I was going to tack this onto last night's live blog, but I suspect it might be a bit lengthy and would interrupt the overall flow of that entry. There wasn't anything else on the show that I didn't write about beside the Doritos Locos Tacos tag match, but the less said about that, the better.
Raw was pretty bad last night. It started off great with the surprise return of Edge and an excellent opening match between Chris Jericho and Kofi Kingston, but turning it off after that would've been wise. When the next closest highlight is Randy Orton and Kane fighting over a frozen Paul Bearer and CM Punk doing his best Mel Gibson impression (minus the antisemitism), you know the show wasn't particularly great.
However, the show took a serious nosedive in the main event spot when John Cena and Brock Lesnar had their contract signing. To build anticipation and get the crowd to turn on him, Brock was out there alone for a bit, making demands to John Laurinaitis. This would've been fine, it gets the crowd to boo Lesnar and Big Johnny looks weak and impotent after making a deal with the devil. The problem, however, is that Brock hasn't done this regularly in eight years and unlike The Rock, he doesn't have a switch to go into "Superstar" mode. The Rock is a performer first, always has been, so even though he had some hiccups in the last year, he never lost the audience. Lesnar is an athlete first and this performing stuff has never come natural to him. Don't get me wrong, he did some great stuff here and there, especially during his final months, but no one remembers a definitive Lesnar promo, we remember him killing people.
So Lesnar choked on the mic last night. Like, really really bad. Like celebrity guest host bad. I suspect by noon today, there will be several memes on Tumblr, a YouTube remix and as @BooLawler joked, it will be the entire next installment of Botchamania. Here's how bad it was, by the time Cena arrived, the crowd was solidly in his corner. The Detroit crowd. I was in Detroit for WrestleMania 23 and the crowd loathed him then.
So Cena had the crowd behind him, perhaps partially due to Lesnar's heel shenanigans but probably due to Lesnar's meltdown, and how do we capitalize on this? Lesnar flips a table, walks out of the ring and John Cena stares with a chain wrapped around his fist. Yep, that's it, that's how Raw ended. We go from John Cena getting F5'd to a massive brawl where the two have to be pulled apart by the entire locker room, to mean mugging. By plotting this feud in reverse, WWE has figured out how to make me gradually less interested in Brock Lesnar's first wrestling match in eight years.
I dread how the Chicago crowd will greet this match on Sunday. They don't like Cena, even if they like him more by default and Lesnar's impact has dwindled with each appearance, so we could be in store for a WrestleMania 20 situation. I don't think the crowd will be as hostile, but if they try to go with the slow pace of Goldberg/Lesnar or even Cena/Rock, this whole feud is dead. Hell, this whole bringing Brock back thing with one of the biggest contracts in the history of the industry, will be dead.
I understand why WWE wants to use guys like Rock and Lesnar, they have more name value than most of the roster combined, but I don't see the endgame here. Rock just participated in what's being hailed as the most successful WrestleMania in history and it already feels like a distant memory. Lesnar's supposedly going to be around more frequently, but if he can't carry his weight on the mic or in the ring, he's just going to drag the whole show down like he did last night.
So perhaps it's time for WWE to give the Lesnar treatment to someone else on the roster. Since Brock split, WWE has been notorious in pushing, then demoting guys the minute they catch fire. It's a trial period to see if they'll stick it out or if they'll leave and try their hand at MMA or go to TNA for a lighter schedule. Some guys have left - Bobby Lashley and Jeff Hardy spring to mind - but a lot of guys stick around and wait years for their big break, if it ever comes. CM Punk could've been a megastar at this point, but now, even with a long WWE Title reign and a white-hot character reboot last summer, he's still rungs below Cena, Rock and Brock, much like Jericho was rungs below Rock, Austin and Triple H in the early 00s. But imagine where Punk would be if he was on a steady rise since his arrival in 2006?
Lesnar's influence on WWE has been felt since his departure, but now that he's back, perhaps it should reassure WWE that no one's ever really gone. Everyone eventually comes back in some capacity or another and while I understand they don't want to become a farm league for UFC, they can't keep shooting themselves in the foot just so they can play it safe. Start building wrestlers as a brand again and they won't find themselves in a situation where their entire year hinges on matches with guys who haven't wrestled regularly in almost a decade.