The WWE in 2012 feels that it's better to get a big name, because obviously getting big names means big ratings – right? Look at the rating for this past Monday's Raw, though. The show did a 3.1 – which isn't bad compared to regular TV programming, but with the perceived clamor after Brock's F-5 return last week? You'd expect the number to have spiked, especially in the first quarter of this week's show, where we got a well-done encounter that featured Cena slappin' the taste out of Lesnar's mouth, and Lesnar connecting with a shot that bloodied Cena's mouthpiece. It was a great way to open the show...but the quarter wasn't the highest rated of the show. And the announcement of Cena vs. Lesnar at April 29th's Extreme Rules PPV? Doesn't that feel a bit rushed, considering that Lesnar's not professionally wrestled for eight years or so?
My problem is the idea of building these big-ticket matches that supersede the Championship belts that are held so high. The Rock and John Cena obviously went on last at WM28, but with two Heavyweight Title matches on the bill, plus Undertaker vs. HHH, it's rough that a match that has no real bearing on the promotion post-Mania doesn't help build the WWE title and World Heavyweight title as things that matter. After years of crap finishes and pointless title reigns, now should be the time to elevate these belts, in both length of title reign and weight of title defenses. Extreme Rules is taking place in Chicago, and I have been hoping that a return match between CM Punk and Chris Jericho in some kind of gimmick WWE Championship title match would be the main event, but I don't see how Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena in a match that's reportedly not having any kind of gimmick in it won't go on last. I could be wrong, but it just feels like they could have waited and let things grow.
I know what they were thinking – the WWE is a) limited to how many appearances Brock's contracted to do monthly and b) currently on a two-week European tour. They felt they had to do something major because I highly doubt Brock's Germany bound, but why not let this slowly build? Did we NEED to have Cena/Lesnar battle less than a month into Brock's return? If you would allow me to put on my Fantasy Booker 59Fifty, walk with me for a bit.
I'd still have Brock return the night after Raw and F-5 Cena, as a statement of return. The fans wanted it, so give it to them. I'd then let it rest. Maybe show a backstage segment where Lesnar is talking to Johnny Ace and they drop the "new legitimate face of WWE" line, and a stand-off with Cena. Let them pass for the next few weeks not interacting, but Lesnar cutting promos on Cena calling him out for not being legitimate, and post Extreme Rules (even the Raw the following night), do the gimmick they pulled this week with Cena slapping Lesnar. After that, have a number of weeks where Cena has matches and always has to watch his back, because Lesnar can be anywhere and won't hesitate to low-blow Cena blindly. Cena could even harp on how Lesnar can be perceived as a legitimate bad ass but resorts to underhanded tactics and running-in to get his point across. Give Lesnar some matches around the end of May/beginning of June where he is decimating guys like Zack Ryder, Kofi Kingston – guys who can take his offense and make him look like the monster he is. And let this super-battle culminate with the 1-on-1 match at Summerslam.OK my 59Fifty is off. And if this was 1987, that storyline would've worked like gangbusters. 2012 WWE doesn't wait that long. I'd drop my foreplay/booking analogy, but that might get a bit graphic, but essentially, it doesn't hurt to butter the fans up before going full bore with the money-making match. Giving us Lesnar/Cena with a quick, yet decent, build is cool, but if the lack of spike in the ratings is any indicator, the PPV numbers won't budge past their normal buyrate, and hell, Extreme Rules isn't even one of their premiere PPV events!
In the end, coordinating an event to coincide with a big(ger) pay-per-view would've been how I want to see this go, and maybe I'm jumping the gun, but I can't see this hot-shot booking playing into WWE's favor in the long run. We've got a good amount of time before WM29 hits...pray that Lesnar is still around – and happy – by the time the payoff will really count.
I kind of went off on a rant there, didn't I? Agree with my thoughts? Leave a comment, let me know what you think!