(All quoted song lyrics from “DNA” by Kendrick Lamar)
Part 1: Intro
“I got Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA
Cocaine quarter piece, got war and peace inside my DNA”
Hey y’all. Here we are, back in the funny pages. Having a laugh, talking wrestling.
With Extreme Rules 2017 just around the corner I wanted to take this time to revisit my favorite match in the history of my pro wrestling fandom. “Favorite,” you say? Yes, favorite. Not to be confused with “best” or “most influential.” As in Puppet Master III is my favorite horror movie but there are clearly “better” fright films to be had.
When I think of personal wrestling favorites, matches like Savage vs Warrior from Mania 91, Jericho vs Michaels from No Mercy 08, and HHH vs Jack from Rumble 2000 all come to mind. But Cena vs Lesnar 2012 stands above them all. Not only is it the most unique WWE match I have ever seen, it’s the closest I’ve ever come to saying, “man, that was perfect.” And yes, unfortunately the match does have one glaring issue. And yes, that issue does hamper the match to a degree. And yes, if not for that issue, I would indeed say this is the “best” match of all time…. But c’est la vie.
Part 2: The Rest of the Card
“I got dark, I got evil, that rot inside my DNA
I got off, I got troublesome heart inside my DNA”
Broadcasting live from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, it’s Extreme Rules!
Part 3: The Match
“I got Realness, I just kill shit ’cause it’s in my DNA
I got millions, I got riches buildin’ in my DNA”
The aforementioned Big Johnny makes an appearance. He’s on top of the world, excited for the re-debut of the “new face of the WWE,” Brock Lesnar. The “new face of the WWE” is like the “new generation of sports entertainers;” phrases that have lost all meaning as year after year WWE has desperately tried to convince us we are witnessing something innovative and fresh…. But I digress.
We are treated to a promo package recapping the main event feud. At Mania 2012, Cena lost his “Once in a Lifetime” match-up against The Rock. Twenty-four hours later, he ate an F-5 from a returning Brock Lesnar. From that moment until Extreme Rules, Cena’s life and career has been in a perpetual tail spin. He even lost to a (re)debuting Tensai! On Raw! I take it back, 2012 was great.
But the primary focus of the promo package was the in-ring return of Brock. Brock had made quite the name for himself away from the pro wrestling circuit during his eight year absence (though he did take bookings for New Japan on the side). He came remarkably close to making an NFL roster as a walk-on. Not letting that bump in the road deter him, Brock took on the world of Mixed Marital Arts and quickly lifted the UFC Heavyweight Championship. His run on top, while highly lucrative, was short lived as he suffered multiple bouts of diverticulitis as well as back-to-back knock out losses. Coming to the conclusion that his shoot fighting career was over, Lesnar made his surprise return to the WWE as a “legitimate” fighter. “I’m not a superstar, I’m an ass kicker,” he lets us know. “There’s nothing about Brock Lesnar that’s fake.” In both kayfabe and shoot, Lesnar truly was a conquerer.
Brock comes out first to a solid if somewhat tempered pop. Cena’s out next to a 60/40 pro/anti reception. The typically venomous Chicago crowd was generally alright with Cena on this night. Cena sports his “Thug Life” era heavy chain that he hangs over the corner ring post. There’s a big fight feel right away as no one knows what to expect from this new Brock Lesnar. On commentary, Jerry Lawler puts over “if Cena loses, he may never be the same.”
Quick start as Cena shoots out of the corner like a bullet. Lesnar scores an immediate double leg take down and goes to work with razor like elbow smashes that slice Cena open 20 seconds into the match. He follows that up with a stiff clothesline. Cena tries plan A again and it’s deja vu as he’s taken down and beaten mercilessly. It’s maybe a minute into the match and we get our first ref stoppage. A medic is called over as Cena is bleeding like a stuck (stuffed?) pig.
Now a blood stoppage has the tendency to drag down most matches. There was a Rey Mysterio/CM Punk match from 2010 that nearly lost the crowd as the ref continually interrupted the action to check on Punk who had been busted open hard-way. The difference between that match and this one is that Punk’s cut was an accident. It in no way played into the match or hindered Punks ability to do his job. Did Brock intend to bust Cena open? I can’t say. But it certainly looked like he knew what he was doing as she hammered Cena’s forehead with successive elbows. Those blows where delivered with malice. Whether you liked Cena or not, it was hard not to be concerned for his wellbeing.
The beating continues with Brock taking the match 90/10. Cena does muster brief offensive flurries every few minutes but each one is snuffed out almost immediately. The tide appears to turn as John connects with a shoulder tackle that launches Lesnar back and we get our first ref bump. A second shoulder hits a brick wall and Brock is back in control. With the ref out of the picture, Brock works over Cena’s open wound. He licks Cena’s blood off the side of his glove and the crowd recoils in disgust.
John goes for his “Thug Life” chain but there’s no escaping this massacre. Brock locks in the kimura submission and stops just short of ripping Cena’s arm off his shoulder before chucking him into the ring post. Brock ponders new ways to inflict punishment onto Cena and decides it’s his turn to bring the chain into play. He wraps the chain around John’s legs and dares him to “get up.” John obliges and is met with another sick clothesline.