We’re almost two weeks into the new year and the day I write this is the day before my age officially is closer to 40 than to 30. That all changes tomorrow when my milometer creeps over into 36 territory. Time to start looking forward instead of back, and with that in mind, I’ve been thinking about WWE and their march towards the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. To us fans, we can dream big about special moments and incredible matches, but without using a crystal ball or a tarot card reader, it’s safe to say that we’ll be ending mania with a triumphant Roman Reigns in front of a backdrop of pyrotechnics and fireworks.
This isn’t a piece about Roman or WWE’s booking of him. No, I want to talk about the defending, reigning, undisputed WWE Universal Champion Brrrrrroockk LLLLesnarrrrrr. More specifically, how I believe it’s time WWE cashed in their chips on Brock as the champ and have this run be his last as a champion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Brock is done or should retire – far from it. I just believe his reign does little, if anything, for the title. Is he a beast? Sure. Is he tough? Of course. But does he elevate the belt in my eyes? No, I don’t see it.
That’s why I’m hoping (more than anything) that Brock at least carries the belt to Wrestlemania to a) give the winner a better story by having them defeat a long-time champion and b) by not having him drop it at the Rumble, because if Kane or Strowman defeat him, they’ll only hold it for a short while before Roman Reigns once again. Regardless, my hope is that Brock isn’t the champ come the Raw after Wrestlemania.
You see, I don’t see Brock as a champion in WWE. His limited schedule, sparse appearances on TV and as many matches in a year as you can count on both hands aren’t what a champion is to me. The Miz is the polar opposite, as was John Cena when he was the United States Champion. They were on TV each and every week. They defended the belt more often than Brock (Cena did more than Miz, anyway), and they brought prestige to the title. They were proud to carry it and took any challenge as a personal insult, saving their best performances for those title defenses. We’ve seen hardly any of that from Brock. All we’ve seen from him – when we’ve seen him, that is – is a brief spot on Monday Night Raw, a great promo from Paul Heyman then either a saunter back to the curtain or a scuffle with the number one contender. Cue a match at the next PPV, a Brock Lesnar victory and then He’s off again into the night for a few months. No rematch, no title, no Heyman. Nothing.
I see Brock as the attraction he is. It’s as Paul Heyman says; Brock is a ‘once in a lifetime superstar’. There are no others like him. There’s nobody with the pedigree he has. He’s a superstar in every sense of the word and he’s paid like a superstar. But does that superstar need to carry the Universal Title, or does his name and reputation carry more weight in WWE? Case in point, the Undertaker had a stellar career in WWE. He was a top guy from his debut to the day he was last seen (at last year’s Wrestlemania).
In the 27 years Taker was in the WWE, he won the top title a total of seven times, yet how many of us see or remember the Phenom as a champion in all that he did in WWE? I certainly don’t. I just know his as the iconic Undertaker. Someone who was a fearsome opponent and at a PPV, a victory against the Deadman was a big deal. That’s what I think Brock should become.
I want to see Brock Lesnar away from the routine WWE storylines. I want to see him out on his own, on the periphery of WWE with his fearsome reputation. Always willing to go against someone with a point to prove if he and Heyman actually thought the opponent was worthy of a match against the beast. Some believe that when a WWE superstar reaches a certain age or point in their career that titles don’t matter to them anymore. They’re no longer on TV every week, they don’t get involved in intricate feuds or story-lines, so kind of drift along with the company, coming to the forefront for a big PPV when their past history gives the show a certain star power that only a select few have. For examples, think of Chris Jericho, Triple H, Shawn Michaels (in the final years of his career) or even John Cena who talks the talk, but really doesn’t need to be holding the top title right now. Should Brock Lesnar be added to this list?
Is the Universal Title more prestigious in the hands of Brock Lesnar? Is he the star, and not the belt itself? Do his limited appearances hurt or help Raw in the long run? Once he drops it, should he have a rematch, or should we move on with Reigns, Strowman, Balor, Rollins et al? I’d love to hear your thoughts. As always, thanks for reading.