I have a confession to make: once upon a time I was a Dean Ambrose fangirl.

Ambrose was my favorite member of The Shield back in the day, and luckily for me and the rest of the WWE Universe the Hounds of Justice are back. In celebration, here are five fast facts about the Lunatic Fringe! (You can also check out five fast facts about Seth Rollins here!)

5. He had a very rough upbringing

Ambrose’s childhood was not an easy one. He hails from Cincinnati’s East End, where he lived with his family in public housing. In an interview with Slam Sports, Ambrose revealed that, growing up in his neighborhood, “every day was a struggle”:

“For instance, there were times that I would have to cave in and do something like sell somebody’s drugs, just so I wouldn’t get beaten half to death. But then there were other times where dudes would catch me walking by and try to push me around, and I had to draw a line, even if I was gonna get pulverized. I ended up earning respect that way — not that I cared, I just wanted out.”

Ambrose would eventually use wrestling as his ticket out, and his rough upbringing has undoubtedly influenced his in-ring persona.

4. He dropped out of high school to pursue professional wrestling

Ambrose is very “old school” compared to many of the other wrestlers on WWE’s current roster, and that includes how he got his start in the business. Ambrose discovered ECW when he “was 12 or 13 […] and fell in love with it immediately.” Not long after, he turned up at Les Thatcher’s Heartland Wrestling Association and asked to be trained; but Thatcher turned him down, saying he couldn’t train until he turned 18. But Ambrose wouldn’t give up so easily:

“He charged something like three grand but he said I could come back and watch practice later. I left fuming and was this close to slashing his tires, then I calmed down and came back later and met Cody Hawk. He was cool and sort of took me under his wing, and let me be on the ring crew and sell concessions.”

Hawk agreed to train Ambrose on the side for free until he was old enough to officially join the HWA training program. After a year of training, he dropped out of high school to pursue his dream – and the rest is history.

Next Up, a fun fact about Dean and his wife, another WWE employee!

3. He and Renee Young eloped in their backyard… at 1 a.m.

It’s no secret that Ambrose and WWE’s resident backstage interviewer Renee Young are an item, but unlike other WWE couples they’ve kept their relationship pretty private. Case in point: they were legally married for nearly two weeks before the news came out – and their wedding ceremony was exactly what you’d expect from Ambrose.

Young explained to E! News that they’d already had a marriage license for six months when they decided out of the blue to elope in their backyard at 1 a.m., courtesy of a pastor they found on Yelp:

“We were going to bed! We were going to bed and he like busted out the ring and we were like, ‘Oh man I guess we should do this now.’ So we ended up going on Yelp and we found a 24-hour pastor to come to our backyard. It was so handy and his name was Pastor Pete and he lived around the corner from us, so he was there. They were very concerned by the way because it was 1 o’clock in the morning, so technically it was Sunday and they were very concerned about us calling, they were like, ‘Is everything OK? Have you guys been drinking? What’s happening?’ We’re like, ‘It’s fine, you can come down.’ So we had to get a witness and we called and woke up a friend of ours and got it done.”

Yup, sounds about right.

2. His favorite wrestler growing up was Bret Hart

If Terry Funk were dead, people would say that Dean Ambrose is Funk reincarnated. However, while Ambrose initially got hooked on wrestling thanks to his discovery of ECW, it wasn’t Funk who he idolized – it was Bret “The Hitman” Hart.

In a 2015 interview, Ambrose revealed that he “was never a Hulkamaniac” growing up, and that he liked Hart because “he was the realistic, relatable guy” among a “giant litany of bullies” who always found a way “to outsmart them, out trick them, outlast them.” Considering Ambrose’s rough upbringing, it’s no wonder he liked those qualities about Hart.

1. He’s the longest reigning United States Champion in modern WWE history

Currently, Ambrose and Seth Rollins are the reigning Raw Tag Team Champions and Roman Reigns is in pursuit of the Intercontinental Championship. But during The Shield’s first run, it was Rollins and Reigns who were the tag champs – and Ambrose became one of the most successful United States champions history.

At 351 days, Ambrose is the longest-reigning United States Champion under the WWE banner. He’s also the third-longest reigning U.S. Champion overall, behind Rick Rude (378 days) and Lex Luger (523 days).

There it is – five fast facts about Dean Ambrose? Did you learn anything new or unexpected about the Lunatic Fringe? Share your thoughts and comments below!

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