The unchosen ones: Examining Dean Ambrose & Mick Foley

On March 14’s episode of Monday Night RAW, WWE Hall of Fame hardcore legend Mick Foley appeared in a brief but unequivocally powerful segment with Dean Ambrose, who is currently on a crash course with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania.

In it, Foley “passed the torch” along to Ambrose in the form of a gift: his famous barbed wire baseball bat, to the delight of the WWE Universe. It was a surprisingly poignant moment seeing the two interact, because Foley and Ambrose are universally loved for many of the same reasons.

But sadly, the same things that have endeared both Foley and Ambrose to hardcore and casual fans alike are what is currently holding Ambrose back from surpassing Roman Reigns as the WWE’s top babyface. So today, I’m examining the draw of unconventional heroes like Ambrose and Foley, what the WWE can do to take advantage of it and if there is even a possibility of Ambrose getting the marquee status he deserves.

Aside from how incredibly in-shape Ambrose is, he looks very much like the kind of man you would just see on the street. He isn’t drop-dead gorgeous (many will disagree, including me, but let’s be real, he’s insanely attractive in a less polished way) and doesn’t look like a star. Like Foley, he isn’t some sort of Greek sculpture. He’s just a human. At first glance, there’s nothing spectacular about him.

But then you take a second glance. And a third. And Dean Ambrose makes you fall in love with him.

Ambrose doesn’t rely on his look to get over because he doesn’t have to. Everything that’s spectacular about him is, as cheesy as it sounds, from the inside.

Mick Foley was this way too. His first gimmick, the heelish Cactus Jack, was not spectacular by any means, but he made it spectacular with his wrestling ability and mic mastery.

He really began to flourish when both were let loose in his Mankind persona, where he was able to flourish creatively and athletically. Mankind was absolutely out of his mind, imbued with a lunacy much like Ambrose’s, only much darker and more sinister. And, of course, the socks. Oh, those wonderful socks.

He also spent time partnered with a Samoan star destined for success.

Ambrose is much like Foley in that everything about him seems organic. His struggle seems real because in many ways, he is the true underdog of the main event scene. Always so close to the mountaintop, but always overshadowed by more cookie-cutter wrestlers with half of his connection to the crowd.

But also like Foley, his talent and his fanbase will not be denied or ignored. In recent months, Ambrose has skyrocketed in popularity, becoming the only tried and true main event babyface on the WWE’s roster. His never say die attitude and consistent performances in the ring have resonated with crowds everywhere, forcing the hand of the WWE.

The WWE seems, finally, to be noticing what a draw Dean Ambrose is. Yes, they are still positioning Roman Reigns as the company’s top babyface (despite him being tailor-made to be a top heel, in my opinion), but the days of Ambrose dwindling on the lower midcard are long gone. He is selling too much merchandise and drawing too many cheers for that.

So how should they utilize Ambrose, if they aren’t planning on having him be at the very top? Well, quite simply, they have to change their game plan.

Right now, the WWE should capitalize on the thunderous cheers Dean gets and the chorus of boos Roman Reigns gets. Sure, give Roman Reigns the title, but turn him to the dark side while you’re at it. Seth Rollins will be returning soon, hopefully as a babyface, so pit him against Reigns.

Have Rollins and Ambrose work together to get to Money int he Bank, then duke it out fair and square for the famed briefcase. Then, because of karma, have Dean Ambrose finally grab the briefcase, which he cashes in at Summerslam against Roman Reigns. However, because of interference, he fails.

Then, at Wrestlemania, we get the main event we were always meant to have: a Shield triple threat for the title.

And Ambrose wins.

Will this actually happen? The triple threat, maybe, but I’m not a fool. I don’t expect to see Ambrose going over Reigns any time soon. However, Ambrose is not going to be buried. The WWE proved with the Mick Foley segment and with their investment in Ambrose at Roadblock that they are positioning him to be a main event player in the future.

It’s up to the fans to keep them listening, to keep showing their appreciation of Ambrose. He will probably never be booked in the way he deserves, but maybe, just maybe, we will get something close to it.


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