Man, it’s been a rough last few months if you’re a fan of the Shield, let alone a member. First Roman Reigns had to leave to go battle leukemia and now it appears that Dean Ambrose may be done, too. He almost died while going through surgery and recovery for his injury earlier this year, and then two months after coming back his best friend has to leave to go fight leukemia. So yeah, seeing as how the last year went I can understand why he might be spooked or burned out and want to get away, be it temporarily or for good. That’s a lot to have to shoulder amidst the daily grind of the wrestling business and that’s after what everyone who knows anything about him describes as a really rough upbringing. The man might just be tired for real, and if he doesn’t have to work or work as much anymore than you can’t blame him for sticking to that which puts the least amount of stress on him. Maybe that’s taking a break and coming back, maybe it’s just no coming back at all. We’ll see, but either way that’s his right.
If I had to grade Dean’s entire time in WWE I’d say it was mostly good, sometimes great, and in a few spots it was not so good. The entire first run of the Shield was great stuff, the first few months after they split in 2014 were a bit rocky, 2015 was good with a few great moments mixed in, 2016 was mostly very good save a few matches, but 2017 dragged a good bit until the Shield reunion in August, and then things really went south in 2018. Did WWE do him wrong? Despite what I’m sure will be a flood of ‘Dean wasn’t happy’ rumors, I don’t think so. Yes these last few months haven’t been great from a storyline standpoint for he or Seth; everyone’s hand got forced and sometimes things get jacked up in execution. It is what it is. But before he got hurt he was always in a title picture, was a Grand Slam Champion, won and cashed in Money in the Bank on the same night, main evented several pay per views as a singles wrestler and with the Shield. He won the Shield Triple Threat match at Battleground 2016, which was probably the peak of his run as a singles wrestler. In six years plus he’s already a WWE Hall of Famer be it in kayfabe or real life. Other than this recent angle the worst thing that he was given creative-wise was that his lunatic gimmick often got more goofy than crazy. But if you’re going to call him misused or mistreated then you’re drinking the same crazy juice as people who say that about Kevin Owens or Daniel Bryan. Just stop it already.
As far as his performances, well in my opinion they were a mixed bag. He was in some very good to great stuff as a singles wrestler with Seth, Roman, Kevin Owens, and AJ Styles. The stuff he did with the Miz in 2017 was pretty good. But there was some serious duds, too. The Bray Wyatt feud in 2014, the Lesnar match at WrestleMania (although I put that mostly on Brock), the Summerslam 2016 match with Dolph Ziggler, and the TLC match this past December. Over time I came to the conclusion that he’s best in tag matches, gimmicked up matches like Money in the Bank or TLC, or multiman matches. Sending him out there for a regular 20 minute singles match was often not a good move, and that was always a hindrance as far as what you could do with him on the card. He was a high functioning specialist in my opinion, someone who can excel but that you have to set the conditions for at all times. To that end he pretty much maxed out what he was capable of in the ring. That’s nothing to be ashamed of or disappointed in as a fan.
If you think he should have been put on top instead of the Evil Roman Reigns (sarcasm), please show me some receipts other than the usual ‘Roman gets booed!’ routine. I’ll say again that if there was real evidence that he was ever more of a needle mover than Roman then they would have made that move already, and even if that was the case from all indications Dean really isn’t here for all the other stuff that comes with being in that spot – the appreances, local news hits, etc. I’m guessing he did his share of things for the kids but beyond that he just isn’t into all that stuff and to be the top guy you have to be. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to go on the local news to promote a show, go on First Take or to awards shows, but those things do play into how and where you get positioned. But even without all that all the reports are that Vince loves him so you can add everything up and see again that he’s pretty much maxed out in terms of accomplishments and his station with the company.
As for what’s next? It all depends on if it’s a work, and if not then whether he’s just burned out on WWE or wrestling altogether. If it’s a work or quasi-work (meaning that as of today he’s done but by the time his contract does end he’ll have changed his mind and re-signed) then we’ll find out soon enough. If it’s not, then I don’t know. I can’t imagine him signing on full time with another company; trading one employer for another doesn’t seem to be his MO. If you think he didn’t get all he deserved in WWE then that’s not likely to happen anywhere else either because quite frankly the only higher step for him to take is face of the company. And if you think that Cody, Jericho, and probably Kenny Omega are all going to take a backseat to him you’re sadly mistaken. He may spread himself around and work some dates for different outlets while not committing to anyone, but enough people think he doesn’t really care much for wrestling anymore in general that he may not choose that either. It’s all a big question mark right now.
Lastly, even though I wasn’t always a fan of his in ring work (I enjoyed the good stuff a lot but there was a lot I really never need to see again) I am gonna miss the guy if he is indeed gone. Us Roman Reigns fans have come to love the guy for the real life friendship he has shown towards Roman over all this time. The Ride Along with all three of the boys is a pure joy to watch as are lots of the old Shield promos where they got to goof off with each other. And in character some of the most joyful moments us in the Empire have had involved or included him – when Roman finally won the title outright from Sheamus, all the Shield matches, etc. As far as a lot of us are concerned he’s family. So while I really do hope to see him again after WrestleMania, if he is indeed done with WWE or done with wrestling period then thanks in advance for six years of good times. Take care Johnathan Good, we love you brother.