If you have been following my work on this website, you know two things: one, I have a really hard time with deadlines and two, I have historically not been the biggest fan of Brock Lesnar. My relationship with Brock Lesnar is quite odd. I came into my regular viewing of pro wrestling just after he left to pursue his NFL dream. I was aware of him, I saw a few of his highlights, but I did not have much a bond with the character. I began getting into UFC just as he began his career in the octagon. I rooted for the Beast Incarnate solely because of his background in the WWE.
However, I was seldom able to watch his bouts and again was not able to forge much of a connection with Brock. His return to the squared circle arrived just as I had given the boot to my regular viewing of the WWE product. Though he laid the smackdown on John Cena (something I was absolutely desperate for) it signified another behemoth would stand in the way between the stars I loved and the WWE Championship.
I have always respected Lesnar for the physical specimen and freak athlete he is, but I have never enjoyed those who seem to view professional wrestling as a job and a paycheck to be collected. Countless men and women bust their rear ends for the business they love for years just in hopes that they might see the inside of a WWE ring at some point in their career.
Brock always seemed to me that he was content hopping the line and squashing those smaller wrestler without as much as a thought. These feelings are amplified by the fact that Kurt Angle, a man who accomplished even greater feats in amateur wrestling, dedicated himself to the business of professional wrestling in the same way that men like Eddie Guerrero and Daniel Bryan did. For years, I despised Brock Lesnar for the part-timing, half-assing jerk he seemed to be. That is, until these past few weeks.
In many ways, Lesnar doesn’t care about wrestling the way a Daniel Bryan or a Dean Ambrose does. He doesn’t have to. He has spent his adult life cultivating a mystique around his bestial figure. He has proven himself a dominant force in competition both legitimate and scripted. He is truly the Beast Incarnate and he will always draw a crowd in his wake. That all said; it is ALWAYS better to care than to not in professional wrestling.
And no one in my memory has made Brock Lesnar care more in the past couple of years than Samoa Joe. More so than rippling muscles or flashy tights or high-flying maneuvers, a wrestler’s energy and emotion is what drives a crowd. It is all too easy to feel a wrestler – no matter how jacked he is or how wild his moves are – going through the motions in the ring or on the mic. Brock has fallen victim to that several times throughout his recent run. Though his feud with Goldberg had some high points, it was as over as quickly as it had started and accounted for a paltry few minutes of television.
On Monday the 10th of July, a noticeable glint appeared in the eyes of Brock Lesnar as Samoa Joe stepped into the ring, mic in hand, to confront the cabal of Monday Night Raw power players. Not a minute later, the Beast snapped and butted heads with the Samoan Submission Machine, the arena pulsing with energy. Though Kurt Angle intervened, both men remained seething. It is difficult to articulate the excitement that moment elicited. For the first time in a long time, it feels like we have a main event feud that begs for attention — that feels like it should be plastered on a giant marquee. It feels like Brock Lesnar is having fun and not just showing up for a paycheck. If you looked hard enough, you could even see Brock pushing back a smile.
Maybe it’s because they share a common interest in shoot fighting or maybe it’s because Brock appreciates Joe’s physicality, nevertheless this feud with Samoa Joe has unlocked a long-hidden level within Brock Lesnar. You can see Joe pushing Lesnar constantly, in promos and in physical confrontation. Brock is motivated to be present, to be active, and to be invested in his work on WWE TV. Long has Brock tussled with old men clinging onto their glory days and bona fide cartoon characters. Samoa Joe presents a legitimate threat and this has very evidently engaged Lesnar within kayfabe and without.
Great Balls of Fire 2017 was a great show. It was well-rounded and well-paced, presenting a full card of excellent matchups that punched up a lot of weak finishes into pages of a compelling story. Though the main event did not go for 15 minutes, it delivered on weeks of meticulous build to be an exceptionally hard-hitting and pulse-pounding affair. More so, it showed that Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe was not a far-fetched dream match, but a viable and potentially historic feud. Though we are only a week removed, it looks like that Great Balls of Fire main event has pushed this once one-off confrontation to the first chapter in a saga.
-by Dat Man S.Fran
Photo Credit: WWE.com