Why Lesnar Needs to Win at Night of Champions
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 08.31.2014
Brock Lesnar has Eaten, Slept, Broken the Streak, and Conquered John Cena already in 2014, but 411's Wyatt Beougher looks at why he needs to Repeat at Night of Champions!
Introduction: I took on Dino Zucconi in this week's 411 Fact or Fiction Wrestling, and the very first statement we received was about the merits of Brock Lesnar rematching John Cena at Night of Champions so soon after absolutely destroying him at Summerslam. As part of my response to that statement, I mentioned that Lesnar has to beat Cena at Night of Champions, and I wanted to expound upon that belief here.
So if you've read any of my work here in the 411 Wrestling Zone, you probably already know that I'm not the biggest Cena fan in the world. I don't flat out think he's the devil either, but it does irritate me that he doesn't argue against booking decisions that pretty clearly weaken the product, at least those that involve him constantly winning matches no matter what the odds. So with that out of the way, here is my reasoning why Lesnar absolutely has to destroy Cena at Night of Champions.
More of this, please.
First and foremost is something that I alluded to in Fact or Fiction - since Cena/Lesnar was announced for SummerSlam, the WWE went to great lengths to build up the fact that Lesnar was still struggling with diverticulitis when Cena beat him at Extreme Rules in 2012, and that the newly healthy Lesnar is an unstoppable monster, providing Cena with odds that even he can't overcome. And it was masterfully done and paid off, to boot! That never happens in the WWE these days. Even though I picked Lesnar in the 411 Summerslam Roundtable, I was secretly sure that Cena was just going to take whatever beating Lesnar threw at him, Super Cena up, and then Attitudinally Adjust Lesnar for the win. To say that the entirety of the Summerslam championship match was a pleasant surprise to me would be an understatement of the highest magnitude. If Cena wins at Night of Champions, no matter how hard-fought his victory or how good Lesnar looks in defeat, it will essentially render that outstanding build and sublime championship match null and void.
And I know the big knock on Brock Lesnar as champion has been that he's a part-timer who isn't always on the show, but let me ask you this - did that affect the build to Summerslam at all? With Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece and an arsenal of pre-taped video packages (where they can generate multiple weeks' worth of content in one shot and not eat up Lesnar's limited dates), the WWE could easily keep me invested in watching WWE World Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar from now until Wrestlemania, even if he only defends his title two or three more times (Night of Champions is a given, and then probably Survivor Series and maybe the Rumble). It harkens back to the days when the championship was only defended on PPVs the three to five times a year that the WWE actually ran them, and since I am an outspoken proponent of the WWE going back to that more limited PPV schedule, it all makes sense to me. With the exception of that Big Show non-match match at Royal Rumble, Lesnar's matches this year have felt important, and the fact that he was able to break the Streak and manhandle Cena in a way that we haven't seen since Cena stopped rapping shows to me that the WWE has faith in even a part-time Lesnar to be a full-time draw for the company.
I am confident that Heyman could narrate paint drying and make it feel important at this point.
And it makes sense - Lesnar is a one-of-a-kind physical specimen, and his intensity and presence in the ring are unmatched by anyone on the roster. He has the greatest mouthpiece in the modern wrestling world by his side (and I certainly would not argue if you told me Heyman was the best manager of all time, either, as he is my personal choice for that distinction), and a weird charisma of his own where it's fun to point out just how ludicrous he sounds in his live promos but his pre-taped segments make him seem like he's legitimately unbalanced to the point where you'd never mention that to him if you ran into him in the real world. For pure entertainment sake, go back and watch Lesnar since his return to the company and marvel at his feud with office furniture and supplies, whether it was nearly killing the Miz by tossing an office chair over top rope at him, getting stabbed in the hand with a pen, flipping tables around the ring, or, most recently, sitting on a title belt podium until he remembered his hatred for office furniture and absently kicked it out of the way. I would even go so far as to argue that Lesnar, more than even Cena, has extended his personality and made it into a viable gimmick in a way that we have rarely seen since the heydey of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and the Rock.
I think, as smarks/cynics/whatever you want to call us, we can all pretty much agree that the last decade of Cena's dominance has been the darkest timeline version of the WWE - predictable and lazily booked. My colleague Greg DeMarco wrote a fantastic piece about if Lesnar had never left the WWE, and while I don't agree with everything that he wrote (there's no way Punk stayed with TNA as pretty much every time he talks about TNA, it's about the negatives of his employment there), it's fun to think about what might have been had Lesnar hung around. Unlike Greg, I think if Lesnar stayed around, Cena wouldn't be the dominant (and ultimately boring) character that we loathe today, as Lesnar was pretty clearly the guy that Vince McMahon wanted to build the company around. We've seen that the WWE has trouble booking more than one storyline at a time in any given division/level of the card, and with the focus on Lesnar, Cena might still be a rapping tweener today (I doubt that, but I also doubt that he'd be Super Cena). On the other hand, I think Lesnar's absence made our hearts grow fonder for him, and if he had remained an employee of the WWE continuously for the past decade, I am not sure that he would have quite the same mystique that he has today.
We could speculate all day about where Lesnar would be or how things could have changed, but what we do know is where he is and how things are, and Night of Champions presents the WWE with a chance to do something different and unpredictable, to shake up the status quo, and to give their larger-than-life, real-life badass champion another dominant win against the guy who never loses. It's such a simple thing, but a Lesnar win actually does so much more for the company than just not being the same old thing - the WWE now has a dominant heel champion that they can play their Superstar-in-waiting Roman Reigns against, the unbeatable Super Cena character gains a very real Kryptonite in FINAL FORM BORK LASER and an opportunity to actually evolve and change into something more palatable to the entirety of the WWE Universe, and it prevents Cena's Flair-tying sixteenth title win from happening a "B" or "C" Live Special like Night of Champions.
Lesnar really is the perfect foil for Cena.
Let us not delude ourselves, either, as Cena is going to win some iteration of what is now the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at least two more times, because Flair is an NWA/WCW guy and Vince's constant need to demonstrate his company's superiority means that a WWF/WWE guy is going to have to top that. (If Bruno had had his legendary reigns under the NWA banner, Punk might still be WWE Champion today instead of just being the Longest Reigning Champion of the Modern Era.) But Night of Champions isn't the time for the first of those wins, the crucial one that puts Cena on even footing with the Nature Boy. It needs to happen at one of the WWE's Big 4 Live Specials, though I would imagine they will save the record-breaking win for one of the Big 2. If that logic is sound, that means Cena will win his sixteenth world title at either Survivor Series or Royal Rumble, and he'll actually overtake Flair for most reigns at either Wrestlemania or Summerslam. Both of those wins could easily happen within the next twelve months (though it looks like Wrestlemania XXXI is intended to be Roman Reigns' ascension to the top of the card), but WWE would be wise to ride the Lesnar train now for as long as possible before another bout of diverticulitis or disinterest takes him away from the company again.
Lesnar is never going to have that same passion for the business that Cena has, and if Vince was not throwing piles of money at him for the limited dates that he works, he would not be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion as I type this. I very much doubt that Cena winning a rematch would be enough for Lesnar to step away from the company, as his primary concern at the end of the day is more on his wallet than his legacy, but I grew up in a rural area in western Pennsylvania, and there's a saying there: "Make hay while the sun shines". It is my sincere hope that the WWE realizes that the sun is shining brightly on Brock Lesnar right now, and they get as much mileage out of him as they can.
Wyatt Beougher is a lifelong fan of professional wrestling who has been writing for 411 for over three years and currently hosts MMA Fact or Fiction and reviews Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.