A few days ago, Brock Lesnar made his return to the world of mixed martial arts with a glorified destruction of Mark Hunt. Lesnar looked strong, agile and powerful as he dominated the fight, which he won by a unanimous decision. If Lesnar wanted to, he probably could be a top level mixed martial artist for a few more years, but he’s also a professional wrestler, signed with WWE. This creates an interesting set of circumstances and a problem which we’re going to look at today.
Flash back with me to “Wrestlemania XXXII” where Lesnar fought a man who would be WWE World Champion in just a few months: Dean Ambrose. This match was little more than a squash with Ambrose only getting in a few shots before being completely destroyed in about thirteen minutes. Now I’m supposed to buy Ambrose as the best in the world? Why should I, when he could barely stay on offense for more than three seconds against Lesnar? The problem was very simple: Lesnar was just too much for Ambrose and there wasn’t enough he could to do stop the Beast.
This formula has basically been the case for the majority of Lesnar’s recent matches. He did this to Luke Harper at “Roadblock 2016”, Big Show at “Live From MSG: Lesnar vs. Big Show”, Seth Rollins at “Battleground 2015”, Kofi Kingston at “Beast in the East”, Roman Reigns at “Wrestlemania XXXI” and probably most famously, John Cena at “Summerslam 2014”.
However, there are some other instances where this wasn’t the case. Lesnar had a competitive series against Undertaker, who even beat him (albeit in controversial fashion) at one point. Cena also defeated Lesnar at one point, as did Triple H. CM Punk also came very close, despite not being a power guy who could hang with Lesnar toe to toe.
This is where I want to point the focus. Punk was about ninety pounds lighter than Lesnar and shouldn’t have been able to do a thing against him physically. However, at “Summerslam 2013”, Punk took Lesnar to the limit in an outstanding twenty five minute match where Paul Heyman had to interfere to save Lesnar from being defeated. The match had no disqualifications and Punk had to use several weapons to stay competitive, but stay competitive he did. Now why was Punk able to hang with Lesnar for so long?
It’s very simple: it’s because that’s how WWE booked the match. This is where WWE completely loses me these days. I understand that Lesnar is a bigger, stronger and more skilled performer than anyone else in WWE, but why do you have to book your wrestlers as such? What’s stopping you from having them compete competitively against Lesnar in a big match?
In a mixed martial arts match, Lesnar would probably destroy Punk as Lesnar has more training and experience, not to mention size and power. However, that’s not what WWE went with because the match would have probably lasted all of three minutes instead of the twenty five that they needed to fill out the card. It also wouldn’t have been good for business to have Punk get squashed like he likely would have in real life. So why does WWE insist on having most of Lesnar’s matches go that way?
Think about it. At the end of the WWE, everything WWE does is scripted and planned out. If they wanted to, they could have Heath Slater come out and beat Lesnar in ten seconds. Of course it’s unrealistic, but so is almost anything WWE does more often than not. Now I’m certainly not saying you have Lesnar go out and get squashed or beaten cleanly more often than not, but why in the world do you need to book him as someone no one can even touch?
Consider one Hulk Hogan. There’s a very simple concept called the Hogan Formula: take a monster (Kamala, King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd, Killer Khan, it could be anyone), have them squash various people and then have Hogan punch them a lot to retain the title with some Hulking Up thrown in there.
Was Hogan really that much better than they are and did the power of the Hulkamaniacs really dive him that much further? Of course not, but that’s how the matches were booked because that’s how it drew the most money. It wouldn’t make business sense to have Hogan lose so soundly and have almost no recourse like so many of Lesnar’s opponents today have.
It’s not just WWE either. Look back at Jerry Lawler in Memphis. Lawler fought every major heel of his era, along with actually fighting Jason Vorhees and Leatherface. Yes as in the monsters from the slasher movies. They can’t be stopped over the course of several movies each but Lawler beats them with a right hands, a fireball and a piledriver. Amazing how the rules change in professional wrestling no?
What I don’t understand is why WWE has gone out of their way to make their wrestlers seem so far beneath Lesnar. That may be true in real life but for some reason WWE forgets that they’re not a real combat sport. They can control whatever they want and it really doesn’t make them look good to have their people be treated like trash that Lesnar comes in to beat up every now and then.
Going back to the Ambrose match, what was stopping WWE from having Ambrose’s offense work against Lesnar and make the match a big slugout? Ambrose isn’t a trained martial artist or anything like that but he’s a hard hitting fighter who could stay with Lesnar just due to never giving up. You know, like the entire story they had set up for the match before Lesnar squashed him like a grape.
People have been asking who WWE can possibly throw at Lesnar now and have it be a realistic fight. The answer, as it has been since the beginning of wrestling, is anyone they build up properly as a threat. It could be Roman Reigns, it could be Seth Rollins, it could be AJ Styles or it could Jimmy Uso.
Have them avoid the German suplexes or tire Lesnar out or hit a few lucky shots or just be able to strike with him or whatever else you can come up with. The point is WWE controls how those matches go and there’s no reason they have to book Lesnar as this unstoppable monster. Of course it might not be realistic, but why in the world would I watch professional wrestling if I wanted to see something realistic?
If wrestling was booked as a shoot or based on who knew the most wrestling holds, Dean Malenko vs. William Regal would have headlined multiple Wrestlemanias. However, that’s not how this business works. Instead you see people who can draw the most money going out and having competitive matches with each other. For some reason WWE has decided to book Lesnar in a realistic manner, which doesn’t seem to be paying the same dividends. That one idea is only going to carry you so far and you can only see him German suplex people so many times before it gets old.
So what if WWE books someone as being able to hang in a fight with Lesnar? Is WWE suddenly worrying about insulting the intelligence of UFC fans and purists who already seem to hate what WWE does in the first place? The point is very simple: Lesnar may be athletically superior to probably everyone on the WWE roster, but there’s no reason you have to tell that story. WWE can write whatever story they want and for some reason they’re writing one that makes their wrestlers look pathetic. I’m not sure what benefit that has for them, but it might be time for a rewrite.
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