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Brock Lesnar

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I completely disagree that 2010 Brock's matches only work in the moment. That might be true of his lesser outings, but the high-end stuff absolutely holds up to repeated viewings. I'll likely have four matches from that run on my 2021 GME ballot (2012 vs. Cena, 2013 vs. Punk, 2015 vs. Reigns, 2017 vs. Styles), and my favorite of the bunch (the Punk match) is the only one I didn't see live. The other three I liked even more on rewatch than I did on initial viewing. I can see the argument that his booking and match construction broke the rules and hurt the rest of the product, but modern WWE is completely incapable of telling compelling stories to begin with. If anything, they've gotten worse since he left. All I expect from them is the occasional standalone match that holds up as entertaining and fulfilling in a vacuum. On that front, Brock likely delivered better than anyone possibly could.

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I think I like the Punk match. I am Ok with all four of those actually, but past the first few minutes of the Joe match, that’s about it.

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The sell of getting rammed into the corner of the announce table in the Punk match is an all timer. This coming off his bout of diverticulitis and his sell job was turning ghost white (no small feat as he was already purple) and desperately trying not to puke.  

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18 hours ago, strobogo said:

The sell of getting rammed into the corner of the announce table in the Punk match is an all timer. This coming off his bout of diverticulitis and his sell job was turning ghost white (no small feat as he was already purple) and desperately trying not to puke.  

I believe you're referring to the Balor match. But yeah, it was an amazing sell job. His ability to project vulnerability without losing his aura of danger is why you can't just plug any musclehead into his match formula and get the same results. The AJ match is another example. He made the audience actually think he might submit to the calf crusher right before escaping by ramming AJ's head into the mat like a basketball.

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No I am referring to the Punk match in 2013, but he might have done it with Balor as well. He gets shoved into the corner of the table and starts saying "Paul, my stomach" and changes color as he looks like he's about to puke.

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I don't remember that spot in the Punk match. I'll keep an eye out for it the next time I watch it. It definitely happened in the Balor match. In fact, the story of the match was Brock getting his abdomen worked over after going into the table.

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I will probably vote for Brock.  So he got to do things others didn't get to do?  He got to break formula?  So what, good for him.  Wrestling needs more attractions like him, and good for him for advocating for something different.  I won't hold his "shortcuts" against him at all.  I would be much more apt to hold them against someone like Edge leaning on gimmicks or Michaels and HHH getting every main event shortcut in the book handed to them.  With Brock, the shortcuts are inherent to who HE is.  His advantages are Brock Lesnar advantages.  I view him largely the same as Stan Hansen or Vader.  A largely one-of-a-kind monster who actually transcended the WWE formula and made it so much more in lots of cases.  

Now. . . as far as where he'll place I'll have to watch performances again.  But come on.  He was great.

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He might be the wrestler with the most inflated case for an all-time great imo. Someone who "feels" different compared to the rest of the roster in large part due to working part-time and not sticking around long enough on TV for creative to screw him up. It's a bonus when his mouthpiece is one of the best to ever cut a promo in Paul Heyman. The majority of matches since returning tend to be derivative and heavily reliant on how his opponents can sell the damage of his frankly limited offense while playing the face in peril. It's not surprising then that his best work is often against some of the best talent on the roster at the time who can play to that strength of his (Bryan, Styles, Mysterio, Reigns at WM31, etc.) 

 

It's also not like his misses boil down to him being unmotivated. We're talking about a guy who got to work several marquee matches against guys like The Undertaker and heir to the devil's throne Triple H; legends who are respected by the vast majority of wrestlers. If this dude really couldn't have cared less working with those guys, would be have still been employed with the company up until just last year? Even if we do entertain the idea, it's not a good excuse by any means, especially given the relatively small body of work he had from 2012-2020. 

 

Note: I'm aware that my tone can come across as confronting or condescending, so I wanted to add here that I understand why people might hold Lesnar in high regard. It's not like he was in the Top 100 in 2016 for no reason. But when I've seen him show up these last few years, I don't see him as a guy who held up as this special attraction, nor as someone who was beneficial for the WWE. Rather, he's one of the very few to benefit at the expense of modern-day WWE, both the talent and product.

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I would argue that Brock Lesnar was pushed harder than any pro wrestler in history. That on its own isn't a bad thing, but that type of push should produce the greatest wrestler of all time. It didn't. So even when he's great, it's hard not to feel disappointed.

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Elliott has made that Kandori/Brock comparison before and it makes more sense to me as time passes.

To me, Brock is a lock. Does he have dips in quality? yes. Did his other interests clearly draw his attention away even when he was actually in the ring? yes. I still think his highs are as high as just about anyone.  One of the big reasons is that i am big on "singular" wrestlers, wrestlers that I think are radically unique in their combination of skill set and charisma.  I don't agree at all that anyone could have done what Brock did in his spot.  Yes he was pushed to the moon and booked as strong as anyone in wrestling history and he squandered some of it, but I just don't see someone like Ryback or even Lashley having some of the matches, creating the moments, and bringing the presence that Brock brings to his big matches. He is a good to great seller (when he wants to be admittedly), an incredible offensive wrestler, has quite a resume of good to great matches, and is able to elevate a match by doing so little.    I also think he deserves a lot of credit for some of his bigger matches. Bryan is my favorite wrestler ever and my working #1, but I really think Brock deserves a lot of credit for bouncing around like he just saw his first Ricky Morton match. I would say the same for the Eddie, Punk, Cena, Balor, Styles, and all the good taker matches. Those matches don't exist and aren't pretty big bright spots on those wrestlers' respective resumes with anyone other than Brock Lesnar. The Brock hate is always sort of perplexing to me. He is just so self evidently good to me. I agree he can feel disappointing in places and even patches of his career, but when I look back I see a truly elite pro wrestler.

 

The other thing about Brock to me is that he is a case that forces me to deal with necessary evils.  I'm not entirely sure his highs would be as high if he were more consistent in his effort and his givingness.  I know he wouldn't be as good or feel as special if he didn't go off to do football and mma for while. I'm not sure he would be as strong a presence if he loved wrestling.  I don't know that the positives of his case exist without the negatives.

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I rewatched Brock/Punk, and the only table spot is when Brock biels Punk onto the announce table. Still an amazing match, probably the best match of either man's career.

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Brock strikes me as someone who has a pretty impressive list of epic matches, and I think I'm going to revisit some of them on my lunch breaks. (I never want to stop working from home.) First, going backwards through Survivor Series:

Brock Lesnar vs Daniel Bryan, Survivor Series 2018

This was an incredible performance from both, but I want to highlight Brock's performance. His selling for Bryan's comeback was so strong that one minute it looks like a joke that DB is even in the same ring with him, and the next minute the crowd is biting on nearfalls. I was tempted to say that the early match beatdown of Bryan maybe goes a little long; but really I think it was perfect, because ultimately Bryan comes out of this looking like superman even in defeat. I was buzzing watching this. EPIC.

Brock Lesnar vs AJ Styles, Survivor Series 2017

I think this is a step down from the Bryan match, partially because I don't think AJ's offense was quite as effective in this setting. It's still very good though, and this match is interesting because the heat segment on AJ is not just suplex city. Brock dominates with striking and just generally big-manning, as well as hitting an absolutely sick flying knee in the corner. He also counters the calf crusher by dribbling AJ's head on the mat like a basketball, which is quite a spot. Once again, he sells AJ's comeback like a champ. Brock sells being "rocked" about as well as anyone ever, I think -- maybe because he's actually been in that position?

Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg, Survivor Series 2016

Well, okay. This isn't much of a match, but taken together with the awesome pre-match hype video, it's not a bad way to spend 10 minutes. I remember the rematch being better.

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The AJ and Bryan matches are almost literally the same spot for spot, beat for beat after the first however many minutes of Bryan stalling at the start.

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I don't think they were exactly the same but they definitely have the same basic structure. A Brock formula, if you will.

Brock Lesnar vs Finn Balor, Royal Rumble 2019

Let's see if the Brock formula can get a four-star match out of this broomstick. Balor has an extremely smug look on his face and I'm excited to see Brock wipe it off, but I don't think that's the dynamic they're going for. This is a weird match where Balor attacks Brock's weakened intestines, and Brock is almost working from underneath. He half-heartedly throws Balor around a little bit, but he's mostly just selling his tummy ache. Brock survives a long offensive flurry from Finn and then catches him with the kimura out of nowhere, and Finn taps. 

This one doesn't really work. It felt like Finn took most of the match, and no real drama built. The psychology was off, and the finish seemed built for a guy like Balor to beat a guy like Brock, not the other way around. At least it was different. Oh, now Brock is mauling him after the bell, haha. This wasn't close to the level of the Bryan and AJ matches. NOT EPIC

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I remember thinking that Balor match was much better than I expected going in (Balor has never done a thing for me), but I haven't watched it since the night it aired. 

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The Balor match is definitely not bad, and may well be his best match ever. I also think it's distinctly different from the other two I mentioned. For undersized Brock opponents I'd go:

1. Daniel Bryan

2. AJ Styles

3. Finn Balor

 

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I agree with Kid Dracula's rankings of the 3. I would also say I am probably relatively high on the Bryan match and low on the Styles match, so for me there is a pretty big gap between 1 and 2. 

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I assumed they meant in Brock's second run. But yeah, that Eddie match is glorious. He and Rey had a good one as well. 

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For sure, and I'm looking forward to revisiting Brock 1.0 sometime soon. I remember loving the Eddie match but also wishing the Goldberg run-in hadn't been there. 

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Yeah. The Eddie match is top shelf. Totally agree about wishing the Goldberg run in wasn't part of it because I don't think they needed it at all.

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1 hour ago, Cap said:

Yeah. The Eddie match is top shelf. Totally agree about wishing the Goldberg run in wasn't part of it because I don't think they needed it at all.

I mean, the run-in was necessary because Goldberg vs Brock was envisioned as a bigger dream match and a bigger draw for Mania than Eddie, as the underdog, surviving Angle. Eddie vs Brock served Goldberg vs Brock, not the other way around. Eddie vs Brock was the means to get to Goldberg vs Brock more so than Goldberg costing the belt was the means to ending the Eddie vs Brock feud.

I get that you guys think the match would be better without it, but the entire point of the match was to set up the Goldberg vs Brock program.

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