As expected, Dean Ambrose was written off WWE television last Monday in an elaborate injury angle during his match with Seth Rollins.
In real life, the star is taking time away to film WWE Studios' new movie Lockdown, an action thriller set in a corrupt police station (Variety has the details here).
But just how do the writers intend to promote his return to programming when he eventually resurfaces?
Logically, his first course of action should be to gain revenge on Rollins. In the storyline, Rollins has betrayed, mocked and belittled Ambrose and is now responsible for a devastating injury.
Considering Ambrose's erratic on-screen personality, fans shouldn't expect him to announce his grand return beforehand. Most likely, he'll just shockingly run in and attack Rollins during some random backstage segment.
Who knows? He might even hide in a car trunk and wait for the right time to attack his foe, as he famously did at the Battleground pay-per-view last month.
Expect him to also go after Kane, who aided in last week's vicious assault.
Ideally, WWE will book Ambrose and Rollins to feud for a couple of months and then finish up by the end of the year, before the rivalry becomes stale.
Personally, I'd like to see Ambrose ultimately win their program. Rollins has the Money in the Bank title shot to help him stay relevant and can probably afford the loss. Ambrose, meanwhile, probably needs a strong win on pay-per-view to help establish his credibility.
Even when he does finish up his program with Rollins, it would be nice to see him continue to feud with The Authority. A program with Randy Orton sounds like a promising idea—the two have had solid matches together in the past, and it would be a fresh rivalry.
His reckless, anti-corporate persona is the perfect contrast with the rigid and arrogant on-screen personalities of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Just like with Daniel Bryan before him, the McMahons could complain that Ambrose isn't a genuine star. They could grumble about his grubby, cheap clothes and untidy appearance and say he’s not fit to represent a corporate company.
This would also potentially position him as this era's Steve Austin. He can be the crazy butt-kicking babyface who refuses to play by the rules and do what his annoying bosses tell him to do. Certainly, Ambrose has an intense physical charisma and rugged charm similar to Austin in his prime. It’s not a stretch to say he could have similar success.
Can Dean Ambrose be a big babyface main eventer when he comes back?
Booked correctly, he could be massively over with the fans. Going by the WWE programming, the company has clearly positioned Roman Reigns as the Shield member destined to be the next big babyface. But honestly, I’d argue Ambrose has shown much more potential over the last two months.
Does WWE know what it has in him? We will have to wait until he returns in a couple of months to find out. But let’s hope it does—because he really is tremendous.