Dean Ambrose and 14 WWE Stars Off to Rough Starts in 2019

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2019

Dean Ambrose and 14 WWE Stars Off to Rough Starts in 2019

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    January is the time of New Year's resolutions and making promises to do better over the next few months, but for some WWE Superstars, 2019 hasn't been going all too well.

    The opening month of the year saw some wrestlers receive some major accolades, such as Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch, who won the Royal Rumble matches. However, others have suffered the slings and arrows of misfortune and are in worse spots than they were heading into this year.

    Whether it be due to injuries, losses, being forgotten about on a creative spectrum or hitting any other kinds of ruts, there are more than a dozen Superstars on Raw and SmackDown who probably wish they could restart the year and avoid those problems.

    Sadly, they can't, which is why folks like Dean Ambrose and the rest of the men and women on this list have gotten off 2019 to a rough start in 2019.

The Authors of Pain

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    This certainly doesn't look like the destructive tag team AOP used to be.
    This certainly doesn't look like the destructive tag team AOP used to be.Credit:

    After a dominant stint in NXT, The Authors of Pain came up to the main roster last year with a ton of momentum on their side and were seemingly guaranteed to be heading toward the top of the tag team division in no time.

    There were numerous missteps along the way, getting rid of manager Paul Ellering, eventually replacing him with Drake Maverick and getting involved in a terrible urination storyline, but they did manage to capture the Raw Tag Team Championships.

    Unfortunately, at the tail end of 2018, they lost those titles to Bobby Roode and Chad Gable and haven't been able to bounce back. Instead, things have only gotten worse.

    Rather than spending January fighting to regain the belts, Akam has been out of action with an injury, forcing Rezar to do nothing but work house shows.

    That is, until Royal Rumble, when he teamed with Scott Dawson and lost again to Roode and Gable, which also prevented AOP from getting another title shot in the near future.

    Not having half the team healthy enough to perform and sitting on the sidelines as losers unable to turn things around is a terrible start to 2019 for AOP. Here's hoping things pick up once Akam is able to step back into the ring.

Ember Moon

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    Counting live events, Ember Moon has wrestled a grand total of nine matches in 2019, and every one of them was a tag team affair of some sort, save for the Royal Rumble match.

    To be fair, she hasn't done bad when it comes to statistics, as she's won all but two of those bouts, but they were all on house shows, which don't matter.

    If the only problem were that Moon wasn't at the forefront of a push, it wouldn't be so awful, but she has other issues weighing her down.

    During her loss at Royal Rumble, she managed to injure her elbow, which will require her to undergo surgery and be out an undisclosed amount of time.

    That means while she's healing up, she will have to watch everyone else progressing at Elimination Chamber and beyond.

    If she isn't cleared in time, she could also miss out on WrestleMania activities, such as the Women's Battle Royal, if that were to return, because she would at least be wrestling there under normal circumstances.

    The silver lining is that this break might allow her to heal any other nagging injuries, and when she comes back, WWE might be ready to renew some pushes via the Superstar Shake-up and thus give her a new lease on life.

Dean Ambrose

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    On January 14, only one month after winning the Intercontinental Championship from Seth Rollins at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Dean Ambrose lost the title to Bobby Lashley in a Triple Threat match.

    To make it sting even more, Ambrose was the one pinned, so there wasn't even an excuse that he lost the championship without being beaten. This was a definitive loss that WWE quickly swept under the rug and moved on from.

    Since then, Ambrose has suffered a series of losses on the live event circuit to Rollins before entering the Royal Rumble, coming up short in that match too.

    After picking a fight on Raw, he lost once again to Rollins and before he was able to vent his frustrations, he was humiliated by Nia Jax, who booted him out of the ring.

    WWE has since reported that Ambrose won't be renewing his contract with the promotion. Whether that's true or just a storyline remains to be seen, but if it's legitimate, that would mean Ambrose is being embarrassed on his way out of WWE.

    If he's moving on to new pastures, it would be good for him. But his future is uncertain, and we can only look at the here and now, which isn't looking all too great.

    Losing a title, failing to win an important match, coming up short four times against your archenemy and being made to look like a fool on your way out the door is not how anybody would want to start their year.

Lana, Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura

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    After months of doing nothing of relevance—or at all—on SmackDown Live, Shinsuke Nakamura lost the United States Championship to Rusev on the Christmas episode and didn't wrestle a single match on television again until Tuesday.

    The same went for Rusev and Lana, as all three participants in this feud were afterthoughts when the writers planned out the matches for SmackDown in January.

    They did manage to have a segment wherein Lana was injured, though, which is not a good thing for The Ravishing Russian and The Bulgarian Brute.

    This narrative continued into Royal Rumble's kickoff, during which Lana once again fell victim to an injury, causing Rusev to lose the match and drop the title back to Nakamura.

    Lana was unable to compete in the Royal Rumble match, and her spot was taken by Becky Lynch, who won the whole thing, which rubs salt in the wound.

    Royal Rumble was a good night for Nakamura, as it seemed he would be turning things around, but two days later, he lost the United States Championship to R-Truth in an upset.

    Then Rusev failed in his attempt to regain the title, also losing to Truth.

    Somehow, over the course of wrestling two matches in the span of more than a month, Rusev lost a title, Nakamura lost it twice and Lana was injured twice.

    Yet somehow this trio thinks it's a good idea to team up on the forthcoming SmackDown against The Good Brothers rather than stay far away from each other?!

No Way Jose and Royal Rumble Rejects

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    No Way Jose hasn't exactly had a good year in any year that he's been in WWE, as he's been used as a comedic jobber pretty much from the start.

    However, he's the perfect wrestler to be the figurehead of the rejects from the Royal Rumble, as his actions are indicative of so many other people who also could have been chosen for this distinction.

    Where he edges out the rest of the names is that he managed to be eliminated faster than anybody on the Royal Rumble card in either of the two matches.

    For context, Liv Morgan had the shortest time in the women's match, lasting eight seconds. No Way Jose only lasted two.

    Others who had terrible performances in the match were Xavier Woods at three seconds, Titus O'Neil with five seconds, Bobby Lashley with 13 seconds (but his Intercontinental Championship win far exceeds that loss) and Jinder Mahal, a former WWE champion, lasted only 30 seconds.

    But that's not all to be spoken of when referring to people who aren't having a good start to 2019 in regard to the Royal Rumble event, as there were also tons of Superstars who weren't even considered important enough to be put in the match.

    Raw was missing The B-Team, Bray Wyatt, Heath Slater, The Ascension, Mojo Rawley, Rhyno, Tyler Breeze and Zack Ryder. On the SmackDown side, Aiden English, Sanity, The Colons, The Usos and The Good Brothers also didn't compete at the event.

    Is it better to have made an appearance and been booked like a total loser or to have been someone WWE didn't want to put on the card at all?

Kurt Angle

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    Kurt Angle lost to Drew McIntyre in November and still hasn't shaken off that bad energy, as his performances in 2019 haven't been going so well.

    Despite being a Hall of Famer and a multi-time world champion in and outside of WWE, Angle was the second person eliminated in the Royal Rumble, lasting slightly more than three minutes.

    The Olympic gold medalist could have bounced back after that embarrassment, but he followed it up with a loss against Baron Corbin on Monday Night Raw after an interview wherein he was reminded of how he had been humiliated by McIntyre a while back.

    This must be an attempt to build sympathy for him, and it's working, because it just seems sad to see someone who was once at the top of the industry being booked like he's on the same level as Curt Hawkins.

    Where Angle goes from here and how this factors into WrestleMania is unknown, but a comeback story would be a good means to turn around his 2019 from this terrible start.

Mike and Maria Kanellis

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    Mike Kanellis hasn't accomplished squat since coming to WWE in June 2017, spending nearly all of his time out of action or pushed off to the side. Even when he does compete, he tends to lose.

    A move to 205 Live seemed like it could rejuvenate his career, but in January, Mike and Maria had to inform Drake Maverick that it had been five weeks since they had even appeared on the program at all, leaving out that Mike had lost all of his previous matches anyway since October 23.

    On Tuesday, he got his chance to showcase his talents, but he was defeated once more by Kalisto.

    Meanwhile, Maria finally sprung to action on her own by being arguably the worst performer in the Royal Rumble, having a ridiculously stupid segment dedicated to her stomping on Alicia Fox's hat.

    If these two are considering leaving WWE, it's a wonder why the company doesn't just let them go because it doesn't appear 2019 is going to be any different from 2018 or 2017.

EC3 and Lars Sullivan

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    Two of these things just aren't like the others. Two of these things clearly don't belong.
    Two of these things just aren't like the others. Two of these things clearly don't belong.Credit:

    For weeks, WWE has been promoting a handful of NXT stars who have been called up to the main roster.

    Nikki Cross and Lacey Evans started to make their mark by competing in the Royal Rumble, and Heavy Machinery fought for a shot at the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. All four of them have made numerous appearances.

    So where are EC3 and Lars Sullivan, then? Why is it February and neither of them has done anything?

    With Sullivan, he supposedly suffered a panic attack and has been dealing with anxiety issues that killed plans for him to start a feud with John Cena, per WhatCulture. That's an awful way to start the year, especially since nothing has been done to rectify that by using him in another fashion.

    When it comes to EC3, WWE just hasn't bothered with him beyond showing him a handful of times hanging out backstage, smiling.

    Why wasn't he in the Royal Rumble? How has this long gone by without him wrestling a single match on Raw or SmackDown against anybody, even if it's just a short squash against Epico or something?

    As WWE sets up Elimination Chamber without either of their involvement and with Fastlane quickly approaching, these two are heading down a path of being left off the WrestleMania card entirely or just filling up space in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal rather than having featured roles to start their main-roster runs.

Jeff Jarrett

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    You can call it a win that Jeff Jarrett has made more appearances on WWE television in the past week than the past several months combined, but in doing so, he hasn't had much of a fun time.

    At Royal Rumble, he entered at No. 2 and, within 80 seconds, took a guitar shot from Elias and was unceremoniously dumped over the top rope in the first elimination of the match.

    The next night on Raw, Jarrett came out to pick a fight with Elias and suffered again, being nailed with another guitar rather than getting his vengeance.

    Perhaps the third time is the charm, and Jarrett will be able to do something to get back at Elias for making him sing the blues. But it could just be a case wherein the third strike means Jarrett's out, instead, based off how he's fared.

    There's still plenty of time for Jarrett to change his tune, but for now, 2019 has consisted of being beaten up twice and humiliated rather than winning a title shot at WrestleMania. That surely isn't how he planned for things to go down.


    Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.