By Jeffrey Lutz
John Cena vs. The Rock isn't the only WrestleMania 29 match in which a star who has earned great fame outside of WWE is competing against a World Wrestling Entertainment lifer. That element also exists in the likely confrontation between Triple H and Brock Lesnar.
Their encounter features an interesting dynamic - the majority of hardcore wrestling fans, sometimes known as the Internet Wrestling Community, seem to be siding against the man, Triple H, who has dedicated his life to professional wrestling. These fans are aligning instead with Brock Lesnar, who since his WWE debut a decade ago has expressed an apathetic attitude toward the business.
Internet fans also favor the "outsider" in the match between Cena and The Rock, but that is more easily explainable. The Rock is a movie star who has gained global popularity and eagerly returned to his roots, and Cena’s eight years at the top of WWE have become agonizingly predictable to fans not targeted by Raw’s PG rating. The reasons for fans shunning Triple H to cheer for Brock Lesnar are just as clear but not as easily justifiable.
A simple explanation would be that internet fans gravitate toward heels, but those fans began growing weary of Triple H during his long heel run in the early 2000s that included several exhausting championship reigns. In fact, Lesnar's lack of enthusiasm toward pro wrestling may indirectly be at the root of the fans' love of him, and the reason many are choosing Lesnar in the feud with one of the WWE office's most powerful figures.
In more than 15 years since Triple H was introduced to the WWE audience, fans have become familiar with his insecurities. He immediately aligned with Shawn Michaels, a friendship that afforded opportunities to Triple H that similarly talented performers didn't receive. Triple H eventually reached the top on his own merits, but he never seemed satisfied with his place in history. Just like he did with Michaels, Triple H got significant rub from Ric Flair, who publicly pronounced Triple H the greatest of all-time every chance he got. Triple H may have begun to believe that, but few others did.
Fans recognized Triple H's talent but seemed to often feel as if something were missing. We wanted to change him, to mold him into the professional wrestling hero we wanted him to be, not the one he wanted to be. He was never the greatest of all-time and he was never going to be.
Lesnar never wanted to be the best of all-time, even though he probably could have been. Initially, fans resented him for that, as evidenced by the mocking chants he received at WrestleMania 20 on his way out of WWE. But there's a reason those jeers turned to deafening cheers when Lesnar returned eight years later. As we got to know Lesnar, we recognized that there was no changing him. He was exactly who he presented himself to be, with no apologies. It wasn't difficult to forgive Lesnar's lack of aspiration in pro wrestling because he aspired to great things elsewhere.
The first was professional football, an avenue in which he ultimately failed. Next was mixed martial arts, where Lesnar became arguably the sport's biggest star as the UFC Heavyweight champion. This was the foundation for wrestling fans' renewed appreciation for Lesnar. Even though he had left WWE seemingly never to return, he still represented the company and its fans. When he became champion, he answered his critics and brought a legitimacy to professional wrestling that no other star could achieve.
Lesnar's association with Paul Heyman, an Internet favorite known to have professional wrestling in his blood, makes it easy to overlook Lesnar's faults and to justify acceptance of him in spite of those faults. With Heyman by Lesnar's side, questions like "Does Lesnar care about fans?" and "Why doesn't he do house shows?" don't have to be asked. Fans also don't need to begrudge Lesnar for using WWE for a few big matches that earn him a crazy amount of money before he leaves them again. Heyman's tutelage allows Lesnar to fit in professional wrestling without losing the toughness and edge he established in UFC.
The match between Lesnar and Triple H probably only reinforced fans' opinions of each wrestler. Triple H used to be my favorite WWE star, but the SummerSlam match was the official end of that. John Cena, for all of his faults, made Lesnar look like the former UFC heavyweight champion when the two met last year at Extreme Rules. Triple H made Lesnar look like a professional wrestler. The encounter with Cena was a Brock Lesnar match even though he lost; at SummerSlam, Lesnar was merely the other participant in a Triple H match.
Triple H has led a privileged existence in professional wrestling, from his relationships with major stars to his marriage to Stephanie McMahon that allowed him to quickly rise the corporate ladder. Many fans resent him for that, but their criticism is often unfair because Triple H has a great mind for the business and a love for the history of wrestling. He has earned and he deserves his prestigious company title.
Lesnar has none of those things. He has a presence and an aura that few in the history of WWE can match. He has a polarizing personality that turns many off but is appealing to wrestling fans because it furthers his badass persona. Triple H has often bent over backwards to gain the fans' acceptance. Lesnar never has, never will, and that's probably exactly why he has it.
Jeff Lutz has written for the Wichita Eagle newspaper in Kansas for over a decade and debuted with Prowrestling.net on November 4, 2012. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Lutz's Blog: Why Brock Lesnar's appeal is greater than that of Triple H
Mar 2, 2013 - 12:32 PM
Mar 2, 2013 - 12:32 PM
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