Dean Ambrose is a stack of dynamite the audience fully expects to explode in a massive, violent spectacle.
If anyone can make all those lofty predictions come true, it's Ambrose.
A fine brawler and a great in-ring storyteller, Ambrose is powered by an unmistakable dark charisma and is an overpowering, enthralling force on the screen much in the way Heath Ledger was as The Joker in The Dark Knight.
For now, WWE has him serving as one third of Triple H's muscle, but the United States champ is capable of being in Triple H's position as the company’s top heel. He can be WWE's version of Lex Luthor or Hannibal Lecter in the future.
Of what WWE is doing with him in the present, there is plenty to like.
Being one of the hounds that goes snapping at whoever Triple H sees fit keeps Ambrose in a prominent spot. He's not getting much individual glory yet, but he is showcased during many of Raw's main events.
He would benefit from more U.S. title defenses, but for a guy who hasn't been around a full calendar year, fending off Kane, Kofi Kingston and Rob Van Dam as well as battling The Undertaker in one of his scarce in-ring appearances is a good sign of what WWE thinks of him.
There is greatness waiting for him beyond The Shield; the industry seems to agree on that.
Next in the Line of Crazies
Booker T envisions Ambrose as a headliner.
When asked during an interview in the Nola Defender who he thought would be in the main event of WrestleMania XL, Booker said Ambrose would be facing Dolph Ziggler. That's a huge compliment, as precious as a marquee spot in WrestleMania is.
Booker T isn't the only Hall of Famer to notice Ambrose's work.
Mick Foley pointed out the nuances and unique skills that helped Ambrose get such a strong following during his days on the independent circuit.
Impressive showing by the SHIELD, especially Ambrose. Very fluid; disturbingly poetic in his style and movements.— Mick Foley (@realmickfoley) February 18, 2013
What Jim Ross wrote of Ambrose is both complementary and pressure-inducing.
Ambrose has a little Roddy Piper and Brian Pillman traits in him or so it seems to me. His FCW/NXT bout a few months ago with @RealKingRegal was stellar. I called it with Dusty Rhodes and we had a blast. Ambrose is a blue chip stock and is arguably the most 'unpredictable' of the three. Perhaps 'complex' is an adequate word to describe Ambrose at this point in time.
Pillman is a respected name in the business who would have achieved far more had he not been hurt in a car accident in 1996 and died at only 35 years old. Piper is in the Hall of Fame on the strength of his wildness, captivating promos and being one of the most memorable characters in wrestling history.
Both were among the nuttiest personas fans have ever seen.
Getting compared to those two men is a lot to live up to, but Ambrose's ring resume shows glimpses of why he could do just that.
Off-Kilter in the Ring
Seth Rollins is more athletic than him and Roman Reigns is more powerful, but Ambrose is the one must difficult to look away from.
His aggression makes his matches engaging. He's a fighter with above-average technical wrestling ability, but it's his expressiveness that ensnares the audience's attention.
Sometimes his facial expressions border on hammy, but whether he is brooding, writhing, cackling or seemingly listening for voices in his head, Ambrose is fun to watch.
He took on Rob Van Dam before SummerSlam in a match that didn't have Dave Meltzer dispensing five stars but showed off some of the elements of his game that have fans so pumped about his future.
At times, he stalked Van Dam like some comic book villain gloating over a fallen hero. He slinked around the ring and made everything from climbing to the top rope an opportunity to showcase his eccentricity.
This will help set him apart from the flood of talented athletes that is the WWE roster.
Ambrose's antics and ring skills will do well on the biggest of stages. One can point to his battle against The Undertaker on SmackDown in April for proof of that.
Against one of the biggest stars in the history of the business, Ambrose looked like he belonged.
He was comfortable and confident whether he was grinding his forearm against Undertaker's face or losing his mind when he didn't get a two-count. WWE can look at a match like this and project Ambrose into a prominent singles battle against a top star.
The results will be anything but ordinary.
A Madman Swinging a Microphone
Ambrose's ticket to maximizing his potential will be his ability to talk.
He is the best talker The Shield has to offer, a disturbing figure who puts the crowd into a trance. When he displays his sinister, commanding presence on a microphone, it's easy to see where Ross' comparisons to Piper and Pillman come from.
In this promo before his bout with The Undertaker, he doesn't come off as if he's acting, but instead letting us in on his private, haunting thoughts.
He's not at his most poetic here, but he is cocky, powerful and compelling. Ambrose's fan club knows full well what he's capable of in terms of promos.
His work from the indies is teeming with unsettling mic work.
He flows, knows exactly when to inflect and when to vary intensity. If he's this good at this aspect of wrestling at only 27, expect him to fine tune and improve to the point of mastery in the coming years.
WWE doesn't have a long list of Superstars with those skills. Ambrose will have every opportunity to feud with top stars, to work some of the best angles and create memorable moments before his matches even begin.
Ambrose's unique toolbox, both in and out of the ring, makes him a commodity.
Fans will be drawn to him which is the most important skill in determining WWE success. It’s hard to argue with Ross’ comparison to Piper. Ambrose could be every bit the top heel that Piper was opposite Hulk Hogan.
While Ambrose certainly has a shot to wear both the World Heavyweight Championship and WWE title, he has the chance to be greater than just another in a long list of champs.
When a wrestler digs at the audience the way Ambrose is capable of doing, worming his way into their minds and memories, far more than gold is at stake.
Future generations looking back at Ambrose's career will see a man who left an enduring imprint in WWE history, an impact that parallels what Killer Kowalski accomplished. Kowalski is looked upon as one of the most hated villains in wrestling history, a legend who belongs in every wrestling Hall of Fame imaginable.
Beyond that, he is the type of performer whose image will burn in our brains forever, even for those who only saw him clobber his opponents on video. That kind of legacy is what is up for grabs for Ambrose as he continues to build his resume and try to infect us with his madness.
Be sure to check out previous installments in this ongoing series: