Where it was the Beast who did the neutering...
Ok, so let's go back a year...
At the end of WrestleMania 31 Seth Rollins had performed the ultimate heist. He held aloft the WWE Championship after cashing in on Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns' main event after Vince realized the alternatives was essentially a) keep it on the part timer and essentially keep the main title off TV for another five fucking months or b) give it to a guy who had all the popularity of a fox at a hen convention. His former Shield teammate, Roman Reigns, while certainly not champion, was still seen as a top guy.
But what of the third man, Dean Ambrose?
WrestleMania 31 certainly seemed to indicate to the universe of priorities in the WWE's mind. Reigns? Heir apparent, though obviously still needs some work to get over with the crowd. Rollins? Fantastic worker and hand that could tear the house down. But Ambrose...Ambrose seemed to be seen as the one that the WWE had pegged as crazy, without actually knowing any idea of what that would entail.
However, over the course of 2015, Ambrose became positioned (by accident really) as the most popular babyface in the company, as the obvious anti-establishment face to the corrupt Authority. In this sort of situation one would expect that Ambrose would be the guy to go nose to nose with the Authority, and wrest the title from Rollins.
Of course, Ambrose's biggest Roadblock to the top wasn't really anything he was doing right or wrong- it was just Vince McMahon's mindset that Roman Reigns was one match or one promo away from breaking out into Austin or Rock territory, and if they just battered down the hatches and stayed the course, vindication would come.
And to be fair to McMahon, at times he looked like he wasn't that far off. Reigns was getting the crowd around (with the help of a really on fire feud with a switched-on Sheamus) during late 2015. However, as I've said before, rather than just tend to the growth of this precious sapling gradually, WWE dumped a huge amount of fertilizer on it and were mystified when all they ended up with was a pile of shit.
I say all this, because it is important to recognize exactly where Dean Ambrose was in the pecking order leading into the match above. While he was the crowd's hottest commodity, Reigns was still the project, leading to the ludicrous situation where Ambrose was either getting oh-so-close to the title without getting it, or he'd be Bucky to Roman's Captain America- the plucky sidekick who kept getting his clocked cleaned by the Authority.
On the other hand, Brock Lesnar found himself without a title after WrestleMania 31 and at a seeming loose end. After a rematch with Rollins when the Authority seemingly not being able to decide week to week if they wanted Rollins to win or lose (it was a bit screwy) he was pushed sideways into a feud with the Undertaker, who was looking for vengeance for the loss of the Streak. After a surprisingly good feud with the Undertaker (particularly the brawl and the second match at Hell in a Cell) Lesnar went into the WWE Title Royal Rumble match. As did Ambrose.
History will show that Brock Lesnar was mauled and tossed out by the Wyatt Family, while Ambrose got the very end, only to be tossed out by Triple H. So, with the Royal Rumble settled, we could no look to our main event at WrestleMania- Triple H vs the Royal Ru- oh.
So the 'we-have-to-make-sure-that-Roman-Reigns-and-Dean-Ambrose-aren't-champs' Authority decided that what was best for business at Fast Lane was to...have a triple threat between Reigns, Ambrose and Lesnar. Which was doubly boneheaded for the fact that it meant that Reigns (the guy they wanted the audience to cheer) would have to face both the most over face in the company and one of the coolest badasses in the company. But hey, I've talked about that before. Anyway, near the end of the match Lesnar had Reigns dead to rights in the Kimura lock, only for Ambrose to break the hold, allowing the Big Dog to recover and hit the spear on the Lunatic Fringe to get the #1 Contendership @ WrestleMania. The next night on Raw, Lesnar attacked Ambrose in the parking lot and sent him to hospital. Ambrose, never one to take a hint, came back later in the night and challenged Brock to a No Holds Barred Match at WrestleMania, which Lesnar accepted.
Now, if this was the next PPV, it would be an easy ride, However, it is here we come to the first massive issue.
Y'see it would be fair to say that Roman...wasn't really moving people to the building like the 'E probably hoped, In fact in the more 'smart' cities he was getting booed out of buildings. Thankfully (well, coincidentally) Roman needed to fix a deviated septum and so was removed from TV for a while. But without a 'face' to challenge the evil Authority's machinations, what could happen?
Enter Roadblock and Dean Ambrose.
Essentially, WWE's ideas was to parachute Ambrose into Roman Reigns' feud with Triple H for the WWE Title, to partly appease the haters who thought Dean deserved a shot, and to give some impetus to a title feud that simply could not go anywhere without one half of the participants. And, credit to them, Ambrose and Hunter put on a hell of a match at Roadblock that made Ambrose look great. Meanwhile at the same PPV, Lesnar faced off against (a legit injured) Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper in a sort of afterthought match to give the guy some closure from their mugging at the Rumble.
So both competitors had some steam coming in to the match at WrestleMania. And it looked like they were playing this the right way, with Lesnar (well, Heyman) crowing about the athletic prowess of the Beast while hardcore enthusiasts Terry Funk and Mick Foley told Ambrose that they had their fill of Suplex City and it was time to put some scars on the Beast by any means necessary.
In fact, while I am on the subject, I really wish that there more segments like the one with Foley and Ambrose because it was a segment where they actually seemed to get what the guy was, and why the guy was so goddamn dangerous to face. Because before I go on I want to say that one of the reasons that this match is on the list is because this was a chance to show that while Dean was not the strongest member of the Shield (Reigns), the best technician (Rollins) or the most athletic (Rollins or Reigns) what he did have was the ability to get hurt to hurt you.
And then factors came along to piss that all away.
Firstly, it became apparent that UFC 200 was coming up and Mr White wanted Brock for a once-off fight. While it didn't become a close deal until June, I'm going to say it was a safe bet that both sides were in heavy negotiations before this. Now, considering this it kinda makes sense that Brock probably didn't want to do anything to risky.
What it doesn't explain is the brick wall that Lesnar seemed to construct to any of Dean's ideas, putting a massive handbrake to Ambrose's momentum.
Because what this WrestleMania was governed on, for a lot of it, was hope. We hoped somehow Shane O' Mac might beat the Undertaker so Raw could stop being the Stephanie and Hunter show. We hoped that Roman and Hunter would put on a good main event. And we hoped that Dean Ambrose would find a way to make a Brock Lesnar match more than suplex, suplex, suplex, etc. and maybe just scrape a win.
My mistake Mr Lesnar...
Anyway, the match starts as you'd expect it would, with Lesnar throwing Ambrose around a lot and beating the piss out of him because it's Brock Lesnar. It doesn't help that the commentary is pretty ordinary, with JBL basically yelling over everyone to say how great Brock is and the other two (Cole and Saxton) seemingly unable to find a way to put Ambrose over.
Anyway, after 9 suplexes, Lesnar drops a kendo stick in front of himself and taunts Ambrose to come get it. In the best moment of the match Ambrose crawls over smacks him in the plums and screams "that's hilarious!"
But this leads to another issue of the match- which is Dean suddenly becomes an idiot.
He has Lesnar down after hitting him with the stick and a suicide dive. Common sense would say that the best thing to do would be to keep him down. Instead, Dean wanders half way around the other side of the ring and finds a chainsaw (more or less just to pop the crowd), allowing Brock to recover.
And I know WWE would say "Well, he's crazy!!" but at Roadblock Ambrose was seen to get into Triple H- the Cerebral Assassin's head- to the point where he almost walked away with the freakin' title.
In any case, soon Ambrose manages to turn the tables again and get Brock back in the ring, where he hits him with a flying chair for a two count. And again, with the CHAIR RIGHT THERE next to a prone Lesnar...Ambrose decides to wander off again and throw a whole bunch of chairs into the ring, allowing Lesnar to once again recover and hit him with his 12th suplex.
And yes, he does manage to hit Dirty Deeds onto the chair for a close two count soon after, BUT IT WAS THE CHAIR THAT WAS ALREADY IN THE FUCKING RING!!! Essentially for an important part of the match it seems the ring has a Brock-skinned rug that Ambrose decides needs some chairs around to aide the feng shui.
Of course, once he gets the two count he takes another age to go out to get Barbie (Mick Foley's bat) and...have a moment with it? (I'm guessing that with all the ideas Brock nixed, Ambrose had to essentially to some improv theatre on the outside during this match, for the time they had, which must have sucked for him). Anyway, Brock ducks the swing and hits a german suplex onto the chairs and then a F-5 onto the same chairs THAT DEAN BROUGHT IN (I'm sorry, I am calm...) for the win.
Looking back on it, many would say that Dean did take a lot of punishment and that's true. But here's the thing...what did he get out of this? Did he use the bat or the chainsaw? No. Did he change Lesnar's mind about him? Well...who would know, he went away til Summerslam. Did he look like a tough SOB who was willing to do what ever it took to win...Or a guy who sorta made a lot of silly choices because "He's crazy!"
In fact this leads me to one of the bigger problems with Lesnar. When he lost the title to Rollins the year before, there was an easy template for who Lesnar should have followed. And ironically it was right across from him for a lot of the summer.
Lesnar could have been the guy that some insufferable prick of a heel (or heel stable, really) sends to the hospital or suspends for three months and then crows about it. Then, unexpectedly the guitar distortion hits and it's "Oh-fuck-I-poked-the-bear-but-I-didn't-kill-him!!!". Lesnar does his 5-10min match. Heel brought down a peg. Orton, Henry and Edge all went through this (admittedly with better matches) with the Deadman.
Instead, Ambrose was supposed to make himself look like a crazy and dangerous SOB, while pleasing a fairly recalcitrant Lesnar, a very reductive commentary team and filling time on a match that didn't actually have all that much to it. And that is the true sadness of this match. Because you could have done this in so many more interesting ways. You could have had Ambrose take 7 suplexes, then have Lesnar taunt him, only for Ambrose to nut shot him and roll him up for the 3 before being totally dismantled by an irate Lesnar. You could have had a ref stoppage, when Ambrose just won't give up but Lesnar can't get him down for 3. There were many ways to protect both workers and make Lesnar still look like the unstoppable force, while allowing Ambrose to look like a dangerous and cunning foe.
But hey, he's just crazy. And it's that attitude that sent Ambrose out the door.
And that's article 84. Next time it is the first part of a examination of one of the most mystifying, offensive and dull championship reigns- in ring and out of modern wrestling history.
I can't wait. .
Article One: Shane has a surprise for Daddy
Article Two: Booker T vs Buff Bagwell and the Temple of Boos
Article Three: Daddy's little Girl Gets in on the Action
Article Four: "WHY AUSTIN DAMMIT?! WHY