Brock Lesnar's Unnecessary Championship Win, More WWE Day 1 2022 Hot Takes

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2022

Brock Lesnar's Unnecessary Championship Win, More WWE Day 1 2022 Hot Takes

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    Day 1 proved to be a lot like the previous 365 for WWE, as questionable booking decisions Saturday plagued the first premium live event on the Road to WrestleMania.

    From Brock Lesnar's WWE Championship victory over Big E, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Bobby Lashley in the blockbuster Fatal 5-Way main event to Becky Lynch retaining her Raw Women's Championship at the expense of Liv Morgan's momentum, the show left fans scratching their heads more than once.

    It also made for a few hot takes to start 2022.

Sheamus Win the Latest Example of Head-Scratching Booking

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    The WWE Day 1 festivities began with the Kickoff, which saw Sheamus and protege Ridge Holland battle Cesaro and Ricochet. An early injury to Holland left The Celtic Warrior to go it alone against his babyface opponents.

    Whom he defeated. By himself.

    Sure, the layout made sense. Sheamus delivered White Noise to Ricochet on the floor, eliminating him from the picture and leaving the former WWE champion to battle his former tag team partner, whom he blasted with a Brogue Kick for the win.

    Why not switch up the finish the minute it became clear Holland would not be returning to the match? 

    Was it so imperative that Sheamus get the win that it was decided that beating both Ricochet and Cesaro and diminishing their credibility was worth it? Surely Sheamus isn't going to be fighting for the WWE or Universal Championship anytime soon, so why not just have him lose the match and then complain for a week or two about the numbers disadvantage?

    Handicap matches always hurt when the guys with the advantage lose. It devalues them. Neither Cesaro nor Ricochet could afford that, especially considering how weak the depth on the SmackDown roster is.

    Now, a late addition to the card that had little hype calls into question the legitimacy of two extraordinary athletes who are above these pre-show matches in the first place.

Madcap Moss Proves Worth in Competitive Loss to Drew McIntyre

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    Should Madcap Moss vs. Drew McIntyre have been on a premium live event card? Probably not.

    Did it need to go 10 minutes? Absolutely not.

    Those two questions aside, Moss showed up and showed out in his first opportunity to shine on that particular stage, hanging with a former WWE champion and never looking out of place.

    The former Minnesota Golden Gopher, who has been with the company since 2014, proved his abilities in the ring despite being half of one of the worst gimmicks in professional wrestling. There were no cringeworthy dad jokes or attempts at pulling swords from desks. Instead, he busted his ass in a match against one of the measuring sticks in the company and opened a lot of eyes to his abilities between the ropes.

    Does that mean he will be on the receiving end of some massive push up the ranks on SmackDown? Not necessarily. He is in a good spot with Happy Corbin, despite the character, as a solid midcard heel, and that should not change. What it will do is open up opportunities for him to work with more main event-level talent.

    He passed a massive test Saturday night in Atlanta. Now it will be up to him to continue proving he can excel against the top stars in the company so that more matches of this magnitude come his way.

Liv Morgan's Momentum Destroyed After Failing to Win Championship

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    When Liv Morgan lost her first shot at the Raw Women's Championship on December 6, it was excusable because Becky Lynch cheated to defeat her. It enhanced the fans' desire to see Morgan dethrone Big Time Becks because they knew the former Riott Squad member was seconds away from capturing gold before the heel resorted to underhand tactics to preserve her title reign.

    It also set up a hotter match for Saturday's show, and fans were eager to see Morgan's childhood dream pay off in the form of her first championship victory.

    But it didn't happen.

    Despite a distinct desire for the New Jersey native to capture the gold, Morgan fell short. Again.

    Lynch caught her in the middle of her finisher and drove her to the mat with the uranage slam and pinned her. Cleanly. There was no disputing what we saw. Lynch was the superior competitor, absorbing everything Morgan threw at her and scoring the win.

    Sure, the win strengthened Lynch's role as champion, but it put a halt to Morgan's momentum. It killed it with one three-count.

    Fans grow tired of seeing characters they invest in built up, given television time and then beaten down. At some point, the fans have to have their faith in these performers rewarded before they grow tired of the chase and move on.

    Morgan had such a groundswell of support that Saturday was the time to pull to proverbial trigger. Even if she only held it for a few weeks and dropped the title right back to Big Time Becks at the Royal Rumble, she would have made good on her quest to win the gold.

    But she's a two-time failure.

    Those are incredibly difficult characters to try to rehabilitate, especially when it means moving them on to something not nearly as significant as a championship program.

Brock Lesnar's Hot-Shotted Title Win Diminishes Big E's Main Event Credibility

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    Brock Lesnar is great. He's awesome. This incarnation is as fun and enjoyable a watch as the future Hall of Famer has ever been. He is a believable, physical specimen and unstoppable force who is clearly having fun during his latest run. It shows, and it makes his performances a hell of a lot more enjoyable.

    With that said, there is no reason he needed to win the WWE Championship at Day 1.

    Maybe it was a rash booking decision, made late in the day when it became apparent that Roman Reigns would not be able to compete following a positive COVID-19 test. Perhaps someone in the writing room had a bright idea to plant the seeds for a unified title match at the top of the WrestleMania card.

    Whatever the case may be, Lesnar winning the WWE Championship crippled the Raw brand and diminished the main event credibility of Big E in one fell swoop.

    Big E was already struggling. As a worker with a larger-than-life personality, no one doubted his ability to be a main event star in WWE. What was in doubt was WWE Creative's willingness to go all-in with him. Since winning the title in September, the powerhouse of The New Day found himself moving from feud to feud, match to match, without much in the way of storytelling or character development.

    He was the same Big E we always loved, but with the top prize on Raw around his waist. Nothing was done on the part of WWE to establish him in that role or to make him that top-flight main event babyface someone like John Cena had been.

    One way to hammer home that he was the guy on Monday nights would have been to have him beat multiple top contenders in a premium live event headliner. Instead, he lost his title in eight minutes. Worse? He was the star who was driven to the mat with an F-5 and pinned cleanly in the center of the ring by The Beast.

    But why?

    If the company was hellbent on booking Lesnar to go over, he could have done so by pinning Rollins or Owens, both of whom have demonstrated an ability to shake off losses and remain over with fans. He could have pinned Lashley, who has been protected enough over the past year that losing to Lesnar would not have hurt.

    Big E was the one guy who could least afford to take the pin, yet that is exactly what happened.

    We know Lesnar is on a collision course with Roman Reigns, presumably for a high-stakes matchup at WrestleMania, but where does Big E go from here?

    Does he remain a top star on Raw, or does the company do to him what it did to his former tag team partner, Kofi Kingston, by shoving him back into the midcard? One can only hope that isn't the case because Big E has proved himself to be a performer deserving of everything he has received over the past year, one who is worthy of a push at the top of the card.

    Unfortunately, those in power have repeatedly proved ill-equipped or unwilling to provide him the support necessary to solidify him in that position. Saturday's loss does not help.