Booking Brock Lesnar
April 30, 2012
I teased this commentary on twitter earlier today, saying something to the effect that this commentary was to show that most of the people bitching that WWE killed Brock Lesnar by having John Cena beat him at the Extreme Rules PPV last night are narrow minded. Upon posting that I of course was inundated with people saying how they agree with me completely that they thought beating Brock Lesnar made total sense and was absolutely the right move.
These two extreme views (pun intended) are really what inspired this commentary. I've been in the wrestling business for more than 20 years now and if there is one thing I've learned is that there are almost no absolutes. Almost no decision is absolutely 100% clear cut and even bad decisions are almost never uncorrectable. It is with that thinking that I take exception to all of those who freaked out saying that "WWE killed Brock Lesnar with the loss last night, and effectively flushed the whole angle down the toilet." There is more than one ways to skin a cat and I'm going to present what I would do Booking Brock Lesnar from this point forward and present a case on why Cena winning last night was not the worst decision ever made.
With all that said let me be clear, if it were up to me I would not have beat Brock Lesnar last night; I am just presenting an argument on why WWE may have decided to do so and offering what my booking strategy would be moving forward.
For those that argue that a loss in his first match is a burial and kills Brock as a PPV draw I would like to point out Brock Lesnar's UFC run and what happened there. Brock was one of, if not the biggest PPV draws in UFC history. UFC brought Brock Lesnar into the real world of MMA from the (I hate to use this word but it illustrates my point) fake world of Pro Wrestling. If there was ever a case where a guy needing credibility right out of the gate this was it and what happened in Brock's first UFC fight? Not only did he get beat, he tapped out in 90 seconds. Did this kill Brock Lesnar? Was Brock Lesnar dead as a PPV draw? Of course he wasn't, he came back, dominated, won the UFC Heavyweight Title, and drew a ton of money for UFC, and he could still do that for WWE if booked correctly moving forward.
Now certainly the argument can be made that Brock would have been an even bigger draw in UFC had he not lost that first fight, but I'm not 100% sure of that, because the Mir rematch was a gargantuan money maker, and more to the point I'm not arguing that beating Brock was the best choice just not necessarily the worst won either.
Now let's look at some of the up sides to beating Brock at Extreme Rules. Brock Lesnar is a guy that does not love pro wrestling and in his last run in WWE he beat almost every big Star in the company and then quit. While he did do a job on the way out the program he was in on his way out was with Bill Goldberg who unfortunately was also leaving the company. So Brock essentially beat the entire WWE roster and the only guy who managed to beat him wasn't sticking around either. That has to be at least a small concern when moving forward with Lesnar now. Is it safe to book him undefeated for a long stretch? In a perfect word yes, because it will mean more when he eventually loses, but Pro-Wrestling is seldom if ever a perfect world. I've even heard arguments that he should go undefeated all the way to WrestleMania for the ultimate show down with either Rock or Undertaker. While again that sounds great on paper there are two concerns. 1: Will he make it to WrestleMania without, getting hurt, becoming ill again, or quitting? And 2: Do you want him beating your entire roster for a year to eventually get beat by a guy who much like at Mania XX with Goldberg, isn't sticking around after that match?
With all that in mind, I can understand why WWE might want to hedge their bets a little and get a win on the books over Brock for one of their tops stars, and once you've made that decision doing it first is not only the safest way but also gives you the most amount of time before WrestleMania to build him back up. He can now go on an 11 month winning streak to build to WrestleMania if they want and if anything goes wrong along the way and Lesnar leaves they have the footage of John Cena pinning Brock that they can air time and time again. With that out of the way let's look at the booking possibilities going forward because there are some amazing parallels that can be drawn.
Exactly like his UFC career Brock lost his first match in to a former Heavyweight Champion in a match he looked very strong and dominant in. After that match many critics said he was done and the Mir loss exposed him. Tonight on RAW you could have Johnny Ace cut a promo on Lesnar saying that he didn't pay him all this money and give in to all of his contract demands to have him lose to John Cena. In response Lesnar could point out that it was a lucky punch with a steel chain wrapped around it and he could fight Cena 1000 times and he'd beat him 999 of them; last night was that one fluke. Johnny could then challenge Lesnar to prove he's everything he claims to be and book him against a strong top level guy, on the June PPV in a "Must Win" type match for Lesnar.
Again this mirrors his UFC career in that his second fight was against the fairly strong MMA veteran Heath Herring in a match many people viewed as a "Must Win" fight for Lesnar speculating that UFC would cut their losses and release him should he lose the Herring fight. Brock went on to dominate Herring in a completely one sided affair. This is how I would book Lesnar in WWE. Book him in a match on the June PPV with a long standing veteran of WWE, perhaps The Big Show and have Brock completely dominate and destroy him in his next fight.
From here I would book Lesnar in a WWE Title match at the July PPV. This again would mimic Brock's UFC run because his third UFC fight was against Randy Couture for the UFC Heavyweight Title. If you wanted to protect CM Punk you could always hold a draft before then and switch the WWE and World Titles from RAW and SmackDown and have Brock beat Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Title instead. In his post match victory celebration Brock freaks out and goes all nutty screaming at the crowd and anyone who will listen, "Can You See Me Now...Can You See Me Now"? This is of course the same line he used in UFC and also sets up the Summer Slam rematch with Mr. "You Can't See Me" John Cena.
This moves us into August and the big Summer Slam rematch with John Cena, the former champion who beat him in his WWE return debut. Once again mimicking his UFC run, where he faced Frank Mir at UFC 100 in the much anticipated rematch. While I would not expect Summer Slam to set an all time record like Lesnar vs. Mir II did, I contend it could be a very strong Main Event draw. In the rematch Brock Lesnar gets his win back in dominant fashion and retains the WWE or World Title and can cut the promo: "John Cena had a horseshoe up his ass, I told you people that 4 months ago, well I pulled that son of a bitch out and beat him over the head with it...WOOOOO"
From here WWE can do what they want. Brock is over very strong, and you have 7 months to build him to WrestleMania, to face either The Undertaker or The Rock or even the rubber match with Cena if you like.
Again in closing I am not saying this is a better approach than keeping him undefeated, or the best way to do things moving forward, just illustrating that there are options and anyone who thinks beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is only one way to do something, really doesn't know what they are talking about.
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