At WWE Backlash, AJ Styles defeated Dean Ambrose in the main event to become the WWE Champion for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, The Lunatic Fringe’s title reign ended roughly three months after winning it himself from Seth Rollins at WWE Money in the Bank. Ambrose was able to keep the WWE title through WWE’s brand extension, but WWE officials thought WWE Backlash was the right time to lose it.
There is some debate about when WWE made the decision for the title change or why the title was taken off of Dean Ambrose. A lot of people criticized Ambrose’s WWE title reign for being lackluster. There was some concern about backstage heat on him after his appearance on the “Stone Cold Podcast.” However, it could have just been Styles’ momentum after defeating John Cena at WWE Summerslam was too much and he was in greater need of the WWE Championship. However, it seems like it was all part of WWE’s plan.
At WWE No Mercy, AJ Styles will have his first title defense against both Dean Ambrose and the returning John Cena in a triple threat match. Although the winner could be any of them, there has been a lot of talk about Cena’s hiatus taking place shortly after WWE No Mercy, but that distraction has allowed the rumors about Ambrose to split under the radar because he may be taking a hiatus from WWE programming as well.
According to a recent report, Dean Ambrose is expected to take some time off of WWE television and the weekly grind of being on the road. The Lunatic Fringe has been one of the most consistent workhorses in WWE essentially since debuting with The Shield back in 2012 and hasn’t taken much time off from WWE.
However, his hiatus will involve some work with WWE Studios. Ambrose will begin filming another movie in November, which is rumored to be shooting through early 2017. On paper, that could mean that Ambrose won’t be back on SmackDown or WWE programming until just before or at WWE Royal Rumble. There is not any word on how Ambrose would be written off WWE television, but the angle will take place very soon.
John Cena taking a hiatus is a big hit, but he’s been doing that for the entire year, so it’s not that far out of left field. WWE officials must have been comfortable knowing they had Dean Ambrose to carry the load as a top face for the company throughout 2016, but now he’ll be taking time off WWE programming as well. It’ll be interesting to see what WWE does in their absence, especially since SmackDown is losing its top face.
The belief seems to be that AJ Styles will be holding onto the WWE Championship for the foreseeable future even if Dean Ambrose is on SmackDown’s weekly programming. Therefore, The Phenomenal One will be carrying the brand into 2017, but he’s going to need top faces to wrestle and SmackDown isn’t overflowing with top guys at the moment.
Of course, there is Randy Orton and a few others. The WWE Universe should expect a major NXT “call-up” when the time is right. Samoa Joe may be the perfect guy to fill the spot left open by the absence of Ambrose and Cena. Obviously, that will leave SmackDown with an even deeper roster when they return to the brand.
For Dean Ambrose, this could be the best thing for him to breathe for a few months, get more experience with the movie, and come back with fresh eyes. If the WWE Universe was picking up that Ambrose’s in-ring work was getting lackluster, that could be an indication that his heart isn’t in the ring right now, and he needs a break. After WWE No Mercy, keep your eyes on Dean Ambrose. You may not be able to for awhile.
[Image via WWE.com]