Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Brock As Champion: The Next Big Problem For WWE?

The WWE World Heavyweight Title seems in a state of flux based on the injury to Daniel Bryan. It was not, or should not, have been a shock that the WWE turned to John Cena in a crisis. He is their go to guy like it or not and makes the most sensible choice to headline Summerslam for WWE. It has been the worst kept secret in wrestling that Brock Lesnar is expected to challenge for the title at Summerslam and is on a collision course with Cena.

Brock returned to the WWE laying out Cena the night after Wrestlemania when Cena had suffered a loss to the Rock. It would lead to a match that honestly is likely one of the best on the resumes of both Cena and Lesnar in which many loved the match but hated the finish. Cena would go over on Brock Lesnar despite taking a tremendous beating throughout the match. While some will say this was just the typical WWE protecting the “Golden Boy” Cena from having consecutive loses it may have been more about Brock. Seeing if the former UFC Champion was willing to “do business” in wrestling and put over the WWE’s top attraction in Cena.

Many have had lots of issues with how Brock has been booked in terms of the several years since his return. What has been clear is Brock is only really concerned with is pay and very limited schedule. He had a wins trading feud with Triple H and most recently, as Paul Heyman reminds us frequently, ended the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at this past Wrestlemania. This match with Cena that is all but a certainty will be the first time we have seen Lesnar since.

Under normal circumstances you would have thought the man that ended the Undertaker’s legendary streak would be the biggest “heel” in pro wrestling. In a match against John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Title is likely to see him as a huge “babyface” instead. On this alone it seems like an opportunity lost. Most feel that Lesnar will be successful in his attempt to win the championship for a couple of reasons.

One, it would make little sense to have Lesnar coming off ending the streak losing to John Cena who really doesn’t need the win. Brock also has a win coming back to him if you believe in even booking among top stars that tends to be the unwritten rule in wrestling. Secondly,  the WWE seems hell bound on making John Cena the “Greatest Champion in the History of WWE,” by defeating the 16-time mythical number that Ric Flair is known for being champion. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer that actual number is no lower than 18 if you go back and look at the actual history. Regardless the number that fans know is 16 and that is the number the WWE seems determined to have Cena beat eventually.

So if Lesnar wins the title what happens next becomes the question. This is where the undetermined status of Daniel Bryan comes into play. There is one school of thought that if Bryan is ready he would face Lesnar at Night of Champions. Which has become a very important pay-per-view as it will be the mark where majority of WWE Network subscriber’s renewal date will come up between Summerslam and Night of Champions. This would allow Bryan to “go over” and regain his title and continue on the path WWE had originally planned on coming out of Wrestlemania. Lesnar because of the importance of this pay-per-view is scheduled to appear on it.

The other theory that does not require Bryan necessarily sees Lesnar to continue to hold the championship. Which if the WWE has not changed the deal with Lesnar would mean he and the WWE World Championship would not re-appear until the Royal Rumble his next scheduled appearance based on his past schedule.

How the WWE would be able to sell that based on the storyline around Daniel Bryan’s real injury would be interesting. The Authority in their rationalization of stripping Bryan claimed it was unfair to fans and the roster to not have an active WWE World Heavyweight Champion. So if they do not want the appearance of being hypocritical how could they justify Brock’s absence? They could in theory strip Lesnar of the title but given all the storyline and injury based stripping of titles that would not do them any favors.

Some feel that Lesnar should hold the title till Wrestlemania 31 and face in the main event the WWE’s “Next Big Thing” Roman Reigns against the man that made that moniker famous in Brock. The challenge seems to be in how you get from point A to point B at this point.

In the old days back in the 80’s it was rare we saw Hulk Hogan the WWE Champion of the day on television. So it is not unprecedented that we have a WWE Champion with little presence on television. This was counter acted however by Hogan being booked on all the house shows as the main event in a majority of all the WWF’s (at the time) major markets. Lesnar is not coming to your local house show we can bet the bank on that.

An argument is made that you make the title and champion more important this way. It would be a thin line between making it more important and people losing interest in titles in general. It could, if fans were willing be re-educated on the presence of WWE Champion, help elevate the Intercontinental title and U.S title. This re-education process would be a major risk though as the WWE Champion for decades has been a fixture on Monday Night Raw.

While fans will be for the most part very excited most likely to see Lesnar defeat Cena for the title will that be a short term thing that ends up in long term problems. Not to mention has the WWE missed a massive opportunity to make Lesnar not only a monster but the most hated heel in the business. In an era where it is very hard to create a legitimate “heel” are they throwing that away for fear over making sure the WWE Network remains strong and viable.

It is not easy choices that lie ahead for the WWE. Although the ultimate destination to a Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns title match at Wrestlemania 31 seems like an exciting and fresh match to "Main Event" for the biggest show of the year.

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