With less than four days away from SummerSlam, the two components of the main event have only once shared screen time on Monday Night Raw. That was this past Monday’s go home show. Between Brock Lesnar’s hatred of travel and John Cena’s budding Hollywood career, each man’s schedule has not allowed them much time to be available to promote their WWE Title this Sunday. It couldn’t have worked out any better.
Brock is an attraction. Like the giants of the territory days, you don’t want fans to tire of the occasion. Paul Heyman is the perfect surrogate, and this allows more television time to do what he does best — brag about how his client, Lesnar, will destroy Cena. Heyman’s repetitive nature works so well. His slow vernacular and incessant ability to bring up past accomplishments grates on fans’ nerves. The duo of Lesnar and Heyman is a force that Cena must take seriously.
A serious Cena is a popular Cena. His work on the microphone is well documented. It’s what got him over with the fans in the early stages of his career as a rapper. Somewhere toward his rise to the top, he lost his edge and replaced it with the humor that only the lowest common denominator can smirk at. Fans found it insulting and the bathroom humor was one of the catalysts that made them turn on him. The white bread, fun loving baby face is not what the majority of wrestling fans want representing them. Fans want to cheer someone who takes what they love seriously. Lesnar and Heyman knock the smirk off Cena’s face.
The vignette produced for the Aug. 4 edition of RAW was one of the better produced segments WWE has fashioned in quite some time. Lesnar does not hide his selfishness and brutality. He enjoys hurting people. Lesnar conquers all his obstacles, and he wants money. The vignette showcases this.
Cena, on the other hand, shows humbleness. He understands he will get a beating on Aug. 17.He knows Lesnar is the toughest opponent he has ever had in his life. But he also can use his past history with the Beast Incarnate to his advantage. Cena did abandon the WWE fans. He made a name for himself by being on television week after week, show after show, putting on matches. Whether the fans booed him or cheered him, he was there when Brock didn’t care.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you story. WWE, even in the absence of the two biggest stars on the SummerSlam card, is creating a compelling narrative for what will be a fight. The selfish, sporadic Lesnar against the hard-working, 365-day- a-year champion Cena. Less really is more. The seven-minute video did more for the match than anything Cena or Lesnar could have done by being in the arena that night.
Keep the WWE Championship special. Watch old RAWs on the WWE Network. Notice that weeks would go by without the champion being shown on television. Yes, it was a different era and I don’t condone not having Cena on television. The man draws ratings and money. However, do we need him to be in handicapped matches and multi-man tags?
A few weeks ago, Cena had a fantastic match with Cesaro which happened on the spot. Why not have Cesaro challenge Cena for the next week? It gives WWE something to promote and a match people will want to see. Cena’s TV time for the night would have been done and Cesaro could have won a squash match later in the show to build him as a threat. It also would have eliminated the illusion that superstars can book matches themselves, on the fly, which never makes sense anyway.
WWE has done a good job building SummerSlam’s main event. It has a big time feel, and if it is anything like their 2012 Extreme Rules match, it won’t disappoint. WWE was smart by not having Lesnar and Cena touch. Fans are now either excited to see Lesnar leave Cena in a pile of his own blood, urine and vomit or see if Cena can overcome insurmountable odds. It’s simple storytelling and it totally works.