The Anti-Antagonist: Heating Up

Adam Gorzelsky

Brock LesnarIt’s summer time…Well, it’s not technically summer yet, but I’m already peeling from my first sunburn of the season, so it’s close enough for me….For many, tis the season for vacations, barbecues, concerts, and a few too many waistlines that never should see the light of day. For WWE, summer is an annual opportunity to break new ground…to experiment with fresh characters and storylines at a time when the vast distance from the Road to Wrestlemania allows for a certain degree of trial and error.

Last year, the second Summer of Punk made national headlines and provided the IWC with an on-air manifestation of Cena-related frustration. The summer also saw the emergence of Daniel Bryan with his victory at Money in the Bank…Both men received somewhat unexpected opportunities to reach new heights…a calculated gamble that was highly intriguing at the time, while continuing to pay dividends now and likely well into the future…More on this later.

The previous summer saw the shocking and refreshing introduction of the Nexus…a group that ushered in destruction and chaos at a level that harkened back to a few fateful months in the summer of ’96. While the unfortunate brevity of the Nexus makes the previous comparison sound downright blasphemous, there is no denying the fact that this summer of 2010 storyline created buzz involving a “hostile takeover” at a level that hadn’t been seen since the days of the NWO.

Ultimately, summer traditionally is an exciting time to be a fan of professional wrestling. Despite what I personally have viewed as a number of lackluster Raws in the past few weeks, a look at the current landscape makes me confident that this summer will not disappoint.

First and foremost, I apologize in advance for yet again mentioning the CM Punk/Daniel Bryan feud in one of my columns. Although I feel like a broken record, the pure fact of the matter is that I write a column with an aim towards providing a positive slant…Fortunately or unfortunately, these two have been an overwhelming positive in a sea of mediocrity as of late. Magic happens every time these two compete, cut a promo, or simply walk in front of a camera backstage…so much so that I find myself looking forward to the start of the 10 o’clock hour rather than the beginning or end of the show….Hey WWE, there’s yer problem!

In and of itself, a promise of more of this wrestling gold is sufficient to leave me excited about the impending summer months. The introduction of Kane has provided depth to the feud, bringing an element of brute force into a series of previously technical encounters. Likewise, AJ has continued to evolve into one of the most entertaining characters on a weekly basis and in doing so, has left behind any sense that she is nothing more than eye candy…although I do enjoy her particular brand of sweets.

These elements have combined to create a program that has the capability to remain fresh over a prolonged period of time. A slow burn is possible over the hot summer months when the bedrock of unbelievable in-ring ability can be relied upon while the storyline develops.

Turning away from my favorite topic, I’m also particularly excited about the inevitable encounter between Triple H and Brock Lesnar that is about to appear over the summer horizon. If I had to pick one superstar, past or present, who is capable of matching the aggression and sheer brutality of Brock Lesnar, I would pick Triple H without a moment’s hesitation. If Brock Lesnar is a vigilante hell-bent on utilizing brute force to legitimize the product, an all-out war with Triple H is one of the best means of establishing this juggernaut mentality.

I’m interested to see how Triple H returns to TV and how Lesnar will be re-introduced into the fold. There are rumors that this will occur on the 1,000th Raw, as Lesnar will make Shawn Michaels his next victim during a DX Reunion…This unquestionably would be a classic “heel” moment, with the monster returning to piss on a feel-good moment for the WWE Universe…In any case, from a stylistic perspective, Lesnar meshes with Triple H at a much higher level than John Cena. Expect bloodshed from both sides and a level of believable intensity that rivals anything seen inside the octagon….In short, expect an instant summer classic.

Last, but certainly not least, I know I’m somewhat beating a dead horse by saying this, but I’m more than intrigued about the potential for a “Summer of Dolph”….or would it be the “Dolph Days of Summer?”…”Summer in the Ziggy?”…ok, I’ll stop now…that last one hurt.

Dolph has been bursting at the seams for an opportunity to take the next step, and I for one have been holding my breath each week, waiting for any sign of this inevitable breakout. With his falling-out with Jack Swagger and the swirling rumors regarding the possibility of none other than the Nature Boy returning as his manager, the stage appears to be set for some summer fireworks.

Aside from the sheer excitement attributable solely to Flair’s return, this association would go a long way toward patching the missing links in Ziggler’s persona, both in kayfabe and in reality. While I’m entertained by Dolph on a regular basis, I can’t help but feel that his character is lacking that killer instinct…that he’s satisfied with a loss as long as he puts on a show….Enter Flair…the master of walking that line.

I could hear the promo now…following yet another Ziggler loss, Flair’s music hits for a triumphant return to confront the “show off.”

I’ve been watching you Ziggler…You can style…WOOOO….and you can profile….WOOO…but you’ve got to learn some intensity boy…You’ve got to learn to reach for the prize by any means necessary!! You’ve got to learn how to be the dirtiest player in the game!!

Under the kayfabe tutelage of Flair, Ziggler is the perfect candidate to learn how to compete with style, athleticism, and a healthy dose of underhanded tactics that exhibit a dedication to be the best at all costs…Off-screen, there simply is no other man in the business like Flair who could help a young, charismatic star find that last piece of the puzzle necessary to connect with the fans at an elite level.

Ziggler has all of the tools at his disposal and a mentor the quality of Ric Flair may provide the one spark necessary to propel Dolph to superstar status…In other words, if this partnership occurs, it may go down as the game-changing element that defines the summer of 2012.

In the end, I admit that this is a bit of a speculative fluff piece…but what can I say, you guys seemed to be in need of a pick-me-up after the infamous ending to Raw.  With that said, the pieces certainly are in place for an unforgettable summer of wrestling…If these pieces are utilized in a proper fashion, WWE may once again provide an excellent option to beat the summer heat.

As usual, comments and feedback always are appreciated here or on Twitter. Also, don’t forget to listen to Virtually Reality featuring myself and fellow columnist Martyn Nolan. Feedback and storyline suggestions for the show also are greatly appreciated!

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