Sometimes, even when you know something is coming, you're still not quite ready for it, you know?
It kind of felt like that when the most spoiled surprise in spoiler history took center stage on Raw. Triple H accepted Paul Heyman's proposed "Plan C", and Brock Lesnar will face John Cena at SummerSlam on August 17, 2014 in Los Angeles for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Because it's this series' gimmick, and because the one behind the one in twenty-one and one told us all last night that it doesn't matter which side of the fence we want to ride on, here are some reasons we're pumped for the return of the Beast Incarnate, and all that that might entail, and a few things we're worried about...
On the one hand:
1) It's Brock FREAKING Lesnar.
There's a reason this guy gets millions of dollars of Vince McMahon's money for three or four matches a year. Five minutes of jogging in place and smirking when his lawyer says bad ass $#!+ about him and we're giggling like schoolgirls.
Very few people in the history of sports or entertainment have the physical presence and charisma of the Minnesotan. Vince knows it. Dana White knows it. Roger Goodell knows it and would have marketed the crap out of it if Lesnar was an even adequate enough football player to make the Vikings practice squad. Someone in Hollywood knows it and would put him in a movie today if he could talk or was interested.
He's gonna work stiff, and when he doesn't, it's going to look like he did. He bloodied Cena in their Extreme Rules match-up in 2012. He concussed The Undertaker a few months ago. Even when we knew that he didn't really break Hunter or Shawn Michaels' arms, you wouldn't have been shocked if someone told you that, yeah, he really did.
Brock Lesnar was a dominant Heavyweight Champion in the preeminent mixed martial arts company in the world. Brock Lesnar broke the unbreakable WrestleMania streak of an all-time great - and possibly ended his career in the process despite the fact that their fight was "fake".
If you have any interest in real or scripted combat sports, you will watch whatever he does next in a ring or cage, because you will not be able to look away.
2) Ladies and gentlemen...
The only thing that undercuts the impact of Lesnar's physical presence is his verbal one. Fans like to remember the puzzling booking decision to have Brock lose his first match back in WWE a couple of years ago. Equally or more mystifying was the company's belief that they could send him out to handle his own business on the stick.
One "can you feel the feelings that I'm feeling" promo latter, and Paul Heyman returned to our television screens. And it was good.
The advocate deserves a ton of credit for keeping the heat on himself and his client during Brock's three months off after 'Mania. We can debate whether or not he has the touch to get new acts over at this stage of his career, but I can't see any argument that he is not an elite microphone assassin. What he did last night was a master class in working an audience and hyping an event. Whether you went into that segment thinking you were going to be cheering Cena or hoping for his fall, you left it a little scared for his safety and 100% committed to seeing their match.
THIS is what Paul Heyman does, and should be doing for WWE, at this point in his career. Let him loose on the biggest attraction and he will make it seem like the biggest thing in the history of big things.
3) This feels BIG.
We in the internet wrestling community (IWC) lobby for a lot of things.
Fresh faces in the main event. Rewards and respect for our favorites - who are often underdogs and almost always the men and women who bust their hump on the road, week in and week out, for years, at a time.
John Cena is not an underdog. Brock Lesnar is clearly not car pooling from town-to-town trying to get or stay over in the world of pro wrestling. Neither man ever toiled on the indies, or went to Japan as anything other than a made man.
But even the smarkiest of smarks has to concede that these are two of the biggest names in the history of WWE, and that no other combination of already established draws could be counted on to deliver a high quality, suspenseful, hard-hitting match like they almost certainly will.
These are difficult and uncertain times for WWE, and by extension big time pro wrestling, in the current entertainment marketplace. The company needs this main event for SummerSlam. As a result, so do we.
Bonus excited, from the pictures are worth a thousand words division:
On the other hand:
1) Part-timing it.
Know why so many of us complain about part-timers? Because it kind of sucks.
There's the fact that when they show up, they often eat up time that could or should be allotted to regulars and favorites. That critique is mitigated with Lesnar and Heyman, (1) because they often don't take up 20 minute segments like The Rock did in his returns and (2) because both men and still firing on so many cylinders, they maximize the time they do get and deliver entertaining content.
The more damning critique for Brock is that his schedule limits his ability to be or effectiveness as WWE Champion. Now, he hasn't worn the belt(s) since coming back as an occasional Superstar, so we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. But almost everyone assumes he will win the top prize at some point, and the current model has educated fans that the champ is on television every week. They can attempt to re-educate us, and maybe make the titles feel more special as a result, but it's more work and a different project than transitioning the role to another full-time player.
2) John Cena: The Blessing & The Curse.
No one who has been watching WWE for any length of time over the last decade would be 100% shocked if the titles left Los Angeles still around Cena's muscled up neck.
And that's not a knock - it's one of the reasons that Cena probably is the greatest pro wrestler of his generation. No matter the outcome of a program or match featuring the champ, everyone will care. If you're on the "Cena sucks" side of the fence that Heyman was talking about last night, every win is another reason to bitch and his losing is cause for elation. The "Let's Go Cena" camp gets to celebrate a lot of wins, but man, those losses can drive them to tears.
For yours truly and a majority of adult wrestling fans, the prospect of John boy's 15th world title reign lasting into 2015 is pretty terrifying. Even with his rumored to only be on two Monday night shows to promote the SummerSlam showdown, we're almost guaranteed one jokey promo that we'll loathe and one serious promo where he does an accent that we'll only strongly dislike. The prospect of another six to nine months of that is...ugh.
Plus, there's the question of what Cena retaining in August or winning a September rematch at Night of Champions would do for...
3) The legacy of The Streak, and the Reality Era
It's hard to believe it was only a few months ago. Daniel Bryan was the king of the world, and everyone wanted to know who made the call to have Undertaker lose on The Grandest Stage of Them All, and when everyone knew about it.
The shock may have died down, but the debate about whether or not it was the right call at the right time probably never will. That's not the only way there's still money to made from 21 - 1, though.
In my opinion, as a fan who has never had the book or purse strings of a wrestling promotion in my hands, having the monster who finally conquered The Undertaker, a man who is also a decorated athlete in sports without pre-determined outcomes challenge for the title and lose, or win but fail to hold it for any length of time, not only undermines the value of having his defeat the Dead Man, but also damages the aura of authenticity that you're paying him to bring to your product.
Lesnar can be beaten, sure. We know that what we're watching isn't legitimate competition. But to make him the special attraction you pay him as, to make him worthy of not only acknowledging a company that the McMahons view as a competitor in the UFC but also of ending one of the most famous accomplishments ever scripted for sports entertainment, his defeat should be as epic as his victories.
Losing his first title match, or splitting a series over the course of a month, is not epic.
Even if it is against the greatest Superstar of his generation.
Final Analysis: Paul Heyman will say things that will make me feel feelings over the next month. Brock Lesnar will do things at SummerSlam that I will love even as I cringe. In the midst of that, John Cena will annoy me before bringing his A game...and then maybe annoy me some more.
I am 75% excited for and 25% afraid of Plan C and its aftermath.
How about you?