In the days immediately following the death of Dusty Rhodes, I spent a significant portion of time reliving some of the more memorable moments of his career outside the confines of the respectful but flawed narrative provided by WWE Network.
The stories between Rhodes and The Four Horsemen are among some of my personal favorites. The most infamous story involving the two sides took place in 1986, when the Horsemen stalked an unsuspecting Rhodes before viciously attacking him with a baseball bat, breaking his arm in the process. This was done in response to an attack on Tully Blanchard orchestrated by Rhodes and Magnum T.A.
The event was chronicled by a cameraman hired by the Horsemen (kayfabe) and produced in such a way that more closely resembled an inside look at a real-life mob hit rather than a scripted pro wrestling segment. The visceral nature of the angle and the style in which it was shot was decades ahead of its time and still holds weight when viewed today.
It is my sneaking suspicion a writer on the current WWE creative team may have recently watched that footage, perhaps for the first time, and drew inspiration from what they saw while writing the final segment of this past Monday’s episode of Raw. In the interest of fairness (and more importantly accuracy) it should be noted that I have no way of confirming or dispelling this concept at present time.
Whether my suspicions are correct or the similarities between the angles is purely coincidental- the criticism remains the same.
Brock Lesnar is not Dusty Rhodes and The Authority is most certainly not The Four Horsemen.
During the height of his career, few wrestlers in the world were more over than Rhodes. His common man persona and his exemplary ability to communicate his blue-collar message to the audience set him apart from any other babyface on the planet. Part of what helped feed that persona was the fact that Rhodes’ was almost always on the chase. Chasing Harley Race. Chasing Ric Flair. Chasing the NWA Heavyweight Title.
The chase of victory through the struggle of constant adversity was what precipitated promos like Hard Times, one of the most compelling pieces of audio ever produced in wrestling history. Without that adversity, Rhodes’ career would have been, in effect, the NWA’s version of Hulk-a-Mania without the 24-inch pythons.
Contrary to his WWE counterpart, Rhodes won the NWA Heavyweight Title three times but only held the title a combined 107 days, including a reign that lasted just five days. His character wasn’t about maintaining his status as champion, it was about overcoming every obstacle put in his way preventing him from becoming champion in the first place.
Obstacles like being mugged by four men attempting to put him out of title contention.
Lesnar, on the other hand, is a monster.
And beasts do not chase, they hunt.
Since returning to WWE in 2012 Lesnar has been the most over performer on the roster. Babyface or heel, it doesn’t matter. He achieved that status by portraying an unstoppable, unforgiving, indiscriminant powerhouse character. WWE has maintained that status by protecting his character from over exposure (contractually obligated though they may be).
For the first time in recent memory, Lesnar appeared on back-to-back episodes of Raw without a pay per view between bookings. A decision undoubtedly fueled by stagnant television ratings and the desperate attempt to inflate WWE Network subscriptions as much as possible leading into the release of second quarter financial data.
Last week we saw the real Lesner. The silent, menacing alpha predator on the hunt. The Lesnar who makes an impact by simply being present.
This week, inexplicably, the alpha predator became the hunted.
Hunted by a champion, who only proved he was capable of defending his title on his own accord just two weeks ago, despite having held the title for close to three months. A champion who, at the first sight of Lesnar last week, immediately backed down and cowered in fear.
His fellow hunters- a once feared leviathan of demonic persuasion turned corporate yes-man and a duo of incompetent stooges seemingly incapable of delivering a cup of coffee without messing up. At least that is the narrative WWE has bent over backwards to depict for the better part of the last year.
It doesn’t take a wrestling historian to figure out, The Four Horsemen they are not.
And yet somehow we are led to believe this gaggle of defected hunters, who have repeatedly shown an inability to coexist up until five seconds prior to springing their attack, have the wherewithal to incapacitate a beast.
This defies logic.
More importantly, it discredits the idea of Lesnar being special.
It turns him into a common man, just a common man working hard for the working man. There is nothing common about Lesnar, he shares no discernible attributes with the audience or the rest of the WWE roster. A fact that has conditioned us to marvel in awe at the spectacle that his Brock Lesnar. Attempting to change that perception at this stage of the game is a baffling exercise in futility that makes about as much sense as putting The American Dream in yellow polka dots.