For better or worse,WrestleMania 32 is shaping up in a very peculiar way.
In this post-Streak era, The Undertaker had very little to say about his match because, for the first time, he’s a supporting player in the story rather than being THE story; Triple H, leveraging the good will gained through NXT, has somehow been positioned as the fresh face of the next generation as Roman Reigns stands as a representation of the incompetence of the ‘old guard’ in WWE.
While Reigns is poised to try for his umpteenth coronation as WWE’s top star, there’s a usurper who’s perfectly positioned to steal the crown: Dean Ambrose.
Millions of people witnessed the markedly different reactions between Triple H’s assault on Roman Reigns and his beatdown of Ambrose; the former elicited cheers from The Crowd as the supposed top face of the company was battered and bloodied, while Triple H was booed in the latter (as heels in the traditional babyface/heel paradigm usually are).
Fans, blinded by their hatred of Reigns, shouted in unison that this should send a message to WWE management that they’re clueless and out-of-touch — oblivious to the fact that it was WWE management that laid the foundation for this to occur.
Just take a look at the build towards the Reigns, Ambrose, and Brock Lesnar match at Fastlane; even though this was Reigns’ revenge and redemption story, even though WWE management (and the rest of the world) knew Reigns was going to win the match, there was more story told between Ambrose and Lesnar than any other combination of the three Superstars. Reigns was marginalized throughout the entire build of the match, while Ambrose was given chance after chance to develop and add layers to his character.
Can you describe who (or what) Roman Reigns is? I know I can’t. Has there been a consistent thread of characterization that WWE has let develop on a weekly basis? No. For all of the claims of Reigns being shoved down our throats, WWE has done a terribly weak job of it — so weak that I refuse to believe it’s an accident…
Dean Ambrose now stands as a resilient, durable psycho that has more guts than brains; that durability will be put to the test as he is set for a showdown with the most destructive force in WWE history. He’s picked a fight with the ‘God of Violent Retribution’ and as long as he’s alive to tell the story, win or lose, he’ll be a winner in every way that counts.
Unlike with Reigns, WWE has set the stage for us to witness the sustained evolution of Dean Ambrose. We know who he is, we know what his motivations are, he’s been developed through his booking, and we’re invested enough in the character to root for him in the biggest challenge of his life at WrestleMania. I don’t need The Crowd to tell me that Ambrose is a bigger star than Reigns, because WWE has been telling me that for weeks. On the grandest stage of them all, the veils will be pulled away as it becomes official.
Come the night after WrestleMania, there is no reason why Dean Ambrose shouldn’t be the biggest star in WWE.