When Jonathan Good's professional wrestling aspirations began to be realized in 2004 when he started performing for the Heartland Wrestling Association as Jon Moxley, few knew that this was the first step on the road to certain greatness.
As I've written before here in an analysis of Florida Championship Wrestling prospects, the man who FCW renamed Dean Ambrose is as riveting on the microphone as he is in the ring, with an unmistakably unique style of speech, body language and wrestling moves.
Some have compared him to "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and even Raven. But one thing is certain: not since fellow Cincinnati, Ohio, native Brian Pillman in the mid-1990's has a wrestler come along that's been capable of shuffling people's backsides to the edges of their seats, gripped by fascinated intrigue of what he'll do or say next.
Just as Pillman's character became well-rounded from his Four Horsemen rebellion, worked-shoot angle with "booker man" Kevin Sullivan, and subsequent "firing" from WCW which he then manipulated to legitimately free him to sign with the WWF, so Ambrose has built upon his HWA, IPW, CZW and Dragon Gate ouvre to complete his development in FCW.
Like Pillman did as a "loose cannon," Ambrose invokes a feeling of discomfort in audiences, his mannerisms and facial expressions drawing in viewers experiencing an almost morbid curiosity in him.
The difficulty here is that, with no significant competition for today's WWE, Ambrose has not had the benefit of plying his trade on a major stage, so he hasn't been able to just burst on to our television screens with an angle worthy of his abilities.
The recent WrestleMania weekend cellphone footage of his confrontation with Mick Foley provided him with the opportunity he needed.
Having wrestled in hardcore environments such as CZW, Ambrose considered himself lucky to have made it as far as he has, and berated Foley for inspiring the supposed self-destruction of a whole crop of wrestling's finest young prospects.
Mick looked genuinely rattled, and Dean was pushed away from the scene by Foley's people. "Leaked" as it was onto the Internet, with no acknowledgement of the incident at all on WWE.com, the footage went viral, and a plethora of websites covered it. It seemed legit.
Then Ambrose—supposedly on Twitter under duress, as his profile states—began using the social networking and microblogging site to criticize Foley further, even posting links to backyard wrestling incidents that apparently caused injuries, part of what Dean's called "the lost generation," sarcastically adding the hashtag "thanks Mick." Foley responded by tweeting videos of his arguments about backyard wrestlers with Ric Flair on TNA.
WrestleMania weekend coincided with reports of a death from two fans wrestling around with each other. Then with TNA video clips tweeted, this just seemed too controversial—or potentially cutting-edge—for WWE to have endorsed through developing as a storyline.
With Ambrose working dark matches at Raw and SmackDown, he actually tweeted a photo of his plane ticket back from a television taping which bore his real name: "Good, Jonathan." This was because he had apparently been sent home—tweets by Dean's Twitter account and Foley's all supporting this to be true. This was smart stuff.
By this time, though, it had emerged that their initial exchange caught on camera was a cleverly and subtly orchestrated work, put together by creative team member Ed Koskey, who was actually right there with the two as the footage was recorded.
Foley had openly admitted that Ambrose was one of the names he'd like to work with (in addition to The Miz and Dolph Ziggler, who he'd mentioned previously), adding that he believes he has one more big bump left in him as part of his last hurrah.
This only reinforced the speculation of a set-up feud between Foley and Ambrose in the midst of the reports of Koskey's hand in developing the angle.
Then came the twist: Foley apparently killed the feud before it gained any momentum.
Claiming that Dean's tweets about his family were not part of their agreement, Mick blogged about the proposed program with Ambrose, comparing him to Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, having blown an opportunity for overnight stardom by wasting his proverbial "golden ticket."
This seemed too harsh to be a work, and dangerously close to crossing the lines of unwritten wrestling law by suggesting it started as a clever work, but wasn't anymore: Foley was now refusing to work with Ambrose, apparently because he didn't trust him to play according to the rules of decency.
But Dean's tweets continued, suggesting Foley's children were "ignorant" while his wife must be "blind"—adding that the feud is indeed over, because Foley's killed it due to a lack of "testicular fortitude."
There have been numerous debates about WWE's approach to this introduction of Ambrose to the WWE Universe via the banged-up, aging Foley. As one fellow Bleacher Report writer rightly stated, Ambrose will get over even without Foley.
But what a feud this could be.
The problem is, where is this all leading, and how do they get there?
If it's leading to Foley's last great "big bump," and a hardcore match of some sort between him and Ambrose, how do WWE reconcile this with their PG approach?
But most of all, with Foley vowing not to tweet about Ambrose at all until next month, how does this feud sustain momentum, and then transfer over to television screens?
Most of the TV audience will not have been following the Internet reports and tweets, and Koskey & Co. now need to craft a way to take this to the next level, making sure to keep the momentum they've gained.
No matter what happens, Triple H's friend William Regal has made career-defining glowing endorsements of Dean Ambrose in his feud with him on FCW shows, and the fact creative time has been afforded to the "street dog" bodes very well for his WWE future.
The clever, Pillmanesque worked-shoot nature of this storyline so far is also befitting the former Jon Moxley, a man whose past remarks about his upbringing and trashy mother have always blurred the line between reality and fiction.
Dean Ambrose is destined for greatness. Talent like his can't help but bring success.
Whether this feud with Mick Foley is the way to get there—the golden ticket—remains to be seen.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!