Examining WWE's booking over the past year, it's abundantly clear that the company thought Roman Reigns was meant to be the true star of The Shield all along.
Neither Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins, while treated fairly well, ever got anything close to the same attention, hype or portion of the limelight.
It's easy to see why: Reigns has the size and charisma Vince McMahon tends to overwhelmingly prefer in his top stars.
Reigns has performed adequately in his spot—and may very well end up a popular main event headliner—but following The Shield's breakup last month, it's actually Ambrose that has emerged as a future megastar.
His heated and deeply personal feud with former friend Rollins has become a highlight of an otherwise stagnant WWE product. It's easily the best thing the company has going on right now, and this is mainly thanks to the great work of Ambrose.
The former Dragon Gate USA star has always had charisma, verbal skills and ring presence in spades—when he was first called up in 2012, Jim Ross and others aptly compared him to mic legends like Roddy Piper and Brian Pillman.
He frequently shined in The Shield's various interview and promo segments. Rollins and Reigns improved gradually over time, but it was obvious Ambrose knew what to do from the start.
While many may have argued in the past that Ambrose had more potential as a heel, I'd say his natural role has always been that of a babyface.
For one thing, he stands out amongst the faces.
Daniel Bryan got over being the nice, down-to-earth good guy fans could relate to, Cena's over-the-top cartoonishness appeals to kids (and no one else), and Reigns is seemingly attempting to recreate Bill Goldberg's success in WCW circa 1998.
Ambrose, however, has something very distinctive about him.
Like Pillman, he exudes a sense of edginess and danger with whatever he does on television. Clad in those ripped jeans and that dirty-looking vest—he doesn’t appear to own any other clothes—he looks like he belongs in ECW in the mid-90s, not WWE in 2014. This works.
In this watered-down, slightly bland PG era, it's quite amazing to watch his gimmick unfold.
He really does come off as crazy—and the fans adore him for it. The strong crowd reactions he received at Money in the Bank—and on subsequent editions of Raw and SmackDown—are evidence of how much the people are getting behind him.
Could Ambrose be the company’s next big babyface star? After all, he has every quality you could wish for and more.
Let’s just hope Vince McMahon and his team of writers feel the same. It would be such a shame to see another up-and-coming star’s potential squandered just because he got over hugely when he wasn’t supposed to.