“WWE threw the baby out with the bathwater. They changed the fortunes of Brock Lesnar for a part-time star. It sounds odd to say that given that Brock is one himself, but at least you have control of his schedule, you know his dates you know everything about when he’ll be available. I even find it strange for me to be upset about a mercenary taking out another mercenary. Both men are well documented guys who have said they’re in it for the money, but at the end of the day this was a mistake, and it’s going to be very hard to convince me otherwise.
It’s not even just that Goldberg won, though that is my bigger issue. It’s HOW he won. Goldberg talked about training three times a week, three times a day and twice a day the other four days for…this…for a push, two Spears and a Jackhammer? Come on. That’s ridiculous. I’m genuinely shocked at how many people not only are fine with this, but love it. We’ve watched as Brock Lesnar dismantled Ambrose, The Undertaker, Cena and Randy Orton just to name a few, but Goldberg can come off the street and just run him over after 12 years. How is that possibly a good thing? It’s just another example of WWE not using part timers to build new talent, but to cement part timers’ own legacies. Goldberg and Lesnar stole money last night in my opinion.”
I wrote this in the LOP Columns Forum just after this had happened at Survivor Series. I was beside myself angry at how WWE handled things with those two men. What did you think then? What do you think now? For my tastes, I couldn’t grasp how people could be happy with Bill Goldberg dismantling Brock Lesnar. WWE had one last star making tool in their back of tricks and it was the clean win over Lesnar. Many felt that Dean Ambrose should have had it at the last Wrestlemania. I was probably part of that crowd. I knew that Ambrose was on the rise, I knew that the longer they waited to pull the trigger on giving an up and comer that clean win the more likely it was that people were going to forget why it was even significant. WWE had managed to take Brock Lesnar and take him from a Superstar to a Megastar with his win over The Undertaker. The plan was always to give that rub to Roman Reigns the next year, but the fans weren’t having it.
After another year of Lesnar squash after Lesnar squash after Lesnar squash by the time ‘Mania rolled around last year some of the shine had worn off of Lesnar. Some would dare say his matches were becoming…boring? When Dean Ambrose did his much maligned version of the Steve Austin Podcast, he referred to Brock as lazy when it came to the planning of the match. And in the minds of many fans it cemented what we thought we already knew, that Brock might still be a huge draw, but he was no longer particularly entertaining. And that’s the part I missed. See we like to come out and put the cart before the horse oftentimes. I mean how many people had written off the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania before the January event because it was a “foregone conclusion” that Roman Reigns was going to beat Kevin Owens? I consider myself a pretty even-handed fan, I didn't fall into that trap with the Rumble, but I missed the mark with the Goldberg/Lesnar bout and I missed it terribly.
What was the biggest problem that was plaguing Brock Lesnar?
Boring, mundane matches would have been at the top of my list. Suplex, suplex, suplex, F5, go home. That was the norm for what Lesnar had been doing. I’d love to see Ambrose or A.J. Styles or Bray Wyatt beat Lesnar, but all were on an entirely different show, and to be honest, none of them would have had the cache necessary to not just beat Lesnar, but dismantle him. Outside of Roman Reigns what star on the RAW roster would have credibly been able to take The Beast Incarnate down a peg? I can’t think of any. And let’s just think about how well that would have gone over with the fans if Reigns did the deed. Sure I’d have loved to see Owens or Jericho or Rollins or countless other guys do it. But none of them could have done it so convincingly where it made an ounce of sense. But Bill Goldberg, a guy known for a pretty pronounced streak of his own putting down the “1 in 21 and 1”…yeah, that actually makes sense now that I think about it.
Wrestling isn’t like other genres. There’s a reason (besides the fact that we hated them) that it was fine for Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin to dismantle the League of Nations at Wrestlemania in Dallas. In my mind the 50 year old Goldberg dominating Lesnar made zero sense. But that’s logic. As much as I love logic, and wrestling, there’s little place for the former in the latter. See, in wrestling our favorites don’t age. That’s why it was fine for DDP to be in the Royal Rumble at almost SIXTY years old and still go toe to toe with today’s stars. It’s about suspension of disbelief. It’s why The Undertaker can be buried alive and come back or can shoot lightning from the ceiling. It’s why Kane can shoot fire from the ringposts, and why someone like Rey Mysterio can beat The Big Show. But for this, I failed to suspend, I saw red at the fact that it made no sense to me for WWE to waste their chance to make a huge star, for Goldberg. The problem with that line of thinking is that I was dead wrong. WWE didn’t waste their chance to make another star; in fact they did the opposite. What WWE did by allowing Brock Lesnar to fall to Goldberg was save themselves from the very monster that they created. In the process, they’ve saved their investment in Brock Lesnar.
There’s no doubt in my mind that right now whether you care about Brock versus Goldberg at Wrestlemania or not that Brock Lesnar is a more compelling and entertaining character than he was before Survivor Series. Going in to Survivor Series, I expected Lesnar to “get his win back” over Goldberg, maybe show a little bit more vulnerability than we’d seen, and keep plowing through the roster until there was nothing left. Instead Lesnar was shocked by Goldberg. Goldberg is one of the most dominating stars, to quote Tony Schiavone, “in the history of our sport”. WWE has a responsibility to tell us stories, and we as fans have some responsibility to let them play out before flying off the handle. That’s not always the easiest, sometimes it genuinely feels like WWE is taunting the “smart fans”. I failed in this case to hold up my end of our unwritten bargain; but I’m man enough to admit it. What I’ve learned now is that Vince and Company hit the nail on the head with this one. Not only was it a defensible decision, it was the right decision. Goldberg has pierced the armor of The Beast. No matter what happens between the two at Wrestlemania there is now a chance for others on the roster to do the same.
I thought that Lesnar falling to Goldberg was an example of an older star still taking from a business he should be giving back to. I was wrong. WWE hit the nail on the head, hindsight is 20/20, but foresight is invaluable. I’m very glad that WWE had the foresight to save a star that we might not have realized needed saving. WWE had one last star-making move in Brock Lesnar...and they used it to make Brock Lesnar remain a star. There's nothing wrong with that. By saving this star, he's still viable to make a different star. Maybe not in the same way he could have after defeating The Undertaker, but likely in a better way than he could have after their Wrestlemania reconsideration with Reigns. Brock Lesnar matters now more than he has in a long time. That’s something we should all celebrate.