Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Brock Lesnar Returns to WWE: Breaking Down Why It Kicked So Much Ass

Brock Lesnar returned to WWE last night on the post-WrestleMania edition of Raw. You know this. It was awesome, which you also know unless you're a dumbass. Let's break this down by scenes, and explain why it was so great.

Here we have John Cena, the defeated idiot from WrestleMania who couldn't even overcome a 39-year-old man who hasn't wrestled a singles match in so long that you might as well round it up to a decade. Despite the fact that The Rock was fairly unimpressive other than proving that he has a preternatural instinct for how to be a professional wrestler, Cena lost to the tired man because he was too stupid to not lose, basically. It wasn't a great match -- I fucking hated it, as I've explained already -- but it was an important match, and it was "big." It was sort of like that Lakers-Celtics game seven from a few years back where everyone was tired and horrible, but it was close and the winning team would be crowned NBA champions, so it was a big deal. The game itself sucked, but mattered, and people remember it fondly. I mean, this wasn't Hogan-Andre bad, and we can all agree that (1) Hogan-Andre was horrible, and (2) it mattered a great deal and is quite frankly still the biggest and most important match in wrestling history.

In this shot, John Cena, having done his best to stink out the house on the mic-a-ro-phone for the previous 47 minutes, points to the crowd: Yes, we all want Rocky. That is a good idea, friends and neighbors. I want him, too. I'm just like you guys, really. We all work hard and try to be our best. Why, I'm the embodiment of what you could accomplish if you set your mind to your goals. John Cena is so fucking smug. He would be a great heel at this point. But let's move on.

Lesnar's music hits. His TitanTron® video starts. The crowd explodes in giddy, orgasmic anticipation. They know that former UFC® heavyweight champion and former WWE champion Brock Lesnar will not be returning to make friends with Square-Jaw the Clean-Shaven. Cena barely emotes, which is probably for the best. Had he attempted to act surprised in any way, he surely would have been a cartoon character as usual. Likely, he would have taken a back bump and made bug-eyes, or he would have opened his mouth really wide and mouthed "WHOA NO WAY!"

As the fellow in the blue shirt and cap best illustrates, the crowd were seriously, legitimately, incredibly excited. This young man and his younger (I think) friend (I think) to his left were seriously pumped. That kid had on a ROH shirt, so he sucks by default. The fellows in red? They are more skeptical. Folks, they've seen these returns before. "We'll just wait and see, if you don't mind. Go ahead and 'mark out' if you wish, but not us, buddy."

Lesnar appears. Michael Cole remarks, as only Michael Cole can, "Ohhhhh MY!" Welp, dere went da pain. Michael Cole is tolerable as a straight man play-by-play guy, really, but he's no JR. Hell, he's no Tony Schiavone. He didn't even personally address me as "fan" and make me feel like I was part of the moment.

Here I'm mostly taking the piss. Overall I felt Cole handled the return very, very well.

"Duhhhhh. I don't know how I feel."

While this shoulder flex/roll bit that Lesnar does is corny, it adds something when you let yourself escape into the moment. He carries with him the air of intense seriousness currently badly lacking in the WWE. At no point during this entire thing, by the way, did I really think about UFC fighter Brock Lesnar. It was like that never really happened -- this was WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar coming back where he belongs and creating a ruckus. Brent was talking about whether or not fans will buy Lesnar as an unstoppable force since he's had the shit beaten out of him for three straight fights. He wasn't arguing it as some serious point, really, just shootin' the shit on the internet with me. But really I don't think it matters at all.

John's mind turns. He settles on a smile. There are two ways to figure this: Either he's fearfully attempting to welcome the return of Lesnar, because more Superstars is good for business, and he is first and foremost as he has said many times, a company man, or he is annoyed. Annoyed that every time some jackass part-timer thinks he wants to come crawling back to the company that made him after mixed results elsewhere, they come back trying to piggyback off of his fame and hard work, and off of his contentious relationship with (ugh) the WWE Universe. It's easy that way. You don't even have to show up every week or work all that hard when you ride John Cena's coattails. You just get to be the main attraction, because you're fraudulently taking up the fans' cause against Cena and pandering your way into the main event. Like Rocky, Brocky isn't going to be in the arena every Monday night. He's just going to take shots at John Cena and set up something big, and not earn his way back into the limelight. I choose to view it that way, because it's more fun. But more on that in a moment.

After Brock did some ill-advised Goldberg grunt/half-jump/arm flex? thing without pyro, this jackass did it, too. Then he looked at the camera and did it again. If this guy was a plant for TV purposes, it was not money well spent, and he did not pull off his performance very well.

Here we see John Cena attempt to sabotage the character I just created in my mind for him. As the Miami crowd of ROH nerds chants "Holy shit, holy shit," Cena makes his usual "Yeah, you guys are right, you may not like me, but I agree with you," face, and nods and points at them and kowtows to their whims in an attempt to win their respect and, in the future, after he's proven himself to their opened minds and they've had time to reflect upon all the great things he's done for This Business That He Loves over the last decade, they will even come to love him.

Brock and his haircut are not concerned with the crowd reaction. There is no basking in the glow of a return well-received. There is no hand-slapping or prancing around with the smiles. Brock Lesnar means business. The Rock is The Rock, and Brock Lesnar ain't The Rock. But The Rock ain't Brock Lesnar either. This is a totally different vibe -- this is more akin to the Goldberg debut in 2003 after WrestleMania, but better, because Lesnar is better than Goldberg (and I like Goldberg fine). It's also just plain handled better and I think another key is that the fans that remained for Brock's time on top are still mostly around. Goldberg's WCW fanbase didn't necessarily come along and hang around until 2003 with WWE, so it wasn't the same. The WWE audience in 2003 didn't have the regard for Goldberg that the WWE audience in 2012 has for Lesnar, even though he's been out of the wrestling spotlight much longer than Goldberg had been.

Cena claps for Lesnar with a bemused grin. I am sold: John Cena is annoyed by the presence of Brock Lesnar. He still had unfinished business with The Rock, in his mind, and all he wanted was for Rocky to show his face again in Miami. For what purpose, I do not know. Maybe he wanted to book a rematch whenever The Rock had time -- hey, Rock won, he gets to call the shots. Maybe he wanted to shake his hand and say, "Hey, you got me this time, Rock. But hopefully we can do it again." Maybe he wanted to cry. Maybe he wanted to kick him in his old nuts. I do not know. But instead of continuing where he was at last night, a matter not yet settled, he is confronted by the farm boy goon who, again, is just looking to make a splash via John Cena. All these years of hard work, and Cena has to fuck around with every retiree who comes knocking? Does John Cena not want to chase the world's championship once more?

Lesnar enters the ring, makes some weird pose at Cena (the one he made on the ramp), and then points at his own name, and runs his fingers under the letters. I don't know what he was thinking with that. It looked really stupid and was the worst part of the entire segment. It was something that wannabe weirdo wrestlers would do in home movies where they're pretending to be wrestlers. "Yeah. Right here. This is my name. And let me tell you something, when I get you in the cage, you will remember my name." Fuckin dumb. I wish it didn't happen, but it did. Lesnar always had that side to him, though -- he's not really a pro wrestler, so he never learned the subtleties that come with being a good one and presenting a character. He always had this sort of doofiness to him, and apparently still does. "Yeah. Right here. This is my name. You remember my name, BITCH? It's Brock LESNAR, BITCH!" Whatever. Dumb. So dumb.

Lesnar extends a hand. But first, Lesnar had said a few words. I wonder what they were. Perhaps he quickly said, "Can we have a match, John?" And perhaps John responded, "Sure, Brock, we can have a match," and then before they could announce the good news to the WWE Universe (augh), Lesnar extended a hand. Cena, having just observed Lesnar point at his name and try to act like a wrestler, perhaps wonders if Brock knows that they should tell the audience, or speak to one another on microphones, or whatever. So assuming Brock is just not very good at this sort of thing, he figures he'll shake his hand, and THEN they'll tell the audience about it. It's not ideal, but it will work. So Cena, because he's a nice soul, stupidly shakes Lesnar's hand. John Cena is an idiot.

Some have wondered why Cena didn't try to fight out of the F5 here. I mean, he got pulled in on the handshake. He wasn't exactly dazed. But instead he just went dead bodied like he was knocked out. On the one hand, of course it happens this way, because it's fake ass wrestling and the moment is better if he just gets F5'd here without much struggle. If you want struggle then watch fuckin' UFC.

Most likely the real reason is that Cena was concerned about whether or not Brock could actually still pull this off without breaking his neck, so he braced himself for impact and/or to save his own bacon should Brock fuck up the execution, which was maybe 50-50.

In a still, it doesn't look like much. And the crack camera team that missed Lesnar pulling Cena in for the F5 so that we could look at the fucking stupid crowd didn't have a good angle on it. But this was the key moment: After the F5, Cena's hat is knocked off on impact with the canvas, and Lesnar kicks the cap. Maybe this doesn't say much to anyone else, but it says a lot to me. Lesnar is so engulfed by his rage that he kicks John Cena's stupid fucking green hat because the hat alone pisses him off. The hat is where Brock Lesnar intends to stand, so it needs to get the fuck out of his way. Fuck that hat. Get that stupid fucking hat away from Brock. And he didn't just sideways knock it out of the way with his foot, either. He kicked the shit out of it with more white hot fury than has ever been present for one of Randy Orton's stupid "punts."

Lesnar talks to nothing. Himself, I guess. He's an enraged simpleton, a psychotic whose hunger for destruction cannot be satiated. Maybe his recent failures in other ventures have led him back to WWE, and maybe he hates WWE, and hates its fans, and hates all its phony athletes, the phoniest of whom would, of course, be John Cena. Maybe he's here to tear it all down instead of rejoin the circus.

Cena has to win this time, though. The first shot was Brock's, but the last has to see Cena on top this time, or losing his mind, which may be the more ultimately satisfying and productive course of action.


  1. So...didja order Extreme Rules or not? I'm guessing not, since I didn't see you on Twitter last night.

  2. "And the crack camera team that missed Lesnar pulling Cena in for the F5 so that we could look at the fucking stupid crowd didn't have a good angle on it", couldn't agree more, they miss shots all the time to show the damn crowd, I just don't get it.