Their WWE World Heavyweight Championship clash genuinely has the feel of a battle between two behemoths of professional wrestling. With such powerful momentum behind it, the match has a real shot at topping their epic war from Extreme Rules 2012.
The success of the build for "The Biggest Fight of the Summer" lies in the fact that it has kept fans waiting. Limited schedules for both Lesnar and Cena have a lot to do with that.
Ordinarily, people set to meet in the ring at a pay-per-view have several verbal and physical altercations before the sanctioned contest. Paige and AJ Lee have been beating each other down for weeks, and it's easy to lose count of how often Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have scuffled.
Lesnar and Cena haven't touched each other since their match two years ago.
If both men were scheduled to appear on every episode of Raw, with the odd Main Event and SmackDown thrown in, Creative would have struggled to keep them apart. However, the two men have each missed several weeks of programming, allowing the tension to continue to build without the catharsis of violence.
The other benefit of Lesnar’s regular absences is that, without the Beast’s imposing frame, there can only be more screen time for Paul Heyman. He is one of the most consistently entertaining talkers in the history of WWE and has been red hot since announcing Lesnar as Cena’s SummerSlam opponent.
Wisely, Creative has kept the Authority out of the spotlight, leaving Heyman to shoulder the hype machine himself. The Lesnar vs. Cena rivalry certainly doesn't need a ludicrously lengthy in-ring promo from Triple H every week to sell it.
No one can match Heyman’s skills in terms of hyping a match. His promo on the July 21 episode of Raw alone almost certainly sold its fair share of subscriptions to the WWE Network.
As well as his own promos, Heyman should be praised for facilitating some of Cena’s best mic performances in recent years. The simple story of the passionate company man against the emotionless mercenary has proved to be perfect for bringing out Cena’s serious side. The rivalry has been given an enormous amount of promo time and has really benefited from being in the hands of two excellent talkers.
Alongside the lack of physical confrontation and the solid promo work, the third essential ingredient of the SummerSlam build has been the sterling work from the WWE’s video team.
The video package produced to hype the match was nothing short of incredible. Mimicking the style of promo video used in Lesnar’s former UFC haunt, it painted the Beast as a violent monster and Cena as a defiant underdog.
The hugely effective video painted a picture of a fight that could exceed their Extreme Rules match in terms of both quality and brutality. Cursing like a sailor, Lesnar promised to leave Cena in a "pile of blood and urine and vomit" at the end of the night.
The former MMA fighter has always been a man of few words, and by choosing them carefully here, he maximised the power of the video as much as he possibly could.
It’s difficult to see how the various facets of this buildup could have happened if both Cena and Lesnar were working a full schedule. Creative would have prioritised a punch-up over a five-minute video package, and Heyman’s promos might have been curtailed by an alpha male faceoff between the two warriors.
In this sense at least, the limited schedules of Cena and Lesnar have aided the build to their SummerSlam battle.
When the two men finally lock up on Sunday night, it will be the culmination of one of the best rivalries of recent times, regardless of who leaves with the title around his waist.
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