Heads up, this is a post about wrestling because I’m out of town when this is going up and I haven’t had a chance to finish Orange Is The New Black yet nor gather my thoughts on Drones by Muse and How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by Florence and the Machine. Expect those in the next couple of weeks.
Onto the main topic though…
There’s a great quote in “Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling” that I’ve been learning the hard way over the past few months. Towards the end, Max Landis says “Don’t get me wrong. A lot of wrestling sucks, but when it’s good, it’s great.”
Money In The Bank this past week was a prime example of that. There were several solid matches that had really crappy endings or were just kind of unremarkable in general (though how exciting it was that I lived in a world where the Divas Championship match was longer than the Intercontinental and Tag Team matches for a night). There were two great matches though that really made up for it in spades though. The first was the rematch of John Cena and Kevin Owens and the other being the main event of Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose in a ladder match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Lots of people will be talking about Cena vs. Owens, so I just want to focus on Rollins and Ambrose.One thing I’ve learned about wrestling since watching is that the matches themselves are a great way to tell a story about conflict. Not that promos aren’t amazing when done right, but the matches are the culmination of those angles. They need to tell the story effectively. A match that really did that for me this year was the Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch match from NXT Takeover: Unstoppable. I didn’t know much about their rivalry going into it, but the use of their arms and the hunt for a submission victory really told you all you needed to know about Becky and Sasha. These were two women that had something to prove not just to the world, but to each other.
Rollins and Ambrose at Money in the Bank had a very similar vibe, but with a lot more buildup leading up to it.
I’m still working my way through the backlog of Shield matches, both as a team and as solo competitors, but it’s easy to tell that in the dissolution, Ambrose took it the worst. Not to say that it didn’t have an effect on Roman Reigns (see Wrestlemania 31 for that piece of suffering), but he didn’t make it a priority to make sure the man he used a call a brother suffer for turning on him.Still, even without watching the entire backlogged history, I could watch this match and know that it was less about the title and more about settling scores and proving something to the other person. This wasn’t a match for glory. It was the culmination of a year long war between the former brothers.
Going into it, there were two major things you need to know about Rollins and Ambrose. Ambrose had nearly won the title two weeks prior, but the match was ruled a victory by disqualification, which means the title doesn’t change hands. Fed up, Ambrose just straight up stole the title and requested a ladder rematch for it just so that whoever grabbed it was the champ fair and square.
Rollins, on the other hand, wanted to prove that he could do it all by himself. He doesn’t exactly have the best record for clean solo wins. Between constant interference from The Authority and his own personal scheming and cowardice, Rollins doesn’t really know how to do it alone, despite all his claims. Reigns did a great job of poking the bear to get him to agree to the match in the first place, but Rollins’ own ego and hesitation caused him to drive away nearly everyone in the Authority. Well, at least one person still had faith in him. (Seriously, click the link. I need to rip the audio from that for my own get psyched playlist.)
The match itself was like an overfilled tea kettle on the stove. It started off kind of slow and simmering. Once Rollins started hammering on Ambrose’s leg and trapping him in Figure Four locks to keep him from climbing up the ladder, that’s when it really started to burble and spit. Rollins was doing everything in his power to make sure Ambrose didn’t get up that ladder. Wrecking his leg, powerbombing him into the barricade and keeping the refs from getting involved, burying him under debris, and even leaving him for dead in the audience at one point.Ambrose being the tenacious and unhinged man that he is though refused to stay down. He hobbled up the ladder multiple times. He dropped an elbow from that ladder on Rollins Dusty Rhodes style. He freakin’ flipped him onto that ladder and pulled a Dirty Deeds on top of the Spanish announce table. As this match kept spitting out boiling water, I rocked back and forth on my bed, praying for a swift end. The particular fixation on the leg is what brought me back to last month as Banks and Lynch were trying to rip each other’s arms off as trophies. I was becoming certain that if Rollins didn’t walk out with the strap, he was going to take Ambrose’s leg with him instead.
Last month, I screamed when Ambrose pinned Rollins, reaching my full mark potential and scaring the hell out of my roommates. This month, when the match ended with a spent Ambrose and Rollins grabbing onto the championship at the same time and falling to the mat with the belt in Rollins’ hands, I let out a breath I didn’t realize I had been holding for twenty minutes as the bell rung. I was emotionally spent by that match, and it didn’t help seeing the look on Ambrose’s face at the very end nor the speech he gave after the broadcast cut.
Someday when I’m a salt and peppery broad and they’re running specials about this era of wrestling and the feud between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, this match will be a focal point. Their story isn’t done, of course. Ambrose admits that he lost fair and square, but he still wants to beat Rollins. However, just the sheer drama that existed in that match alone without any outside context just shows how much those two have thrown into what they do. They sell every struggle, every angry word, every single bit of contempt and sadness that comes with their history. They even threw in callbacks to Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair in their moves to really drive it home for that match. The future is now, but they carry the past with them in more ways than one.
The past ain’t through with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose yet, but if this past Sunday was any indicator, they’re just getting started with it.