On Monday's Raw, the SummerSlam main event was set: As expected, it's John Cena defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Brock Lesnar.
Given the injuries and other issues plaguing WWE, it's absolutely the strongest main event that the company can put together right now.
They first crossed paths in Ohio Valley Wrestling in late 2001 in a tag team feud and didn't meet again until 2003. Lesnar was WWE Champion and badly miscast as a babyface. As much as Lesnar had progressed into a tremendous performer with relative ease, Cena was still green and completely carried by his promos, which were generally freestyle raps back then.
Realistically, the feud is remembered because of who was involved and because it was the genesis of Cena naming his finisher the "F-U" as a play on his "F-5," a name that lasted until WWE toned it down as the "Attitude Adjustment."
When Lesnar returned from his career as a mixed martial artist in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, his first opponent was Cena.
The match was unlike anything seen before in WWE: Cena was completely willing to do whatever it took to get Lesnar over as a monster, which was apparent from the opening bell, as Lesnar quickly busted him open with a stiff elbow strike after taking him down. Lesnar, clad in UFC-style gear plus wrestling boots, looked like a horror-movie-monster version of a UFC heavyweight champion.
Nothing exemplifies that image of Lesnar more than a spot that came late in the match, right before the finish. Cena was on the apron, and Lesnar decided to try a Sabu-esque springboard move off the steps, which were in the middle of the ring, onto Cena. He slipped, crashed and burned going over the top rope...and got up like nothing happened. Then he raised his arms and celebrated his awesomeness.
Brock Lesnar has never been a scarier human being than he was at that moment, even in real UFC fights. It was like he wasn't even human. He had dominated the match up to that point, toying with Cena and completely brutalizing him. Cena was a bloody mess, and it was time to finish him off.
Lesnar tried his crazy move again, but Cena stopped him in midair, punching him in the face with an assist from the chain that he wears to the ring. On TV, there was an audible "clink" sound when the punch landed, and like Cena from the elbow, Lesnar came up bleeding from the shot. Cena then quickly hit the Attitude Adjustment on the steps to get the pin.
At the time, there was an uproar over the decision for Cena to go over. Lesnar was in the "outsider shooter" role, so booking him to lose in his return was borderline lunacy. For as much as fans project their dislike for how he's booked as a superhero onto the man himself, it only got worse, even though it was the creative team's fault and not his. Regardless, Lesnar immediately lost a lot of his box-office appeal.
Having said that: It wasn't quite as bad as some people made it out to be, since Lesnar dominated until leaving a big opening for Cena by diving into something of a lucky punch. Fans who watched the pay-per-view knew how it went down, but it wasn't as clear on TV.
At any rate, it was an incredible match, probably the 2012 match of the year, and any true fan of pro wrestling should be eager to see the rematch.
This time, I'd be even more shocked and dismayed if Lesnar lost. The late decision for Lesnar to end The Undertaker's streak completely erased his losses to Cena and Triple H since he returned in 2012. It's like those matches never happened.
He's back where he should be, a superhuman, unbeatable killing machine who will manhandle John Cena. It should be another great match, and from there who knows what happens? Quickly losing it back doesn't make sense, so would WWE be willing to go months and months with a champion who's not around much?
I'm looking forward to finding out.
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