Before WWE's 2013 edition of SummerSlam could get underway, we were presented with a high-profile pre-show match between Dean Ambrose and Rob Van Dam. With the United States Championship on the line, Van Dam defeated Ambrose via disqualification after Roman Reigns interfered, thus allowing the champion to retain.
While it may not have been the most ideal result, the WWE was wise to protect Ambrose against RVD.
Ambrose and Van Dam wrestled an even match early, with neither man managing to sustain an edge over the other. Just as Van Dam achieved the upper hand, however, The Shield emerged from the stands to pick up the numbers' advantage.
Before the group could strike, Big Show and Mark Henry came out to even the odds.
Van Dam had Ambrose in position for the Five-Star Frog Splash, but Seth Rollins hit the ring apron to distract him. After RVD missed on a flying sidekick to Rollins, Ambrose rolled him up and pulled a near-fall.
Van Dam achieved momentum, once again, but just before he could cover Ambrose after hitting the Five-Star Frog Splash, Reigns crushed him with a spear.
With the match decided via disqualification, The Shield moved out of doge's way and escaped to the back. It wasn't the ending that some fans may have been hoping for, but it was the perfect way to protect both Superstars from losing momentum.
No one benefited more than Ambrose.
Ambrose has seen a meteoric rise up the ranks in WWE, going from the hot, new thing to the reigning United States champion. After defending the belt at SummerSlam, Ambrose has now held the belt for more than 90 days, proving to be a worthy champion.
By escaping with the title after facing defeat against Van Dam, WWE has thus protected Ambrose as a true force, all the while keeping RVD as a a top star.
Since The Shield debuted on Nov. 18, 2012, Ambrose has become the vocal leader for the most powerful faction in all of professional wrestling. As The Shield has helped to shape WWE's new direction, Ambrose has become one of the most prominent young stars in the industry.
As all Jon Moxley fans know, it's been a long time coming.
How should Dean Ambrose vs. Rob Van Dam have ended?
There's no question that Ambrose will need to lose at some point, but having him face defeat against RVD would've been the wrong move. Van Dam is the type of Superstar Ambrose can defeat to take the next step in his career, discovering even more validity.
With that being said, this simply wasn't the proper stage.
By protecting both Ambrose and Van Dam, the WWE sets up the potential for a stipulation match. Van Dam can then either defeat Ambrose in a less damaging manner or the voice of The Shield can pick up a career-altering victory.
Even if Ambrose is to lose the United States Championship, and it may well come against RVD, there's a better time to do so than at SummerSlam. This isn't to detract from the pay-per-view's power, but Ambrose's match against Van Dam wasn't on the SummerSlam pay-per-view.
It was on the pre-show.
If Ambrose would've suffered defeat on the pre-show, he would've been robbed of a great deal of momentum. Not only would Ambrose have lost his title, but he would've done so without competing on a main show.
That's parallel to a champion losing their belt on Main Event or Superstars.
Fortunately, the WWE recognized the danger in that approach, thus preserving Ambrose's star power. In turn, the company kept Ambrose as one of the biggest second-tier Superstars in WWE and has granted him the opportunity to continue working toward the main event.
A move that was necessary to protect its rising star.