clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Brock Lesnar's WWE return on Monday Night Raw demonstrates the power of the 'it factor'

He's a former WWE champion who hasn't held a title in years, retired from mixed martial arts (MMA) after getting clowned in back-to-back fights and only shows up a few times a year. So why the hell are we always so excited to see Brock Lesnar?

Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

Before I get started, I'd just like to point something out: Paul Heyman can do more to advance a storyline with one facial expression than most guys can do with an entire promo.

He's got the gift.

That's what makes him the perfect 'Master' to Brock Lesnar's 'Blaster' (conflation FTW!), because the pasty-faced recluse out of Minnesota doesn't bring much to the table these days. The good news is, he doesn't have to, all he has to do is show up.

We'll do the rest.

On Monday night, when Lesnar returned to save Paul Heyman and break Vince McMahon's pelvis (see the video here), I couldn't help but go bananas like the pro wrestling mark that I am. My wife, disgusted, asked me why I was always cheering for "The Brockness Monster."

I didn't have an answer.

It's no secret he sucks on the stick. And for all the heat some hardcore fans give "The Rock," Lesnar is no different. He came back at a time that suited him for a fat paycheck and limited number of contractually-obligated appearances. The only difference, I suppose, is that Dwayne Johnson is probably happy to be there.

I get the feeling Brock couldn't care less -- one way or the other.

But I had to sit there and listen to Lady H run him down until finally, defensively, I fired back and asked her straight-up, why she hated him so much. What did Lesnar ever do that was so awful? Was my wife of 13 years suddenly a Triple H fan, mourning his multiple fractures?

As it turned out, she didn't have an answer, either.

I wasn't letting her off the hook that easily, so I continued to press, and the best explanation she could come up with? "He looks like that bully who beats up other kids and steals their lunch money." Bottom line: She sees Brock Lesnar and has an immediate reaction.

Also known as the "O'Doyle Rules!" principle.

Lesnar hasn't held a WWE title in nearly 10 years. His final two fights in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) were total one-sided ass kickings, one of which left him with a permanent scar running down his cheek. He also turns 36 in just a few months and will likely be limited in his offense moving forward.

But none of that matters.

All Lesnar has to do is show up and he gets a reaction. He doesn't need to wear a belt or work a regular schedule and as we've seen, he doesn't even need to beat John Cena's "Tao of deception." That's the "it factor," ladies and gents, something you can't teach, train for, or inject.

You either got it, or you don't.

It also calls attention to the strange dichotomy between WWE's biggest names and its most important message: "Don't be a bully, be a star." Brock Lesnar, like many of today's headliners, is both. My wife boos the former and I cheer the latter, while still pretending they're mutually exclusive.

Maybe kayfabe isn't dead after all.