Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena: Top Moments from Feud's Buildup to SummerSlam Match
Brock Lesnar and John Cena's feud has been meticulously planned as if it were the biggest fight of the year.
The feud has a WrestleMania feel to it, as the combatants have not touched each other. WWE has opted to sell this blockbuster matchup through strong storytelling and captivating promos.
Each of the three chief characters understands his role, and each has shined during the buildup to the third installment of the Cena vs. Lesnar pay-per-view trilogy.
Moments during the Cena-Lesnar buildup are being graded on how well they promoted the SummerSlam main event. Sometimes, the feud saw light comedy, but most of the build took a serious tone, pitting poster boy against predator.
All of it was brilliant.
5. Paul Heyman's Rap
Using Cena’s past gimmick as the Doctor of Thuganomics, Paul Heyman concocted an entertaining rap designed to mock the WWE World Heavyweight champion.
The rap quickly became a meme of sorts, with the performance art of Heyman being universally lauded yet again.
WWE.com transcribed the lyrics, which was uncommon for any of Cena's freestyles. Heyman’s rap was further proof that, although his on-camera career in professional wrestling dates back to 1987, he is better than ever.
The rap made promises of Lesnar defeating Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, once again putting an emphasis on winning and losing.
Throughout this feud, Heyman’s verbal sparring with Cena has been just as entertaining as the rising tensions between Cena and Lesnar.
4. John Cena's Go-Home Promo
Cena’s ability to cut an impassioned, genuine babyface promo is a lost art that often goes unappreciated.
As is always the case, Cena acknowledged his status as a polarizing figure, making direct references to those who love him and those who don’t.
Cena reflected on his unprecedented odyssey as a poster boy who receives mixed or negative reactions in every arena, indicating that his past receptions in hostile environments have only made him better.
Like a valiant hero, Cena challenged Lesnar to a fight. By this point, his promo had connected with fans so well that he received a rare "Cena" chant in unison.
Cena’s passion for WWE has been a focal point of this feud, making him a great foil for hired mercenary Brock Lesnar.
One of the reasons the buildup has been so effective is Cena’s impeccable delivery and his ability to convey true emotion during his rousing promos. This excellent go-home speech was no exception.
3. Brock Lesnar Crashes Hulk Hogan's Birthday Party
Lesnar offered up an act of sacrilege that fit his heel persona.
During the final segment of Hulk Hogan’s emotional birthday celebration, Lesnar interrupted the proceedings (the birthday song, no less) and attempted to bully the legend into leaving his own party.
"Party’s over, grandpa," Lesnar growled at Hogan.
Cena came to Hogan's aid and defended his predecessor, challenging Lesnar to an impromptu fight.
Lesnar’s lack of a physical response only added value to the match itself, as fans are being enticed to pay for this blockbuster WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.
Using Hogan to further the biggest storyline in WWE was much more useful than if the go-home Raw for SummerSlam would have closed with just the celebration itself.
On WWE’s flagship show, this served as one last reminder to fans that one of the biggest matches in WWE history is upon us.
2. Paul Heyman's Kickoff Promo for SummerSlam
Heyman’s initial promo to kick off the Lesnar-Cena feud was among the best in his career, and that’s saying a lot.
In fact, if WWE were to chart the 10 best promos of the year, Heyman would own at least two spots—with this promo and his post-WrestleMania promo garnering recognition—and they'd likely be the top two.
Heyman carefully mapped out why Lesnar qualified for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship title shot. That was important, as Lesnar had seemingly been awarded the shot in place of Randy Orton, who was too busy brawling with Roman Reigns to accept the main event match.
Heyman’s promise of Lesnar giving Cena the beating of a lifetime has almost become a tagline for this match. It’s a mission statement that resonates with both the pro- and anti-Cena contingents. Cena fans are concerned, while Cena detractors are salivating.
The promo weaved in Lesnar’s conquering of The Undertaker’s streak to remind fans that Heyman’s client was unstoppable, if not invincible.
It can be argued that the first and last segments are the most important to any major feud. Judging by the success of this initial promo, the latest chapter in the Lesnar vs. Cena rivalry couldn’t have seen a better start.
1. Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena Special
The Lesnar vs. Cena special was a nearly flawless production that told an intriguing story of two megastars at war.
Based on this special alone, even those unfamiliar with WWE’s product would be able to discern the motivation, background and conflict between two titans of professional wrestling.
The vignette form of this half-hour special, which originally aired during the August 4 episode of Raw, was just as effective in selling this high-stakes feud.
WWE borrowed from the format of Countdown to UFC, which has also been effective in convincing fans to purchase pay-per-views ahead of major bouts.
Both Cena and Lesnar were presented in front of backdrops, and they described factors that legitimately drive their characters.
"I’m an a—kicking S.O.B.," said Lesnar when asked who he was. He went on to say, "If I would have stayed here? There would be no such thing as a John Cena."
"I would much rather not talk about myself, my successes," said the consummate babyface world champion, whose low-talking humility only made Lesnar seem like more of a heel.
The special was the culmination of a brilliantly booked feud. Judging by their last match, the in-ring spectacle should be just as grand as the hype itself.