop Deletion from the Hardy Compound. First of all, the “Broken” Matt Hardy character is absolutely brilliant. In my opinion, Matt deserves the Pro Wrestling Character of the Year award. Hell, even the Brother Nero character has even shown that Jeff Hardy has much more to offer the professional wrestling World than just his daredevil-like, insane high spots. Undoubtedly, 2016 has gifted wrestling fans with both of these great characters via the Final Deletion, Delete or Decay, the Great War, and most recently Total Nonstop Deletion. I have marked out for them all, and I am proud of it. To simply put it, they are great pieces of episodic television, just like Ash Vs Evil Dead on Starz!

I have to admit, Total Nonstop Deletion was the best episode of TNA Impact for all of 2016. Even though footage from the Hardy Compound is always heavily edited and doctored, it makes for entertaining television. Maxel "Baby" Hardy, Senor Benjamin, Vanguard 1, the Scribe, and the Dilapidated Boat make for some great supporting TV characters. For me, the highlights from the show were the volcano, Maxel's entrance in the toy car, ODB letting Vanguard 1 motorboat her bosom, Ricky Morton stuck at the top of the hydraulic lift, Shane Helms dressing as his former Hurricane gimmick, and even the appearance of Hornswoggle. Oh hell, actually just about the entire show was a highlight reel. I literally could not wait to see what was going to happen next.

What sucks to me is that the Hardys have NOT been on a bigger stage for this new creative venture of theirs (like WWE). Unfortunately, many wrestling fans that would probably enjoy this act have been missing out. Nothing against TNA, but its television fan base is down to about 300,000-325,000 viewers per week for Impact on POP TV. Occasionally, it does spike up to 350,000+ viewers when something big is planned and advertised with the Hardys, such as Total Nonstop Deletion. Meanwhile, WWE Raw and SmackDown still draw a few million viewers per show. I have been on board with this new Hardy gimmick since its inception at TNA Slammiversary. I am amazed more and more each time they do a new “event”. I will continue to give kudos to the Hardys, Jeremy Borash, and anyone else involved with the magnificent television spectacles such as Total Nonstop Deletion, the Final Deletion, etc. Please do yourselves a favor and go check all this out on YouTube. It might even entice you to want to watch TNA Impact on Thursday nights, just like it did for me back in June/July. Delete! Delete! Delete!

Now back to Dean Ambrose, perhaps the most talented overall performer from the Shield. Although I have discussed him in other columns earlier this year, I more or less chose to write about him from a fantasy booking perspective rather than from a realistic point of view. Truth be told, I want Ambrose to be a top heel in WWE; however, I think the Machine is going to continue to book and market him as a top baby face. This move is probably in WWE’s best interest because they have invested in a lot of Ambrose merchandise on the WWE Shop website. It is clear that he is highly marketed towards both the children and female demographic. Toys and T-Shirts don’t lie.

In turn, this does create a small dilemma. The problem is that it will continue to be difficult for Ambrose to ever be edgy and a true Lunatic Fringe on WWE television, which is what his character truly needs. This is causing some fans to detract from liking Ambrose and thinking he’s too bland and boring. I have heard some people say that his matches are just average and that he needs to step up his game. Stone Cold Steve Austin Podcast anyone? What I do not think the doubters realize is that Ambrose is probably the hardest “worker” in WWE right now. His body probably takes more punishment on a nightly basis than anybody else’s. His style of wrestling is a bit slower, old school, and psychological. It appears to be clashing with the modern day acrobatic style of wrestling that many wrestlers are currently doing. Ambrose’s style is also forming a niche fan base, which consists of mainly Shield fans and Jon Moxley “Indy” fans. Oh, and those children and females. Thank you PG Era!

The beauty of it all is that Ambrose can play whatever role WWE casts for him because he is that damn talented. Although he clearly has some detractors, his following is not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, the Dean Ambrose niche fan base is also creating the Dean Ambrose niche. What I mean by this is that although it appears we keep getting the same old Ambrose over and over again each week, he is very slowly starting to show glimpses of truly being a Lunatic Fringe. All he needs is that one opportunity, that one moment to convince everyone that he is indeed just that. While it is true that a wrestler can only go as far as WWE creative and booking will take them, if said wrestler is continually used in a major role on television and remains relevant, then all it takes is that one defining moment to make themselves a major top superstar. Does anyone remember when CM Punk had the opportunity of a lifetime with the infamous pipe bomb mic spot on Raw? Even though it appeared that he became an instant top drawing superstar in one night, it was actually the payoff from all the hard work he had done in WWE for the years leading up to that moment. I do not see many current WWE wrestlers with a chance at this very same opportunity, with the exception of guys like Bray Wyatt and of course, Dean Ambrose.

Wrestlers will always be wrestlers; like AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, etc. However, superstars can evolve from wrestlers because of character development and consistency in the ring. While I would like to give a guy like Roman Reigns the benefit of the doubt, he just does not have the same niche fan base and consistency in the ring like Dean Ambrose does. Reigns’ haters-to-fans ratio is borderline unsalvageable, especially with no proper heel turn to justify all the boos he gets. On the other hand, Ambrose is in a great place right now on SmackDown Live. Even though he no longer has the WWE Championship, he already has a nice lineage of title history in WWE, just like CM Punk had before the pipe bomb. Ambrose’s work rate is uncanny, yet he defies the odds and seems to avoid major injury. His work rate is also at a John Cena-like level. Yeah, I just said that! Now it is just a matter of time before Ambrose gets that opportunity to fully unhinge as the Lunatic Fringe.

Twitter: @EGW_FOW_Virtue

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