Major Cain Velasquez WWE Royal Rumble Push Spells Doom for WrestleMania Season

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2019


WWE can't afford to fall into the Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez trap again.

Once was enough and should have been proof a high-profile feud there shouldn't go on for an extended amount of time, even if Velasquez is done with MMA and sticking with wrestling for the long term.

Before recently, Velasquez's return and another encounter with Lesnar was more theorycrafting than anything else. But it's getting some run because according to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Wrestling Inc's Kellie Haulotte), the former UFC champ is set to take part in the Royal Rumble on Jan. 26.

That is the worst-case scenario.

The first match between the two in Saudi Arabia was as bad as it gets. Two juggernaut fighters put on a UFC-lite dance, faking strikes before going to the mat and having Lesnar emerge as the winner. For such dominant fighters, other WWE wrestlers consistently do a much better job of fake fighting.

And at the time, it wasn't all that well-received because of this, not to mention how quickly it all ended. A watered-down UFC fight in an effort to draw in casual fans just didn't go over well, but there was at least a sense WWE was trying to keep it contained on an overseas pay-per-view that is generally isolated from the storytelling of the main broadcasts and events.

Until now. If WWE is even flirting with the idea of having these two fight again, it's a disaster from a multitude of angles. This is the Royal Rumble, so there's an outside chance the plan is to have Velasquez serve as a shock entrant. If he does, one could argue the reaction will be muted based on how he looked (in more than one way) during his brief run to the last match, not to mention the quality of the bout itself.

And if Velazquez is in the Rumble, it probably means he could be winning the Rumble. As if WWE could afford to have another Rumble ending receiving boos. There aren't many people this side of Baron Corbin a live crowd might cheer as Velazquez eliminates them last (apologies in advance for giving WWE the idea, folks).

The other possibility is Velasquez gets back sooner and simply sets up a rematch with Brock at the Royal Rumble event, leaving the big match free of silliness. This wouldn't be that big of a deal were it not for the obvious outcome: Brock isn't winning two in a row. He can't—it would squash a new investment irreparably and ruin the idea of the contrived rubber match at WrestleMania.

Which is the biggest problem of all—the squashing of WrestleMania season. The last thing a three-month buildup needs is a match fans have already seen between a part-timer and new arrival headlining the whole thing, never mind a rematch of a rematch from a UFC fight about a decade ago.

At least fans got behind Seth Rollins so he could "slay" The Beast and get the title back on regular programming in 2019. Joke's on the fans—Brock got back the title by squashing the beloved Kofi Kingston and has once more disappeared from television while WWE tries to once again (mostly terribly) make fans care about the United States title.

This time, fans are supposed to get behind Velazquez, the newcomer. There's the Rey Mysterio and his kid link, sure—but that's it.

If WWE is this blatantly telegraphing where things are headed for Raw's top title and these two combatants, it quickly takes the air out of WrestleMania season. From a fan perspective, it's discouraging to think of things going this route. If the Seth-Brock match got shoved to the front of last year's 'Mania card and ended on a low blow, how can anything justify this one going on later?

With the Fox deal in place and so many stars, it's unfortunate WWE still feels like it needs to reel in casual viewers with these sorts of gimmicks. The Brock spot could go to an up-and-coming talent to build another star, but it doesn't feel like that's the move here.

Throwing Velasquez into a lesser feud might be the way to go in order to dash this rough-looking potential course of action. But WWE might not be willing to do so, which is a shame for the Royal Rumble, the greater WrestleMania season and the stars and fans who might have benefited from something fresh.