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CLEVELAND — At WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs … and Stairs, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt used every implement at their disposal in the night’s main event, a gruesome display befitting the final battle in WWE’s version of the demolition derby. However, after both off-kilter warriors littered the arena with bent steel and splintered wood, it was Wyatt who would emerge as the victor. However, despite liberal use of each of the weapons set up on the ramp and at ringside, “The New Face of Fear’s” conquest would ultimately be decided by another piece of hardware entirely.
Ever since denying Ambrose a victory over his “brother”-turned-rival Seth Rollins at WWE Hell in a Cell, Wyatt has been utterly obsessed with The Lunatic Fringe, delving into the unstable Superstar’s troubled past to unearth painful memories of an absentee father and a childhood wracked with turmoil as a result. This kind of psychological warfare would break other Superstars, but Wyatt’s mind games have apparently only shaken loose Ambrose’s already-tenuous grip on sanity. Even after The Eater of Worlds caused severe injury to Ambrose’s throat during the Dec. 5 SmackDown, the unhinged former United States Champion rallied back just days later on Raw, emerging from the back of an ambulance and vowing to eat Wyatt alive at WWE TLC. Based on the look in Ambrose’s eyes as he strode into battle, Ambrose was ready to feast.
Just as he viciously destroyed Wyatt’s rocking chair at the beginning of the month, The Lunatic Fringe set out to tear the backwoods preacher apart in the night’s main event. Wasting no time, the 2014 Breakout Star of the Year Slammy Award winner kicked off this cacophony of carnage by tossing a ladder right into Wyatt’s face. Ambrose followed up by pummeling his foe on the entrance ramp with a furious barrage of punches, kicks and headbutts. After briefly battling in the ring — a locale that hosted only a handful of moments in this wild clash — both Superstars took the fight into the WWE Universe as the Cleveland fans took out their smartphones to capture Instagram-worthy snapshots of the arena-spanning brawl. In just one of his many gravity-defying feats in this match, Ambrose astonishingly leapt off the WWE TLC Kickoff Panel desk, an attack that left Wyatt vulnerable to a rapid succession of steel chair blasts.
Utilizing a variety of weapons the way an artist might work in oil or watercolors, Ambrose added one of his favorite tools to the fray when he teed off on his nemesis with a kendo stick. As Ambrose continued to take great pleasure in creative ways to punish The Eater of Worlds, Wyatt waited for the opportune moment to strike, nailing The Lunatic Fringe with a stiff shot to the jaw that sent Ambrose flying off the top rope and through a table set up at ringside.
Now, Wyatt would have his fun.
Repaying Ambrose’s aggression with some cruelty of his own, Wyatt battered Ambrose with a kendo stick before nearly sealing a victory when he splayed Ambrose’s body atop a ladder and hit his foe with a wince-inducing splash. Regaining control after his near-defeat, Ambrose attempted to finish off Wyatt with Dirty Deeds, but Wyatt escaped and nearly took Ambrose’s head off with a sickening clothesline.
Somehow, Ambrose not only withstood Wyatt’s onslaught, but seemed to enjoy it. Like a kid on Christmas, Ambrose took the fight up the entrance ramp yet again, setting Wyatt up on a table and driving his adversary through the pine with an elbow drop off a ladder. Then, like a real-life instant replay, Ambrose performed the exact same maneuver again! The unstable Superstar seemed to have the match sewn up after these two incredible and potentially self-destructive feats, but he’d have to get Wyatt into the ring and score the pinfall on The Eater of Worlds to win the match.
Bringing Wyatt back into the ring to put an end to the chaos, Ambrose shockingly fell victim to Wyatt’s Sister Abigail, which came without warning. Through sheer force of will, Ambrose kicked out and, frustrated, Wyatt scooped up his prey and attempted Sister Abigail yet again. The wily Ambrose escaped the maneuver, and sent Wyatt flying face-first into a ladder and then hit the backwoods preacher with Dirty Deeds! Astoundingly, Wyatt kicked out. Knowing he had to get a bit more creative and a whole lot more vicious, Ambrose shoved the ring skirt aside in search of new treasures. He found a small TV monitor, gazed into it with unsettling focus and saw all the “unwrapped toys” by the entrance. He’d gotten an idea, and it wouldn’t be pretty.
Marching up the entrance ramp, Ambrose selected the tallest, strongest ladder in the bunch like a proud father choosing the family Christmas tree, and hoisted the massive hardware to ringside where Wyatt lay prone. After warning the Spanish announce team to disperse, Ambrose used the steel stairs to send a chair into Wyatt’s windpipe — the same attack that Wyatt used to send Ambrose to the hospital one week earlier — then hit The Eater of Worlds with an incredible elbow drop off the towering ladder that obliterated the Spanish announce table.
Rolling Wyatt back into the ring, Ambrose blew his enemy a macabre kiss goodbye before attempting to smash the TV monitor he’d found earlier over his foe’s face. However, when the cord snapped, a shower of sparks temporarily blinded Ambrose, leaving him vulnerable to yet another Sister Abigail and the pinfall.
We’ve seen Ambrose bounce back from injury before, and he undoubtedly has a lot of unfinished business with Wyatt after WWE TLC. What retribution does The Lunatic Fringe have in mind?