Raw kicked off with the final installment of an Undertaker-Brock Lesnar feud that has been lukewarm at best.
The majority of wrestling fans have become resigned to the fact that Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak will never end. Therefore, his annual WrestleMania opponent must be booked with care.
It’s imperative whoever is challenging the streak must be armed with a distinct advantage that at least puts seeds of doubt in the minds of the most jaded fan.
Despite a rare flurry of offense from Lesnar on Monday's Raw, WWE has failed to present him as a legitimate threat to end Undertaker’s streak. As a result, there will be limited emotional investment in their match.
Even if wins and losses in WWE don’t matter (which they do but let’s just play along), no Superstar benefits more from wins and losses than Brock Lesnar.
Following a stint in the world of mixed martial arts, where winning means next to everything, Lesnar’s character of today is basically an avatar of his UFC persona. His standard wrestling trunks and taped wrists have been traded in for MMA shorts and his vaunted 4XL gloves.
Similar to his UFC career, Lesnar’s WWE matches are infrequent, thereby intensifying the impact of a win or loss.
When he was fighting for real, his record-breaking box office numbers only grew with a catalog of victories to legitimize him. UFC President Dana White would have salivated over a dominant Lesnar winning streak. With every loss, however, Lesnar’s otherwise strong blockbuster appeal lost more luster.
Beginning in 2012, WWE had that same box office bully at its disposal. The only difference? Now, the promotion had control over whether or not Lesnar could churn out those pay-per-view-enticing wins.
Still, Lesnar only boasts a 3-2 record in WWE since his return. This is similar to the middling 4-3 record in UFC that curbed his standing as a legit tough guy.
During his latest feud against Undertaker, Lesnar has been booked as anything but a tough guy. He routinely plays scared with every smoke, mirror or druid signaling the Undertaker’s presence. Lesnar has been propped up only by Paul Heyman promos and video packages. Even his F-5 on Undertaker Monday on Raw required assistance from his slimy manager.
Had WWE announced this match coming off the infamous confrontation between Lesnar and Undertaker during UFC 121, pay-per-view would be able to die in peace. And this, mind you, was coming off a Lesnar loss.
Somehow, WWE has managed to reduce that fever pitch to a formality despite its two titans feuding with the benefit of a script.
The mission was to build an effective Lesnar-Taker conflict that resulted in a compelling pay-per-view WrestleMania matchup.
In grading this mission, WWE receives no more than a C-.