Lesnar pounding Cena at Extreme Rules via WWE.com
I haven't watched Pro Wrestling with any real regularity since the mid 2000's. The in-ring product had become pretty hit and miss, but I could tolerate 10 bad matches for every solid gold performance that might glean through. The absurd storylines I could largely ignore, or just let wash over like the occasional popcorn trash television a lot of us all watch as a guilty pleasure.
What kept me watching as the profession's most solid workers left the business through retirement or tragedy, and as the creative teams chose phoning it in over imagination, was trying to predict the process of it all. In my mind, I became a fan more interested in the booking and psychology to build audience expectation and working out when the optimal time for the pay off would be between two feuding rivals.
I'm under no illusion that Brock Lesnar is likely in WWE for the short term, and naturally WWE aren't going to give him everything on a silver platter at the expense of tearing down the stars they've been cultivating during the 8 years he's been absent. But the booking and handling of Lesnar's match with John Cena at Extreme Rules this past weekend is the exact type of nonsense that turned me off in the first place; it didn't make any sense. In fact, it seemed short sighted with an even shorter term gain for what it was worth.
Why have Cena beat Lesnar in their first match together of the current era? There was very little reference -- if any -- to them meeting before with Lesnar holding a win over him, so most fans would be oblivious it's now one a-piece and so a rubber match could be hyped and sold. I doubt many WWE fans would even know what a rubber match is.
Why even put them in a PPV match so soon? The whole thing was rushed, and the post script of Cena being hurt but cutting a promo about taking time off, only to comeback the next night and get put in a match with a non / no-longer wrestling entity comes across more of a clusterfuck than any dramatic twists and turns of the plot.
Should Lesnar in reality ever share mine and others' frustrations with how he's being used, he is more than capable of going into business for himself by turning any match he's in into a shoot and legit beating any WWE Superstar on the roster in a one-on-one match. There is no one there that could challenge him, and most would be powerless to endure his wrath. The aftermath for the company would be pure chaos, but for us it would be can't miss, must see TV.
Unfortunately today in 2012, it'll never happen.
The days of hook wrestlers shooting and turning the tables on promoters are long gone, and it's debatable if they even really existed beyond the Great Depression era and outside the carnivals. When Karl Gotch famously beat up World Champion Buddy Rogers backstage in the early 1960's under the NWA promotion, and Rogers ended up breaking his hand, Gotch spent a few days in prison to cool off and became blacklisted by American promotions. Gotch, though, never tried to get the belt by turning a work into a shoot, but it was Rogers' refusal to even work a match with him for fear of exactly that happening that caused their scuffle in the first place.
But in 2012, with no real competition left, and WWE being an international powerhouse corporation that floats on the stock market, WWE stars sign contracts formed by a team of high priced lawyers that specialise in lawsuits should these contracts ever be breached. Lesnar could take down and pound out his opponent at the drop of a hat, but if that goes against WWE's interests -- unlike, say, an infamous screw job in the Great White North --, Lesnar stands to lose a lot more than he would have ever gained.
Even those backstage, old school guys near the top of the hierarchy of the WWE machine, who complain we now live in a world where 'The Boys' can no longer get into bar fights with local town tough guys to preserve their image due to an abundance of 'ambulance chasers', will ironically be among the first to scream "Sue!" should someone like Lesnar shoot in a match and harm the company.
Brock Lesnar will never shoot and go into business for himself while working for the WWE. There's too much money on the line that would be lost, and ultimately too much hassle.
Brock Lesnar is too savvy and not crazy enough for this to happen. And for me, it makes watching him undoubtedly get misused in his second WWE stint far less interesting.