Bringing it back home

Ohio native Dean Ambrose at ‘Monday Night Raw’

 By: Gary Spencer

Photo: WWE United States Champion and Dayton native Dean Ambrose bring “WWE Monday Night Raw” to Wright State University’s Nutter Center on Jan. 20

Most everyone loves a success story about a local boy done good on a national stage. Dean Ambrose’s story is a little different, as he is a professional wrestler – not exactly a profession for which Ohio is famous.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ambrose cut his teeth on the Ohio independent circuit in the mid-2000s in the Heartland Wrestling Association. Ambrose honed his craft and eventually began drawing offers to work for well-known wrestling promotions all over the world. In 2011, his reputation for cutting mesmerizing interviews and putting on violently entertaining matches drew the attention of the biggest wrestling promotion of all – World Wrestling Entertainment. WWE signed him to a developmental contract, which eventually led to his televised debut as part of the heel faction known as The Shield in November 2012.

Since that time, Ambrose and his partners in crime have left a path of destruction so impressive WWE fans voted The Shield as “Faction of the Year” at the 2013 Slammy Awards back in December. As if that wasn’t enough accomplished in one short year in WWE, Ambrose won the United States Championship and has held the title ever since, putting on some of the best matches on any given pay-per-view or episode of WWE programming.

On Monday, Jan. 20, WWE will be broadcasting its flagship show “Raw” live from The Nutter Center in Dayton, and Dean will be coming back to his home turf to entertain fans both new and old. Dean always pulls out all the stops whether there’s 10 or 10,000 people in attendance, and his track record is a testament to his dedication to his craft as a wrestler and the wrestling business. I got a chance to talk to Dean about his journey to the big time in WWE and here’s what he had to say about it …

I assume you grew up as a wrestling fan. When did you know this was what you were going to do for a living?

My entire life! There wasn’t anything specific or any point in time that triggered that, but I pretty much knew in my head that’s what I was meant to do. I didn’t know how I was gonna get there, but I just had a feeling about it. -Dean Ambrose

What was your road leading up to working for WWE like?

I trained for a year before I even had a match. One of the first matches I ever had was at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Dayton. From there, I started wrestling in Chicago and then Indianapolis and then Philadelphia, and soon I was crisscrossing the country every weekend in a beat up jalopy for like 50 bucks, just getting experience. By the time I got [to WWE], I had wrestled in so many different places. In that time, I had a giant amount of experience to rely on and became very confident in my job. -DA

So, what’s it like working for WWE?

It’s been a whirlwind from the day [The Shield] started on television. We come through the crowd and feel that energy night after night. We’ve worked with all the top stars – John Cena, Undertaker, The Rock, (WWE World Heavyweight Champion) Randy Orton, etc. It’s surreal to be a part of this. You get to travel the world on someone else’s dime and you’re never really home. If you like being at home, WWE is not for you! -DA

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about professional wrestling?

[The] biggest misconception is it’s fake, it doesn’t hurt and everything is scripted in and out of the ring – those are the big ones. Not everything is scripted. Things change on the fly and you have to react to think on your feet. You only get one chance to get it right since it’s live. Nothing about it is fake. It all hurts. I feel the toll of what all I’ve put my body through year after year, but hopefully I’ll come out on the better end of it. -DA

Why do you think people should come to a WWE live event?

The cool thing about a WWE live event as opposed to TV is the energy is totally different. You’re closer to the action and you’re part of the energy of the crowd, free to cheer or boo or do whatever you want to do. You should kick yourself if you don’t see it firsthand. It’s an unforgettable experience. -DA

Are you looking forward to performing in your home state of Ohio at this upcoming broadcast of “Raw” in Dayton?

Yep. Cincinnati, Dayton … it’s my original turf. I know the area really well and I know a lot of people there. It’s neat to come back to the same towns I used wrestle in dingy bars with 50 seats or what have you. It’s a cool thing coming back to Ohio in a huge arena. Looking back on the area reminds me of who I am. -DA

“WWE Monday Night Raw” takes place on Monday, Jan. 20 at Wright State University’s Nutter Center, 3640 Colonel Glenn Highway. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets range from $15 to $95. For more information, please visit


Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at 


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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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