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Brock Lesnar is WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Reasons to be Excited and Afraid

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WWE.com

A lot of us didn't think it would happen at all.

Even folks who were expecting it to happen didn't think it would happen like that.

Now that we live in a world where The Beast Incarnate just dominated the greatest pro wrestler of the 21st century to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion...how do we feel about it?

On the one hand:

1) Years of LOLCENAWINS were washed away in the course of twenty-odd minutes.

And they were "odd", to the point that many of the man's fiercest detractors were in Cageside threads and on social media talking about how they felt bad for him.  "Smark catharsis" is a phrase that I read and heard more than once last night, and it was that.  If you're ever been pissed about Cena walking away from a pay-per-view (PPV) without even looking winded, or cutting a smirking promo on Raw the night after besting an up-and-comer, this match was for you.

Of course, given that we're dealing with John Cena and WWE here, this has a very good chance of being a Monkey's Paw/Pet Cemetary "be careful what you wish for" scenario.  But we'll get there in a minute, and don't let that ruin the moment.  Just remember Brock's laugh when he sat up after kicking out of the Attitude Adjustment...

2) This was a different kind of match, for a different kind of champion.

The promo videos that WWE created for this SummerSlam showdown felt like the kind you'd see for a big-time boxing match or UFC championship bout.  That elusive "big fight feel" was created despite the two combatants spending very little time together on television leading into the bout.

As a match, this was constructed differently from even the other matches Lesnar has been featured in since returning for the world of mixed martial arts (MMA).  It was booked around Brock being too much for Cena early on, and never really recovering from that early F5.  It seemed like a shoot, even though we knew deep down that it wasn't.

WWE has been trying to convince us that this is the "Reality Era" for quite some time.  Last night accomplished that in a way that a million pipe bombs or reality show tie-ins never could.  This wasn't a shoot that lead to fake fight...the build, the motivations of each of the players and the match itself all felt legitimate.

Brock Lesnar did the unthinkable in the sporting world by becoming UFC Heavyweight champ, he did the unthinkable in kayfabe by breaking Undertaker's WrestleMania streak.  No one else could have bridged the gap between the two worlds and epitomized them both like him - and now he's the WWE champ.

Let the "Reality Era" begin.

3) Lesnar brings prestige to the title, and the rest of the roster (and especially whoever eventually beats him for it) will benefit from that.

Maybe Paul Heyman is right, and having the WWE title not defended a minimum of once a month will not only make everything about that scene more special, but it will instill more meaning into the secondary belts and the mid-card scene as well.

Part-timer or no, Lesnar is a globally-recognized name who as many people associate with UFC as they do pro wrestling.  Vince McMahon and Triple H will use that as they can finally publicize the 'sports' half of 'sports entertainment.

Meanwhile, we'll not only get more Heyman, as he represents the belts while his client is home in Minnesota, Creative can also dedicate more time to Intercontinental champion Dolph Ziggler, or Divas champ Paige, or the long list of extremely talented individuals currently down in Orlando at the WWE Performance Center.

There's a clear path back to the WWF/E of the 60s, 70s and 80s here where the main title scene is dominated by one charismatic figure, while a talented undercard work in memorable stories and classic matches.  Whether or not they follow that path...well...

On the other hand:

1) Are we, or WWE's accountants, really okay with a part-time champ?

We don't know what Brock Lesnar's deal with Vince McMahon calls for - maybe there's a clause that says if they put the strap on him, he has to work every PPV.  But based on what's been out there since his 2012 return, and the schedule he's worked since, it's not an outrageous assumption to say that the man who is currently WWE champion might only work two or three Sunday nights between now and WrestleMania 31, with about twice that many Raw appearances.

Those shows would undoubtedly feel very special.  But can a couple generations of fans raised on five hours of weekly WWE television (not to mention the couple other generations who've been re-educated by that same amount of televised major) adjust to not seeing their champ but a couple of times each season?

And, is that any way to sell the WWE Network?  Part of the appeal of the $9.99 per month that they hope becomes a steady, near guaranteed stream of revenue relies on people wanting to see every PPV, every month.  Fans thinking that they only need three or four of those shows per year will result in some of them dropping a monthly commitment.

2) Who can WWE realistically position as a threat to Lesnar?

We've just watch him send a mythical figure who hadn't lost at the company's biggest show in two decades to the hospital and a man the company has spent the summer pushing as the greatest champion in their history to his most humiliating defeat.

We're supposed to buy Daniel Bryan and his surgically repaired neck, or Roman Reigns and his four-ish moves of doom as anything other than an annoyance to that bad ass?

Someone is going to beat him, and that moment should be glorious.  The man who puts Lesnar down will instantly have a unique feather in his cap.  But they have some serious heavy-lifting to do to get to that story, and to prepare a babyface for the role of hero in that story.  We better hope that they're up to the task, and that Wall Street will be okay with the customer's response to trying something different, because otherwise, we could be right back at...

3) LOLCENASTILLWINS

Despite the pasting he took at SummerSlam, one of if not the most believable challenger WWE can throw at Brock Lesnar is John Cena.

One nightmare scenario would be Cena winning the title back immediately at September's Night of Champions; the August PPV just a blip on the champ's radar used to sell more Network subscriptions for his never giving up, even in the face of an asskicking, and rising right back up to win the rematch.

Another, that almost went in the 'excited' section above, would be for Creative to finally tell the Rocky III or IV comeback story they should have been telling in between WrestleMania 28 and 29.  An overconfident Cena walked into Staples Center and a beating that convinced him he needs to start at the bottom to earn another title shot.  He busts his butt, winning and losing his way up the ladder until he gets a rematch in San Jose next April, and finally slays the monster who started him on his path to redemption in the first place.

In some respects, it would be the challenge that so many of us have been begging for from Cena for years.  But, it would also be using the heat of the man who broke Taker's streak and became the first ever former UFC champ to gain WWE gold to further elevate John Cena.

Not a new guy, or a hot prospect.  But a 37 year old, 15 time world champ.

Or make that a 16 time champ.  Nature boy what?

Final Analysis:  Pretty split down the middle on this one.  It could be the beginning of a new golden age, it could be one of the biggest wasted opportunities since the Invasion.  I'm 50% Excited and 50% Afraid of Brock Lesnar, WWE champ.

How you feeling, Cagesiders?