At Sunday night’s Extreme Rules PPV, John “Superman” Cena defeated Brock “Doomsday” Lesnar after what I can only describe as one of the most vicious wrestling matches I have seen in years.
Note: All columns analyzing the television products put on by WWE and TNA are done from an entertainment standpoint. While “insider” terms such as “face” and “heel” may be used, commentary stated is focused on the storytelling and characters – just like any other TV show we’d critique.
Cena tried to gain the offense very early, taking Lesnar hard. But Cena was simply no match for the advanced MMA techniques Brock Lesnar developed while working for UFC. Lesnar flipped Cena over and lobbed a series of hard elbows to the head, busting Cena open just minutes into the match. Something sparked in me as a wrestling fan. After years of formulaic matches, suddenly this felt different. Immediately the stakes were raised, soaring through the roof. Every attempt by Cena to stop Lesnar’s momentum was thwarted, denying him the chance of a comeback. Simply put, Cena was overwhelmed by the onslaught of offense coming from Lesnar.
It was very reminiscent of Superman unable to hold off Doomsday while protecting Metropolis. In this match there was no Justice League to come to Superman’s aid (in the comic, the JLA was decimated by Doomsday – sound familiar?). For all intents and purposes, this was a squash match. Cena lacked any offense, Lesnar looked like a monster, and everyone believed Cena would lose. The fans were hooked. A hush fell upon the crowed at the United Center in Chicago at times – even those who booed Cena in the past couldn’t believe the pounding he was taking. But then the end came – Cena wrapped a chain around his fist and knocked Lesnar in the head. That was all it took for Cena to lift him above his head and deliver his finishing maneuver onto the steel stairs in the ring to score the pinfall. After the harrowing battle, Cena was unable to move his arm at all, sending fans in attendance and viewers at home in a state of shock. Here was the Face of the WWE, facing his most dangerous and talented foe to date, leaving him maimed and mauled by the unstoppable monster.
This is sounding more and more familiar.
This match took me back to younger days – when NWA Champion Harley Race defended his championship against the monstrous Andre the Giant. What few know, for those who weren’t there in the old Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis that was, was that Race pinned The Giant to retain his title. That time, it was Race’s Superman that defeated his Doomsday (The Giant) for the entire building to see. It was amazing. I looked at Andre’s size compared to Race and was awestruck at the feat I just witnessed. There was no way Race could have defeated him with breaking his back I thought to myself.
Race made a fan out of me that night, just as Lesnar and Cena made me a fan of their feud short-lived feud on Sunday. The level of brutality increased the drama; the inability for Cena to gain an offensive position increased the level of excitement. For that match at least, the standard formula of a WWE-style match was changed. I believe it appealed to fans of professional wrestling and UFC alike. Sometime the WWE needs to do, considering the UFC’s continued (and ever growing) popularity and dominance in the PPV box office.
It’s my hope the creative team will use this opportunity to shake up the character that is John Cena. His beating added a new dimension to their feud and I believe to their characters. Lesnar is now the true monster of WWE – not Kane, not Big Show, not Mark Henry, hell not even the Undertaker. Lesnar encapsulates everything a “Doomsday” monster villain of professional wrestling is supposed to be.
Lesnar, like Doomsday, has a mission to complete – a mission known only to him. He can’t be controlled, he can’t be manipulated. He’s unpredictable – something that was evident shortly after his loss to Cena. Would Lesnar finish him off? He was damn near ready to take off the head of a fan who innocently patted him on the back. Lesnar turned and threatened to smash the young fan for that heartfelt gesture. Heartfelt gesture? No thank you. Doomsday didn’t want or need your compassion.
Lesnar will take no prisoners in his quest to bring legitimacy back to WWE. The question now must be asked – like Ric Flair battling Nikita Koloff in the 1980s, or Hulk Hogan going toe-to-toe with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania 3, or even Tommy “Wildfire” Rich trying to stop Rowdy Roddy Piper from taking over Georgia Championship Wrestling – can John Cena stop his Doomsday? Can Cena finally end the juggernaut of a man – a monster – a who simply refuses to be stopped? Or will Doomsday lay waste to him, and the WWE? Only time will tell.
John Cena may have won the battle, but given his broken body, it seems like Lesnar may have won the the first of many wars. Like any villain whose plans have been thwarted, there’s a return to their lair to recoup and devise the next plan of destruction. While the story between Cena and Lesnar may be over for now – the battle between Lesnar and Triple H is just beginning.