Dean Ambrose: The mean James Dean

If you want to get noticed, speak softly – a skill that can make the most innocent of words seem the most sinister but also a skill that fails to resonate in mainstream wrestling locker rooms nowadays. Having said that I do not intend to pick at the promo skill of wrestling talents in today’s era, there’s a great deal of talkers that do superb mic work; CM Punk, Austin Aries and Daniel Bryan to name a mere few. In contrast with these talents though there are many that intend on capturing an audience’s attention by shooting from the hip in passionate rage and imprinting their point with intimidation in plain sight, leaving nothing to question.

A promo is a chance to sell two things; a match and yourself. Many of wrestling’s greatest stories start with that one pipe bomb that brings everything together, that one moment you sit up, lean forward and listen with open ears to every last detail of the perfect promo. Crowds often fall silent, not in boredom, but in captivation of a character defining every last fiber of their being. These are the moments wrestling fans replace the remote control for their leather wallets without even realizing they’re doing it. Wrestlers famous for achieving such work are the likes of Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts or Scott ‘Razor Ramon’ Hall. These guys for a long time lived the gimmick, they suspended your disbelief on the basis that they really are who they say they are.

To my well trained eyes and ears the best wrestlers in history are the ones that have sold me their emotions, not their bodies. With that being said, who is the metamorphosis? A rich lineage of character in wrestling history would suggest evolution; first there was Ric Flair who was followed by Shawn Michaels, who was followed by Chris Jericho, who was followed by Daniel Bryan/CM Punk. First there was Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, then there was Razor Ramon, then there was Randy Orton and then, then, there was a man called Dean Ambrose.

We finally got there.

It’s ironic that a man so well versed in the art of a villain has the birth name, Jonathan Good. Formally Jon Moxley on the independent scene (now Dean Ambrose in WWE), Good has that head turning awe that very few people in life have the ability to master. Jonathan Good is a performer that embodies the look of a badly groomed James Dean and the characteristics of a man on the edge of sanity, and what a combination that proves to be. When the light on the camera flicks to red and it comes time for Jonathan Good to become Dean Ambrose, the good man disappears and the minister of sinister is all you know.

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I’ve drawn a clear comparison between Roberts, Ramon and Ambrose for obvious reasons. It’s like the family tree of Lucifer, bad guys to the grave. Every frame you see that includes one of these three guys is like a portrait of devil like charisma that you can’t help but want to mimic. Ambrose, like Ramon and Roberts, tells 95% of his personal story without saying a single word, he stands out for doing, well, nothing, but how?

Often renowned for the collar popping leather jackets and rebellious attitude, Good is James Dean 2.0, with added spice. Dean Ambrose, the character, is portrayed by Good so well that he leaves no second on screen wasted, he lives the gimmick in that moment of time, his facial expression, his timing, patients and manner of tone are executed so that it never de-rails the Ambrose character. If he smiles, he smiles when it matters, if he shouts it’s never done without rhetoric, he gives every last detail of his performance a purpose. His performances are nothing short of being a work of Art.

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A bold statement to make for man yet to reach veteran status, but here’s where the comparison with James Dean comes to the forefront. James Dean died aged 26 years old but to this day he is still considered an iconic bad boy whose charisma and fashion still live vicariously through teens of today. Point being, if you have it, age becomes nothing more than a number. I’m not sure if the statement ‘you can’t teach charisma’ is true, but if it is, surely Good has it set for life, it’s wired in to his DNA.

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  • Leo

    Wonderful article. Please write more!

  • Henry Higgins III

    This was a great read from start to finish. Well written, the points made sense and I completely agree with pretty much all of them.

  • iaga

    I hear this Dean Ambrose/James Dean comparison a lot… I understand why but I really think of Marlon Brando when I see, watch, & really analyse the man, both as Jon Moxley & now Dean Ambrose.

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