i think you should talk about the dean/roman dynamic because you're excellent and i could read you talk about it forever. /chinhands
OH GODDDDDDD. Okay, this is going to be LONG, LONG, SUPER OMEGA LONG BECAUSE IT’S ALL I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT SINCE THE BREAKUP.
The thing is, on paper, Dean and Roman should have never been friends, let alone soulmates. Dean and Seth have always been touted as the different sides of the coin, the light to the other’s darkness. Destined to dance together until they die.
But Dean and Roman? On paper, they are complete and total opposites. Not just in terms of their personalities, but who they are and what each of them represents on both a meta and real life level. Dean is cut from the Daniel Bryan/CM Punk mold, a guy who had to fight and claw and scratch his way to become the best in a business that looks down on guys like him. Roman’s the chosen one, his pedigree and heritage alone make him valuable, but he’s also big and strong and incredibly, traditionally handsome. WWE brass (in kayfabe, obviously not in real life) looks at Dean and sees nothing; they look at Roman and see money.
So they shouldn’t work at all. It’s my head canon that Dean is the one who created the Shield; I talked about this before in this post, with his confrontation with Mick Foley at Wrestlemania 28 being the catalyst. He of course recruited Seth first because to him, Seth was and has always been his destiny. He then recruited Roman not only because of his physical strength, but because I think Dean would like the symmetry of legends in the business being taken out by the son of a Hall of Famer.
Of course there were going to be arguments at first. They’re both so different, yet fueled by the same desire; to be the best. Their individual motivations for being the best are, of course, different; Dean’s need for validation and acceptance due to his inferiority complex and abandonment issues are what drives him, and Roman’s need to prove himself beyond his name drives him.
But it wasn’t just about their individual competitive natures; it was about Dean’s fear of abandonment, too. Seth and Roman are Dean’s first real, genuine relationships, whether you take that in a platonic or romantic context. He’s never had a single positive influence in his life, and he has never had any example of positive, loving relationships to emulate. He’s never been taught how equality works; he learned very, very early that nothing comes without a price, and that people will leave the instant they have what they want from him. And watching Roman hit that hot streak, getting all these wins and accolades and respect hits that panic button inside him, the one encased in glass with a sign on it saying “In case of abandonment, press here.” So he lashes out because if he lashes out first, if he makes them leave, then it won’t hurt as much. In theory, anyway.
And Roman? Roman’s never known anyone like Dean. Having grown up in a stable, loving environment, he has no idea what it feels like to be scared, all the fucking time, every second of every day. Which Dean is, he’s terrified at all times. Not of physical pain, not of being beaten down and dragged through the dirt, because that’s what he’s always known. He’s terrified of being left behind, and he’s terrified of being left behind with only himself for company. Roman, having such a strong sense of self, having such a strong foundation of support from family and friends, has no idea what this feels like. So he doesn’t know how to come at Dean, he doesn’t know what to do or say to make Dean understand that just because his own career is on the rise doesn’t mean he thinks Dean is weak, or that he’s gonna leave Dean and Seth (because in Dean’s mind, Seth’s never going to walk away, after all, he had every reason to when they were in FCW but he didn’t) once the going gets good. Essentially, during that Survivor Series 2013-Shield Summit timeframe, they were speaking different languages to each other, and the other wasn’t fluent in it.
The Shield Summit changed all that. Yes, Seth was at the first the glue, the one common link they had to bridge the gap between them, but Seth’s walkout during the match with the Wyatts was the catalyst for Dean and Roman to metaphorically buy language translation books so they could finally understand each other. Seeing Dean’s reaction when Seth walked out finally made Roman realize that it’s not just that Dean has a dumb inferiority complex, he has a legitimate, paralyzing fear of being left. For Dean, seeing Seth leave the both of them kinda soothed him in a weird, only-makes-sense-to-Dean kind of way. Seth didn’t just leave Dean, he left Roman, too, which means that he’s not the sole problem. I think that was a major relief for him.
And then Roman did the one thing Dean never thought he would do; he stayed. He could have walked away. He could have said fuck it, this is ridiculous, I’m out and followed Seth. But he didn’t.
To me, that was the moment when Dean was finally able to sort Roman into a very, very small compartment in his heart titled Mine.
What’s so impressive to me, and probably the number one reason that I ship them so hard now, is that after the Shield Summit, Roman made the conscious, active decision to learn how to communicate with Dean, to speak Dean’s language. He not only learned how to speak Dean’s language, but he found a way to teach Dean his language without spooking Dean or insinuating to Dean that his way was better. And after the Shield Summit, with Dean finally feeling confident that Roman wasn’t going to leave, he was finally in a place where he could be receptive of Roman’s affection and not view it as manipulation or worse, pity.
But then Seth walked away for good. And he hasn’t just walked away; he’s doing everything in his power to destroy Dean mentally and emotionally. I haven’t exactly worked out in my head just why Seth’s hellbent on destroying Dean, why it was just seemingly business with Roman and so personal with Dean (my gut feeling tells me this stems all the way back to their FCW feud, which holy God just fucking kill me now if Seth’s been planning from the very fucking beginning to earn Dean’s trust and his love only to stab him in the heart). What I do know, though, is that Seth’s betrayal brought about the climax of the most personal, most bloody war Dean has ever fought; the war against himself.
But what I saw the following week really clinched the deal for me in terms of Ambreigns being the ultimate OTP to out OTP other OTPs. What Seth did brought the monster in Dean to the surface, and even just a year ago, that monster would have won. Dean could have easily given in and let that monster take control for good. He could have listened to that monster whispering in his ear, warning him that if Seth could leave, then Roman will, too. But he didn’t. He stood in the ring with Roman, and smiled at him, and proclaimed to the world that nothing, not Triple H, not the Authority, not his demons was going to stop him from being with his best friend.
The fact that he’s going through one of the biggest, most painful betrayals of his life, and he hasn’t pushed Roman away speaks volumes about his love, respect, and devotion for Roman. He’s chosen Roman over the monster inside him.
Essentially through Roman, Dean has chosen his humanity.