The WWE Universe (cringe) is a little worried that after SummerSlam this Sunday, Brock Lesnar will take the WWE Title and head home. No champion on WWE Television? How preposterous! Is it really?
Last fall after Night of Champions, the title was stripped off Daniel Bryan due to a conspiracy with referee Scott Armstrong. The title belt was held IN ABEYENCE™ for more than five weeks. The WWE Championship belt had no waist to call its home and awful storylines coincided around the strap. The Big Show’s faux financial problems seemed to take precedent over what should be the most-coveted prize in the business. Despite all this fans are discussing what a travesty it would be to see Lesnar win the belt and not be on Monday Night Raw from week to week. Would it be worse than not having a champion at all? Lesnar is exactly what the WWE needs to bring credibility back to the Championship.
Championship matches should be something people are itching to see, but wrestling fans have become too accustomed to them. Since the Monday Night Wars, we’ve had one pay-per-view a month. However, even in the late 90s, the WWF title wasn’t always put on the line at the big monthly shows.
In Your House: International Incident (96)
In Your House: Buried Alive (96)
In Your House: Badd Blood (97)
No Way Out of Texas (98)
These are a few events in about a two year span that didn’t have the big belt up for grabs (I may have missed some). The champion was either off the show or involved in a multi-man tag match with a good storyline; 1998 saw the Monday Night Wars kick into overdrive and the championship was defended constantly and often was hot-shot around the roster. The Attitude Era really devalued the title and fans began to care more about character than the characters accolades.
The Attitude Era is over, and it has been for more than 15 years. Triple H recently coined this period the “reality” era. There isn’t a better wrestler involved with the WWE who makes fans suspend disbelief more than Lesnar. His style and presence make onlookers believe what’s happening in the ring might actually hurt. They question if a former NCAA amateur wrestling champion and MMA champion knows how to “work” a pro wrestling style. Lesnar, despite his own lack of interest, legitimizes the business we try to defend on a regular basis. This is why he needs to be WWE Champion.
Let Lesnar take the belt and go home. Let Paul Heyman be his surrogate and cut passionate promos reminding fans of his dominance and how Lsnar edoesn’t care if we get a champion on television every week. Every reason fans have to criticize Lesnar is another reason to put the championship on him. Use Lesnar’s own apathy to make fans care. They’ll want to see a competitor who enjoys wrestling as much as they do take the strap off him. They will begin to care again about what the WWE Championship represents. The Championship around a wrestler’s waist should carry more value than the t-shirt on their back, and Lesnar could finally reverse that trend.
Every match Lesnar has is a gimmick match; Lesnar is the gimmick. He makes a match special and real. Bret Hart wasn’t quite a financial draw, but when you saw him wrestle with the belt on the line, it made you forget about the clowns, garbage men and Bastion Boogers that may have preceded the match. Hart made wrestling real, and Lesnar does the same thing, but with even more edge — with much more brutality. A wrestling match feels real when he is in the ring. Lesnar’s apathy for the business makes us hate him.
Just like a wrestler with a stale gimmick, the WWE Title needs to be reset. Lesnar is the guy to do that; he makes fans want to see the title defended, and he makes them furious that it isn’t. Satiate their appetites with compelling stories, rebuild the secondary titles, and determine who is the No. 1 contender for the championship Lesnar is holding hostage. Have competitors like Cesaro, Amrbose, Rollins and Reigns wrestle in pay-per-view main events on the smaller shows Lesnar won’t work. Make young stars credible, and make it believable when one of them finally beats him 1-2-3.
Brock Lesnar will make us care again.