For as much as some people don't see the forest from the trees with regards to John Cena winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship last night at Money in the Bank in Boston, WWE is clearly trying to elevate a number of wrestlers right now:
- Bray Wyatt is the centerpiece of billboard advertising campaigns for a number of house shows and is clearly being groomed for a babyface turn down the line.
- Roman Reigns is a highly protected babyface who always gets the better of The Authority.
- Seth Rollins is being groomed as a top heel.
- Rusev is being brought along slowly but is being set up to be an Umaga-esque monster heel.
- Dean Ambrose isn't being positioned as someone who's going to be "the guy" like Reigns but is clearly being groomed as a top guy and getting over as well as anyone.
When the inevitable split of The Shield was initially speculated about, the conventional wisdom was that Rollins would be the odd man out. Reigns is the guy seen as the future of the company, while Ambrose is a great talker in a company that needs great talkers and doesn't have enough of them. Rollins, while actually pretty tall, is still a somewhat skinny (by WWE standards) workhorse who does high flying "small wrestler" moves in a company where that won't necessarily get you ahead.
Then Rollins turned heel on Reigns and Ambrose. Rollins was obviously being set up as a top heel by virtue of how that went down and Reigns was still being set up as the future of WWE. It seemed natural that Reigns would get the singles feud with Rollins since they were a regular tag team and Rollins is somehow who could give Reigns great matches for his first singles program. Instead, Reigns moved on quickly and Ambrose got the feud with Rollins.
Seemingly out of nowhere, though, Ambrose has picked up a ton of steam as a babyface. With his promo and in-ring style as a heel, I'm not sure anyone expected it, but he's an absolutely phenomenal babyface worker in the ring who gains a lot from having a unique style that's completely unlike anyone else's. As good as Rollins is and as much potential as Reigns has, Ambrose is the only one whose singles matches feel like The Shield's crazy tag-team matches together.
Aside from the way female fans have latched onto them (and even then, they're two very different types), Ambrose is picking up steam as a babyface for completely different reasons from Reigns. Reigns is on the road to being a top guy because he's a super-charismatic powerhouse and a long-haired, more traditionally handsome guy who looks like he'd could be cast as a werewolf for True Blood. Ambrose is a weirdly likable crazy guy who has the best babyface comeback in the business right now.
As much as the fans were into Roman Reigns during the main event and Daniel Bryan for his pre-show promo, Dean Ambrose came off as the biggest star babyface on the show last night. The crowd in Boston was already really into him, but the match was booked really well to amplify the reaction and protect him. Not only did he get one of the big crazy showcase spots (superplex off a ladder), but he also:
- Toughed it out through an injury.
- Got to finally beat the hell out of Rollins with a chair.
- Was the rightful winner of the match.
- Only lost because of gratuitous outside interference.
I have some fear that, like with Daniel Bryan, they may not quite get what they have in him. Not to the same extent; Ambrose was much more protected in losing than Bryan was for a while, but I'm not sure they see him at the same level of future star as Reigns or the next tier down like Bray Wyatt. With how modern WWE crowds react, though, they may have no choice, especially if there's resentment that Reigns is too green to have strong singles main events.