WWE Editor @jeffersonlake
Dean Ambrose's WWE exit: Is it for real or just the latest pro wrestling storyline?
Last Updated: 02/02/19 6:46pm
The announcement that Dean Ambrose will leave WWE in April has led to one dominant debate: Is it for real?
It is a key concept in sports entertainment that the lines between the real world and the storyline world are often blurred, almost always to benefit the latter.
Ambrose is one of the most private individuals on the WWE roster; he has no presence on Twitter and his Instagram is a bare-bones account which simply posts official WWE pictures with no insight into Jonathan Good, the man behind the on-screen character.
And so, after the announcement was made, there were no clues to be found there, and none on the accounts on those two platforms owned by his wife, Renee Young. It's radio silence all round.
WWE does love its foreshadowing but it is hard to discern much information from Ambrose's recent actions. In the Royal Rumble, he eliminated an NXT star in Johnny Gargano but was then eliminated himself by another one, Aleister Black. Again, not much can be interpreted from that.
Fast-forward to Raw and there was at least a partial hint about the direction of the Ambrose storyline when he took to the ring, microphone in hand and sincere voice very much on.
"I've got something serious I want to say to you all," he began by saying, with the crowd jeering in response, which led to: "Don't be a jerk to me right now, I'm baring my soul to you people here."
Ambrose got as far as "when I signed with WWE" before Nia Jax's music hit and she made her way to the ring with Tamina in tow.
What might have been a CM Punk-style "departing star" warts-and-all promo turned into a cheap shot from behind by Jax. The potential pipe bomb became a plot point in Jax's personal crusade to compete with the male half of the roster.
There are two schools of thought here. One is that Ambrose is being punished for wanting to leave by being made a makeweight in a storyline which is primarily centred around someone else.
The other is that that is what is happening, but that Ambrose is okay with it and that it is playing up his level of unhappiness with the company to make him appear more disgruntled than he actually is.
If the former is true then it is unlikely Ambrose will be coming back to WWE any time soon and that he will be taking some time out. There is an online theory doing the rounds that Ambrose began to see things differently during his recent time out injured, that he has made enough money from wrestling to live comfortably and no longer seeks the spotlight.
But if this is all storyline then it isn't much of a leap to think that will in some way involve his old friend and enemy Seth Rollins.
Rollins is due to face Universal champion Brock Lesar at WrestleMania in what should be a straight-up one-against-one singles match. At least, it should be.
Fans should bear in mind, however, that Rollins has already had a WrestleMania moment, as has the third Shield member, Roman Reigns.
Both men have stood at the top of the ramp as the fireworks go off, their arms in the air and their opponent vanquished in the main event of the biggest show of the year. Ambrose has no such moment on his career highlights reel.
Could his bitterness on that front lead to him departing WWE with a major bang by in some way involving himself in the Rollins-Lesnar match?
Could Ambrose have the last laugh, the ultimate WrestleMania moment which sees him exact a new level of vengeance on his old Shield friend?
We will find out at the MetLife Stadium in April. And we will surely know by then whether the Ambrose storyline is the real life, or if it's just fantasy.