Quoth Dean Ambrose (“Hard Times” at Money In the Bank)

The wrestlers, bless them, continue to grace us lately with memorable promos for me to transcribe for posterity! It’s as though they know I’m working on some more difficult, thinky posts and need to refrain from my usual rate of commentary so I can focus on getting the deep thoughts about art and wrestling all worked out and organized.

Now it’s my beloved Dean Ambrose who busted out with a “Hard Times” promo (likely an intentional Dusty Rhodes tribute) about the tyranny of technicalities and standing on his own two feet (figuratively and literally, considering he was selling an injured leg). He’s so right, bad credit is the textile worker layoff of 2015. And his stab at a boss who treats you like an idiot even though you do your job better than he does is a bold message, even if implicit, for a guy who has always struck me as a loyal company man. If I’m to assign a literary equivalent here, I’d certainly liken Ambrose’s promo to Charles Dickens, another guy who went on about the idea of Hard Times: here’s a dynamic individual who since the breakup of the Shield didn’t fit wrestling society’s top-down template and was held back by the elite folks in power, cast as “unstable” for his energy and creativity, and practically institutionalized, like a struggling nonconformist of the Victorian era. He has also captured the universal plight of the people in an economically oppressive society, articulating everyone’s anxieties and tribulations in our dark epoch of byzantine paperwork and Catch-22 car loans. Considering his wrecked state at the end of that match, I also felt like these were Dean’s own words, perhaps somewhat planned but delivered off the cuff, a rare treat in this era that is normally so carefully scripted. Maybe this was even entirely spontaneous — it could explain why such a poignant promo didn’t make the actual broadcast and had to circulate as a youtube video:

These promo transcriptions are important to my project here at Notes On the Spectacle of Excess because they highlight the literary nature of the spoken word in wrestling. Listening gives you the power of the words in their delivery, but reading the words in print shows them in a different dimension. You can examine the individual pieces of the mosaic, visualize the patterns of poetic geometry, and make note of rhetorical simplicity or complexity. I think it’s also useful for international viewers who might struggle to understand our wrestlers’ accents, diction, and vernacular to see the words in print. So take a look at Dean Ambrose’s “Hard Times” for 2015 and consider how it may be an important point in wrestling’s literary history:

When I stole that championship belt a couple of weeks ago it was about respect. It was about taking what you feel you earned. And life ain’t always fair. And I’m from right here in Ohio, and you people know life ain’t always fair. You can’t get a car loan because of a technicality, you don’t have a good enough credit score. So now you gotta walk to work, your children gotta walk to school on a technicality! Your boss pushes you around even though you’re better at his job than he is, and he talks to you like you’re an idiot but he’s the boss, on a technicality! So when I took that championship it was about screw technicalities, it was about taking what’s yours, what you deserve, what you feel that you earned, what you know in your heart and your soul that you deserve, that you earned! It was about just taking it. But I’m a grown-ass man, and I lost fair and square tonight. I climbed that ladder, and I didn’t like what happened when I came down. I lost fair and square and I’m man enough to admit that. So I’m gonna fix this leg, and I’m gonna stand up on my own two feet again, and one day I’m gonna be World Heavyweight Champion, and there ain’t no paperwork, and there ain’t no technicalities, and there ain’t no bullcrap that’s gonna stop me!

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  1. June 18, 2015

    I feel like this promo was an on-the-spot decision. It’s kind of awkward to leave one of the best moments of a PPV off-air and on the website, but it would make sense if the ending to the Ambrose/Rollins match was botched. It was ambiguous and kind of sketchy, so they sent out Dean to clarify that he did indeed lose.

    It would go a long way to explaining why the promo sounded so authentically Ambrose despite lacking all the usual Ambrose-isms (UNSTABLE and VIOLENT and a SCUMBAG). If that’s the case and Dean did indeed improvise this, then that’s really cool that he’s that talented but also kinda shitty because Creative is smothering yet another talent in buzzwords and gimmicks.

  2. June 21, 2015

    I agree, I think Ambrose took the story into his own hands here. And then on Smackdown he said something about people paying their hard-earned money for tickets to be there, which seemed like a continuation of his MITB promo. It’s a sign of good things happening, isn’t it? Like maybe it is finally being recognized that Ambrose is a man of the people, rather than a fringe weirdo. I don’t think that story ever went over for anybody anyway.

    • June 22, 2015

      I thought the Fringe gimmick “worked” in the sense that it justifies his crazy bumps, plus it’s a nice way of distinguishing himself from the average underwear brawler. It certainly gets overstated at times, but what’s Creative if they don’t run something good into the ground?

      • June 22, 2015

        To me it felt forced. A lot of his promos were almost unintelligible, like he didn’t really get what they were trying to do with him. Also, remember that thing where he was beating up a CPR dummy or something? I listened to him on Talk Is Jericho and he talked about that. He said that was all Vince’s idea, like a wild brainstorm, and it was like Vince was living vicariously through him. He talked about Vince living vicariously through him respectfully, like it was his grandpa or something, but I thought wow, that CPR dummy thing was DUMB. Anyway, the story made the stagnation of the Ambrose character make sense to me.

        • June 22, 2015

          I guess that’s the good part of only getting into wrestling recently: you tend to miss a lot of the older, shittier stuff.

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