In October 2019, Kofi Kingston’s reign as WWE champion was suddenly squashed in mere seconds on SmackDown at the hands of Brock Lesnar. After the match was over, UFC star Cain Velasquez debuted for WWE and took down The Beast. Kingston immediately dropped out of the upper card, and WWE booked a championship match between Lesnar and Velasquez at Crown Jewel 2019. The match was a complete dud. It was just a very bland and boring attempt at a worked MMA fight that was designed to play off the history in UFC between both men.
Velasquez appeared this week on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani and acknowledged the match in Saudi Arabia bombed:
“It is what it is, man. That was me just going into it and really just trying to figure out what it was. It was all thrown at me at once...I’m sorry to everyone that got let down. That does hurt me as well ‘cause I expect a lot out of myself. I expect more for myself.”
Cain explained that WWE wasn’t willing to put in the time to make his feud with Brock a success:
“They wanted me to stay in that MMA zone. They wanted me to have that rivalry with Brock, but they really weren’t willing to put the time in to have us work together to really do that. They wanted us to do that, and well, you know how that ended.”
One of the problems is that Cain didn’t want to have a worked MMA bout against Brock. Prior to his debut in WWE, Velasquez worked a couple matches in AAA under a luchador mask and received rave reviews. That’s the style Velasquez wanted to bring to WWE:
“Of course. That’s who I am. Yeah, I felt good in that style...I don’t know if they saw it wouldn’t work. That to me, and I think to everyone else, was a clear path, but that’s not what they chose for me.”
I don’t tune into pro wrestling to see boring or poor quality MMA moves (I’m looking at you, Shane McMahon). But Cain Velasquez as a masked luchador going up against The Beast? That sounds much better to me. Regardless, WWE probably should have gotten on the same page with Cain about what he wanted to do before throwing a ton of money at him to wrestle for the promotion.