Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena: Did Extreme Rules Match Happen as It Should Have?

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2012

photo by wwe.com
photo by wwe.com

A car wreck.  That’s what we saw on Sunday night.

Extreme Rules ended with one of the most violent, most physically devastating fights that WWE has seen in years.

John Cena, WWE’s number one Superstar and Vince McMahon’s top guy, faced off against Brock Lesnar, a former WWE Champion fresh off his run as UFC Heavyweight champion.

Fans expected a fight, and they were not disappointed.

Brock came out and basically dismembered John, piece by piece, bloodying him within seconds of the opening bell and hitting him with everything he had.  

Brock brought the pain, and then some.

Since the day the UFC rose to prominence, many fans have been comparing and contrasting their product to WWE. Even more have speculated on what professional wrestling could become if it adopted more of a mixed martial arts style.

I would say that question has now been answered.

Lesnar, wearing his UFC gear and locking John up on the mat, looked completely in his element, as if he had just stepped into the Octagon. He was totally dominant, standing over Cena between attacks, staring down at him and smiling at the crowd, as if to say “this is just too easy.”

John Cena was outmatched in every way. He was overwhelmed by Brock’s offense, and for the first time in recent memory, he no longer looked like Superman.

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Brock Lesnar, however, looked a lot like Doomsday, and he had torn Metropolis apart to eliminate the only hero foolish enough to oppose him.

Some fans out there have no doubt taken issue with Brock’s performance, perhaps thinking he was rusty and not yet acclimated back into the WWE style.

They would be right. And, you know what? Who cares?

WWE is all about the show, the moment—everything that brings fans to the table in the first place. Despite what happened before or what may happen after, all of that is just background noise next to the storyline that unfolds every time two headliners step through the ropes to entertain the crowd.

That, for better or worse, is what Brock Lesnar did. And a big part of me is glad it happened that way.

He walked back into WWE and gave fans exactly what they expected of a man who just walked away from UFC. He gave them a hard-nosed fighter and a beast who was focused on winning at any cost.

What, you expected the old WWE-mode Brock Lesnar to start the match with a collar-and-elbow tie-up followed by classic mat wrestling? Did we really believe that he would be encouraged by Vince McMahon to just let go of the smash-mouth world of UFC and suddenly just become a pro wrestling entertainer again?

Unlike his character, the physical assault that Brock dealt out may not have been anticipated, but at the end of the day, it was what had to happen.

At least, that’s what part of me says.

The other part of me—the side that loves the business for the actual wrestling—is a little ticked off.

After all, WWE is not UFC; it’s professional wrestling, an environment in which each person in the ring is doing the best they can to protect each other from serious injury. Yes, guys work stiff at times, and yes, it takes a tough breed to be able to withstand the physical damage their bodies take night in and night out.

But for someone to go out there and take the gloves off the way Brock did? I, for one, still consider pro wrestling to be an art form, and what happened at Extreme Rules looks to have been nothing more than one gratuitous, bloody excuse to put over John Cena, yet again.

That’s right, Cena won the match. What, you been living under a rock for the past three days?

The fact that Cena went over did not just come as a surprise to some fans, it came as a total shock. To expect him to lose back-to-back pay-per-view matches, the first to The Rock at WrestleMania, sounds insane.  

But the way he has been portrayed since Mania—the fact that he has finally begun to look human in the past month—caused many of the WWE faithful to believe that perhaps the company had finally decided to flesh out his character.

Maybe Cena’s days of being invincible had come to an end. Continuously plagued by the non-support of so many fans that he had always worked so hard to please, John Cena was beginning to lose himself and his edge. He was finally showing some chinks in the armor, and maybe now was the time for WWE to give him some real depth of character.

Um, yeah, no.

The fact is, Cena is the true face of the company, and until he decides to hang it up, he likely always will be. And as long as he’s there, he’s winning.


I will say, however, that while I personally didn’t see Cena with his arm raised at the end, I believe that the match itself will go down in WWE history as one of the most important bouts of all time. Not because it was a mat classic. Not because John Cena went over.  

Because it was so real. Because it connected with fans on a very deep level and presented what could be the only real WWE/MMA crossover that we will ever see.

And no matter what happens from here on out with Brock Lesnar and WWE, no one can argue that he definitely made a huge impact at Extreme Rules. 

A car wreck, but an impact nonetheless.

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