When combing over an exhaustive list of what makes a WWE PPV successful, there are a lot of factors to consider. For example, which WWE Superstars are being featured on the card? Is the show inundated with Divas matches? Are you, say, missing your World Heavyweight Champion?
This is the situation WWE finds themselves in approaching October’s Hell in a Cell PPV outing.
To lend some context, WWE’s current World Heavyweight Champion is “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar. Lesnar, a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, NCAA Heavyweight Champion and a four time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, is currently holding the gold following an unprecedented mauling of former champion John Cena at WWE SummerSlam back in August.
It’s easy to be a fan of that. John Cena, the hardest working and most prolific WWE Superstar and champion of his generation, is not every fan’s cup of tea. As much as they likely enjoyed it, even Cena’s most diehard detractors couldn’t have foreseen the near mythic beating he received at the hands of Lesnar at SummerSlam in a match so one-sided that longtime WWE Play-By-Play man Michael Cole could only utter that the contest “wasn’t even close” following 16 German Suplexes and a thunderous F5.
Since retiring from UFC following a near-deadly encounter with diverticulitis, Lesnar has run roughshod over the WWE roster, beginning with his return to WWE in 2012. Though he was defeated by Cena in his first match at WWE Extreme Rules 2012, it took a steel chain to the face and an Attitude Adjustment from a near-broken Cena onto a set of steel stairs to hold the monster down for three.
Coming up on the tail end of 2014, Lesnar has made the above statistic a repetitive feat. Since his return, the only two WWE Superstars to pin Lesnar have been Triple H, at WrestleMania 29 and John Cena. Both men needed various weapons and environmental assistance to defeat Lesnar and neither man has been able to defeat him in a straight wrestling match. That last statistic is no reflection on Triple H or John Cena. No WWE Superstar has beaten Lesnar in any sort of straight wrestling match since he returned.
Perhaps most infamously, Lesnar ended the legendary undefeated streak of The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX in the most shocking match outcome in WrestleMania history.
Understanding all of that, it’s easy to approve of WWE’s decision to book Brock Lesnar as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The guy is real and is the closest WWE has been to having a mainstream heel champion in years. The problem is, Lesnar is a part-time wrestler.
For everything beautiful Lesnar does for the WWE product, he doesn’t actually do it for the WWE product. The man is more or less a mercenary. He’s there for the money and because, to a degree, WWE’s level of performance is more forgiving on his body than UFC. But he’s not there to make friends with fans or tout his love for professional wrestling. The relationship between Brock Lesnar and the WWE is strictly business, and that level of honesty is perhaps why Vince McMahon and the WWE were so quick to welcome him back.
As a part-time performer, Lesnar has it written into his contract that he doesn’t have to appear at WWE’s live-event house shows, and he only works limited dates a year for TV and PPV. This is why he’s rarely featured on RAW and has not been a constant at every PPV.
This is where WWE runs into a problem. How do you book PPV cards without the World Heavyweight Champion? There will be no Brock Lesnar/John Cena III at Hell in a Cell. Instead, as reported by The Inquisitr, the pressure of making sure this PPV succeeds falls squarely on the shoulders of John Cena, Randy Orton and two of the brightest young stars of WWE’s next generation, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.
Because Brock Lesnar will be MIA at Hell in a Cell, the determining factor in the success or failure, and the level thereof, of Hell in a Cell will fall to these four WWE Superstars.
It’s hard to fault WWE for that. One the one hand, logical booking would tell us that Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins should get to Main Event the PPV inside the Cell to put an end to the single hottest rivalry of 2014. Still, it’s not quite the same as seeing the World Heavyweight Championship contested and should the PPV suffer for that, the blame will not fall on the absentee WWE World Heavyweight Champion or on established main eveners Cena and Orton, but on the young shoulders of Ambrose and Rollins.
The curious case of Brock Lesnar is that, whether he means to or not, the man’s character and presence do a lot to benefit the WWE’s product, but his absence at major events such as Hell in a Cell do much to counter-act those benefits. At the end of the day, however, the WWE needs Brock Lesnar a lot more than Lesnar needs the WWE.
It will be interesting to see how WWE deals with Brock Lesnar’s part time schedule as WWE World Heavyweight Champion following Hell in a Cell, but as of this writing, everything going forward will be determined by how well Ambrose and Rollins can hold up their end of the deal.
[IMG Credit: WWE.com]