Dean Ambrose is leaving WWE when his contract is up in April, meaning the period leading up to WrestleMania 35 will be the last we'll see of him for a while, if not forever.
Not only is this the most important season for the company's writing team to utilize talent to its maximum potential, it's also crucial for The Lunatic Fringe.
These remaining days will be tricky waters to navigate, and the way he is booked needs serious consideration and planning.
Both WWE and Ambrose are keeping quiet on the reasons for his exit from the company.
Is he leaving because he's burned out on wrestling in general and wants time away from the business before coming back? Is he gone for good and hoping to change careers entirely? Or is it just a problem with WWE, and Ambrose wants to try his luck at another company like All Elite Wrestling?
All three possibilities require different approaches to booking his Road to WrestleMania.
Scenario 1: Ambrose is Leaving Wrestling for Good
Ambrose is one of the biggest stars WWE has created over the past decade. If he has to retire from wrestling, there should be no ill-will toward him.
The Lunatic Fringe should be booked in a sympathetic light so fans can celebrate his career, rather than continue to pity him as he's been written over the past few months.
In his current feud with EC3, Ambrose is a tool to put over the younger star: He was slapped in the face and lost last week on Raw, which isn't the best way to hang up his boots.
He should move on from this feud with and finish his career with something where he can be the true focal point.
When someone retires, the easy call is usually to make them a babyface so fans can cheer them when they take their leave. However, Ambrose has always played to the beat of a different drum and may want to go out as a heel instead.
The real trick is letting him have control of his own destiny. Whatever he would rather do as his final storyline, he should be given the creative freedom to achieve it.
WWE should relinquish that control, step aside and essentially just give him the platform. Ambrose can then do the booking himself.
That includes handpicking who his final opponent will be, whether he'll win or lose at WrestleMania on April 7, what stories he wants to tell over the next month leading up to The Show of Shows and so on.
The Lunatic Fringe is unpredictable, so nobody knows what his vision for a perfect retirement may be. At the very least, though, we do know it will be interesting.
Scenario 2: Ambrose is Just Taking Time Off and Will Return to WWE
Hopefully, this isn't the end and Ambrose will be back in WWE at some point. If that's the case, the company can be a little more care-free in booking him, as there doesn't need to be any real finality.
Instead of plotting a course to a particular goal at WrestleMania, The Lunatic should be used as an enhancement talent along the way.
His feud with EC3 should continue for now, with the plan being to put over the main roster newcomer. He needs the win more, as he's the one who will be sticking around. They can have their blowoff at Fastlane.
Another thing that needs to be wrapped up is Ambrose's storyline with Nia Jax. That doesn't have the legs to last until WrestleMania, so that should also be finished come the Fastlane pay-per-view on March 10.
In the remaining few weeks, The Lunatic should mingle in the midcard scene and not be a focal point. Since he's leaving, it's OK for him to be lost in the shuffle.
He can lose a variety of matches against wrestlers such as Bobby Lashley, Finn Balor, Elias, Dolph Ziggler and others who may be in contention for the Intercontinental Championship.
Ambrose can either finish up at WrestleMania as one of the many people fighting for that belt in a multi-man match of sorts, or even be a smaller cog in the machine by competing in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and increasing the star power of that match.
Over the next few weeks, Ambrose would be a stepping stone for others to reach a higher spot on the totem pole, rather than being someone WWE invests in.
Whenever he's ready to return, he can come back with fanfare and be a top guy as previously. For now, though, he should be a team player and help lift up his coworkers.
Scenario 3: Ambrose is Signing with Another Wrestling Company
Things can turn much more sour if Ambrose is abandoning WWE and signing with AEW, Impact Wrestling or another competitor. Then, the more vindictive side of booking could come out.
WWE doesn't have to be vengeful and might not want to act out of spite due to Ambrose's wife, Renee Young, still being in its employ as a commentator, but the idea of burying The Lunatic on his way out is worth discussion.
This would diminish his value to a rival company, so he wouldn't appear to be as big a prize for the competition. It's a mean-spirited strategy to stick it to the people who lured Ambrose away.
With this scenario, The Lunatic Fringe should lose to EC3 on the kickoff of Elimination Chamber. Yes, the pre-show, which in itself is a jab, but it would also mean putting the Cruiserweight Championship on the main card and giving 205 Live a better chance to gain new fans.
Leading up to Fastlane, Ambrose could then struggle to find his spot on the roster and question whether he can hang with the rest of the wrestlers. This should lead to bitter resentment at being a failure, causing him to pick fights he continually loses.
One way to culminate that idea is for The Lunatic to be the first person eliminated in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in humiliating fashion. Walking away embarrassed and with no acknowledgment would be an unceremonious way to leave.
That is petty and spiteful, though, so it should be avoided. Instead, Ambrose should be booked in a Loser Leaves Town match to excuse his future absence and put over whoever beats him.
The choice of opponent will be up to WWE as it decides who will be pushed after WrestleMania. It could be EC3, Balor or even a guy like Apollo Crews, who could use the boost.
Alternatively, The Lunatic could be written off via a promo on the first Raw after WrestleMania, in which he complains about his spot in the company before someone like Aleister Black sends him packing.
Black would be the best man for the job as he checks the box for being a potential big star and an exciting main roster call-up. Technically, he also has some history with Ambrose after eliminating him from the Royal Rumble.
The goal would be to spend the next few weeks making Ambrose lose because he's an asset who has more to offer putting others over than being kept strong. WWE doesn't need to protect another company's investment, and it isn't the promotion's responsibility to position him well anymore.
Hopefully, both sides can agree to a cordial parting and not go down the road of burning bridges, but in the world of wrestling, plenty of relationships have survived much worse than a guy being jobbed out before he leaves.
Ultimately, all of this depends on what Ambrose plans for the future. Either he retires as a focal point who can pick and choose his final opponent, he lingers on the losing side of the midcard scene, or he is made to look like an afterthought to downgrade his credibility on the way out of WWE.
Whatever the company decides, let's hope the next few weeks will be entertaining and not a stain on the fascinating career Ambrose has had so far.
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.