8/20/14 Wrestler of the Week – Brock Lesnar

 

There can be only one. As great as Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins continue to be, as much as Stephanie McMahon delivered in her return to the ring, and as much as Dolph Ziggler recaptured his lost momentum with his Intercontinental Title win, no one could even approximate the impact that Brock Lesnar made in the last week. As a part time performer, Lenar has fewer opportunities to show how good he can be. In his first match since he ended the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania, Lesnar put on one of the most dominant and memorable performances in WWE in recent years.

For the month before SummerSlam, Paul Heyman effectively delivered the message that Lesnar is a beast who would maul Cena and become WWE World Heavweight Champion when they finally collided. Heyman is a brilliant mouthpiece and his skills complement Lesnar wonderfully, but he is outside the physical confrontations that are the lifeblood of the wrestling business. He needs his clients to deliver in the ring and in their interactions with fans, or else his pronouncements will fall flat (recall the failed Curtis Axel pairing). Heyman promised physicality from Lesnar and Lesnar delivered. He absolutely pummeled Cena with 16 German suplexes, a series of violent knee strikes, and a pair of F5s that were too much for the champion. What was more impressive was the fact that Cena only mustered two offensive moves- an AA and and STF-, both of which followed taunts by Lesnar and neither of which came close to ending the match.

What impressed me even more than the raw physicality that Lesnar displayed was the way that he showed his emotions and became even more heelish at SummerSlam and the next night on Raw. From the moment he hit his first F5 on Cena in the opening seconds of the match, he grinned arrogantly and even laughed at Cena when he failed to rise to the challenge. There were lots of little mannerisms that enhanced his personality and made him an even more compelling champion- he suddenly sat up in the ring like his Wrestlemania foe, he stuck out his tongue and appeared to be excited to be administering such a beating, and he insisted that Heyman repeat his name on Raw like a maniacal tyrant. Lesnar has always been so remarkably talented and impressive that his personality has been an afterthought. If he started to have the type of amplified character that defines the all-time greats, he would have every tool that it takes to be one of the best wrestlers to ever step in the ring.

The inherent duality of Lesnar’s special attraction role is that fans do not get to see him as much as they may like, but that his scarcity makes his appearances even more valuable. As such, WWE has to elevate the importance of the times he is present. If Lesnar wrestles about five matches per year, there is not room for trial and error, nor can he take time to get comfortable with his opponent before they have a big money match. While other wrestlers have to work to get fans interested in their gimmicks or feuds, Lesnar has an entirely different set of challenges that can be tricky to identify from time to time. The fact that he showed up for his first match in five months and looked better than ever against an infrequent adversary is a tremendous accomplishment that we should not overlook.