01 June 2013 | (by Phil Strum, Poughkeepsie Journal)
The Shield is a unique faction and Dean Ambrose is a unique performer.
In my recent conversation with the United States champion, I was struck by how real and honest he was. He thoroughly answered each of my questions. While the interview was done because WWE is coming to Poughkeepsie on Sunday, I was able to ask Ambrose many more questions regarding his run in WWE.
Phil Strum: The Shield is one of the most successful acts in WWE in years. To you, what’s made it so good and what’s made it connect with the audience so well.
Dean Ambrose: We’re three guys who are very confident in what we can do and we’re not dilly-dallying around. We know how good we are. We want to go out there and really try to grab the bull by the horns. The way we look it, it’s like this company is ours for the taking. The company wants young guys to step up and it’s like ‘I don’t care we’re taking over.’
A lot of veterans and the office have wanted guys to have that kind of attitude. We’re not afraid and we’re not intimidated. In our minds, we are the main event. Being fresh and being new, no one’s seen our faces before on TV. Maybe they knew me and Seth before we were on TV. Roman is a natural and he keeps getting better every day. We have so much talent and so much confidence in our ability. We came in and we were already on the level and we can already go.
PS: How well did you know Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns before you debuted with them on TV?
DA: The three of us met for the first time in Tampa in Florida Championship Wrestling or developmental. We all had the attitude that we wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. So that was the first time. I had met Seth once or twice before. We had crossed paths a couple of times, but nothing more than a handshake and a hello. The first time we sat down and talked and worked together was Florida and that was opponents. I was also across the ring from Roman Reigns many times. We were never on the same side. Then we started The Shield and we had a natural chemistry. We’re only three guys, but that’s the perfect number because it’s a numbers advantage, but we’re not coming out with a whole parade of hangers-on. There’s no loose fat hanging off that has to get trimmed. We’re many moving parts and every moving part has its job. We’re in sync. Each of us brings something completely different to the table. We’re apples and oranges and bananas if you try and compare each one of us to the other.
PS: Do you know who came up with the concept for The Shield? Was it originally supposed to branch off so much from the attack on Ryback or did it just grow sort of organically?
DA: I can tell you it’s been an ever-evolving process. I don’t think we knew where we wanted to go. Every week, it’s been a new idea. An on-the-fly idea. Coming out of the crowd was not a pre-planned, premeditated idea that someone came up with in a meeting room. Everything has kind of organically evolved. Instead of coming through the entrance way, we wanted to make a statement to people that what you see is not like every other WWE superstar, every other normal wrestler. It was done to separate ourselves. We’re not like everyone in the back. We’re completely different and more dangerous and something you’ve got to keep your eyes on.
Everything from the moves we do to the things we wear to the things we say, all of them have been on the fly. We’re making it up as we go along. If something feels natural, we do it. If somebody says a good line, it’s like, hey I like that line, let’s go with it. Or someone does a good move, hey I like that move, let’s do that again. It’s been an on-the job process. You’re watching it unfold with your eyes as much as we are and I think that’s one of the exciting things for the fans.
PS: Did you grow up as a fan and if so, what wrestlers influenced you?
DA: I have been a wrestling fanatic my entire life, pretty much to the post of obsession. I’ve educated myself on everything WWE, WCW. I was a really big ECW fan in the 90s as a kid. The ECW product in the 90s really connected with me. It was a very aggressive product and everybody was kind of out for themselves. There was volatility and anger and it really connected with me as a young fan because there was a lot of excitement and it felt fresh with new stars and new concepts. It was very organic and real. I watched international wrestling. I was ordering bootleg tapes and collecting magazines and pulling pictures out of the magazines. Reading up on every independent wrestler. Reading books and educating myself. It’s almost like I have a Master’s level degree in wrestling history. I always knew wrestling was in the future and that was the reason I wanted to educate myself. The business side fascinates me too. Everything from how different territories got hot at different times and who was on top and why. Mid-South Wrestling or the rise and fall of Stampede. The different periods where the Japanese companies were hot. The ebbs and flows have always been fascinating to me. You can always learn from different parts of wrestling history. There might have been something that was really cool, maybe in the 60s and 70s that worked back then, but that no one has tried in a while and you might be able to take it and use it today.
My entire life has been like that. I never liked just one part. I was an ECW fan when I was kid, but I have literally been watching everything.
PS: What was it like being in the ring on SmackDown and staring across at The Undertaker?
DA: Being across from The Undertaker is a very surreal experience. It felt like it must have been a dream. On the other hand, this is a window that’s only open for who knows how long and how quickly it’s going to close. You better take advantage of it. I’m not intimidated by any scenario, whether it’s The Undertaker or John Cena or anybody. We’re going to do this. At this level, it’s kind of like the fight or flight kind of thing. All of us are kind of put in a position where you don’t get intimidated by the magnitude or the pressure of it. You don’t feel it. You feel the aura of The Undertaker. He has a presence. This is the most legendary guy you’re standing across the ring from and as big of an opponent as you can get. It’s like winning the lottery and I’m not about to not cash my lottery ticket in. You have ice water running through your veins. You’re out of your mind. It’s funny. The music’s playing. The pyro’s going off. It’s The Undertaker’s music. But once the bell rings and you make physical contact, it starts to work and the world shrinks down to a 20-by-20 ring and it’s any other match really and you have to stay on your game once the bell rings.
PS: You’re regarded as one of the best promo guys in the company? What goes into your approach?
DA: Cutting a promo has always come very naturally and it’s nothing I ever had to work on. I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t have a particular process. You have to not be afraid to be yourself and let go and tap into how you really feel. You need to let loose. If you can do that, you can show people a different side of your personality. Get in front of the camera and be free. I enjoy being in front of the camera and I use it as an outlet. In real life, I’m a pretty private person. I’m not a flashy, attention-seeking, kind of guy. When the red light goes on, you have an opportunity to be whatever you want and let loose and use it as an outlet. I’m able to take a lot of aggression off my choice. I guess my best advice would be to just cut loose and not be afraid to just let your real self come out from inside.
If you get intimidated by the camera, that shows through. Just enjoy cutting it loose. Guys today, a lot of them only learned one way to do it. They came up in developmental or whatever and are told what to say and that’s the only way they know how to do it. I didn’t come up that way, fortunately. I don’t want anybody to tell me what to say. When you put words in my mouth, I don’t like that. With a promo, you have an opportunity to sell tickets and sell pay-per-views and create interest. Every single time, the camera’s on you, you have a chance to expand your bank account and puts (butts) in the seats and help your performance. It’s all a big part of a masterpiece of an angle or a story that climaxes in a match. It all ties together. The things aren’t separate for me. Say you have a year-long feud that has three matches and 20 promos. It’s all one big work of art that ties in together. You think ahead of what’s going to happen in the ring. It all ties in together. It’s one big puzzle with a bunch of different pieces.
PS: In Poughkeepsie, you’ll be facing Team Hell No & Randy Orton. What can fans expect?
DA: If you come out to Poughkeepsie on June 2, you’re going to see The Shield live and in person with no restrictions on them. When you see us work together as a unit in a six-man tag team match or a tag team match or even in singles competition, you’re watching us right now and you’re watching a lot of energy. Dudes who aren’t taking any days off. We’re trying to raise everybody else’s game. With The Shield on the card, everybody’s going to step their game up. In our match and the rest of the card will have to step up to make sure they match the level of performance. Right now, getting the chance to see us live is really special and you’re seeing something fresh and new and exciting. Right now is where you want to jump on board with it. If you don’t know about believe in The Shield yet, come out to Poughkeepsie and get on board. After watching us, you’ll believe in The Shield.