The Monday Night Raw after Wrestlemania is always one to check out. It usually sets up the stories that will be the focus for the summer months, it’s always a good spot for new characters to debut or returning superstars to reclaim their spots after hiatus from injuries or what have you.
This year, while the cat was let out of the bag a little early diminishing the surprise they had probably hoped for, Brock Lesnar made his return to WWE after an eight year absence, and attacked the WWE’s golden boy, John Cena, who had just come off a loss to The Rock.
It was soon revealed that WWE had signed Lesnar to his new deal for a Million dollars for only 30 appearances. A deal I don’t think even Hulk Hogan could swing in his best politicking day. They build him up as an unstoppable monster, a guy who left WWE to pursue the world of REAL fighting (conveniently omitting his ill-fated pro football career) and came back to beat people up, and first on his list was the guy at the top of the WWE food chain.
I was actually looking forward to that match. Cena is someone who, when he’s working with someone really good, can usually pull out a good match. And Brock, in my estimation, was always a really good worker. There was no one I remember that was both that big and strong that was also as quick and agile as he was. That mixture made him a unique fit against everyone in WWE at the time from Matt Hardy to The Undertaker. This match was also reviving an old feud that I felt never really got off the ground the way it should have in 2003.
Remember, before it was called the Attitude Adjustment, Cena’s finisher was called the FU as a way to mock Lesnar’s F-5.
I had a problem with the build to the match. The company saying that Lesnar, the REAL fighter, was going to legitimize WWE was a horrible move. By calling Lesnar the REAL fighter, it effectively calls everyone else on the roster FAKE fighters.
Are they? Sure! But the essence of professional wrestling is to suspend disbelief for those couple hours and let yourself be immersed in it as if it is a real fight you’re witnessing. It’s perfectly fine, outside of the show, for everyone to point out that it’s choreographed and predetermined, but in the confines of the show it should be treated as a real sport.
Then we get to the match and it was an utter mess. It was drawn out and boring, I was just waiting for something to happen that never really came.
It was revealed in the next week that Lesnar threw a tantrum backstage when Cena took the mic after the match and addressed the crowd. Lesnar thought Cena was trying to undermine the beating he was supposed to have received.
After the dreadful match and the tantrum I was wondering if anyone backstage was questioning the decision to bring him back. After all, this is the guy who, after he had been given everything the company could give, took his ball and went home in a time where they were kinda hurting for top talent as it was.
They then begin the build to Summerslam and the match between Lesnar and Triple H. To keep Lesnar off TV and reserve some dates in that 30 day contract, Paul Heyman does most of the build. But it was a five month build. That is a long time to not see half of the participants in the match.
I’m guessing they thought they could get away with it after successfully building Cena/Rock for a year with Rock hardly ever showing up.
But also during this build, Lesnar is billed as kind of a wimp. Heyman is continually having to speak for him, Lesnar refuses to show up and speak on his own behalf (which is fine cause Lesnar was never the best on the mic) and they even turn down Triple H’s challenge to a match several times.
During the build against Cena, Lesnar continually said that he was an ass kicker and came back to beat people up. Here’s Triple H, offering himself up on a platter to Lesnar and he’s constantly refusing. And when he finally does accept, Triple H is constantly running him off. The unstoppable monster is being chased away by an office executive who hasn’t worked a full time schedule in years.
For this match I’m giving Lesnar the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the first match with Cena was just because Lesnar hadn’t had a match in a long time and had ring rust to work off. Triple H is usually pretty good. Whether you agree with his alleged backstage practices or not, he is as good an in-ring worker as he says he is. He’s much better than John Cena at the very least. So while the buildup was terrible, I thought the match would at least be fun.
Again, it was a mess.
Both of Lesnar’s matches have been booked almost like shoot fights. There’s not a whole lot of flash or pro wrestling to be seen. It’s a lot of ground and pound. And this, to me anyway, is incredibly boring to watch.
I don’t watch a lot of boxing or UFC for this reason. There are a lot of people who like it, and good for them. Those people have their shows to watch, UFC and boxing. Those things belong in those places. When I want to watch that, which is exceedingly rare, I will watch those shows. When I watch pro wrestling, I don’t want to see a shoot fight, I want to see PRO WRESTLING!
This is a big problem with WWE. This is time and money that should be going towards the future of the company. The up and coming stars, the people who are going to be carrying the company after Lesnar’s deal expires and he goes on to the next thing. The guys who are going to be carrying the company when The Rock decides he needs to take another seven year break to focus on Disney remakes and the sequels that Brendan Fraser won’t come back for.
WWE doesn’t have very many stars the caliber of Rock or Lesnar. So instead of trying to bring the roster up and create these stars, they just bring back the ever-aging stars of yesteryear. Sure these guys will get a nostalgia pop. But when it comes time to perform they drop the ball. Lesnar has had two long and boring fights and Rock was blown up just a few minutes into his match with Cena at Mania.
WWE needs to start focusing on their future and let their past be just that.