Gleed Blog: Who Should Headline WrestleMania With Brock Lesnar?
By Haydn Gleed
Since SummerSlam, there has been a lot of talk within the internet wrestling community about who will face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. In a way, it is ludicrous that at this point that we know one half of the Championship main event so far out, but WWE have pinned themselves into this corner by giving Brock the streak and the belt all within 4 months of each other.
I'm personally on the side that despite the predictability it's a good thing, simple because you build up expectation that the beast will be tamed, and it creates intrigue as to who the knight in shining armour will be. By giving the beast the streak and the belt in such dominating fashion, it creates a bigger beast, and should eventually lead to a bigger hero at the end of the story.
So with that being said, who should the hero be? I've decided to take a look at the top names being branded around, and a few other names, and discuss their pro's and cons.
The Bookies Favorite: Roman Reigns
It has been conventional wisdom for some months that it will be Roman Reigns taking on Brock Lesnar in a match the will make the former Shield member. You can certainly see the logic in this. Brock has powered through two of the biggest names in WWE history in The Undertaker and John Cena. I'm sure at some point in the next 8 months, he will face a plethora of other big name stars which he should plough through also. It sets up perfectly the scenario of the big young star coming along to restore the pride of the WWE.
That's all well and good, but I'm becoming more and more concerned that they are giving Reigns too much too soon. We have already seen and heard people think he's being forced upon the WWE universe, and I can't really argue with that line of thinking. He is passable in the ring, not horrible on the mic and certainly has the it factor, but he hasn't put it all together yet. He will get there, I have no doubts about that, but I don't personally think he should be the man to take on Brock at WrestleMania 31.
In my opinion, the perfect scenario would be the story playing out at WrestleMania 32 where you could give Roman the next 12-16 months the opportunity to work against various opponents, and work on his weaknesses.
If you put Roman in a position too quickly against Brock to be rejected, and he fails to get over as the new face of the company, not only do you do harm to Roman long term, which I think he'll have a hell of a job recovering from, but you will also damage the legacy of The Undertakers streak which Brock has taken.
Probability of being the Knight: He is the most likely knight to slay the dragon, but I have my reservations. For me, there are too many potential downsides to offset the potential upside. Don't get me wrong, I see Roman Reigns as the future of the company, but I don't want them to push him too hard too fast when he's not being fully embraced by the audience. Especially when you have the next guy potentially waiting in the wings....
The Fan Favorite: Daniel Bryan
Poor Daniel Bryan. On April 6, as he stood on the turnbuckles at WrestleMania 30, with confetti falling around him, five days away from marrying the beautiful Brie Bella, he probably felt on top of the world. four months later, his father has passed away, he lost the Championships he worked so hard for, and faces a battle to even get back into the ring.
I always want realism in my wrestling. I will suspend my disbelief, but I want the way the characters act and behave and the emotions they are feeling to be drawn from something they believe in. That is why Mick Foley is one of my all-time favourites, but I digress. What story could be more real than the story of Daniel Bryan being pulled from the top of the world through no fault of his own, to come back 12 months later and reclaim what he has lost?
Not only would you have a truly believable babyface story, which people could relate to on any level, he is already more over than 90% of the roster. You would have the most hated heel in the last 10 years talking down to Bryan telling him he lost everything and he won't get it back from him, making you want to see him get beat even more. On top of all that we would be treated to a dream match, which potentially would be ranked up there as one of the greats. Yes Daniel Bryan is a foot shorter, and Brock looks like he eats a Daniel Bryan sized amount of food everyday, but the same could have been said when he faced Eddie Guerrero, which was one hell of a feud. You would have an overly confident heel, who would underestimate his opponent, which would be his downfall aka David vs. Goliath.
Of course, this would require WWE and more specifically Vince McMahon to be 100% committed to Daniel Bryan (stop sniggering at the back). If they realised what they have with him, they could reap the rewards of the ultimate battle against the odds story. Unfortunately, I don't see a time where they don't see his size as a negative instead of embracing that he's a smaller wrestler with outstanding ability, and understand that fans can relate to him because of those facts.
Probability of being the Knight: Probably little to no chance. He is seen as a valuable member of the roster, but not the guy, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. On top of this, I don't' think Bryan knows himself when he will be back so WWE would be banking their biggest show on something that may not be able to happen.
The Kids' Favourite: John Cena
I'll give you a couple of minutes to go and write me a hate email or trolling tweet for even suggesting this.....go on I know you want too....right you back? Good, hope you are happy you got that out of your system.
Taking who John Cena is and what people feels he represents out of the equation, it would be a hell of a story to end at WrestleMania. Proof that if you work hard enough, and you believe in yourself enough, then you will get what you deserve.
Cena was decimated at SummerSlam, no question about that. He has a rematch at Night Of Champions, where I'm expecting he will get in more offence, but ultimately he can't take down the beast. If WWE had enough patience and held Cena off TV until around the Royal Rumble time (who is that sniggering at the back?!), and he came back and proclaimed he has gone away studied Lesnar and he knows how to beat him, in theory it would be an amazing moment, where he overcame the odds, worked hard and eventually showed what can be done with belief in yourself. I believe it was X-Pac and Fairplay on their podcast who talked about a quarterback being out for 2 years, studying tape after tape and coming back and having the best season ever seen.
There are of course a couple of obvious issues with this scenario. Firstly, WWE under no circumstances would keep John Cena off TV for three to four months in order for the above scenario to play out.
Secondly, this would mean they would have to go with a third match between the two in an 8 month stretch of time. Yes SummerSlam felt like a huge main event, but that was because they had kept them apart for 2 years since their original feud. By putting them together for a 3rd time would kill any draw that this match had and would feel like a disappointment or repeat.
Thirdly, and most importantly, people are just fed up with Cena on top. Cena is one of the biggest superstars in wrestling history, whether we like it or not, and is going to continue to be a huge attraction for years to come. But in order for the product and wrestling as a genre to grow and appeal to a new generation, the crowd want something new and fresh. Cena on top again? I can feel the collective yawns from everyone reading this right now. For me, the whole point of Brock taking the streak, was in order to go on a dominating run that would only be stopped by someone who will carry the WWE forward. The person to beat Brock would be the new conqueror of the streak and have the cache that represents without the heat of being the person to beat The Undertaker. This in theory would be part of the star making moment of the person to lead the company forward.
If Cena wins, then he might as well have been the one to beat The Undertaker and turn heel, to allow someone to beat him down the road and get the same rub as whoever beats Brock in the scenario we are now talking about. Therefore, I don't see the point in Cena winning. I don't know what Cena would gain, I don't know what WWE would gain and it feels to me that it would destroy what the streak represented and the hard work The Undertaker did to make the streak as important as it was.
Probability of being the Knight: Good God I hope not otherwise the Internet will break. I honestly feel people would cancel their network subscriptions faster than you can blink.
The Outsider: Dean Ambrose
I know this is unlikely to happen, but I would be remise not to make mention of one of the hottest babyfacaes in WWE right now.
Dean Ambrose is a unique character. People have tried to compare him to wrestlers from the past or big movie stars, but as someone I talked to said, he's the first Dean Ambrose. People have watched his character develop from the slimeball that was the lead talker in The Shield, to this out of control character who won't give up. People can rally behind him just by him uttering a one line comeback. I personally haven't felt this engrossed when a wrestler talks since Jake "The Snake" Roberts. I want to hear everything he has to say, and believe every word he says. Ladies and Gentlemen, in the worked world of Professional Wrestling and in the world we live in today, that is something special.
Can you imagine the promo work between Ambrose and Heyman leading up to the match? Heyman would tell Ambrose he is not strong enough, or quick enough to beat Brock Lesnar, and Ambrose would simply reply, no but I'm crazy enough to never give up no matter what he does to me. I personally would pop right out of my chair at that point.
But does that appeal to the masses? What you always have to remember dear reader, is although me and you are passionate enough about wrestling to either write for or read wrestling websites, we only take up a fraction of the audience. We can all see how good Dean Ambrose is, but at the same time, the audience as a whole might not get that. They will like him of course, he's the scrappy underdog, who says cool things and never gives up, but it would take a lot of effort and backing by WWE for him to be seen as a threat. Unfortunately, I don't believe WWE currently see him in that role, and therefore he will continue on the path he is now and hopefully in 2-3 years time, he will be given the ball, because my god will he run with it.
Probability of being the Knight: Slim to none, but with the right backing, and if he carries on the way he is now, he will be a huge star in WWE.
The Part Timers:
The Undertaker: It's not out of the realms of possibility, due to the quality of the match at WrestleMania 30, that the Undertaker would want one last hurrah by going out on his terms. After all the service he has given to first WWF and then WWE, it could be that the company would want to give him the wrestling equivalent of a gold watch by giving him the title as he's retiring so he goes out on top proven the 1 in 22-1 was a fluke.
I don't personally like this, but looking at it from a story for the masses point of view, it would be a nice way for an icon of the business to finish. You could build it as no matter what, this will be the Undertaker's last ride win or lose and that would gain network subscriptions from both the casual fans and the supposed millions and millions of lapsed fans from the attitude era.
Not the worst idea in the world, but certainly not something I would want to see. You would break the linage of the belt, while at the same time devaluing the title and I don't want to see The Undertaker in anymore pain than he is right now.
Triple H: It would take a lot to get there, but you could certainly turn the authority face by saying they created a monster, and there's only one man who can bring him down, Triple H.
Not what I want to see, and it would take a lot of effort and ignoring a whole bunch of logical holes, but this is Triple H we are talking about.
The Rock: As I mentioned earlier, in order for Brock defeating the streak and going on a 8 month run of dominance, the person who beats Brock should be the man who leads the company forward long term. The Rock is not that person.
Saying that, it depends on the mindset of WWE at the time. Obviously, the Rock is a huge star, inside and outside of the wrestling world. If the WWE felt they needed a short term boost to satisfy Wall Street, they would do massive numbers on the subscription count from all around the world if the Rock came back to slay the dragon.
Sting, Goldberg or Hulk Hogan: Believe it or not, I have had emails from people suggesting these three names. As I wrote back to them, no, no, no.
CM Punk: Not a part time guy I know, but I wanted to mention him. No I don't think he'll ever come back, he seems to have moved on with his life. BUT, if he was to come back, I could see this being something he would want to come back for. The chance to headline WrestleMania, the chance to work with Paul Heyman and the chance to be the top man of the WWE.
He already has the built in storyline with both Heyman and Brock and after their closely fought match at SummerSlam last year, it's not out of the realms of believability that Punk could beat Brock.
It would be a hell of a moment and a hell of a match but do I see it happening? No.
Unless something drastic happens in the next 6 months like an injury, or if the crowd reject Roman Reigns like they rejected Batista, I don't see the WWE changing course. Don't get me wrong, I do think Roman Reigns will be the man moving forward, and with Seth Rollins presumably not cashing in his Money In The Bank briefcase on Lesnar before WrestleMania, you have a ready-made program coming out of next April.
It is just my hope that he is ready, and WWE needs to keep their minds open leading up to the Royal Rumble about the possibility of calling an audible if he is not. They could make someone who could lead the company into a new generation, but if he's not ready, they could cause serious damage to their brand and particularly Roman Reigns.
Agree or disagree with my assessment of who can tame Brock Lesnar? Is there anyone out there that I haven't mentioned that you want to shout at me for missing? Hey, that's fine. You can hit me up on twitter @haydngleed or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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