It has been less than a year since Brock Lesnar made his epic return to WWE programming on Monday Night Raw the day after Wrestlemania 28 with an attack on John Cena. The events of Wrestlemania 28 quickly became a distant memory in the minds of many fans as Lesnar turned a handshake with Cena into a devastating F-5.
Brutalizing WWE’s top star in an instant on his Monday Night return, Brock Lesnar shocked and surprised the WWE Universe. This violent action hearkened back to the “Ruthless Aggression” era that Lesnar helped to spearhead during his initial sprint to the top of the card in WWE.
Fast forward nearly a year and the now very personal feud between Lesnar and Triple H is a money making attraction for Wrestlemania 29 because of the tried and true persuasive devices of Aristotle: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.
Many fans are more familiar with Brock Lesnar as a UFC fighter than as a WWE superstar. Between the beginning of 2008 to the end of 2011, Lesnar served as one of the most marketable fighters in UFC (possibly because of his previous WWE exposure). Amassing a UFC record of five wins and three losses, he became the UFC Heavyweight Champion, and more importantly, helped to give UFC mainstream exposure that it never had before.
A true star of selling pay-per-views with his name attached to them, Brock Lesnar’s UFC 100 main event appearance amassed 1.6 million buys alone. Four of his UFC appearances (including UFC 100) are in the top 10 for pay-per-view buys for UFC.
From a standpoint of selling pay-per-views, Lesnar is a winner, well able to draw interest to Wrestlemania 29 if his past performance is any indication. When he returned to battle Cena at Extreme Rules 2012, 260,000 households purchased the show, many more viewers than the previous year. Later in 2012, SummerSlam, the first encounter between Lesnar and Triple H, drew 400,000 buys.
When building a Wrestlemania card, one must look at what sells and who sells well to the WWE Universe and the casual viewer. Brock Lesnar could be a deciding factor for someone who is not sure whether to order Wrestlemania 29 or not.
Aside from the number of viewers Lesnar’s name brings to the show, the development of his character and his feud against WWE itself adds intrigue to his feud with Triple H.
From a storyline standpoint, Brock Lesnar’s return to WWE was Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis’ attempt to bring back “legitimacy” to WWE. The “legitimacy” that Laurinaitis sought was the antithesis of John Cena: someone brutal, remorseless, violent and without emotion. Subsequently, Cena defeated Lesnar in an all out brawl at the Extreme Rules 2012 event, which delivered in giving the WWE Universe a bloody bout it had not seen in quite some time.
Even though Cena defeated Lesnar, their Extreme Rules match showed that Lesnar still “had it” when it came to WWE matches. It would not be long until Lesnar’s rage would meet with WWE’s toughest corporate businessman, Triple H.
As part of coming back to WWE, Brock Lesnar demanded that Monday Night Raw revolve around him. John Laurinatis gave in to Lesnar’s monumental demands, prompting WWE Chief Operating Officer Triple H to hit the ring for contract negotiations, not a physical encounter. The first confrontation between Triple H and Brock Lesnar, on Monday Night Raw almost one year ago, was ostensibly about WWE business, but quickly became personal.
Traditionally, Wrestlemania is all about the top faces taking on the top heels in the company. Brock Lesnar more than represents a heel in his actions, but he is not the typical attack from behind and runaway WWE heel. He did attack Triple H from behind in their first face to face encounter nearly a year ago, but he did not runaway—he broke Triple H’s arm with a devastating Kimura Lock.
Subsequently, Lesnar went on to break Triple H’s best friend Shawn Michaels’ arm in the lead up to last year’s first encounter between Lesnar and Triple H. It was at this point that the SummerSlam match between Brock Lesnar and Triple H started to get personal. It is one thing for opponents to attack each other, but it is another to attack a best friend who is not personally involved.
Paul Heyman served as the catalyst for involving Shawn Michaels by preventing him from leaving the parking lot on that Monday Night Raw before SummerSlam. Though serving as Lesnar’s friend and confidant, Heyman appears to not be able to control Lesnar’s rage. This violent streak was apparent in Lesnar’s first win over Triple H less than a week later.
I attended SummerSlam 2012, and the hatred that seethed from Brock Lesnar as he approached the ring was visible in the match he had with Triple H. Although the match did not feature the brutality of Lesnar’s first match back in WWE with John Cena, it did demonstrate not only Lesnar’s submission ability but also his brawling ability.
The methodical pace of the match made it seem like a submission match with all the Kimura Lock attempts by Lesnar on Triple H’s injured arm. Both men exchanged near falls with their respected finishers, The Pedigree and the F-5. In the end, it would be a reversal of Triple H’s pin attempt after another Pedigree into a Kimura Lock, which gave Lesnar the clean submission win.
With a clean win, it seemed like Lesnar had accomplished his mission of not only dominating WWE but taking out its two top competitors. Subsequently, Lesnar quit WWE only to be resigned by Vicki Guerrero a few months later. This is where the Brock Lesnar and Triple H feud became more than personal and definitely added an attraction to Wrestlemania 29.
On the verge of seemingly being fired by Vince McMahon during his performance evaluation on the January 28, 2013 Monday Night Raw, Paul Heyman was saved by Brock Lesnar. Not only did Lesnar save Heyman’s job, he also delivered a vicious F-5 to McMahon that resulted in McMahon needing hip surgery.
Lesnar and Heyman instantly crossed the line between regular WWE feud and major WWE feud with that attack on McMahon. Even Heyman could not fully express his shock at what Lesnar did to McMahon. Retribution would be had, and the most classic type of pro wrestling story would be told again in WWE—do not mess with family.
Triple H’s return to Monday Night Raw on February 25, 2013 to confront Brock Lesnar was not a surprise, but the added drama of Vince McMahon on crutches thanks to Lesnar made it cinematic. The scene with Triple H defending his family’s honor against Lesnar, who seemingly hates everything WWE related, boiled over into one of the best brawls on WWE television in years.
The magic of this brawl came from the unexpected blood from an Irish Whip into a ring post on the outside of the ring that Triple H delivered to Brock Lesnar. With blood being such a rarity on WWE programming right now, it added to the realism of the feud and made it seem like Triple H really wanted to destroy Lesnar. And who could blame him? Lesnar not only bullied but also physically assaulted Vince McMahon.
Wrestlemania 29 does not have anyone like Brock Lesnar on the card. Only Lesnar is currently capable of bringing the type of scary, nuclear destruction personality to WWE. The way he is booked leaves no one left standing in his wake. Even in defeat, Lesnar looks unstoppable.
Brock Lesnar’s role of a monster was put over by Triple H on the recent Old School Monday Night Raw episode. Triple H alluded to his statements that he was done as a WWE superstar, but that he was also training and waiting for a reason to return. Lesnar was his reason to return.
Triple H referenced his wife (Stephanie McMahon) and their children crying because of what Lesnar did to Vince McMahon. Also, he discussed the amount of staples Lesnar needed in his head following the brawl they had. These instances make this feud different from anything else on the Wrestlemania 29 card.
As Wrestlemania 29 nears, Brock Lesnar’s role is being carved out as a clear alternative to the typical heels in WWE. He is not scared. He is not backing down. He has a clear mission.
Brock Lesnar fills a void in WWE that is desperately needed: He is a monster heel who will not back down from anyone. This makes Lesnar more than appealing to fans who are tired of heels in WWE being treated like children caught stealing candy.
At Wrestlemania 29, no matter what kind match Lesnar and Triple H have, it will more than fulfill the requirements needed for a strong feud and prove why Brock Lesnar is a perfect fit on the card.