Is Brock Lesnar a Lazy Worker or Are the Fans Too Demanding?
Are WWE fans always dissatisfied?
When the Rock showed up at WrestleMania 32 and effectively buried Erick Rowan, the WWE Universe was up in arms about how legends shouldn't receive precedence at the cost of present day superstars.
And yet, when a near-50-year-old Kurt Angle stepped in on short notice to headline a pay-per-view – making a trifecta of Champions on Raw look like chumps in the process – the same fans cheered wildly.
Jinder Mahal's coronation as WWE Champion transpired in a climate where the fans were baying for change and clamouring for fresh blood to be given a chance.
No sooner had he captured the Title though, he was dismissed as little more than a marketing stunt; a means to an end for the WWE to target the Indian fan base.
Roman Reigns, the antagonist-in-chief in the WWE nowadays, was a thoroughly celebrated superstar when he was still part of the Shield.
The moment the fans realised that he was also Vince McMahon's "chosen one", they made it incredibly difficult for the WWE to get him over, doing their best to play party pooper at every possible turn.
And of course, there's John Cena. Hated, reviled and resented when he was the face of the company for over a decade. But now that he's got one leg out of the door, suddenly all anyone can ever talk about is when he will finally break Ric Flair's long-standing record for most number of World Title reigns.
Welcome to the whimsical, switch-flipping, audience-knows-best world of programming known as the Reality Era, where the WWE can do absolutely no good and the fans are always dissatisfied.
It's an era where we are guilty of missing everything good staring us right in the face and complaining about what could be, or worse – what we think should be.
It is also an era which is constructed largely around one man; a man who symbolises the idiosyncratic relationship that the WWE shares with its fans better than anyone else. A man who inspires exhilaration and frustration in equal measure, who is scorned on one hand and celebrated on the other.
This is, after all, the Reality Era.
And no one puts the ''real" into it better than Brock Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar can literally manhandle anyone and everyone on the WWE roster for real, and no one would even bat an eyelid.
But the first man ever to win the NCAA, WWE and the UFC Heavyweight Championships was never found wanting in legitimacy.
The accusation that has always been levelled against him isn't whether he's fit enough to be in the position that he is – but rather what he does with it.
With great power comes great responsibility. Cliched, but absolutely true in this instance.
There is no doubt that Brock Lesnar deserves to be put on the pedestal that he occupies in the WWE today; where he can get away with working a severely limited number of dates and waltzing past his competition in a half-hearted manner even when he does show up.
It's just that despite being an international draw who has earned the right to dictate his terms, Brock Lesnar could be doing so much more than he currently is.
The match against Dean Ambrose particularly springs to mind as an example. With Ambrose's violent and dark history as Jon Moxley in his Indie days pretty well known, it was nothing short of a travesty that the 'No Holds Barred Street Fight' they wrestled at WrestleMania 32 was a glorified squash match.
A similar indictment could be made about the couple of times he rubbed shoulders with Samoa Joe, after a rousing build to both matches were followed by tepid, uninspiring encounters.
And while the matches against Goldberg were intense and entertaining, they hardly serve to absolve Lesnar of blame given that both of them, combined, amounted to just over 7 minutes in duration.
But no other instance screams out injustice like Lesnar's recently concluded program involving Braun Strowman.
The Monster Among Men was on a tremendous roll, tearing apart the roster in one of the WWE's most engaging story arcs in recent history, until he ran into a brick wall against Lesnar at No Mercy.
It wasn't even that the WWE flattered to deceive by leading us to believe that Strowman was finally the one man who could stroll into Suplex City and raze it to the ground. What was especially gutting was the tame and insipid manner in which he failed to do so.
All it took was one meek F5 to put him away and months of momentum created through meticulous booking came to a jarring, screeching halt.
Against Dean Ambrose, Lesnar was let off the hook because there is a widely held belief that the Lunatic Fringe himself isn't the most active of workers. The Samoa Joe encounters were chalked up to the fact that an upper-mid carder couldn't possibly have been expected to push the Beast sitting atop the food chain to its limits.
And Goldberg, conveniently, couldn't wrestle a match for longer than 5 minutes even if he wanted to.
But against Braun Strowman? Against one of the most athletically gifted and capable big men that we've ever seen in the WWE?
It had boiled down to a point where it was just hard to make an excuse for Brock Lesnar anymore.
Which brings me back to the fans.
Can we fault the same fans that erupt in excitement when his music hits, for slating him on not showing up to defend the WWE Universal Title often enough?
Or chastise their hypocrisy on bellowing out chants of "Suplex City" when he is ragdolling another Superstar, only to criticise him for being a lazy worker after the match is over?
Given how flimsy public opinion pertaining to WWE is today, it's pretty easy to brush aside their remonstrations as uninformed babble – especially if you're a multi-millionaire closeted away in the woods of Saskatchewan.
But for every instance of the WWE pointing a finger at the fans for being impulsive and notoriously hard to please – and with good reason – perhaps it's high time that they also realise that there are four fingers pointing straight back at them – especially when it comes to Brock Lesnar.
(A student of psychology, Aditya Rangarajan's passion lies in the thrill-a-minute realms of combat sports and pro wrestling, where he uses his experience in the matters of the mind to glean insightful, unique and thought-provoking perspectives. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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