Following the break up of the incredibly successful stable he was a part of, The Shield, Dean Ambrose has gone on to a very well received solo career in the WWE. This Sunday, he goes into WrestleMania to face six other competitors in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship.
I sat down with Ambrose to speak to him about his Mania match, his feelings on going solo in the past year and his starring role in the upcoming WWE movie, Lockdown.
IGN: I talked to you a year ago at this same time, going into WrestleMania, and obviously a lot has changed since then. When you guys split up The Shield, you didn’t know how things were going to go. How gratifying has it been to see how well received you’ve been as a singles competitor?
Ambrose: It feels very good. The cool thing about now is everything I have now or get now or any success I can scrape up on a daily basis, it’s all mine and I earned it. It belongs solely to me and I don’t have to share it with anybody. I don’t have to worry about anybody. It’s nice being on my own because I don’t have to worry about anybody else. I can try something, try whatever I want, do whatever I want, do my own thing. If something fails, it’s on me. If it does good, it’s on me. I get to reap 100% of the rewards of my work where as before, not as much so it’s nice. It’s nice being on my own. It’s very gratifying. It’ll be gratifying on Sunday to walk out of WrestleMania by myself, 100% on my own. I made it to this match and was able to make this match a very anticipated match on the show.
Everybody wants to be in the main event of WrestleMania and everybody wants the top of the billing kind of thing but my spot on WrestleMania this year is the spot that I earned. Whether it’s the perfect spot… For me this is the best place to be but whether you want to call it the main event or not, I earned my spot on WrestleMania this year through my own hard work so I’ll be able to go out on Sunday and enjoy that. The last two years, WrestleMania was kind of like being part of a football team, walking out together, getting all pumped up like let’s go out there but this year I’ll be able to — this year will be the 16 year old kid who started this walking out on his own at WrestleMania for the first time so there’s something cool with that too.
IGN: You’ve got an interesting mix of guys in your match. Are you excited about seeing the energy of all of you and of course the fact of what kind of match it is?
Ambrose: All of my opponents in this match, it’s the greatest crew of guys you could ask for because it’s a lot of good egos and no bad egos. All six of those other guys are guys that I would love to share the ring with on any other night of the week. All guys that are hungry and have a little bit of competitiveness between us all because we all want to one up each other. Like if Dolph does a nice dropkick. I want to do something else to top that. That’s what really creates magic is when we all start pushing each other a little bit. All guys who want to win the Intercontinental championship but also want to be great Intercontinental champions. Everybody wants to have that WrestleMania moment I guess, so to speak. It’s the perfect crew of guys and it’s cool because it’s such an eclectic mix. We’ve got big dudes, nasty dudes, mean dudes, violent dudes, high-flying dudes. We’ve got a little bit of everything. There’s not anything missing in this match from personality wise to style wise. You could see anything happen on Sunday in this match.
IGN: With The Shield over, you’ve all been successful, but has it been fun for you to see the different routes all the characters have taken?
Ambrose: From day one, The Shield was a vehicle. It wasn’t, “This is what we’re doing for the rest of our lives.” It was this is the vehicle we’ll use to bust into WWE, to ride to the top of it and then we fight each other. That was always the plan. Get to the top of WWE, kick everyone else off the top of the hill and then fight each other. That’s what we did. All of our routes are a little bit different. I’m in a situation where I’m going to have to kind of fight and scratch and claw and earn and scrape my way to the top of the hill kind of thing but that’s fine with me. That feels better for me anyway because the story of Dean Ambrose isn’t a story about riding the express elevator to the top of the penthouse so I really wouldn’t want it that way. We all are going to have our different routes and our different trials and tribulations, so it’s cool.
IGN: You shot a starring role in the upcoming WWE movie, Lockdown. What was that experience like?
Ambrose: Oh, it was really cool. I had no idea how to do a movie or I didn’t know how to act. Well, I guess I knew how to act. I think I did good, but I didn’t know anything about acting. I didn’t know anything about movies. I didn’t know how movies worked. I had never been on a set before. They were just like, “Do you want to do a movie?” And I was like, “Get out of here. Really? Sure… What do I do?” Then finding out I was the lead character, I actually told the producer just to give him a heads up, “You understand I have no idea what I’m doing? Like I’m completely unqualified for this, right?” And he’s like, “Oh, you’ll be fine.” But I just wanted to get that out of the way now. I didn’t want to misrepresent myself. I found out it’s just like a lot of the stuff in wrestling. WWE prepares you for so much other stuff in entertainment. Anything where you’re on camera or anything where you’re just learning so much about how TV and stuff works, working for WWE. I took to it pretty well. It was fun and it was cool too because I go to do all kinds of different stuff. I got to work with a tactical guy who showed me how to do somersaults with guns and stuff and shoot all kinds of different weapons. I got to work with a guy who is an awesome fight coordinator and learn all this new hand to hand combat and stuff so I got to learn how all kinds… there was a stunt car driver showing me how to drive this Camaro and do these whacky turns and stuff so I was learning all this cool stuff. It was like going to action hero camp. It was cool and it was fun too because it was a little mental break for wrestling. I was up there for six weeks. That’s the longest I’ve been away from wrestling in ten years so it was cool to just go do some other stuff and have some fun. It was still hard work though – it was like fourteen-hour days and shooting the same stuff over and over from all the different angles. So it was hard work but it was a lot of fun.
IGN: Your character in that film, how close or not close is he to the Dean Ambrose we see on TV?
Ambrose: Pretty different. That’s the thing too because I don’t know what it would come out like, but as far as how I portrayed a character — the character is a cop. I wouldn’t say he’s un-charismatic but he’s different from Dean Ambrose on TV. One thing I wanted to do for sure is I didn’t want it to be like WWE movie where “Dean Ambrose plays a cop.” I wanted to try to be a completely different person. The character’s name is John Shaw. I wanted to be this guy. He’s more of a stoic, calculating, Clint Eastwood kind of thing which isn’t necessarily me in real life, so having to try and become that… We’ll see if I did a good job or not when it comes out, you know?
IGN: Besides your own match, what are you must excited for this weekend?
Ambrose: I’m looking forward to the main event like everyone else is and seeing what that crowd looks like and what the stage and stuff looks like. I’m looking forward to Sting and seeing Sting on WWE. It’s like a dream match for people. Just the whole experience man.
IGN: When something like that happens and Sting shows up, does that get all the guys buzzing because that’s someone you grew up watching?
Ambrose: Oh yeah. The night Sting came back, Survivor Series, only a couple people knew. It was a pretty well kept secret. I was in the trainers room with some people and a lot of people were like, “Whoa!” It even shocked a lot of the boys. I even said, “Well, that was it. That was the last of your childhood mark out moments. They’re all gone now. That was the last one.” Sting even had that for a few of the boys here.
WrestleMania 31 can be seen this Sunday on the WWE Network and Pay-Per-View.