Before Dean Ambrose debuted as one-third of The Shield alongside Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, WWE officials were planning something different for his main roster debut with AJ Lee. Back in 2012, WWE had a very different kind of product. CM Punk was the WWE Champion, Daniel Bryan was a top heel and was just beginning the “Yes Movement,” and AJ Lee was the hottest performer in WWE for most of the year.
Meanwhile, The Lunatic Fringe, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns, who was wrestling as Leakee, were getting NXT off the ground. Dean Ambrose was one of the most talented young stars in WWE developmental, and it was clear that he’d be a top guy for the company. His main roster debut could have happened at any time.
Eventually, WWE officials pulled the trigger on “The Shield” faction at WWE Survivor Series that year and that set off the chain of events that takes us to the present day. Most people would argue that WWE officials made the right call, but Dean Ambrose almost debuted very differently and alongside AJ Lee back in 2012.
During an interview with PressBox, former WWE writer Kevin Eck revealed some creative pitches that went to Vince McMahon and were turned down. For instance, the idea of Cody Rhodes and his wife Brandi, who worked with WWE as Eden, would have been the new Goldust and Marlena. Eck revealed a lot of scrapped ideas, but he revealed the following about a debut for Ambrose that would have partnered him with AJ Lee.
“My idea was for Bryan’s plan to have AJ committed actually succeed. We’d take her off TV for a little while before bringing her back in dramatic fashion. She would return with her new boyfriend (Ambrose), whom she had met while both were patients in the institution. Ambrose and AJ would wreak havoc, becoming WWE’s version of Bonnie and Clyde (or Mickey and Mallory, to use a less-dated analogy).
Vince McMahon had a different vision. The WWE chairman and CEO loved the AJ character and decided to make her the new “Raw” general manager after she called off the wedding to Bryan. AJ as GM didn’t get over, and her run as an authority figure lasted just three months.”
At the time, AJ Lee could work with any top guy on the roster. She was still red-hot during the summer, so the logic is she would have been a heater for Ambrose, and he would have been made. Ambrose would have had rivalries with CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and many others. The idea could have worked, but the chemistry between Ambrose and AJ would have been the most important factor to make their “relationship” work.
AJ as the Raw General Manager was a creative idea at the time. However, the role didn’t play to AJ’s strong suit as a performer. She was at her best when she was unpredictable. The GM role didn’t allow her to play to her strengths, but it’s understandable why Vince McMahon would go with that idea instead of a relationship with Dean Ambrose. The bright side is that everything worked out for AJ Lee and Dean Ambrose eventually.
AJ Lee as Raw’s General Manager didn’t work. However, she started wrestling in the women’s division and became the longest reigning WWE Divas Champion for awhile. The Lunatic Fringe debuted with The Shield a few months later and is still a top babyface for WWE. Everything worked out, and the idea of putting Dean Ambrose and AJ Lee together was scrapped. It was still an interesting idea that could have worked if given a chance.
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