So why bring him back? The answer is simple: to create moments. Good storytelling translates into buys; that's why WWE brings in the Rock, Brock Lesnar, etc etc. But when the PPV buys aren't adding up, when the gate isn't changing, what does that tell you about the story being told? What did a failing Survivor Series number tell you about the Rock's first match back? Other than the Miz being at fault, it told me that the fans didn't care; 9/10 times that means they're not doing a good enough job telling the story.
I know what you're thinking (maybe): but Brock Lesnar and Cena told a great story! Triple H and Lesnar are in the midst of a great story!
I agree. That means there's something broken in the system. Somewhere between the great stories and PPV buyrates, there is a weak link. My guess is that weak link revolves around the way WWE books John Cena. And now we go full-circle back the original point: John Cena going over Brock Lesnar.
I have no real problem with John Cena. As I said in my introduction, on principle he SHOULD go over Lesnar. But there has to be a story explaining why! John Cena is the WWE's biggest star, but because of that nobody is held accountable for how they handle him. The fans that "boo" don't mean anything to management anymore; they're simply just a part of his character.
It comes down to a simple concept: CONTINUITY! WWE doesn't have it, and they've proven that time and time again with their booking of John Cena. Cena shouldn't be able to take down an entire group of radicals (we'll call them the Nexus, just for fun). He shouldn't be able to come back at the last minute and win all of his matches without really doing any significant damage. But he does, every single week. He's a larger-than-life superhero, and that's his gimmick, but we've gotten so used to it that there's really no point in buying a wrestling PPV with the WWE's name on it – we know how it's gonna end!
If WWE wants to sell more PPV's, they need to make their poster boy play by some general rules of storytelling. Brock Lesnar is a monster. The fans have seen him destroy men in REAL fights. They remember that he destroyed a ring with the Big Show, even if Vince put Mark Henry over as the first guy to do it, last year. They remember that he crippled the Undertaker and DEFATED THE DEADMAN inside Hell in a Cell. Vince McMahon's biggest problem is that he doesn't book beyond the current episode; there's no thought for what came before, or what comes next.
In that Hell in a Cell match, Lesnar took the biggest beating of his entire career. And here's the important part: he got up and won. Against the Undertaker. So when the same fans who saw that match watch John Cena come back from 20 minutes of full-on assault, hit one move, and get the victory over Brock Lesnar… that's when we as fans start gettng upset.
I paid almost $600 for a friend and myself to sit fifteen feet from the ring, and we were physically uncomfortable with the amount of damage Lesnar was doing to Cena that night. A family next to us had to leave because their little boy couldn't handle seeing John Cena covered in his own blood. And sure, the initial moment when he FINALLY came back brought the fans to their feet; problem is that moment shouldn't have happened.
In a back and forth war, with both men dealing damage and taking each other to the limit, I'd believe Cena could go over. I'd figure, even though the Undertaker and countless other legends couldn't get the job done, we're talking about John Cena here! THAT'S THE POINT OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING! But you can only suspend your disbelief so much before the writers are guilty of straight-up bad storytelling. It's not a problem with the the story going in; how many good feuds had Cena produced? Until the actual match happens.
Cena himself is a great storyteller. But there's never ANY payoff for his matches. The fans aren't stupid, and a lot of us have been around longer than the last bathroom break. Chris, you started your column by accusing Cena-haters of jumping on this whole situation simply because it was John Cena that went over Brock Lensar. But realize you're justifying the whole thing for the same reason: because it's John Cena.
"You still think Brock is ruined because he lost a match to Cena. Give me a break."
Everyone SHOULD be held accountable for bad writing. Creative should be fired, Vince should be ashamed of thinking the booking was a good idea, and one of the two competitors should have known better. It's about respecting the art of the story, and in turn the professional wrestling industry. Bret Hart wouldn't have gone over a local jobber with one move, let alone a monster heel!
Brock Lesnar wasn't ruined because of a match. Brock Lesnar was ruined because after beating down his opponent for twenty minutes – after the most brutal, one-sided attack I've ever seen in professional wrestling – Brock Lesnar lost to a firemen's carry. He was ruined, just like the Nexus was ruined, just like every great angle they build up with John Cena is ruined…by bad storytelling.
You may not think so yet, because the story with Triple H has been told so well by Paul Heyman, but when SummerSlam doesn't bring in any more buys, you're going to have to re-think your theory.
Thanks for reading. Make sure if you haven't yet, to check out Chris' original article [LINK] and follow us both on Twitter @RealityofChris and @MikeKillam.
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