On Thinking With the Heart, Not the Head (reblogged from August 2014)

I wrote this just a couple months after the Shield broke up, back when it was impossible not to fall madly, desperately in love with Dean Ambrose. He was the best thing ever ever ever to happen to professional wrestling, and the people who read this post at the time told me they thought so too. So much inauthentic narrative snafu would then send me into an embittered phase where I could barely even stand to look at an Ambrose match, but look at how much I fawned over him back then. That pounding fangirl heart was for real, and it has since healed from its CPR dummy/exploding monitor/candy corn kendo stick wounds. Getting past all that crap and appreciating the brilliance of Dean Ambrose again has been a lesson in unconditional love. Namaste. — Andrea

There’s a new meme for Dean Ambrose: a sudden change from the lunatic brawler, which he was just too much of a heartthrob to really sell. Someone perhaps got wise and realized they were on the verge of squandering their gold with him. The concept thrown out there tonight is that Dean Ambrose “thinks with his heart, not his head.”

Now this is very interesting, and it’s deliberate. Seth Rollins said it in the middle of his diatribe, a rare moment of deference to the fast becoming legendary Dean Ambrose. Then the commentators repeated it, discussed the concept. After the infamous popcorn and soda in the briefcase affair, something has shifted in the Ambrose character. He has changed gears and is now being cast as some kind of spiritual outlaw.

This “heart not head” thing is a concept, of course, that is well established in the collective unconscious. I suspect it goes way back into Shakespeare or even further, but the most prominent instance I can think off the top is from Fritz Lang’s 1927 classic silent film Metropolis: “Without the heart, there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind.” The film is about the ever enduring conflict between a robber baron and his workers, or more broadly, man and his overlord (be it a cruel god or a tyrannical leader).

Not that I think Dean Ambrose is about workers and corporations per se (though the WWE’s dominant story arc about the Authority is a satire of such, and plenty of the wrestlers have their run at playing the oppressed worker). But I am asserting that this heart-head thing is a universal, transcendent theme. I’m sure Jesus and Buddha had a spin on it. Probably Muhammad too, in one of his gentler moments. I also hear in the internet scuttlebutt that a lot of people are literally beginning to think with their hearts rather than their brains in the new millennium. Some voices are describing it as conscious evolution.

It’s odd to think that Dean Ambrose could find himself in the middle of such a mystical theme, even as he is giggling about himself and Seth Rollins tearing each other apart in a lumberjack match. He’s an unrepentant brawler on a mission of revenge. And yet his hero type may in fact be blooming, evolving into the valiant outlaw hero. The hour is too late for me to pore over Foucalt, but if memory serves he touched upon this idea: why is it that we love a good outlaw? It is because he stands up to the Man. He stands up to authority.

So this is the direction in which Ambrose has evolved out of The Shield. Seth Rollins sold out and Roman Reigns is a dark old world knight of justice. Ambrose is now becoming our Billy the Kid, Malcolm Reynolds, or Zorro. Like with those guys, the Authority is learning: “You can’t plan for Dean Ambrose.”

Dean’s little shtick he did about the types of matches he was thinking of specifying for his Summer Slam bout with Seth Rollins wasn’t even very funny. His delivery sort of flopped. But it doesn’t matter, we love him anyway. He thinks from his heart like an outlaw folk hero, and we are like moths to his flame.

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