Posted April 18th, 2014 by 1Wrestling News Team

Welcome to the inaugural edition of “Under The Spotlight!” Operating under the premise that the most compelling characters are those who are exaggerations of their own personalities, this is a weekly “fantasy” column that will examine various wrestlers and the storylines they are embroiled in, and offer some directions (based on their past performances) for the purpose of enhancing character development. As a thirty-year fan, past wrestling radio host and occasional wrestler impersonator, I believe that there are times when characters “light up” on my television screen, allowing for more compelling programming. At other times, everything feels overly scripted and not in keeping with their characters, which often times yields less than satisfying results.

Let me also state that I have never worked for a creative team for any professional wrestling organization, and have the utmost respect for the amount of demand that must be placed on them. When you consider the sheer amount of programming and talent involved, balancing and juggling all of these interests to satisfy everyone must be daunting, to say the least. This column is not designed to criticize or be a “Monday Morning quarterback,” but instead offer a different perspective, in terms of what comes across the television screen and the impact of the narratives that are being produced. I hope everyone enjoys reading these ideas, and I always welcome any feedback!

This week’s spotlight shines down upon “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar. His accomplishments in collegiate and professional wrestling, as well as the UFC, are unparalleled. One can also take nothing away from his efforts to be recruited by the Minnesota Vikings, in the NFL. As much as he has accomplished, including the recent breaking of The Undertaker’s “streak,” what is there left to do? How can his impact be felt even more strongly by the sports entertainment audience? What has worked with his character? What has not? How can his presentation be tweaked to enhance his presentation even more?

When Brock Lesnar made his wresting debut over a decade ago, he was introduced as a killer, a freak of nature, by his then (and now) advocate, Paul Heyman. His finishing move, the F-5, perfectly captured the tornadic impact of his wrestling style and also nicely embodied his Oklahoma heritage. His collegiate wrestling background was heavily emphasized and created an aura of legitimacy to his presentation, as it was known that he could truly “go” with the likes of supreme mat technicians such as Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Shelton Benjamin. At the same time, he was such a brute force that he more than held his own in the land of giants, battling The Undertaker and Big Show. His time in the UFC has only solidified these perspectives. In sum, he was (and still is) the perfect combination of power and finesse.

Upon returning to the WWE the night after WrestleMania 28, the roar of the crowd was absolutely electric as he sauntered down the ramp and ultimately F-5′d John Cena, kicking his hat across the ring in disdain. His mixed martial arts prowess was heavily featured in his “Extreme Rules” match against Cena, resulting in one of the most aggressive matches on pay-per-view in recent years. It appeared that “The Beast Incarnate” was back… or was he? Subsequent political and corporate “toilings” with John Laurinitis and Triple H did not play to his strengths. Rather than continuously be featured as a wrecking machine, he was playing a role that was not in keeping with the path of destruction he had forged. Instead, he was engaging in debates, or was silent without the gifted Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece to pain the picture of his wrath. He seemed awkward and uncomfortable, almost handcuffed. While the occasional notes of violence still remained (as evidenced by him injuring Shawn Michaels and breaking Triple H’s arm twice), these moments were few and far between. His periodic absences for months have also not allowed him to play to his strengths, which is as an unregulated brute. It’s hard to be dangerous and feared, if you’re not around much.

So, what works for Brock Lesnar, the character? His sheer aggression and wrestling skills, for sure… on television, he also presents most strongly when he is enraged, superhuman, smug and remorseless. From suplexing Big Show off the top turnbuckle in 2002 or F-5′ing The Undertaker three times at WrestleMania, he is at his best when he is destroying everything in his path. Keeping quiet and smiling about it, with Paul Heyman extolling his virtues, is a compelling sight. It makes you want to get your hands on Heyman to keep him quiet, but knowing the depth of their friendship, that would be an absolute mistake. It would be like detonating a grenade, and that grenade is Brock Lesnar.

Lesnar has been at his best this past week, when he was scowling and howling at the audience, taunting them with his “Eat, Sleep, Break The Streak T-shirt” while Heyman lauded his destruction of The Undertaker. The scene was powerful, reminding us of his sheer ferocity while also reminding us that there was nothing that anyone could do about it. If he was powerful enough to break “the streak,” then perhaps he is truly unstoppable. While it can be argued whether he was chosen to be “the one” to break the streak all along, or if it was a last-minute audible, he was the right choice. He is a legitimate badass and if someone was going to do it (even though I would have preferred to see it remain unbroken), it might as well have been him.

So, in the span of two years, we have gone from seeing Brock Lesnar, the semi-adequate orator who has engaged in less than inspiring debates with John Laurinitis, to Brock Lesnar, “The Conqueror.” Such a moniker would allow for him to continue taking a periodic hiatus from the company, utilizing the philosophy that “there’s nothing left to conquer.” Given his apparent contract schedule, that would seem like a natural fit. But, for now, what can he do? What opponent(s) and goal(s) are most in keeping with his current character?

I see no other logical opponent and storyline for Lesnar right now than to go up against Daniel Bryan, for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The “Beast Incarnate” and “Conqueror” against the proverbial underdog and everyman, who has what he wants. Not only is it a perfect match right now from a storyline perspective, the ring action would be compelling and likely produce more than one Match of the Year candidate. Assuming that Lesnar will not win in the long run (as he is not present enough on our television screens, due to his contract), Daniel Bryan’s technical prowess will be put over even more. Lesnar is at his best when he can exert his physical will over a smaller, more athletically gifted opponent who can create motion around him (as did Angle, Benoit and Benjamin) and Bryan fits that bill very well. Although we are unlikely to see this matchup on pay-per-view anytime in the immediate future (due to Bryan’s involvement with what appears to be the reforming of Evolution), it will be magic when it happens… in part because it will play into nearly all of Lesnar’s strengths as a character.

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