MeekinOnMovies On…Is Brock Lesnar the new Undertaker?

Credit: WWE.com / Satan
 “Well, there are really only two ways to do it. Think of something that
makes you really sad… or forget you’re you and really forget you’re
pretending…” – Nick Nolte

It’s possible I was running purely on Mountain Dew (I guess advertising works) when I watched Lesnar vs. Cena at Summerslam about…15 hours ago. By the time it was over, things felt different. Intentional or not, Brock Lesnar finally appeared to ‘get it’. Special attraction or not, there to collect a paycheck or not, mercenary or not, the Brock Lesnar we saw at Summerslam was the Brock Lesnar I’d been waiting for – The Brock Lesnar Steve Austin referred to on his Podcast as what could potentially be if he fully invested in the world of sports entertainment..

This Brock, lording over the conscious corpse of the WWE’s poster boy had a ferocity we hadn’t seen in awhile. Sure, fans believed Brock was a monster, Paul Heyman believed Brock was a monster, and that chair he broke over Big Show’s dome believed he was a monster too, but until last night, I wasn’t sure Brock did. After last night, like Undertaker, Brock is now something more than human.

And if you’ll afford me the opportunity, I’d like you all to hop in my magic school bus as we travel up my own ass, and discuss the craft of acting.

 If you regard the poster, you’ll notice two things. First, regardless of what you think of the guy, John Cena looks genuinely concerned for his well being.

Second, you’ll notice Brock Lesnar is clearly attempting to scare a five year old child at a haunted house by making his face look as close to a pumpkin as possible. But if you look into Lesnar’s eyes, they seem…confused, like he isn’t sure what the fruit  he’s doing, but someone told him to make a scary face, so here it is. Can I have my check now, please?

And that’s a problem. It’s also a problem in sit-down interviews where Brock is clearly reading, or repeating lines verbatim a producer or writer told him to say like he’s on Total Divas.

I call this “confessional syndrome”. You’ll notice it in early seasons of popular reality shows like Pawn Stars, as the people in it get used to the idea of ‘playing themselves’. There’s the natural stuff, when Rick is negotiating and essentially doing the job he’s had for years, and the ‘storyline’ stuff where you don’t quite believe anything that’s happening, because the folks it’s happening to don’t either. If you want a fantastic example of some terrible reality TV ‘acting’, check out the first season of American Choppers.

If you’d like another example from actual drama, watch The Usual Suspects again and pay attention to Stephen Baldwin; from how he holds gun, to how he says his lines, to how every scene he’s in tries to make him look like a bad ass, but instead he looks like someone trying to ‘act’ tough.  
If the people saying their lines don’t believe their lines, or act in an unbelievable way, it shows. And to act well, you need to believe. It’s not so much what you say, but how and why you say it. 
If you’ve ever listened to a grade school classroom
recite The Pledge of Allegiance, they’re all saying it, but not many of em’
care what they’re saying so it feels a little hollow. As Brock Lesnar often did since his return

As a poor man’s example of…serviceable acting, here’s a video I did with a friend for a class she had. I was almost in a bunch of trouble for this thanks to the bathroom part, until my cohort revealed it was all pre-staged.

For whatever reason my friend was capable of reacting realistically to the idea of a crazy person hiding in her bathroom, and I was a believable enough weirdo to the point it’s possible I’d do such a thing, at least enough to make the folks watching seriously question if we were being ‘real’ or not.

If my buddy didn’t ‘act’  freaked out / pissed off / annoyed in a genuine way, and I didn’t let out that really fucking creepy laugh, folks would thought it was a dumb gag. They believed we believed so they weren’t sure if it was real until we told them it wasn’t. I’m not saying we’re good at acting, but I’m confident in saying I’m more believable as the kind of asshole who would play such an annoying prank, than Brock was in his various interviews before Summerslam .

But during Summerslam’s main event, somewhere in the middle of those sixteen German
Suplexes Brock gave the human body pillow that used to be John Cena, he ‘got’ it. Look at the eyes again. He’s not contorting his face, he’s not trying to look tough, he is tough and pissed, and triumphant. 

He’s no longer ‘playing’ Brock Lesnar:
Tough Guy, he is Brock Lesnar: Tough Guy. More importantly, I believed Brock Lesnar believed he was Brock Lesnar: Tough Guy. He just engaged in legalized manslaughter, and came away with barely a hang nail. Before, he looked the part, now he *is* the part.

And what is that part? Undertaker 2.0. Putting aside obvious similarities: a portly manager who does most of the talking when not bowing before him in worship, an imposing frame, and ‘special attraction’ status, the number one thing that allows the WWE to slot Brock Lesnar into the ‘Taker role is that they’re now both supernatural characters.

In different ways of course. If Brock Lesnar ever comes down the Wrestlemania ramp, rolls his eyes back in his head, and removes his hood to the sound of cracking thunder, it’s game over. Brock Lesnar is supernatural in that there has never been a WWE Superstar with a more legitimate ‘real life’ resume.

Of course WWE can’t come out and say “Well you know, Brock actually beat people up whereas we’re just pretending here!”, but for smarks and marks alike, we believe Lesnar can do pretty much whatever the hell he wants to anyone he wants at any point and time, and after the insanity of last night’s match, the question of “Who the f*ck can ‘realistically’ beat this guy?” enters our mind the same way it did with Taker and his Wrestlemania streak.  

He’s a real fighter who’s slumming it in the world of sports entertainment, and at Summerslam, Brock finally found a way to channel that “real fighter” mentality into a worked match that resulted in a truly menacing aura – something Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock couldn’t quite figure out. Unlike his first match against Cena at Extreme Rules, where he toyed with Cena like a cat who caught a mouse, at Summerslam, Brock was a killer whale ripping a baby seal apart limb from limb. Finally he’s being portrayed, and is portraying himself as, the brute we always wanted.    

Thus, we have a living legend on our hands. Sure, you could argue Jericho and Triple H are still around and are future Hall of Famers, and so is Big Show if we want to be generous, but those three have been on our television and in our faces for years. At this point, they’re family – we know mostly what we’re getting, and that’s tricky because the thing about legends is they’re enigmatic.

We’ll never know if Brock has a real passion for the business, we’ll
never know what’s fact and what’s reality as it pertains to his
character and backstage personality – he’s protected in a way that allows the WWE and the IWC at large to play with our expectations, just like the Undertaker – whom we *rarely* heard from unless he was ‘in character’. There’s also the idea that the WWE needs Brock more than Brock needs the WWE, and with Heyman legitimately having the ear of Lesnar, I find myself filled with a sense of optimism.

It’s wonderfully exciting, isn’t it? Brock Lesnar is now a other worldly figure in regards to the WWE Universe.
Only top stars wrestle him, and only the tippy top stars (or soon to be
owners) beat him. His super power doesn’t come from a demonic urn, but
instead a dastardly reputation and now – thank God – a truly menacing persona in the ring. When all is said and done, Lesnar may not end up with the same incredible legacy and oodles of respect Taker has, but I don’t care.

Because I believe Brock doesn’t care, either.

You Still Do Brock Lesnar Questions,Right?

Scott,
With Brock,why is he so shielded and protected? I know that's a broad question,but in terms of match quality and how quickly the initial buzz/pop wears off after each return,is he worth the outlay? For example,Brock returns and loses a hot match to Cena. OK. He then draws a big buyrate against HHH. Their two rematches sucked however,but one was a WrestleMania and one was a rushed B-show bout so no real spotlight,in terms if numbers, was shone on either. His Punk bout at SummerSlam last year was a **** affair at least but the event flopped finacially. The Big Show angle stunk in every respect earlier this year, and the subsequent Taker stuff had historical value but the match itself was never going to be a classic. Now,he's going to be champion in a few weeks,timed brilliantly to 'save' the Network, and then pretty much vanish with the belt. I still like Brock and his mystique a hell of a lot,but when the dust settles on this run will it be exposed as an expensive luxury?
​I wouldn't say the Big Show stuff stunk as such.  It was pointless as a storyline and the post-match beatdown was overdone, but it got him over as a giant-killing monster again​ at least.  
As for Brock's worth, he already justified the cost of his initial contract by adding extra buys to Extreme Rules, so anything on top of that was gravy.  Plus someone with his kind of star power really does add an extra rub to whatever show he's working on, whether or not he's putting over Cesaro at the time.  I'm not saying the money has been perfectly spent on him and that they didn't flush millions down the toilet by beating him in his first match and wasting three PPV slots on HHH, but it's hard to call him a flop either.  

Brock Lesnar in 2002

Scott,

Do you think Brock Lesnar's rise was timed correctly in 2002?  He was still really green, had not had meaningful feuds to establish himself, and didn't benefit from the current UFC badass crossover appeal in 2002.  He was an unknown commodity with a ton of potential, but was hardly the surefire badass main eventer of today.  Do you think SummerSlam 2002 was the time to put him on top?  

As a matter of personal opinion, I think the way to go was for Brock to come in as Kurt Angle's bodyguard (the Diesel to his Shawn Michaels).  They can emphasize the NCAA background with Kurt building a team of Brock, Benjamin, and Haas as his "legitimate" wrestling stable.  Brock can gain experience through 2002 and build the monster image against a greater variety of opponents.  Eventually, Angle becomes TOO reliant on Lesnar's assistance to protect his title (in a prolonged feud with the returning Benoit?) and Brock ends up ditching Angle.  Brock does the babyface turn, dominates the Royal Rumble and you put him over Angle (who needed to leave for surgery) at Wrestlemania 19 for his FIRST title.  I just think Angle-Lesnar could have had an even more epic build and Brock's rise could have gained more steam with a slower burn (even if it's just prolonged from SummerSlam 2002 to Wrestlemania).  

Why prolong it?  He was super hot by Summerslam, and people bought the title change.  I don't see what the problem was.  Failing to pull the trigger on their hot acts is exactly what the problem was 99% of the time, so I'm sure where keeping it off him would help matters.

Punk v. Lesnar

Love the sight.  Question for you.  Wikipedia claims that Meltzer has awarded Lesnar/Punk five stars.  This would only be the sixth match in WWE history to receive that rating from him.  Any truth to that claim?

Meltzer gave both main event matches ****1/2, so no, there's no truth to that claim.  
Bryan (or at least Vince Verhei via Bryan) gave the reverse of my ratings, with Punk/Brock getting ****3/4 and Cena/Bryan getting *****.  

Rebooking Brock Lesnar 2012-13

Scott, 

It's been beaten to death on the BoD, but what are YOUR thoughts on how Brock Lesnar should have been handled from his post-WM28 return thru WM29?  
 

He should have beat Cena and sent him away for six weeks or so, and then Cena could have gotten his win back at Summerslam.   That's all it would have taken to make me happy, honestly.  

Undertaker v. Lesnar

I haven’t seen these guys fight, but this promo from 2002 (I think?) really made me want to see it. Selling a wrestling show might just mean getting hard men promoting having a fight. Who knew?!

I’m assuming you’re British judging by your unfortunate choice of words there.  Regardless, it was a pretty cool feud aside from Undertaker screwing him out of a win in their first match.  But I’m giving, so here’s the Hell in a Cell match that paid everything off:
WWE No Mercy 2002_ Brock Lesnar vs… by TheoMJ21

Not So Great Match of the Day: Brock Lesnar v. Giant Bernard


NJPW – Brock Lesnar vs. Giant Bernard by GonnaSin

Just throwing this out for a match of the day; Lesnar vs Tensai/Bernard in Japan, where the latter grew to have some respect and popularity. It’s not a five-star classic or anything, but it’s a pretty enjoyable battle of big men.

And now one makes millions for 2 matches a year while the other dances as the sidekick to a job guy. 

Lesnar

I'm too lazy and drunk to do a Google search.. So is Brock's contract finished now that the year is over? Will he not be at Wrestlemania 29 or the Rumble or anywhere else? Sorry, I'm just stumbling back into the blog after an extended holiday season. Also, how much would Lesnar/HBK rule if these guys would stop hunting shit and worked out a 'Mania match? 


Happy new year. 

The match would indeed rule.  I thought they'd haul Shawn out of retirement to do it, in fact, so that Brock would break his arm to set up Brock-HHH.  
And Brock's contract runs from April – April, so he's still got three months left yet.  I imagine he'll re-sign, since he made a gazillion dollars for three  matches, basically.   

Lesnar question for the blog

Scott,
The return of Lesnar got me thinking about the run up to WrestleMania 19 in 2003 and a situation that I don't think I ever got the full story on.
It was a few weeks before Mania, and it came out that Angle needed the dreaded neck surgery… then it was announced that he was going to face Lesnar in the Mania main event early the next week on SmackDown.

That show was in Angle's hometown of Pittsburgh, and I lived about 4 hours from there at the time.  I had a friend who lived there, so I decided to make the trek to see the match and likely title change.
That show was in Angle's hometown of Pittsburgh, and I lived about 4 hours from there at the time.  I had a friend who lived there, so I decided to make the trek to see the match and likely title change.
Anyway, if you recall the "match"… Angle did the switcheroo with his brother after about a minute, leading to a fuck finish where Angle won without taking a bump.  Most everyone in the audience was pissed because they billed it as a huge match and most of us were expecting a great match with a title change.
I remember that Angle didn't end up get the neck fusion but rather a wacky experimental thing where he was only out a couple months, but was the original plan to actually change the title at that SmackDown and if so, what made them change their mind?  Or was it just an angle to take advantage of the word getting out that Angle was going to be out for a long time?
Keep up the good work!
-Chris H.

Nope, they legit thought that Angle was fucked and his career was going to be over, and the they were going to change the title before Angle talked them out of it.  The wacky Dr. Jho bone spur suction thing actually became quite the fad among wrestlers for a while, with lots of them opting to have that done instead of full fusion surgery.  

Brock Lesnar v1.0

Scott,
Do you think SummerSlam 2002 was the right time to make Brock Lesnar WWE Champion?  That was a REALLY quick ascent from beating up the Hardy Boyz at Backlash to beating The Rock at SummerSlam.  Would it have been better to build him until Wrestlemania?  Perhaps he gets fed up with Heyman as his mouthpiece and goes Goldberg-style loner.  Then you build him as a babyface leading to his domination of the Royal Rumble.  All the while, have Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit trade the WWE Title from summer on (with the decisive match being the Rumble '03 classic) to 'prime' the transition to mat-based main events.  Then the Kurt vs. Brock Wrestlemania XIX main event is built up as more 'special' AND it's Lesnar's first title win?  It worked out just fine for Brock, and the wins over Rocky and Hogan ran him to the top quickly, but I felt like there was more appeal in the 'chase' with Brock, at least for that initial phase.


Summerslam was fine to put the belt on him, the problem was that they shouldn't have BEAT him right away like they did.  Had Brock held onto the belt through Wrestlemania XIX, the Angle feud might have felt like a bigger deal instead of a hot-potatoed World title feud like it ended up being.  

Major heat on Brock Lesnar

———- Forwarded message —— Scott, Apparently; Brock is being a big pain in the ass diva. Who could have ever predicted that? It's not like there's a precedent for it or anything… http://www.lordsofpain.net/news/wwe/Nuclear_Heat_On_Brock_Lesnar_Backstage_News_On_His_WWE_Future.html
 
Remind me again why they bothered to sign him to so few dates? It's going to make it impossible to build a program with him and Triple H, or him and… well, anyone… and they're just going to bury him and job him to everyone out of spite anyway.  —————————– If you had money to bet on HHH winning that match, now would be a good time to place it, I'd say.

Salvaging Brock Lesnar

We all know that Vince's ultimate goal is go put WWE over Brock
Lesnar/UFC.  I think it can be done while still being captivating and
elevate the WWE title.  To start, Brock has to lose to HHH in similar
fashion to the Cena loss.  Have Brock dominate, lock in the kamora,
and then replicate HHH v Undertaker 2, only with the sledgehammer
connecting.  Then have Brock disappear.
Meanwhile, come the end of December somehow vacate the WWE title and
put it up for grabs via the Royal Rumble.  Have Brock show up as a
surprise entrant and win the match, but with a twist: he is now
wrestling a "WWE style".
On Raw have Brock, still heel, explain that he toyed with Cena and HHH
but lost.  So, to win in the WWE he had to embrace professional
wrestling (putting WWE over UFC).  He then spends the time until
Wrestlemania dominating everyone, defending the title at PPV and
occasionally on Raw (using up the appearances).  He proclaims his
dominance over WWE and it's title, and then the Rock comes out.
Wrestlemania match, Rock wins the title for the fans, Brock gone
forever.  WWE over UFC:  check.  WWE over Brock: check.  WWE title
elevated: check.
Thoughts?


I think that's kind of overthinking the situation.  Really, the best way to build him up is to have him beat a bunch of top guys clean, and then lose to someone at Wrestlemania cleanly on the way out.  In particular, I think losing to HHH at Summerslam would kill him dead even if it's a great close match where he looks dominant.  Basically he should do like Punk did — get hot by beating HHH at Summerslam, win the title from someone at Survivor Series (like Punk) in dominant fashion, then take the title hostage and leave until Royal Rumble so that it MEANS something when someone gets a title shot at him.  Plus then the World title can have the spotlight while the WWE title is in the deep freeze and maybe it'll mean something too then.  Brock can finally defend at the Rumble, get the big win there over a John Cena or Randy Orton, and then Rock wins the Rumble and gets the WWE title at Wrestlemania.  Rock doesn't even have to keep it, he can just vacate it and they'll do a tournament at Backlash or whatever they want.  

Cena vs Lesnar

First to begin based on mania and extreme rules, Cena is on his way to
being the best wrestler of the year. He's always been a tremendous
worker (and if people would look past the thing they hate about him
his character they'd see this) so this is no surprise.
Now then to me putting him over Lesnar is perfect.  What better way of
saying pro wrestling is better and tougher than UFC than the pro
wrestler going over the UFC superstar? Now was it way to early to do
this? Sure. In hindsight they should have had months of Lesnar not
wrestling but just kicking everyones ass. Then Cena comes back from
his movie or whatever and is the man to say enough. You do the match
at say summerslam and Cena goes over.
This then leads to Rock Cena II at survivor series or whatever because
Cena has the cred of doing something Rock never could do which is beat
Lesnar. Heck if you want to do Rock Cena 3 you can have a finish in
which Lesnar is standing on the apron (presumably to mess with Cena)
only to have Rock thrown into him leading to an FU and Cena pin. Rock
then goes off to take on Lesnar and win and then you do Cena Rock III
to finally settle it all. (maybe at the rumble or whatever then do
Cena vs Taker at mania if he can go as it's to me one of the last true
main event matches they have left) Then Cena goes over taker because
really losing doesn't hurt taker imo. Going twenty straight wins is
still impressive and something they can still stress will never be
done again

*Slow clap*
Bravo. 
For those wondering how to become a WWE writer, send them a scenario like this and you're a shoo-in.