The WWE Has a Brock Lesnar Problem

Wrestling, like any great drama, is built upon a back and forth battle between good and evil. Neither side can ever get too far ahead of the other during the course of this battle, otherwise, the audience loses interest. If the good guy always wins, it becomes predictable and boring. If the bad guy always wins, the feeling of hope vanishes and people avert their eyes to avoid the crushing emotions associated with your hero failing. Thus, there must be a continuous tug of war between the two to keep the audience invested and hopeful but never too comfortable.

When Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE in 2012 after a successful three year run in UFC, he had a different feel to him. Everybody already knew what he was capable of in the squared circle (he ran roughshod over the WWE in years prior to his stint in UFC), but when he dominated the heavyweight division of a "real fighting" organization his in-ring persona changed. It had to. He returned to the WWE having proved, against the best fighters in the world no less, that he was capable of kicking your ass and there was absolutely nothing you could do about it.

It seems obvious, then, that’s why they immediately put Lesnar in a feud with John Cena upon his return. The resident superhero, Cena had enjoyed success and dominance not seen since the days of Hulkamania running wild on the WWE. The problem though, as it was with Hulk Hogan before him, is that crowds became either angry or bored with Cena. It started to become a matter not of whether Cena would win, but how long of odds he would overcome this time. One on one, two on one, five on one, it didn’t matter; Cena always found a way to Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect his way to victory in the end. The WWE needed a monster that could appear to present an actual challenge to Cena’s reign and Lesnar was the solution to the problem.

After bullying Cena for a few weeks, and legitimately bloodying him with a firm fist to the mouth, Lesnar faced Cena in an "Extreme Rules" match at the so-named pay-per-view. Lesnar completely dominated the match, but Cena used the rules to his advantage and caught Lesnar with a chain-wrapped hand and then delivered an Attitude Adjustment onto the steel steps in order to pick up the victory. The Beast had been defeated, keeping Cena on top of the mountain for now, but it was clear he wouldn’t have been able to do it without help from a foreign object. This quickly became a theme in Lesnar matches from then on.

Mirroring his UFC career, Lesnar only seemed to get stronger after his debut loss. Lesnar has wrestled a combined 40 times since his return to the ring. His record in those matches is 33-7, winning his last 13 in a row, with only two of those losses coming as clean victories in a traditional singles match. (Those two victories, by the way, were to The Undertaker, a certifiable legend, and Goldberg, whose match with Lesnar was really nothing more than a gimmick to attract viewers.) Lesnar’s other five losses came either in an extreme rules setting or in a triple threat match where he wasn’t even involved in the pin.

It’s not just his lack of legitimate losses, though, it has much more to do with his victories and the way he’s earned them. Lesnar hasn’t simply beat people, he’s turned his meetings with some of the biggest names in the company into squash matches. He (officially) beat Big Show in two minutes at the Royal Rumble after wearing him out with repeated chair shots prior to the bell, he ended The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak after suplexing him into oblivion, and when he met up with John Cena again he ragdolled him around the ring for 15 minutes before mercifully pinning him. And this all happened in the span of eight months! Since then, he’s also beat Triple H, Seth Rollins, The Undertaker (again), Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper in a handicap match, Goldberg, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, and Braun Strowman. He was also manhandling Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 31 but couldn’t get the victory before Rollins interrupted with a Money in the Bank cash-in. These are the top guys in the company and the only one to actually have a competitive match with him is one of the least likely to be able to beat him in real life (Styles). With each match that he has, it becomes more and more unbelievable that he is actually capable of losing.

Lesnar has completely decimated and discredited every threat the WWE has created and put in front of him. There is nobody left. To be clear, I don’t simply mean there are no more credible threats (which there are not) but I mean there literally isn’t anybody left that wouldn’t be laughed out of the ring by the fans. Are you really going to put Jinder Mahal in the ring with Brock and act like he can win? Are fans supposed to believe that Finn Balor can beat Brock after watching him suplex Strowman ten times? You could put The Miz, Bobby Roode, and The Usos (all currently champions in the WWE) on a team together to face him and Lesnar would still be the favorite in Vegas.

The WWE brought Lesnar back for the star power, sure, but also so that he could inject their product with legitimacy and credibility. In hindsight, though, they underestimated what they were building with Lesnar. They weren’t creating a foil for Super Cena, they were creating Super Cena on steroids (both figuratively and literally). The unbeatable anti-hero hasn’t added credibility to the WWE, he’s just pulled the curtain back even more, allowing the fans to see just how scripted it all is. The only way that Lesnar can lose is if he allows it to happen. The WWE has painted themselves into a corner and there is nobody there for them to tag.

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