The Green Room: Summerslam- A Look At John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
Aug 13, 2014 - 4:10:02 PM
The Green Room:
Summerslam- A Look At John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar
This Sunday, the most anticipated match of the summer takes place as Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins finally tangle in a heated affair, months after the former Architect of the Shield betrayed the Lunatic Fringe!
Unfortunately, the stipulation of a Lumberjack Match has dampened the excitement that many fans were feeling, myself included.
When I chose to look at some of the other matches available for me to discuss in this in-depth big-match PPV preview, I wasn't too sure what direction to go in. I couldn't talk about the Intercontinental Championship two months in a row, surely. I found it hard to invest in AJ Lee and Paige's feud as they are being overshadowed by a feud between a non-wrestler and a woman who quit but suddenly wants her job back. That same feud is going to potentially ruin Daniel Bryan's momentum as they're portraying him to be a cheater. Cheers WWE.
Fortunately, the hype for the main event this month has been extraordinary. If you recall my Money In The Bank preview column, I was distraught about the prospect of a Cena vs. Lesnar match as I didn't see what a bout between two old-hands, two members of the OVW Class of 2002 no less, could do for the company.
Boy, was I wrong!
The more I thought about it, I realised that this match provides the WWE with a unique choice. This choice will take the company in one of two completely contrasting directions. We can look into this more by considering the following factors:
The Reputation of the Championship, The Streak, The Network, The Aftermath
Yes, in this edition of The Green Room, we look at how these four points will influence the victor of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match and how a win for either man will change the entire landscape of the WWE.
You heard me.
The time is now, here come's the pain.
This may seem like a weird factor to consider. After all, we're looking at two of the greatest champions in WWE history. Cena is one reign away from tying the legendary Ric Flair's 16 World Championships record and Brock Lesnar is a multi-sport athlete who at one point was the youngest champion of all time. Why on Earth should we consider the championship's reputation?
Well my friends, we should be thinking about this factor as the WWE World Heavyweight championship has already lost some of its shine.
Don't believe me?
When the WWE Championship was first vacated after WWE Battleground 2013 following a fast count from bribed referee Scott Armstrong, it was a dark time for the championship. It was the first time that the championship was left without a holder since the summer of 2011 when CM Punk had left the WWE and an emergency tournament was put into place. Believe it or not, it was less than a year later when the WWE was forced to vacate the championship again, after Payback 2014, following news that the champion Daniel Bryan would be out of action for an unprecedented amount of time.
And, let's not forget those awkward moments inbetween when the projected Wrestlemania main event for that championship was changed last minute due to a lack of interest in the participants, and the fact that the fate of the championship was left up in the air for a month from May to June.
John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar provides the WWE with two very contrasting directions. Both roads could potentially make or break any chance of the championship gaining back some of its credibility.
In John Cena, WWE has its status quo. When the WWE chose to unify the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships at TLC 2013, they made sure that Cena would win the World Heavyweight Championship to provide some hype for the unification main event. More importantly, in Daniel Bryan's absence, Cena was the chosen man to represent the company once more at Money In The Bank 2014 as he captured the vacant title.
Much like Cena's character, a win for the current Champ provides the WWE with a clean-cut direction. If Cena wins, the championship remains on a superstar. Not just any superstar, might I add, but the one that the WWE has trusted with fourteen prior reigns. He is the superstar that has carried the company on his shoulders and has even given it an "attitude adjustment" in the process, becoming the face of a PG product. A win for John Cena ensures that the company has a stable figurehead, which has been missing ever since the Champ lost his title at last year's Summerslam event.
In Brock Lesnar, the company has a chance to create another kind of fresh start for the title.
After all of the uncertainty, perhaps it's best for the fans to forget about this world title rollercoaster, right? A Brock Lesnar win would do just that.
The Beast Incarnate's part-time schedule guarantees that the champion would rarely be on television. The internet was united in rage when The Rock ended CM Punk's history-making title reign at Royal Rumble 2013, yet many fans are supporting a Brock Lesnar win. I don't think it's just because Lesnar's career is solely rooted within the WWE at the moment
Lesnar provides something entirely different than the average part-timer. The idea of Brock only coming back once every few months to defend the championship is actually a pivotal part of his character. As we know, Brock became a star within the UFC. In MMA, the various championships are not defended on every card. When Lesnar returned to the WWE in 2012, he brought this new shoot-fight approach to his offence that was previously non-existent.
This fusion of Brock's two careers has resulted in one hell of an intriguing character in the WWE. If Lesnar was to capture the gold despite the fact that his appearances are limited at best, the WWE has an interesting story woven into the absent championship situation. Most importantly, these rare defences, as opposed to the saturation of challenges that we are used to at every PPV, will help each championship bout to have a "big match" feel.
As you can see, both men lay a claim to being the "right" option for the championship. However, in this modern WWE, a new factor prevails.
You can watch this battle of safety vs. risk live on the WWE Network for just $9.99, and it's the network which is our next talking point.
When this contest was one of HHH's hyped matches at the start of last week's RAW, it all seemed like an over the top sales pitch.
That's exactly what it was.
Just that prior week, it was announced that the WWE Network had gained only 33,000 followers since its last update in April.
Over the past two weeks, a projected tenth of WWE employees have lost their jobs due to the financial burden of the network. Several days ago, long-term timekeeper Mark Yeaton was one of the surprise victims.
No matter who rings the bell on Sunday, when all is said and done, the new champion might just be the man that the WWE believe is the right figure to pull in more network subscriptions.
John Cena might seem like the right answer. His merchandise sales are through the roof, so why can't he sell the network also? Whilst kids could beg for the network at any time, you have to imagine that there's some added appeal for kids with Cena as the champion.
Let's face it, a big part of the Cena appeal to kids is that they aspire to be just like him- he's big, strong and cool in their eyes. Everyone wants to be a winner, right? Thus, Cena and a title go hand in hand.
The problem is though, it's not the children who pay the bills. They simply nag parents until they get their way. Perhaps having Cena as champion won't make any difference to the undecided adults who are yet to purchase the Network.
Again, Brock Lesnar is different. Having Brock Lesnar as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion appeals to an alternative crowd. There are not many kids who love Lesnar, he beat the seemingly-magical Undertaker and now he could defeat their almost unbeatable hero as well. Lesnar appeals to the adults who enjoy legitimate competition, with his MMA background serving as a constant reminder of how tough he really is.
Though with the current number of subscribers failing to meet the projected amount, can the WWE afford to have a part-time champion? Strangely, in some ways, it has the potential to be the best thing that could ever happen to the Network!
If Lesnar was to win the championship, any fans who haven't subscribed to the Network would be missing a big moment, similar to how some fans may have missed the ending of the greatest streak of all time. Not only would it be a title change, it would be an unthinkable switch due to the new champion's schedule. A Lesnar win could prompt subscriptions on the basis that the unthinkable should be unmissable.
Whilst it could be argued that having a championship that isn't defended on every PPV is a bad business move for the Network, perhaps these "big fight" PPV's will really sell the network. A Lesnar win has the potential to make the big PPV's seem even bigger as the prestigious championship returns just once in a blue moon. Without the championship being seen on television each and every week, the idea of catching a glimpse of the gold on the odd PPV might become a luxurious treat.
Maybe we have been taking the championship for granted all of this time.
Something else that we took for granted over the years was the streak of the Undertaker.
For years, the Deadman's streak was the one constant, the one thing that we could always believe in. It took a beast to change that, and this Sunday, Cena has to defend his 15th WWE World Heavyweight Championship against that very beast, the 1 in 21 and 1.
So how does the streak come into play? That was four months ago wasn't it?
The point is, in the same way that the mystique of the Undertaker's streak followed the Deadman into every Wrestlemania match, Brock Lesnar has now inherited that aura.
The streak is a factor because the WWE knows that they have the next big story waiting to happen. Whoever defeats Lesnar will be pushed effortlessly; it's hard to fathom the tremendous magnitude of such a win.
Should the WWE waste such a big victory on John Cena? Cena has seen it all and done it all, that includes defeating Brock Lesnar. As we know, Cena bested Brock just two years ago at Extreme Rules 2012.
It has been heavily speculated that the WWE is looking to pencil in Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for Wrestlemania 30. Throw in the fact that the company seems determined to push the young Samoan as the next face of the company, and this whole plan almost sounds like a forgone conclusion.
A Reigns win over Lesnar would give the former Shield member the rarest of victories. With the remains of the Undertaker's Wrestlemania aura, it has the potential to be a victory that will thrill the casual and smart fans alike!
We can't rule out John Cena here. After all, it always seems to be that when you look to bet against Cena, that's when he will rise up and win. Take Cena's own Wrestlemania 30 match against Bray Wyatt for example; a great number of people believed that the Cenation leader would take a loss here.
However, the times they are a changing, and it appears that John Cena has been left out in the cold with this post-streak direction.
Just as important though, is the potential direction for Cena as champion. If he was to defeat Lesnar, what feuds would await? It's time to look at our final criteria.
If our current champion was to retain, you would have to question what would happen next?
With Roman Reigns set to face Triple H at some point this summer, you would have to imagine that the freed up Randy Orton would find himself back in the title picture soon, finally receiving his one on one rematch.
Following a Cena-Orton feud, that's where things get a little bit trickier. With Kane now donning his suit once again, Alberto Del Rio now fired, and The Miz now representing the midcard whilst holding the Intercontinental Championship, there is an absence of potential top heels to challenge Cena.
Seth Rollins may hold the key with the Money In The Bank briefcase but how long could they stretch the feud? With the understandable reluctance to turn Mr. Fruity Pebbles, there is a potentially awkward face feud with Roman Reigns. Perhaps the WWE could throw Ziggler a bone, knowing that he can pull off a fantastic match effortlessly. I would argue that Dean Ambrose is far too focused elsewhere to compete for the title.
It's only when you weigh up these options that you realise what the WWE has lost over the last six months or so. CM Punk has left and Daniel Bryan is seriously injured. The WWE is lacking some serious star-power, which certainly doesn't help when John Cena is in need of some serious direction here.
A Brock Lesnar win comes with an array of positive qualities and directions.
Superstars will be fighting each other for the right to gain a chance to bring the gold back to the company. There will be some new-found passion within feuds as each superstar wishes to become the conquering hero.
There are only three men on the active roster that Lesnar has competed against since his return, therefore, unlike John Cena, there are plenty of fresh options to be paired against the Beast.
The Authority, who were so determined to sabotage a reign of a champion who did not respect them, would then have to live with the fact that their pettiness had cost the company its most prized possession. Would the Board of Directors relieve them of their power? Let's not forget, that happened to Vince after CM Punk's exit at Money In The Bank 2011.
Lastly, the midcard could benefit tremendously from a Brock Lesnar win. That statement may sound completely bizarre but allow me to elaborate. This may be a little reminscent to the main story of WWE Day of Reckoning 2, but with little focus on the WWE World Heavyweight Championship during its absent months, the Intercontinental and United States Championships will be the greatest prizes on offer. When The Miz was on top of the world, he called himself the most must-see WWE champion in history. If he retains his championship against Dolph Ziggler this Sunday, he might be able to call himself that once again, as one of the joint highest ranking active champions in the company.
That's where the last big ramification could come into play following a Lesnar victory; both Sheamus and The Miz might not be happy that they have to share their spot on top of the WWE totem pole. Yes, in the absence of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, a unification match between the midcard championships could indeed be booked!
Providing that the WWE don't end up holding a tournament for an interim championship, it's amazing how the potential absence of the federation's top title might create shockwaves in the different tiers of the company.
The question is, is the WWE ready to let itself be surprised?
So there you have it, a John Cena win might please a lot of staff working on the Network as it provides a sense of stability, but the direction that the company may have to take afterwards is a dull one indeed.
If the Beast picks up the win, we are greeted with fresh feuds, solid storylines and his aura continues. Most importantly, the midcard receives one hell of a push.
I think by now it's quite obvious which direction I would like the WWE to take, and honestly I do think they'll pull the trigger on a Brock Lesnar push this Sunday. The company has the chance to do something completely shocking that conforms to its family-friendly programming rules and doesn't include the departed CM Punk. How can they pass up that opportunity? They also have a chance to gain WWE Network subscriptions as it will be the only place that fans get to see the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and the belt itself, for the foreseeable future.
Come Sunday night, Cena is the real beast who threatens to ruin these beautiful scenarios.
What do you think readerland? Leave me some comments below and I'll be happy to talk wrestling with you guys. Alternatively, bring the talk over to twitter and follow me: @LeafLOP
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