By Carley Dangona
WWE superstar Dean Ambrose stands over his opponent Dolph Ziggler.
Photo courtesy of WWE Inc.
BOSTON – The WWE rolls into Boston on March 25 at 7 p.m. in the TD Garden for Smackdown. Featured superstars include The Shield, The Wyatt Family, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and John Cena. Tickets start at $20.
Prior to the show, this reporter had the chance to speak with Dean Ambrose of The Shield, one of the most dominant factions in WWE history. He and his cohorts, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, have ruled the ring since they debuted at the 2012 Survivor Series. The current scenario implies there are “cracks” in The Shield, but they say otherwise.
Ambrose told Reminder Publications, “On the real, from the day we started this and had this opportunity, it was ‘O.K., screw everybody else in the world. We’re going to take over this company and this business for the next 10 years, whatever it is. We’ll fight whatever battles we need to fight together and we’ll stick together and have each other’s backs in circumstances.’ It was an all-for-one, one-for-all mentality. And we’ve done that and it’s been successful. I think you see that and it comes off as very real, cause it is real.
“Does that mean we have to be finishing each other’s sentences and smiling and happy, high fiving all the time? No. Did Guns N’ Roses like each other every night? No. Did the Kinks like each other? No. Ray Davies and his brother hated each other, but onstage, magic.
“As long as the three of us can get to the ring together, that magic that happens when all three of us are together is going to happen, whether we were arguing about who gets to sit in the front seat earlier in the night. By the time we get out in front of the audience, that magic’s going to happen,” he concluded.
Ambrose, born Jonathan Good, hails from Cincinnati, Ohio. He knew from childhood that he would one day become a wrestler. He started his career in 2004 under the moniker Jon Moxley. He worked the independent circuit for companies such as Insanity Pro Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), Dragon Gate USA and Ring of Honor. He was signed to Florida Championship Wrestling – the developmental franchise of the WWE – in 2011. Ambrose is the current United States Champion, which he won at Extreme Rules in May 2013.
He said, “My favorite part of the job now is – I think it’s the same for everybody – from the moment you walk through the curtain to the moment you walk back behind the curtain. It’s being in front of the audience and letting it all hang out, whether you’re on TV or not, or a live event or pay-per-view. Any time the red light of the camera’s on. It’s a great escape. That we have the opportunity to do something that’s so much fun for a living is a real blessing.
“No matter how bad your day’s going, whether your flight’s delayed or whether you got stuck in traffic or whether you’re hurt, sore, tired, whatever it is – your puppy died – whatever’s going bad, once you’re out there in front of the crowd, feeling the energy and having fun letting it all hang out – that’s the payoff to me.
“The work for me is traveling, getting in and out of the buildings and stuff like that. The pay is getting the chance to wrestle in front of the entire world on TV, in front of big crowds, just being in front of the audience getting to do what you love to do. Just performing. I love performing whether it’s a live event or a pay-per-view or whatever it is; any time that red light of the camera is on. That’s the fun part for me.”
On this year’s episode of “Old School Raw,” Ambrose had the good fortune to work with wrestling legends Rowdy Piper and Jake the Snake Roberts – a highlight for him as a lifelong fan of the industry.
“He [Piper] was from two eras before me, so he’s a guy you never think you’re never going to get a chance to work with. When I found out I was going to get the opportunity to do that, it was like ‘whoa.’ When you’re on the ride and you’re going so fast, it’s hard to stop and smell the roses. That was one of the things where you had to go ‘I’m on Piper’s Pit right now, that’s crazy. The real Piper’s Pit right here in front of me. That’s crazy.’ It’s hard to – I keep saying it – but it’s another one of those things that’s hard to wrap your brain around.
“Seeing his thought process before he [Piper] does something – it’s much different today because back when he did it was all him and it was wild west and he just did and said whatever he wanted – so it’s a little bit different today; watching him work, watching him go through his process was really cool to me and really interesting. Working with him beforehand, just kind of sharing some back and forth in preparation for it was really cool.
“Going out there on live TV with a mic against Rowdy Piper is like going out there and hitting against the best pitcher in baseball or going out there and fighting Mike Tyson on TV. It’s like having a loaded gun with Rowdy Piper with a mic in his hand. You’re out there against the absolute best with a mic in his hand. That’s a rush.
“I didn’t know until very late about the Jake the Snake deal. That was cool too, another icing on the cake, bucket list thing. Everybody was giving me crap because I was laughing when the snake was on me. The reason I was smiling is because I could not stop laughing. It happened so quickly. The whole thing was like ‘O.K. Jake the Snake’s here. What? Of course he is.’ And, the whole thing was like some wacky; trippy I drank too much cough medicine reality,” Ambrose concluded.
Ambrose himself has quite a fan following, mostly female. He admitted that he’s aware of the online chatter, but doesn’t get too caught up in it. As for social media – forget about it. He doesn’t post on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
He said, “I probably don’t have any more of a bigger following on the Internet than anybody else does, I just probably have a stranger one. I don’t know where that comes from. Maybe it’s just the kind of person I attract. I’m aware that that’s there, but I try to not pay too close attention to it, unless for simple entertainment purposes. As far as social media and all that, I understand connecting with fans on a different level, but I don’t feel the need to open myself up to the opinion of everybody in the world with a phone or computer. I just don’t get that; being connected to everybody on such a superficial level like that. It’s not really for me.
“There’s a kind of mystery when you don’t put yourself out like that. When you don’t put yourself out like that, people start to kind of create their own version of you in their head of what you really are like or who you really are and things about you become rumors and all that becomes true. People’s perception of me they haven’t even realized is probably so, or it might be kind of real, but maybe they know but [maybe] they don’t. No one really has any idea about me. To me, what I give you is what happens onscreen and past that, anything you’re coming up with in your own head you’re creating in your own mind. But it’s cool. I’d rather have too many weird fans than no fans at all. I love all those crazy girls,” Ambrose continued.
He shared his most interesting type of fan encounter. He said, “I don’t know that there’s one in particular. For instance, going to Australia, which I don’t even know that I’ve been on that hemisphere before. Seeing people with pictures of you and T-shirts of you and they’re huge fans and want to talk to you and ask you questions about stuff you did years before, or even stuff you did last week on ‘Raw’ and you’ve never been there. It’s hard to wrap your brain around that these people on the other side of the world are familiar with your stuff. It’s really crazy.”
Ambrose added, “When you go places that you’ve never been before like I remember landing in France or something and we were going to the bus and there was a group of fans outside with CZW T-shirts and they were going ‘CZW, CZW’ and were freaking out. I was like, ‘Really? I’ve never been to France.’ Stuff you do has so much reach. WWE has such global reach, so when you see that firsthand – that’s the trippy part to me.”
While he loves performing, Ambrose isn’t too keen on seeing himself in the company video game or morphed into an action figure.
He admitted, “It’s really hard to wrap your brain around that stuff. You know, like the first time I saw myself in that videogame; I’ve never even played that video game because it was just too weird for me. I saw a couple clips of it and I was just like ‘whoa, that’s just crazy.’ The first time someone handed me my toy I went, ‘Oh, get this away from me, this is weird, I don’t even want to think about this.’ My brain can’t wrap around that all that stuff goes on. So I just say ‘O.K., that’s cool.’
“The whole thing, you know, the whole past year and a half has been really, really surreal. It doesn’t really register too much. I try to not think about stuff like that. Getting to do the outrageous things like working with the top-level guys we’ve gotten to work with and be on ‘WrestleMania,’ traveling to 20 different countries or something and going to all these different places, you know, having that taste of success. I try to enjoy it but I try not to worry about it or get too caught up in it. I don’t want anything like that to go to my head and distract me from what I’m doing. Any of that could go away at any moment. I’m just fortunate and lucky, so I don’t want to dwell on anything too much and let it go to my head,” he added.
Ambrose is billed at 6-feet, 4-inches and 224 pounds. He has an aggressive, take-his-opponent-out-at-all-costs approach, even if it means incurring bodily harm himself.
When asked about his in-ring style, Ambrose responded, “I was lucky enough to have a good amount of experience and time in the ring doing a lot of different styles, being in a lot of different places and different countries in front of different audiences, so I got to try a lot of things and dabble in a lot of different styles, try things that didn’t work and things that did work. It really gave me a lot of time to develop and really kind of find the stuff that works for me and the stuff that didn’t and the stuff that felt natural to me.
“I try not to do anything that doesn’t feel natural in who I am and what I do. By the time I come through the curtain I’m 100 percent there. It’s not like I’m just out there doing stuff. If it’s not something that doesn’t feel right for me to do, then I’m not going to do it. I’m not just going to do a move just to do a move. Whether it’s biting somebody or gouging somebody’s eyes, if it feels natural to me of what I would do in that scenario, that’s what I’m going to do because I’m just there, mentally.
“I had a good amount of time to really hash all that out and add my own style and quirks and little things that made me myself before I even got here and got to turn, that into the WWE version, which is still a work in progress. You always try and get better. I let it come naturally over time. And, it will still evolve. The wrestler that I am now probably won’t look the same, as it will five years from now. I mean, you never know,” he continued.
The recently launched WWE Network is one means Ambrose uses to study his craft.
He said, “If you like watching wrestling, which I do, then it’s a dream. You can see so much – every pay-per-view ever from any company. I was going back and watching ‘ECW Heatwave’ the other day. You can go back and watch stuff that you even forgot happened or stuff that you’ve never seen before and relive it. I like all eras of wrestling from all different territories and companies. I like learning from everything and I am constantly studying and trying to look at stuff and see how stuff was and what worked and what doesn’t.
“From my perspective, it’s a great tool to go back and be able to see the business evolving, see different stuff and the different people you forgot about or didn’t know existed or hadn’t seen before. Reliving all that old [inaudible] stuff you used to watch. If you’re a new fan or if this is the first day you’ve ever been a fan of the WWE, you have the entire history of WWE at your fingertips to go back and watch and become educated on. If you’re an old fan, you can go back and watch the stuff you remember. It’s mind-blowing how much is right at your fingertips. It’s a great time to be a WWE fan.”
And then there’s the dancing, which he genuinely seemed unaware that he did. Whether it’s during a match, his entrance or a promo, Ambrose is known to suddenly start moving to the beat in his head.
Ambrose paused and then answered, “Dancing? Hmmm. Um, I don’t know that I ever consciously ever incorporated any dancing into my routine. When I’m out there and I’m just lost in it, like, I’m so comfortable in my own skin and so confident in what I can do that, to me, I’m just having so much fun doing what I’m doing, whether I’m getting beat up or I’m beating people up. The more crazy and the more intense and wild the fight’s getting, I’m just having more fun.
“The more the pressure is on, the more intense the situation is – I just live in those moments and I’m just comfortable in them so when stuff like that sneaks out, then it sneaks out. I’m just out there doing whatever the first thing [that comes to my mind], I’m not thinking about what I’m doing out there. I’m just doing stuff. It comes pretty naturally to me,” he continued.
He is also known for his promos. He can quickly go from sexy to goofy.
“It’s the same thing as performing in the ring. As the old saying goes, ‘You’re just yourself with the volume turned up,’” Ambrose said. “To me, I try not to do anything that is not authentic. If it’s not something I would feel like saying or doing, then I either won’t do it or I’ll try to work it into a way that feels right.
“When I’m doing promos or whatever – you just have to put yourself there. That’s the way I do it anyway. Even down to the little things, you have to put yourself in the moment whether it’s a promo where you’re supposed to be pissed off about something, you need to get yourself there mentally so you’re pissed off so that all the little things and everything you’re doing comes off authentically. Me being authentic is really important to everything I’m doing. Everything I do is real in one way or another,” Ambrose continued.
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