Professional wrestling always has and always will remain a "mark" for crossover appeal. Mainstream acceptance is something wrestling lacks consistently and craves exponentially. When the brass find a new way of grasping onto a period of mainstream coverage, companies have shown a tendency to latch on and wring it dry. Whether it's turning to D-level reality television stars, washed up "real" fighters, shitty musicians, or daughters of wrestlers -- the result is usually the same.
With the recent resurgence of mixed martial arts (MMA) stars returning to the once six-sided ring of IMPACT Wrestling (TNA/VIACOM/BELLATOR) -- the door seems wide open for the phenomenon to occur ever more frequently in the evolving professional wrestling landscape. These "stars" and I use the term loosely, are looking to capitalize on a dwindling stock in their chosen career path and the promotions are looking for segments to be featured, hopefully, on Access Hollywood.
While many look to the recent return of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson *TM* as a shining moment in the wrestler turned movie star genre, I refer to Brock Lesnar and his stellar body of work since returning to WWE in 2012 at the "Night After WrestleMania RAW". (Note: Aside from SummerSlam in his match with Trips last year, trust me it sucked.)
"The Beast Incarnate's" first run in WWE ended in 2004, following what should have been a marquee match in his career -- opposite the man he was somewhat molded from -- Bill Goldberg. What ended up happening soured a stellar first half of a wrestling career most assumed he would eventually someday return to and stunted growth in Lesnar's stock post WWE, at least prior to a brief wannabe stint in the N(X)FL.
The wrestling gods never wanted Lesnar to leave the box known as WWE, but Lesnar, instead of growing stale, being a victim of rehashed story lines, and shitty booking, chose to saunter on. Eventually, he landed in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), positioned himself to be inserted in a match for a heavyweight title, and then got destroyed by viable MMArtists. Not before selling a grip of pay-per-views (PPV) along the way, though.
Something interesting occurred throughout the duration of static sequence of events in the prior paragraph, however. A commitment from Lesnar and WWE to continue the hype for the character "BARRACCKKK LeSSSSSnAAAr" while he was away.
The UFC allowed simple things to go on due to their amicable relationship with fake sports, like Lesnar hype videos similar to those used in the build-up to his match with Rocky at SummerSlam 02', Lesnar cutting heel promos following victories he technically shouldn't have gotten, organic stare downs at UFC events with WWE vets like Undertaker, and never "ruling out the chance of a return." Meanwhile, WWE acknowledged Lesnar's MMA accomplishments on their programming, just as they do today.
A stark contrast from the complete abandonment of wrestling by The Rock in 2004 that carried on until 2010. Sure, he would appear via satellite and returned to induct his father into the Hall of Fame but the tell tale sign he wanted nothing to do with what made him the star he is today was his refusal to discuss the question when asked. The Rock wanted to be a movie star.
Brock Lesnar's current feud with CM Punk is a "super fight" on my personal ballot of dream matches. Both wrestlers represent different views in my taste towards wrestling from the past 20 years and the fact the two are going to tango at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, is epic.
The pairs build-up to the match has been one of brutalistic beauty and Lesnar's heavily scripted promo on RAW last night was a testament -- in my eyes -- to the realness of this feud.
None of this would be happening if Lesnar was not "all in" on his WWE association. A lesson learned most likely following Stone Cold Steve Austin's scathing WrestleMania sendoff. Sure, there is talk of his hatred towards the schedule away from home and lackadaisical attitude during some screen appearances. But since his return, a good majority of his portions of the programming have been must-see.
So must-see that due to the stiff Lesnar style, WWE has been forced to backtrack on lack of blood shown on PG television. Brock is officially 2013's Hardcore Holly-incarnate.
If the worlds of MMA and wrestling, fame is to be interchangeable, the respect must be given on all fronts. Wrestling fans see through a quick way to make a buck and will not buy in to what the booking team intends, thus no one wins. Thus, when someone new attempts the leap, the effect is watered down and the heavily hyped reveal segment falls flat on it's face.
Brock Lesnar is the epitome of the correct way to accomplish such feats. Look for his match on Sunday to be th emarquee match it needs to be to replace the Goldberg debacle.