WWE Superstar Dean Ambrose: Breakdown of the Shield Member's in-Ring Skills

Ryan DilbertWWE Lead WriterJanuary 3, 2013

photo credit: WWE
photo credit: WWE

Dean Ambrose has the potential to be the most successful member of The Shield, WWE's newest gang of thugs.

Much has been said about his verbal ability, but his wrestling skills are phenomenal as well.

Roman Reigns is a powerhouse with surprising agility. Seth Rollins is very much the new breed of super-athletic wrestler with a penchant for stunning spots. Ambrose is the most well-rounded performer out of the three.

Ambrose bridges WWE's old school and new school. He has a strong mat-wrestling base and the ability to put on a compelling brawl as well.

Though plenty powerful, Ambrose's best asset is not his strength, evidenced when he struggled to pick up Homicide for a Michinoku Driver.  

Considering he idolized Bret Hart growing up, his technical savvy comes as no surprise. His eccentricity and in-ring savagery make him his own man.


Technical Wresting Infused with Brutality

If all WWE fans wanted to see was technical wrestling, they might just opt to watch college wrestling. WWE borrows elements from the college ranks but adds an enticing amount of violence and spectacle.

Ambrose is highly-skilled at mixing his mat wrestling with his slugfests as well as turning wrestling holds into torture devices.

Many of his holds are of the punishing, cruel kind. His modified version of the crossface cranks the opponent's arm back, contorting their body in hideous fashion. Ambrose also utilizes a throwback crossface chicken wing that is convincingly painful-looking.

In addition to his varied repertoire of stretches and submissions from the Cloverleaf to the Fujiwara armbar, Ambrose's matches feature barroom-style brawling.

In a match against Damien Sandow, he grinded his forearms into Sandow's face as if he were sanding it down. When offered a shot at CM Punk, Ambrose delivered an entertaining striking exchange with the WWE champ.

Ambrose's background and his time with independent organizations like Combat Zone Wrestling have certainly contributed to his toughness and grit.

About the neighborhood he grew up in, he told Richard Kamchen of Slam! Sports that "it was easy to get the feeling like all the garbage from the city ran down and washed up there, so that gave me a chip on my shoulder very early on."

Ambrose's death match vs. Brain Damage is proof of Ambrose's ability to thrive while suffering, to wrestle through pain, something no doubt aided by where he comes from.

In this bloody battle, Ambrose is smashed through a table covered in barbed wire, choked with a belt and busted open for much of the action. His TLC match must have seemed like a vacation compared to this.


Full-Throttle Showmanship

Dean Ambrose injects his matches with a zealous energy. Whether dishing out punishment or taking it, he amplifies the theater aspect of pro wrestling.

During a shoot interview, Ambrose (then Jon Moxley) said, "People forget, but wrestling's supposed to be fun."

He clearly tries to ensure that it remains fun with every exaggerated move and histrionic expression.

A simple move like the DDT gets the theatrical treatment with Ambrose. He grunts, falls hard to the ground and accentuates every part of the hold for fans' benefit.  

After William Regal cracked him in the face with an elbow, Ambrose made sure to let the audience in on his kayfabe pain. His expression and mannerisms make the move look far more devastating.

WWE fans who hadn't seen his FCW and indy work were introduced to his over-the-top selling of moves when Ryback suplexed him and Seth Rollins onto a ladder.

This screenshot captures how uninhibited Ambrose is when reacting to moves. It's far more entertaining than realistic, more Jim Carrey than Jeremy Irons. His antics sit on the line between annoying and amusing.

Some fans may turned off by his over-the-top style, but fans of Dolph Ziggler, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair will likely find that his work is simply a continuation of tradition.


WWE Comparison: William Regal

While Ambrose's maniacal promo delivery may remind folks of Mick Foley, his ring work greatly parallels William Regal's.

Both men have a sadistic, gritty style that is anchored by high-level technical skill.

Watching them face each other is like watching an image and a reflection fighting. In terms of both ring gear and wrestling style, Ambrose seems to be paying homage to Regal.

It was their feud and this match in particular that showed many fans just how enthralling Ambrose can be. This startlingly good promo came courtesy of that rivalry.

In it he said Regal "could just sit there at that table every week and watch me be better than he ever was." Ambrose will have a chance to make that statement a truth. He has already produced a classic in his WWE debut and his future looks promising.

Jim Ross compared Ambrose to Roddy Piper on his blog, saying "Hope that I didn't jinx the kid who would have huge shoes to fill if my assessment is accurate" and that Ambrose "has a legit shot to be successful in WWE."