WWE's Dean Ambrose ready to steal the show at WrestleMania 31
Nothing is ever quite right in Dean Ambrose's world.
On television, Ambrose is seemingly constantly playing a balancing act on the thin line between sanity and madness.
As a result, he's been dubbed the "Lunatic Fringe," which is a very eloquent way of saying he is quite unstable. And whatever is bothering him at that moment in time, he always seems to settle it with his fists.
In reality, however, not much is bothering him. In fact, life is pretty good for the Lunatic Fringe.
Ambrose (real name Jonathan Good) is in his physical prime, he's earning a good living doing what he loves and he's getting ready to walk down the aisle for a marquee match at the biggest event of the year, WrestleMania, which emanates from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. March 29.
But there is one thing the former WWE United States Champion could complain about: his beloved Philadelphia Flyers.
Despite being a native of Cincinnati, Ambrose fell in love with the Flyers during his time living in Manayunk prior to his years in the WWE.
The Flyers' rollercoaster season has irked Ambrose so much that he deleted the app that gave him Flyers updates from his phone, as it constantly bombarded him with bad news.
Every time the Flyers would fall behind early in games, Ambrose's phone would go off. Every time the Flyers lost to a lesser team, Ambrose's phone was there to remind him of it. Eventually, he grew tired of the app, but he still has love for the Flyers and for the City of Brotherly Love.
"I always got a good vibe from Philly because it's a hard-nose kind of town," Ambrose said during an interview with philly.com. "Everybody wakes up and goes to work and has to deal with bad weather and traffic and whatever else."
"There's no B.S.," he added. "Everybody's got some business to do and it's a hard-working, blue-collar feel to the town. I just like the vibe of it. I always enjoyed my time there. It fit my mood and my personality very well at the time; just working really hard and digging and scraping and trying to make a better name for myself or make a few nickels in this business. At the time, it was the perfect place for me. It was a reflection of where I was at mentally."
WWE's hectic schedule doesn't allow Ambrose too many opportunities to pass through Philadelphia or see his the Flyers in person, but during his days on the independent circuit, he attended as many games as he could afford.
"It was hard to afford tickets back then, even crappy tickets," he said. "I'd go to as many games as I could when I got the chance. Just from going to the games, it was always a fun time. I liked the vibe of the people in the crowd, you know. I just kind of got sucked into the hometown team vibe of it."
Ambrose is going to have a different kind of vibe on March 29, when he, along with six other superstars, will take part in a ladder match for the coveted WWE Intercontinental Championship.
The match features former world champions and world-class in-ring performers, which makes it one of the most anticipated matches on the card. Ambrose recognizes the significance of the match and relishes the opportunity to create lasting memories.
"I don't think there's anywhere else on this card I'd rather be," he said. "Everybody wants to be in the main event obviously, but to me, being in this ladder match, you couldn't ask for a better opportunity to potentially steal the show."
"You have seven really hungry, really talented guys who are willing to do whatever and it's a high-profile match as oppose to just being thrown somewhere on the card," he added. "I think with what we've been able to do on television and stuff, it's really kind of raised the stock of the Intercontinental Championship more than where it was a few months ago. I think it's really easy to change the perception of the Intercontinental Championship. All you have to do is have a Daniel Bryan, a Dolph Ziggler, a Dean Ambrose and others all wanting not just to win the Intercontinental Championship but to become a great Intercontinental Champion."
The Intercontinental title match will mark Ambrose's third appearance at WrestleMania, but it will be his first in a singles capacity. The last two years, Ambrose didn't walk down the aisle to WrestleMania. That's because he entered the grandest stage of them all through the crowd as a member of the three-man mercenary group The Shield.
The Shield was split up nearly a year ago while the group was at its peak. While all three members have since gone on to their own personal successes, fans are still wondering whether it was the right time to dissolve the trio.
Ambrose believes it was.
"At the time, it was very new and exciting because we had just made the switch to where all of the fans were on our side and we were kind of looking at all of this new merchandise and stuff," he said. "We just came off a European tour where we kind of like headlined the tour for the first time."
"As soon as I thought about it, once we beat Evolution in such a definitive manner at the pay-per-view, there was nowhere else to go," he added. "There was nothing more we could do. The goal was to use The Shield as a platform to get where we are now, to try to take over the business. The Shield was always a vehicle for all of us. Looking back, it was the right time. There was nothing left for us to do.
"I liked that we ended abruptly at our peak. We never had a downswing. I'm glad it wasn't like, 'Let's break up The Shield because they're kind of getting stale.' We never had that happen because we never got a chance to get stale."
The debate will continue as to the timing of the dissolution of The Shield, but there is no debating the success each man has had since they have gone their separate ways.
Seth Rollins is still carrying around the Money in the Bank briefcase he won last summer, which guarantees him a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship whenever he chooses. At WrestleMania, he has a date with former world champion Randy Orton.
Roman Reigns has seemingly been tapped to become the next top star in the WWE and is preparing for what will be undoubtedly the biggest match of his career to date: A match against Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of WrestleMania.
And then you have Ambrose, who has become one of the most popular characters on the WWE roster and could become the next Intercontinental Champion.
In reality, Ambrose doesn't have to get angry about, but like his character, he's willing to do whatever it takes to make it to the top of the WWE.
"Anything that I've gotten in the last year I know is fully on my efforts and I've earned it," Ambrose said. "I'm in a position that nothing is ever going to be handed to me. I understand that I'm going to have to dig and claw and that's it's going to be a long journey. Cementing my place in WWE will be the hardest thing I've ever had to do. There are a lot of ups and downs and failures along the way and you're working 300 days a year through the whole thing. It's a fast-moving locomotive and you're just trying to stay on."