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31 Days of Wrestling (12/27/15): Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins

Welcome back to Day 27 of our 31 Days of Wrestling series, which celebrates the matches that best defined the narrative of 2015. 

Over the last few days, we've written about one of the finest scientific matches in the last few years, a match-up between two of today's true lucha legends, and the rise of a new icon in the world of Japanese wrestling. But today, we're throwing all the fancy finesse wrestling out of the window to talk about a match that showed that garbage can be beautiful: the infamous ladder match between then-WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and his former Shield-mate Dean Ambrose at Money In The Bank.


#27: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins, Money In The Bank 2015

Some might call Dean Ambrose the underachiever of the Shield, and at first glance, that's a hard point to argue. Seth Rollins ruled the scene as WWE World Heavyweight Champion for over half of 2015, while Roman Reigns completed his rise as the WWE's new Chosen One by claiming the belt twice as the year ended. Conversely, Ambrose gets stuck as "just" the Intercontinental Champion while winning a decent but unspectacular 69% of his matches and playing faithful sidekick-cum-babysitter to Reigns.

But that isn't what defines the appeal and legend of the Lunatic Fringe.

2015 was not about wins, gold, or headlining roles for Dean Ambrose; it was about cementing his character as the ultimate everyman who puts his heart into every fight (even those where he knows he's getting his ass kicked), puts in the work, never lets up with his grit and grind, and steals the show each night with his fire and intensity.

This particular match at Money In The Bank was supposed to resolve the midyear mini-feud between Ambrose and his hated nemesis Rollins after Ambrose had stolen the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Elimination Chamber the month prior. And while both men are entirely capable of churning out five-star matches when needed, this particular contest had all the raw emotion and fury of a biblical Cain-and-Abel slobberknocker.


Seth rollins vs Dean ambrose Ladder Match (720p... by aleem771

Warning: This isn't the kind of match you turn to if you're after pretty armdrags and chain wrestling sequences. As we pointed out in our official show review, the story was about celebrating the most real blood feud the WWE has had in some time.

They kept it really simple and flavorful, with Dean taking out all his frustrations on Seth and Seth trying to kneecap Dean to stop him from going up. The action and intensity ramped up organically, until it culminated in Seth pretty much murdering Dean and burying him under pounds of steel. And the best part? He did it all on his own. Steph and Hunter’s little boy has finally become a man. Is it weird that I felt really happy to see Seth win the match all by himself? A Seth match not ending with any sort of Authority interference is a cause for celebration, and a lot of you are underrating it.

It's an awfully painful match to watch, from Rollins dishing out some raw steel-on-bone assaults to pulverize Dean's leg, Ambrose throwing a steel chair full-on at Seth's face, or the audience going disbelievingly silent during the finishing sequence where Rollins just hurls Ambrose with two powerbombs against the ringside barricade followed by a sitout powerbomb onto a heaping pile of chairs and ladders. But in a lot of fan's eyes this is the match that absolutely made both men's reputations: Rollins as a man who can stand on his own two feet without hiding behind the Authority's skirts, and Ambrose as the never-surrender pitbull you have to pretty much kill if you want to defeat.

In a world where some people complain about the WWE force-feeding its own corporate agenda down the Universe's throats, it's a true joy to see shining moments like this where two men that the fanbase has so completely invested in are given the spotlight and run away with it so thoroughly.

Watch this match one more time, folks. It's the dirtiest, rawest, most authentic match you'll see in the WWE this year, and perhaps in some time to come.

You can believe that.

P.S. And in case you had any doubt as to the fire, authenticity, and passion of Dean Ambrose, all you have to do is watch his little post-match promo again to show you that in the scripted cartoon world of pro wrestling, magic still survives.


*****

31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2015.

Read our previous entries:



#1: Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania
#2: Kazuchika Okada faces Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 9
#3: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Respect
#4: Fenix vs. Mil Muertes, Grave Consequences
#5: The Rise of Kevin Owens
#6: Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma, All Night Long
#7: Jake de Leon vs. Bombay Suarez for the PWR Championship, Wrevolution X
#8: Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Lashley for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship on Impact Wrestling
#9: Jay Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal in the Battle of the Belts, Best in the World
#10: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, Wrestle Kingdom 9
#11 Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE World Title at Royal Rumble
#12: Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship, NXT TakeOver: Rival
#13: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma, The New Beginning in Sendai
#14: Seth Rollins vs. John Cena, Champion vs. Champion, SummerSlam
#15: Vampiro vs. Pentagon, Jr., Cero Miedo
#16: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, G1 Climax 25 Finals
#17: Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship, Beast in the East
#18: Peter Versoza vs. Ralph Imabayashi Quarterfinal Match for the PHX Championship, PWR Live
#19: John Cena vs. Cesaro for the United States Championship, RAW July 6, 2015
#20: The Grado vs. Drew Galloway Saga, ICW
#21: The Lucha Underground Trios Championship Finals
#22: The All-Champion Tag Match, SmackDown April 16, 2015
#23: Kurt Angle vs. Ethan Carter III for the TNA World Heavyweight Champioship, Impact Wrestling, July 1, 2015
#24: Kenny Omega vs. KUSHIDA, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, Dominion
#25: Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Roderick Strong, EVOLVE 45
#26: Rey Mysterio vs. Myzteziz: The Lucha Libre Dream Match, Triple Mania XXIII

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