The Wrestler of the Week award is designed to highlight a wrestler who made the most of his or her opportunities in a given week. While great matches or memorable promos certainly help a wrestler win Wrestler of the Week, the ultimate decision will also include consistency through the week and bonus points for pulling off a task with a higher degree of difficulty.
5/7/14 Wrestler of the Week – Dean Ambrose
Some weeks are more fun than others to review and determine a Wrestler of the Week. The last seven days were among the most fun due to the combination of a high level of activity and some excellent action. Cesaro was busy and looked good, particularly in his Extreme Rules win over Jack Swagger and Rob Van Dam. Daniel Bryan retained his title in a very fun match over Kane, though his week was dampened by a pretty lame supernatural story on Raw. Ambrose’s Shield-mates were outstanding, too, as Roman Reigns got the emotional pin on Batista and Seth Rollins made the most indelible impact with a splash from the concourse to the arena floor on HHH and Randy Orton. Nonetheless, Ambrose worked like crazy on Smackdown, Extreme Rules, and Raw and reminded everyone that there is no third best wrestler in The Shield.
Ambrose was the target of The Authority’s angst toward The Shield starting on Smackdown when he had to defend his U.S. Title against Ryback, Curtis Axel, and Alberto Del Rio. Rybaxel teamed up through much of the match and Del Rio joined them occasionally to stack the odds even more against Ambrose. He managed to survive until the three heels hit finishers on one another. Ambrose took advantage with a rollup on Axel and retained his title. As the heels ganged up on him again, Rollins and Reigns came to Ambrose’s aide and they teamed up to take out the opponents and stand tall.
At Extreme Rules, Ambrose did not do the most memorable things from his team’s match with Evolution, but he played an invaluable role that helped make the match as entertaining as it was. Ambrose got isolated by Evolution early in the match and took a long, slow beating from HHH, Orton, and Batista to build tension and whet fans’ appetites for the high flying that would come later. One of the many reasons the six-man tag match was one of the best matches of the year was that it established stakes and built emotional investment early, and Ambrose’s selling and psychology helped tremendously with that achievement.
If those two accomplishments were enough, Ambrose went on to Raw to pull double duty. He had one of his more impressive singles performances in a 20-man battle royal for his U.S. Title. Ambrose struggled through 18 opponents and creatively knocked Ryback from the apron with a dropkick to the big guy’s knees. As Ambrose recovered from the scuffle, Sheamus Brogue Kicked him and eliminated him to win the U.S. Title. Ambrose’s job in the match was to make himself sympathetic and resilient while he conceded the title to someone who has more time to defend it and elevate it. Once again, he did exactly what he needed to do. Finally, Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns faced the Wyatt Family in the main event and Ambrose more than pulled his weight despite his lengthy effort earlier in the night. I expected Rollins and Reigns to carry most of the match, but Ambrose had a very big part in what turned into another fun match.
Many of the things that make Ambrose special are nuanced and hard to see on a weekly basis. Sure, his promo skills are miles ahead of his teammates (and just about everyone else), but his ability to structure a match in interesting and different ways, as well as his unique selling and mannerisms in the ring are less obvious skills. I have a fear that Ambrose will not get the individual pushes he deserves because he will always be able to make lemonade out of lemons and does not need much special attention to get over. Those same skills give him a unique ability to be a star unlike anyone who has come before him. We saw hints of that ability last week and we can only hope he gets the chance to do more of it in the future.