Button Up: AEW Needs A Villain, Not Dean Ambrose by Benjamin Button (LOP Columns Forum April 2019 Columnist of the Month)

Each month in the Columns section of LOP Forums, we hold a competition to determine who was the best of the previous month, crowning the Columnist of the Month. The winner earns the right to present you, the Lords of Pain main page audience, with an example of their work.

April’s winner Benjamin Button is one of the LOP Columns Forum’s hidden creative geniuses and in April showed that with a wide range of columns from the personal and abstract Wrestling With Fatherhood to the hilarious Wrestlemania recap Troll-A-Mania 35. Below is his piece on the upcoming show Double or Nothing looking at the possibility of either Marty Scrull or Jon Moxley AKA Dean Ambrose hitting the ring and assuming the place as the top heel of All Elite Wrestling.

If you would like to write for Lords of Pain, the path to doing so starts with the Columns Forum. You can visit it and begin your own journey by clicking the image below.

Button Up: AEW Needs A Villain, Not Dean Ambrose

It’s May 25th. You’re in your Big Show T-shirt and watching Double or Nothing. With a long night of matches, you’re excited for segues to surprises. You pray to the wrestling god of TNA and WWE for Dean Ambrose to shock the world! Maybe, he’ll move down the aisle, looking all blocky, like he’s in an old WWE video game’s story mode. Then, he’ll— can I stop and admire your salivating tongue! It’s more profound than my Golden Retriever’s! — Yes, he’ll declare he wants a Title shot or declare to be anti AEW or WWE! To make a statement, he’ll do Dirty Deeds on Cody Rhodes! You pray nothing more than see this; and may I say—god, you are praying to a fucked up, goddamn god. Gawd! You would, too, goddammit. After all, you’re wearing a Big Show T-shirt.

You see, AEW serves a god that shuts its nose to the days of shock value and done to death clichés. They serve a less sophisticated, old Greek god that builds story-arcs specific to their shows and gives payoffs to them. It’s not the god of the formula, the god of holy shit, or the god of selling out for one moment. This god has no need for Dean Ambrose. This god needs a villain. And that villain, sorry to say, isn’t, even, John Moxley.

This needed villain, rather, sports an umbrella and a mask with a beak. This `villain hates Cody’s success, the Young Buck success, Omega’s success. And it’s not a shoot. It’s even better—a good old fashion storyline. A good storyline, after all, is a pleasing aroma to this god’s sense of smell. AEW doesn’t need Dean Ambrose; they need that murderous Cain, Marty Scurll. Notwithstanding, you, with your Big Show T-Shirt, say, “Marty who,” and “Kain is a great idea.”

But what about all our maybes from paragraph one, you say? Maybe, Dean will come out like he’s in a generic video game story and want a Title shot. Who the hell doesn’t want one, but what chemistry does he have with Cody, Omega, or Hangman? Let me help you with that, you who loves Big Show’s heel and face turns. Putting Ambrose against the Elite is like fucking a stranger without having alcohol in your system. Now, pull your pants up and look at this contrast: how does Marty measure against that lot? Marty has been their friend for a long, long time, but there’s always been a dark side to him; hasn’t there? Could it really be held in forever?

But–but, maybe, Dean could feign being anti-AEW. Hasn’t this been done to death in other promotions? It’s been done by the NWO, and you may think well, shit, Ben, that worked! But did it work when they did it in TNA? It’s not enough to rehash old angles, anymore. We’ve seen it fail; we’ve learned better. But with Marty, it’s been presented in the opening act that he has no love for this AEW endeavor. When Marty comes in anti-AEW, we believe it, because there’s reason for his character to feel that way.

Still, how about that “maybe” that Ambrose will attack Cody? You ask. I say, why would Ambrose attack Cody? The fan who loves Big Show booking says to make a statement, of course. I say, a lot of fine reasoning there! When Cody gets through with a clinic with Dustin, and he needs to segue into something new, why not let it be what’s been built week in and week out? Why not have him get his ribs busted with an umbrella? And keep that umbrella popped open; because it will hail money out there.

Money? Benjamin Button, you don’t und-a-stand! to make money, AEW needs star power! AEW needs proven commodities! AEW needs brand names!

How about this, lover of Big Show being mid-carder one month and main eventer the next, TNA had Hogan, Nash, Hall, Flair, Sting, Angle, Jeff Jarret (don’t worry, I’m yanking your chain on that one), Mick Foley, Booker T, Team 3D, Bobby Lashley, and more. And they never sold out a 10,000-seat arena! But without Jericho’s name on the program and with Marty’s in a high- profile match, AEW did it at All In. It could be said that as the WWE brand gets bigger, their wrestlers get smaller. It’s Saved By the Bell the New Class, and the new class can change. Because, we’re alright with that when the formula stays the same. WWE names don’t matter; especially when there’s a movement apart from the stale formula that they’re part of. The names that matter are the ones in the movement, and Marty’s name is in there. Keep him off Being the Elite; don’t let him answer the damn phone. And at Double or Nothing; show that phone ring from his dead friend, Cody, show him walk away from it, and show him walk down that aisle to do some rising action! Bring back a goddamn, strong villain ready to make his dead friends deader!

“But, Ben, you think this will arouse a holy shit chant the way Ambrose would?”

Holy Shit isn’t holy water. Matter of fact, holy water may just be water; and holy shit, just shit. Sure, Dean may pop a holy shit chant. Nevertheless, when the live crowd exhale all their breath, they’ll squeeze their nose to not inhale the whiff from his old WWE baggage. How much did Ambrose give up for the Shield; how much did he lose for the WWE formula? It’s been years and years since he’s been that edgy, son of a whore. It’s been years and years since he’s been that never satisfied, warped mind that worked it in the psychology of his matches. Sure, the Shield battled in the best six-man tags in recent history, but how much did Ambrose give to become the one in the group who does awkward clotheslines and makes funny, animated facial expressions? He went from being the Dark Knight’s joker to the Addams Family’s Uncle Fester. While Rollins was the best athlete in the group, what personality did he have to give up? Reigns, sure as hell, only took from the unit that Ambrose gave himself for. After all, what’d they tell CM Punk way back then? “You have to make Roman look strong.” Who was looking after Dean? Ambrose has the baggage of a failed Title reign. He never fully made it back as a singles competitor. On the other hand, Marty’s a man who’s been on the verge of the next level: challenging Okada, Lethal, and now Aldis. Marty’s push-button ready to be the villain that the god of alternative wrestling has called. As for Ambrose, I say send him back to the drawing board, give him vignettes, and help him find who he is in this new environment. And if he can’t find that, I’m satisfied with my villain.

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