Can you feel the heat? That’s Brock Lesnar showing up to work. Now, you may be thinking this situation has been going on far too long. He’s got the power right? He has Vince bent over backwards giving him everything he demands? Even Heyman can’t get his lazy backside off the couch. Brock shows up when he wants, where he wants, and even then, he may decide to sit backstage in his luxurious locker room. There’s an aura of not giving a single damn, as he chills on his couch reading magazines. Why would he watch the show? It’s not like he cares what others say, so why bother engaging? He’s getting a fat paycheck for doing a fraction of what others do. He’s special, and he feels deserving of the preferential treatment.
As far back as six years ago, we’ve seen The Beast and his advocate show up on a part-time basis. Physically, we know he could work a full-time schedule (like his first run), and I’m sure if Vince needed it .. he’d have negotiated more dates. However, as I’ve said before, contract negotiations are a two-way street. There’s no way Brock controls his contract to the point WWE has its hands tied. Vince may claim he has special privileges on TV, but it’s clearly a work. The fact is, as Jericho and others have said about Vince, he likes things done his way, and if you don’t like it .. he won’t be dictated too. He’d rather show you the door, than be out of control in his own company.
Yet, Lesnar’s status of being a former UFC Champion who could jump ship at a moment’s notice is convincing enough for most to believe he gets this treatment. It makes sense, and Vince would prefer keeping Brock under contract. So why do I feel it’s the other way? Why do I feel it’s Brock who needs WWE more than WWE needs him? Surely, if Brock didn’t need WWE he’d still be in UFC? (yeah I know he failed drugs tests etc.) But it’s not like he’s got anything to fall back on if he can’t fight in the octagon. The fact is, Brock needs the money and he needs to maintain his image before he calls it a day. What better way to sell your brand than to dominate WWE? What better way than to do so as a special attraction? He’s got a lot of money already, so working full-time gives him no incentive. In fact, working too much would leave him overexposed, potentially lowering the value of his brand. It’s what happened in his first run in WWE, and by the end he was just another face in the crowd. Neither he, nor Vince, want it to happen again.
So as Vince, Brock, and Paul sat around discussing the long-term plan for The Beast, it makes sense that Vince (or Paul) suggested he stay part-time indefinitely. He’d never be able to play babyface, so his repeated absence would make for good heat. They kept him away from the WWE Championship so it wouldn’t be held hostage for months. Instead, he worked feuds against the likes of John Cena and Triple H to reintroduce The Beast to a new generation. He had to lose to someone, to show he’s not invincible. And then Vince saw a gold mine, he saw the potential of Brock ending The Undertaker’s streak. He was the only one who looked the part, and the heat is still with him to do this day. Fans really hate Brock for beating The Undertaker, when it was Vince who ended the streak. As a result, the bubble of Brock Lesnar began at Wrestlemania XXX. The streak bubble morphed in to the Brock bubble.
“Bubbles” // “You Can’t Come”
I remember Eric Bischoff talking about wrestling angles and gimmicks years ago. He talked about how, as he put it, you make a bubble, and you let it grow. The angle/gimmick grows, and grows, til it pops, leaving the audience with a dramatic and likely memorable conclusion. A simple, logical observation, but one that stuck with me. I searched for the exact quote but .. I can’t find it anywhere. And it’s the same with Brock. The hate of his part-time schedule and ring work has slowly filled this bubble with air over the last three years. WWE made a Universal title, and instead of keeping it on full-timers like Balor and Owens, they made sure Lesnar got it after his feud with Goldberg. Now, if WWE cared enough to keep the Universal title around, they’d have stripped him of it a long time ago for breaking the imaginary “30 day” rule. There’s other ways WWE could’ve taken the title away, and we know he doesn’t need it to be an attraction. Yet, Lesnar holding the title hostage when he doesn’t really need it? Major heat. It’s bad for business. So much so, some who were anti-Roman .. are now hoping he’ll take it from Lesnar
And it’s true! Lesnar’s heat has grown to the point fans who usually groan at the thought of Roman, would now prefer he won it so the title can be full-time again. This is the genius of Vince McMahon, and it has little to do with Lesnar; other than agreeing to what’s decided. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the South Park episode called Cartmanland? It’s very much like that. If you haven’t? Let me explain. You don’t need to like the show to get it. But if you have seen it and get the point already? Skip the next two paragraphs.
Cartman gets a big sum of money from his dead grandpa’s will. He’s always dreamt about owning his own theme park, so he buys the local park which isn’t doing good business. He doesn’t want to own the park to run it like a business though, he just wants the park to himself so he can go on rides all day, without having to wait in line for everything. It’s paradise for him, so he closes the park forever. Just to annoy his ‘friend’ Kyle, he uses some of the money to produce a TV commercial showing himself enjoying his new theme park. At the end he sings “There’s so much to do at Cartmanland .. but you can’t come!”
The closure frustrates many in the area, as they want to enjoy the park too. They offer good money, but they’re refused as he doesn’t want lines. After finding Kyle trying to sneak in, he hires a security guard to protect it, but the guard wants to be compensated with a salary. Cartman agrees to let only two people in, so the money from the tickets would go towards the guards salary. It escalates further when by law, he’s forced to offer food and drinks, so he allows more in each day to compensate. Inevitably it spirals out of control. The park is filled to the max every day, and it becomes his living nightmare. The success of his park inspires other businesses to adopt the “you can’t come” technique.
There’s a part of me which feels keeping Lesnar away has done good for Raw and the Universal title in the long run. Whether it be Reigns, Strowman, or someone else, Brock losing the title will be a career moment for the winner. Early in his reign, WWE didn’t point out flaws in his part-time status too much. It would occasionally come up in the build to PPV matches (from opponents), but the thought of him being stripped of the title didn’t arise til only recently.
And how many times has Reigns been “predicted” to beat Lesnar? What makes anyone believe Summerslam will be any different? The fact is, WWE has purposely made the Universal title part-time. It wasn’t taken seriously as a World Championship in its beginnings (the name didn’t help), but with all the promising talent coming through the ranks, the fans want to see the title full-time so it can help these guys get over. Did Balor ever get his rematch? How dominant of a champion would Strowman be? Can Owens be intelligent and connected enough to steal it under Strowman’s nose? A plethora of possibilities, yet we’re told no .. you can’t have that. If you want to see the Universal title, you better be watching the PPVs, or at least watching Raw when The Beast cares enough to show up.
This weeks Raw took it to another level. It showed us a ruthless, cold beast, a guy who cares for nothing (even Heyman) but himself. The only time he cared, even just a little, was when Angle & Heyman called him the “worst Universal Champion ever”. He doesn’t respond well to ultimatums, and he’s being portrayed as the hardest negotiator of all time. And he won’t get punished for what he did to Angle, because in storyline he has “privileges”. Keeping the title on Lesnar emphasizes its importance to the WWE Universe. But will it work? Can it be maintained for much longer?
I think it will succeed, but it hinges on what they do after the passing of the torch. They could just end up 180 degree swerving us, by having him win the title back a month later. Jeez .. that would create serious animosity. But seriously .. the thing is, and I think some are undoubtedly going to disagree, the Universal title being away so long has made fans appreciate it in its absence. It’s meant to represent the fans, the WWE universe, yet it’s held by a beast who cares as much about them as he does the show. Yet, as a positive side effect to all this, the Intercontinental title has had a much-needed renewal. The IC title’s seen many dark days, so you could say its history has been honored by main eventing episodes of Raw & PPVs. The Universal title may be labeled the “top” title of Raw, but it could easily be argued the IC title is prestigious enough to be the top title.
All Good Things ..
While there’s always much hate on Roman, if he were to win the title it would be a big moment. Not just for him, but for Raw and the fans. I really hope it’s not the case, I’d prefer Strowman as he’s more over. But at least .. if Roman does win, there’s a chance Strowman can cash in; so I’m not fussed either way. Brock’s apparently going back to UFC but .. that doesn’t mean he needs to be booked to lose the title. He’s gone over a year holding it part-time, so I’m sure he’s got time to do both. His matches are more like workouts anyways ..so I wouldn’t hope too much for the bubble bursting at Summerslam. There’s a good chance Lesnar will retain, but if he doesn’t? It would feel like a victory for the WWE Universe. We’ll finally get what we asked for, after being told no(!) for what feels like an eternity.
I’m not saying it’s fair WWE went this route, but it’s certainly turned fans against Lesnar. Are we looking at the last chapter of The Beasts reign? Or is it the beginning of a new level of dominance? Are we ready to go without the title another year? Whatever happens at Summerslam, I’m eagerly awaiting the day the bubble’s dead, and gone forever. And much like my countless questions, all things must come to an end .. so let’s hope WWE doesn’t torture us for much longer. Thank you for joining me! I’d like to hear your thoughts, and, who do you think will be the next Universal Champion? Cheers very much! See you again.