Well, here we are again.
It was only early April when WWE boldly opened Wrestlemania with Seth Rollins’ quest to become the Beast Slayer, a multi-year redemption fairytale which saw him rise from his lowest ebb to triumph in thrilling fashion on the grandest stage, with multiple curb stomps seeming to signal the end of Brock Lesnar in WWE, and the beginning of a new era where the part timers would come along for Saudi blood money, but the day to day product would ultimately be headlined by the current generation, spearheaded by the aforementioned Rollins.
How long ago that now seems. On Sunday, WWE made one of the more inexplicable booking decisions in their history when they decided to insert Lesnar into the very last seconds of the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, and here we are, back at square one.
Indeed, this is a familiar theme; it was only last August that Roman Reigns finally overcame The Beast in a quick, surprise shock victory following interaction between Lesnar and Braun Strowman, and promised to be a standard bearer for full time talents, giving the likes of Finn Balor and The Monster Among Men the shots they deserved. Unfortunately, cancer derailed that plan, and Lesnar returned at Hell in a Cell to resume his toxic place atop the pantheon. It seems that Brock Lesnar is quite simply a toxic addiction that Vince McMahon cannot kick.
The irony here is that this multi-million dollar return to the company is a panic button which has been pressed amidst falling ratings and critical disdain for the week to week creative direction of the product since Wrestlemania, but rather than address the elephant in the room – the creative is patchy, unfinished, un-compelling, lacking in continuity, lacking in urgency – the perceived issue they choose to pinpoint is the supposed lack of name value of the talent. The thing is, that is most certainly not the issue. WWE has the most talented roster it has ever had. The ladder match into which Lesnar so incongruously inserted himself was a microcosm of the riches possessed by the company: a decorated veteran in Randy Orton, the two most thrilling high fliers in the game today in Mustafa Ali and Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas, a former Universal and current Intercontinental Champion in Finn Balor, and mobile, versatile big men in McIntyre and Corbin. These men put together one hell of a match, but it was all ruined the moment the first record scratch of Brock Lesnar’s music echoed around the arena. Money in the Bank as a concept is tired and needs to go away, as I have argued before, but if it does exist, it needs to serve the purpose it was supposed to serve from the beginning: a way to take a hot midcarder and shoot them into the main event. What point could there possibly be in Lesnar holding that briefcase? We get a load of awesome matches between Seth Rollins and AJ Styles and then the booby prize is seeing Lesnar cash in and the belt goes missing for six months? What kind of a world title scene is that, I ask you?
WWE seem to be under the mistaken impression that Lesnar is the kind of draw that will save them from the forthcoming AEW competition, but as myself and plenty of others have repeatedly pointed out, in constantly going back to the well with the part timers, they are denying themselves the chance to build new, lasting stars. Look at the kind of momentum Kofi Kingston gathered on the Road To Wrestlemania; all it took was an opportunity and for the company to recognise which way the wind is blowing, and truthfully, isn’t that how professional wrestling is supposed to work? Indeed, isn’t that how professional wrestling has always worked? Andrade, Ali, Ricochet, who’s to say any one of those three wouldn’t have gathered the requisite momentum with a big victory and performance at the pay-per-view? Before Lesnar arrived, Ali was atop the ladder about to unhook the case. Good God if they’d pulled the trigger I guarantee the crowd would have gone crazy. The man has worked so hard on 205 Live and Smackdown that he is one of the most organically over faces in the business, and yet you decide not to give him a career defining moment because of Brock Lesnar? It’s lunacy, quite honestly.
Even if the latest rumours are true, and Lesnar is due to use the Saudi show to challenge Rollins for the title, and even if he loses, the events of Sunday will continue to leave a sour taste in the mouth for a good while to come. I can deal with all manner of WWE toxic habits, just as most fans can. Poor roster positioning, bland television, generic promos, half-baked storylines, finisher fests, stupid wild card rules, McMahons on my TV…the list goes on. I don’t like those things, but I can deal with them and look past them, most of the time. But I refuse to look past, or deal with Brock Lesnar. If he wins the Universal Title, I think I’m out. You know the first thing I did when I got home from work on Monday, having accidentally spoiled the result of the ladder match for myself? I went to ITV Box Office, and I ordered Double Or Nothing.
Brock Lesnar is not the answer to your problems Vince. He encapsulates what your problems are. And if you keep booking the man, many of your most loyal customers will be off elsewhere, because we don’t want to watch him, and haven’t done for a long, long time now. I can deal with every WWE toxic habit…except Brock Lesnar.
This is Maverick, requesting flyby.