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Posted in: Oliver's Twist
Oliver's Twist: Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose - A History [Part 2]
By Oliver
Jun 23, 2014 - 10:10:00 AM

Hello once again, people of the internet! Hope you’re well, and welcome back to this little look into the history of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Now, previously we had left our hero Seth Rollins and our anti-hero Dean Ambrose deadlocked – 35 minutes had not been able to separate the pair of them, and they were heading for one final match to put it all to bed. With both men learning to adapt to avoid defeat, as well as showing that if their gameplan is successful they can dominate a match, who would run out on top in this longer encounter?

By now, the feud had escalated to the point where it was, quite rightfully, treated as a special event – an entire hour of television was given over to the build and actual match itself. Most of the pre-match stuff is fairly dull, with talking heads from Ricky Steamboat to Dusty Rhodes giving their two pennies worth on the match, but it’s one of those curios that allows for the match itself to seem grander. It’s possibly a little bit hyperbolic to produce such a scenario, but understandably these matches were widely talked about and FCW wanted to make the most of them. When it boils down to it, though, the night isn’t about what any WWE legend thinks and entirely about the two men who are about to go toe to toe for the third time in a month. Such a match, or run of matches, hadn’t previously been seen in FCW – they would go on to repeat this basic style once again, although with a different background to it, between Cesaro and Richie Steamboat, but this original take was treated with more reverence than that would come to be.

Adding to that sense of grandeur was a contract signing the week previous. This link starts about a minute in, but all you really miss is Seth Rollins making his way to the ring. Ambrose continues to play up his madman side, cheering for Seth Rollins entering the arena and looking like he’s on the edge of a psychotic moment. Rollins looks cool and collected on the opposite side of the table as his rival signs his name with a flourish, looking as confident as you might come to expect from a man who dominated the bulk of the last 20 minutes these two had in the ring. The Architect isn’t fazed on this occasion, putting pen to paper without hesitation and going eye to eye with Ambrose across the table. It’s that rare contract signing that doesn’t end in thrown fists or a brawl, and perhaps a sign of growing but grudging respect between the two men.

The third match really hung on one moment – a key plot point that not only changed the script for the second match in a row. As such, the match can be split in two. What looked to have been becoming a grudging respect plays out initially, with both men staring each other down and neither wanting to make a mistake that would allow the other an opportunity to get that elusive fall. The opening lock ups both end in a stalemate, Ambrose showing that he has learnt a little bit of the mat game this time to go up against his more proficient opponent, and they both avoid a finisher. Rollins soon shows his strengths off again, out wrestling Ambrose on the mat and keeping an armbar locked in. With the first five minutes dominated by Rollins, in an echo of their first match – he works over the right arm with various holds – Ambrose cannot gain a foothold until he gets to change the way the match is going. It’s that old repeat of bringing Rollins down to his level, and Ambrose is the more proficient brawler so takes control that way for the next few minutes. So far, we’re sticking to the story they’d already laid out for themselves, and there are those hints of adaptation showing as well – Ambrose gaining in mat ability, Rollins growing as a brawler which he shows by grasping control back from his opponent with a series of blows and a fight around the outside.

It’s then, though, that the story changes yet again. Ambrose does away with any respect that might well have been growing between the two men and, instead of choosing to go toe to toe, he sinks to a new low, delivering a kick to the groin just as it seems Rollins is getting a head of steam going. It’s not a tactic that hasn’t been used before, but given what frames it here it really is an interesting change of tale – the respect angle that seemed like this could have ended up becoming is thrown out of the window in favour of some real dirty play. It’s good enough, however, for Ambrose to get two falls, following up with first a Midnight Special and then a hard lariat which both earn him a three count. You do wonder whether this was a premeditated idea from Ambrose or if it was a lucky moment that saw him seize an opportunity – either way, it signifies how low Ambrose is willing to stoop in order to win. Ambrose nearly claims another decision in his favour with a second lariat, but Rollins ends up on the outside. It’s now, however, Ambrose’s match to lose – he controls his opponent, working the neck of his opponent to follow up on the Midnight Special, and is rarely truly threatened over the next few minutes. The confidence he had going into their first match returns to him as he swaggers around the ring, and Rollins becomes desperate, lashing out without a gameplan. It’s a curious overarching theme, because in the first match Rollins had so much control over what he was doing, had prepared so well for Dean Ambrose, that he dominated for 15 minutes. In the second match, he became slightly more wild, with Ambrose pulling him down to his level and Rollins having to brawl but eventually surviving based on his wrestling ability – the technique that brought him to the dance in the first outing. Here, however, he is without any plan – The Architect has had his blueprints torn up as a result of the unforeseen actions of his opponent, leaving him flailing wildly.

He does, however, find his way back into the match, and rather than any sustained change in momentum it’s a flash cover that does it – Rollins’ manages to get the three count from a sunset flip. Given what we’ve seen previously, it’s unsurprising that a wrestling manoeuvre gives him a way back into the match. With that, Seth becomes unglued and ups the tempo to a frighteningly high speed, the likes of which we have seen recently where he throws himself all over the place in order to hurt his opponents. While a kerb stomp is avoided, Ambrose takes move after move, including a tope con hilo – he remains unable to deal with a full pace Seth Rollins. That said, the natural wear and tear of the match shows most on Rollins, slowing his pace and leaving Ambrose laughing off the punches he throws before continuing to show disrespect with a slap around the face. The final seven minutes of the match escalate in a way that the feud previously hadn’t – in uncharted territory, both men bring the big guns to the party. Lionsaults, Midnight Specials, Kerb Stomps, Phoenix Splash’s – you name it, these two throw everything at each other, including their opposite numbers finishers. It’s Rollins who arguably ends the match on top, connecting with a Midnight Special and an Avada Kedavra after Ambrose had tried to stem his momentum with a cloverleaf. The Lunatic Fringe is, however, equal to both moves and gets a shoulder up. The two men lie exhausted, Rollins in shock that his very best offence has been repelled while Ambrose makes his way to the ropes for support.

That, however, is not the end – Maxine, restarts the match with sudden death rules, and Rollins gets a small package immediately afterwards that Ambrose kicks out of. With the revised rules, and a moment to recuperate, Ambrose and Rollins go at each other with renewed vigour again nailing every move they can. Ultimately, both men are now firing on instincts and it’s curious that they go back to the states we saw in their first match. The circle closed, Rollins dominates the early sudden death period by upping the pace. Ambrose opportunistically counters by bouncing off the ropes from a superkick to connect with another lariat, a move he still performs to this day. Knowing that both slowing the pace and hitting big moves will swing the balance in his favour, he returns to their second match – hitting hard and keeping Rollins off his own game. It all goes wrong, however, when he tries for a Midnight Special from the second rope – a counter from Rollins opens up space and the momentum swings yet again. After a buckle bomb and a pair of Avada Kedavras’s, Seth connects with God’s Last Gift to finally end the series on top – eerily reminiscent of the way he started to dominate in the early stages of this match, with the pace quickening and Ambrose not having a response.

It has to be said that what Rollins and Ambrose achieved in this third match is nothing short of a storytelling tour de force. In a similar way to the series of matches between Sami Zayn and Antonio Cesaro I’ve previously written about, they took themes from each of their previous two matches and draped them in a developing narrative for this encounter. Rollins, the flashier and faster of the two, uses that to his advantage before Ambrose turns things to his advantage through a combination of skill and nefarious tactics. He slows the match to his pace, allowing him to take control, but unfortunately for him the true lunatic turns out to be Rollins – when he goes wild after his flash pinfall, it really does change the game and it’s Ambrose who spends the final period of the match on his heels. That he survives to overtime is a credit to him, but with it being sudden death he can’t really slow the pace – he needs to take advantage of what he can. Forced to work faster, or with less method, than he has previously, he makes a mistake going for the killer move and that’s an opening Rollins exploits to his fullest ability to take the closing pinfall and with it the match.

Both men, however, have grown, and as I mention above Ambrose has developed a more mat-based repertoire over the duration of this feud which gives him a chance to hang with Rollins in those opening exchanges. Equally, demonstrating that Dean has truly got into his head, Seth exhibits some more rough edges, ready to lower himself to the depths of depravity that his opponent walks amongst. It’s not a full switch, and you realise that even though they are trying to take on the other at their own game they rely on their signature style and approach to actually gain pinfalls, but it’s an interesting development in both men. In trying to succeed by using the others game plan, there’s no doubt that each man has analysed and learnt from his opponent over the course of the trilogy of matches. It might not have helped them to win a fall, but it might well have helped them to avoid losing one. Arguably, the latter is as important as the former.

In a battle of two conflicting personalities, it is the more proficient technician who comes out on top – The Architect triumphs over the Lunatic Fringe, plans defeat spontaneity, and good triumphs over evil. What is curious, though, is that the end of this match wasn’t the end of the story. Where these two went next remains interesting and is still steeped in the narrative that the two have set out for themselves here. And that’s the story we’ll look into next time, when Ambrose and Rollins clash for a fourth and, finally, fifth time. Until then, friends, stay safe when crossing the road and drink more hot chocolate! Ciao!

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