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The WWE anti-hero lineage continues with Dean Ambrose.
In the company's history there have been numerous examples of clean-cut, righteous and traditional hero characters. Ambrose is not one of them. He instead shares kinship with men like Roddy Piper, Steve Austin and CM Punk, departures from good-guy norms.
WWE is still home to straight-laced heroes, John Cena being the most obvious example, but its recent history has seen a number of edgier men with looser moral codes.
Ambrose follows the tradition that Punk most recently carried: You root for him, you cheer for him, but he's not to be trusted.
He's more Han Solo than Luke Skywalker, more Roddy Piper than Ricky Steamboat.

Roddy Piper

The similarities between Ambrose and Piper are plentiful, and with good reason. Men as wild-eyed and unpredictable as those two are rarities.
Like Piper, Ambrose's rage overtakes him. Once a foe has wronged him, he transforms into a rabid dog
One could also easily imagine Ambrose letting his fury lead him to ignoring rules and resorting to tactics normally reserved for heels. In the above video, Piper kisses DiBiase's manager Sherri Martel and then later flips her onto the mat. During a round of crutch-swinging, he even nails the referee.
Ambrose has yet to toss a woman around or clobber a referee with a piece of medical equipment, but imagining him doing so requires no effort.
He's shown himself to be as unstable and unpredictable as Hot Rod.
Listening to him rant about the Money in the Bank briefcase and Triple H, one can't help but flash back to Piper. He cackles and rambles, and his volume shoots up and down.
Those were among Piper's trademarks. Ambrose hasn't been as loud and feverish as Piper, but the two share a similar unhinged quality.

Steve Austin

Austin wasn't one to wait around for an opportunity for vengeance. Most baby faces would limit their pursuit of foes to the ring, following the rules. Not Austin.
His feuds often saw him go far beyond the ropes, just as we've seen from Ambrose.
It's hard to picture Cena lying in wait inside a present or Aisle 5. Ambrose and Austin, though, are harder to control. Anger them and expect to become prey anywhere, anytime. 
There's a fearlessness that bonds these two men as well. Some wrestlers may hesitate to act on their impulses to attack if they know it will put their jobs at risk. The threat of being fired can keep the sane man away, but not the one who feels as if he has nothing to lose.
Austin operated that way throughout much of his career. Ambrose is following suit.
The Texas Rattlesnake went as far as to knock the boss on his back. With security, police and the head of WWE, Vince McMahon, telling him to go one way, Austin would go the other, regardless of the consequences. Getting arrested was not a big enough deterrent to stop him.
Austin wasn't insane like Ambrose is, just an ass-kicker who disregarded the rules. He comes off as more in control, more calculating. Ambrose is more of a Tasmanian devil tossed into an enclosed space.
Opportunities are sure to come, but Ambrose hasn't yet destroyed or hijacked property like Austin did. A car filled with cement and a stolen Zamboni are among the things on Austin's wrap sheet. Ambrose's criminal resume is still in the works.
But if anyone is a safe bet to follow Austin's lead in vehicle vandalism, it's Ambrose.

CM Punk

Both Ambrose and Punk brought most of their gimmicks with them from the Indies. Punk's early days saw him developing the edgy, defiant persona that he eventually displayed on WWE programming.

The result is that they both entered the WWE loaded with experience but also with a ready-made fan base. That helped them get over with fans as baby faces even when they borrowed the aggression and attitude more associated with heels.

Ambrose and Punk may not have connected with fans in a different era. There is something about their irreverence, belligerence and disregard for authority that appeals to today's fans, that fits a less black-and-white wrestling landscape.
Punk drew his own comparisons to Austin and others, but he was something else entirely, a deviation from the status quo.
Like Punk, Ambrose is going to have WWE walk outside its comfort zone. The company can't just follow the booking handbook to present him. Creativity will be required.
That was Punk's story as well. He had to be a part of stories that suited him, fresh, innovative angles where he demanded ice cream bars in his contract or ranted against the company with a live mic in hand.
To best use him, officials would be wise to both look backward and forward. Seeing what worked for Punk, Piper and Austin would be beneficial for Ambrose.
In the end, though, WWE has to cut away a new path for him. Ambrose is his own man, a new species cobbled together from pre-existing ones.