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The 7 - Guest Columns - The Obtuse Experiment: "Brocky Sucks" Register and log in to post!
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Wolfram J. Paulovich
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#1 Posted on 2.3.03 2317.51
Reposted on: 2.3.10 2318.45

THE OBTUSE EXPERIMENT, part IV
"Brocky Sucks"
March 3, 2003

by Jeb Tennyson Lund
OnlineOnslaught.com/CitizenScholar.net

"He's forced down our throats. He's always in the main-event picture. When he's not on TV wrestling, he's in backstage segments; and when he's not in these, someone is cutting a promo about him, or the commentators are talking about him. His moveset, although once quite broad, is now little more than a rote progression of a few spots. His promos are dull."

That's pretty much Brock Lesnar in a nutshell.

Had I said those things about Triple H, most readers would likely nod in agreement. They would feel angry. Almost all the above comments would, if beamed back to the world of 1997, immediately apply to Rocky Maivia. Then, too, people would feel angry. Curiously, with Brock, no one seems particularly angry at all. This is pretty surprising — on both a general and a specific level.

Generally speaking, Brock's success flies in the face of one of wrestling's finest traditions: contrariness. Because being a wrestling fan is not a completely passive pastime, fans use their voices with enthusiasm and in ways that alter the structure of what they see. The simplest way to alter the story in wrestling is to say "no." To boo. And this simple response keys into the fiercely independent character of people in modern western civilization: the willingness and desire to say, "I don't want it; I won't buy it.... No."

As childish as this contrariness may seem, it is both perfectly human and endearingly independent (we should be proud that we are so willing to outright deny things). We do not like to be told what to do or like. Consequently, the fastest way to destroy a wrestler's appeal is simply to tell the fans that the wrestler is appealing. Any attempt at an end-run around the will of the people automatically results in negative reactions. It's as if the audience says, "We probably would like the guy if we were given a choice, but we're going to hate him because you never asked us our opinion before making your decision."

This attitude is best exemplified by those anti-heroes we have made into our heroes: The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. When both enjoyed face popularity, they made decisions on an essentially contrary basis. In short, they never did what they were told, and they often interfered on behalf of wrestlers who were coerced into unpleasant positions or forced to endure some punishment. We loved them because, as stand-ins for our own frustrated ambitions, they trusted solely in themselves and were unafraid to defy even the most dangerous of edicts. They, as men and as phenomena, simply said "no" to everything we had already repudiated ourselves.

Why then, if these men are our heroes, were we willing to take Brock Lesnar at face (or heel) value? When he was a heel, we booed. Now that he is a face, we cheer. Why? In each case, we are doing what we have been instructed to do. We are quick to hate Triple H not for his hatable character but for the mythical man behind the scenes; we deplored his face character for the same specious reasons. Since early 2002, we wrestling readers and writers have found any flimsy excuse to exempt ourselves from the prescribed process of love/hate doled out by the WWE regarding Triple H. In contrast, we have accepted someone who has been, unquestionably, far more contrived and packaged. What spoonful of sugar allowed Brock Lesnar to be forced down our throats?

It is on this specific level that we should be most frustrated. Like Rocky Maivia, Brock Lesnar appeared from "nowhere" to immediately become a main-event threat and a squasher of all comers. There was no process of legitimation: he just was — as if he were an immaculate spontaneous creation. Like Rocky and the current Triple H, he was the subject of endless promos and promotion. Like Triple H, he rarely jobbed, going over older and more established wrestlers. Yet, again, we did not complain.

Do you remember Paul Heyman's original Brock Lesnar promos? I hear no retrospective dammings of these. We heard them every week. Most said this:

Brock Lesnar is the Next Big Thing. Brock Lesnar can destroy anyone. I dare anyone to challenge Brock Lesnar. Brock Lesnar will F-5 all comers. Brock Lesnar is the finest wrestling specimen I have ever seen. Brock Lesnar will Brock the anyone who tries to thing Lesnar the Brock, and the Big Next Brock Lesnar F-5 powerbomb Lesnar next Brock the Brock Thing Lesnar! LESNAR!!!! Brock you all very much.

(Repeat weekly, for several months, as needed.) This, of course, says nothing of real merit, but it might as well be the WWE's summation for why Brock deserves a push, what he has to offer and what he is. In Project Lesnar, the justification seems to be the person himself. It is because it is. In short, imagine this quacking: "Why Brock? Because Brock Brock Brock — Brock-Brock!"

And what exactly has Lesnar really done?
• He debuted and squashed some jobbers. Okay, right there, that makes him as good as the Big Show.
• He had Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece. (If you can't seem somewhat credible with Paul Heyman speaking for you, you must be a corpse.) So, again, this is the same territory that the Big Show currently inhabits. Nothing special here.
• He has debuted the F-5: pick up person, rotate them, let them fall. He F-5'd the Big Show. Neither one of these should make anyone a crowd favorite. Besides, Curt Hennig Perfectplexed the Big Show, and that received no clip-show, despite being a comparatively much more impressive display.
• He is an NCAA Wrestling Champion. Both Scott Steiner and Kurt Angle were also NCAA wrestlers, so this is hardly a valid criterion for judging pro-wrestling worth. It hardly seems a determinant at all.
• He has an amazing moveset. This is true, if you happen to be watching an OVW tape. There you will enjoy Shooting Star Presses and snap suplexes. In WWE tapes, you can enjoy the F-5 (remember: lift, rotate, drop), a clothesline, a suplex and a bear-hug. Replace the F-5 with a chokeslam and you have — again — the Big Show.

Then there is the embarrassing matter of Lesnar's promos. Most of them can be condensed to, "You say you will win? I say no. You. Are. Wrong. Even though I have not won in other matches, I will win in this one." Worse, his voice-over for the Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth commercials was baldly dull, amateurish and colorless. He sounded like Rain Man throughout it: "Bring yur allyunces. Come — with — num —burs.... Eff-fi-ive." Definitely F-5. Definitely. And you know, I find Lesnar's music oddly fitting. Think of the notes to it, then put it into words: duh, duh-duh duh-duh-DUH.

And what exactly is The Next Big Thing? Is it a person or event? I'm not quite clear. I don't want to assume it's what I see before me every Thursday. Because that picture of what is "next," "big" and important is a little disappointing. Evidently The Next Big Thing is not a complete wrestler: it's a monumental push for the pose-able flesh agglomerated beneath giant trapezius muscles. Here comes the pain.

Regardless of the screwiness of match endings, Lesnar has — in just 11 months — defeated a reinvigorated Big Show, Kurt Angle, Hulk Hogan and The Rock. He has demonstrated a dissonant and abusive lack of talent on the mic, a rigid and simply physical persona, an unchanging and limited moveset, and a general character as compelling and urgent as a 27% interest rate credit-card offer in the mail. And he will be in a main event at WrestleMania less than a year after his debut. Yet, somehow, Triple H is still the bad guy.

WrestleMania ought to worry others, too. We have already decided that his match with Angle will be some sort of clash of wrestling gods. Has it occurred to no one that it may actually be pretty terrible, at least on one side of the competition? Lesnar has yet to really prove himself capable of telling a story in the ring. With Hogan, he had to be patient. With Big Show, it was a squash. With Rock, he took a backseat, and reacted to the flow of the match. Against Angle at WrestleMania, there needs to be an exchange of control. Both men must alternately dictate the flow of the match, and amateur wrestling will only go so far before people lose patience. What will actually happen when Brock is called upon to be the strategist in the ring?

The fact is that Brock Lesnar should be triggering alarm bells in most fans' minds. He showed up one day, out of the blue, to become a main-event wrestler. We were told he was a great amateur wrestler; yet, say what you will about Triple H, even now his moveset features more tactics than Lesnar's. Brock's potential be damned: no one has seen it yet, and no one should be compelled to spend forty dollars for a pay-per-view on the hope that Brock might opt to use the talents we have been told so much about. Additionally, it doesn't help that it seems as if Brock could lose a Lincoln-Douglas debate with a fencepost; even so, no one boos him on the mic. Finally, the guy has defeated established icons, captured a world championship and is on his way to headline WrestleMania after a year in the WWE. Why this has not sent many people into a rage is utterly baffling.

Forgetting specifics, people should also be miffed on a general level. Somehow our knee-jerk willingness to refuse what we are told to enjoy has been turned off regarding Brock Lesnar. We have been cajoled and promised "more good things to come," and thus have accepted what is an essentially decent product on the condition that it will one day morph into a stunningly excellent product. Nearly a year has passed, however, and that promise has not been fulfilled. Now, we are expected to make an investment in WrestleMania to see this fulfillment, an action analogous to buying a stripped down four-cylinder Corolla on the condition that one day it will magically become a V-6 Camry with power windows, locks, A/C and a six-speaker stereo system with CD player.

Ignore the hype and damn the machine. We don't need to be told who's incredible: we need to be shown. And if that person truly is, he will look just as good in the ring as Guerrero or Benoit, without the promotional meat-grinder shoving him (and us) along the way. If we expect this much in-ring credibility from Triple H, we should expect it from everyone. Until that day comes, however, I want to hear that chant begin: "Brocky sucks." And it should not be silenced until it is proven wrong.
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TheBucsFan
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#2 Posted on 3.3.03 0008.09
Reposted on: 3.3.10 0008.53
Triple H was quite popular at the beginning of his main event run. Or at the very least, if he was hated, it was for reasons much much different form the reasons people hate him for today.

Lesnar is still new and fresh. If he does the same exact thing in main events for three years like HHH, I promise you he will get the same kind of reaction Helmsley does.
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#3 Posted on 3.3.03 0854.10
Reposted on: 3.3.10 0855.43
All I can say is that you must not be watching the same Brock that I am. Everything that I've seen Brock do in the ring looks very crisp and natural. Brock's power moves always look convincing to me because of the snap and flourish Brock puts on them. You compare him to Big Show, but that's not an acurate comparison at all. Big Show's earned himself the nickname Big Slug on this board because of how slow and lumbering he is in the ring. Brock, on the other hand, is suprisingly quick in the ring for a man his size. Brock came into the company as a main-eventer because he actually looked dangerous in the ring, which is something Rocky couldn't, and HHH can't say about themselves. I, for one, cheer Brock not because I'm told to, but because he really entertains me in the ring. And I don't think that I'm alone on this. As far as his mic work is concerned, well, yeah I can't argue with you. But Brock is far from the only good worker in the company with that problem (see Benoit, Chris).
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#4 Posted on 3.3.03 0952.47
Reposted on: 3.3.10 0957.17
You're either missing out or forgetting a stage in Brock's WWE tenure, before the summer, when he actually was looking at that kind of reception from the crowd, Jeb. Before The Rock returned for the SummerSlam feud, there was a growing sentiment of "too much, too soon" on Brock as the crowds, after getting over the amazement of the guy who was built like a truck, started to go relatively silent on Brock appearances. Take a look around here on the boards if any posts from Brock's debut until the build to the Rock match/his match against Hogan. I remember not being alone in people expressing those concerns that Brock's push was running him directly into the ground.

It was the Hogan match - maybe just the act of smearing the blood on himself - and the build as the guy who would beat Rocky (and the then odd reaction of the SummerSlam PPV crowd) that turned the corner on Brock and probably the general reaction to him. He got a lot of sympathy, too, when the Undertaker "wasn't feelin' it" at their first match and the ending was rumored to be changed at the show. Am I remembering the order of events right that it was the very night after beating Rock that he was made to look like a nobody in the Brock/UT/HHH confrontation and then left Raw, effectively avoiding the HHH/Brock match? That led to the UT match where they had no ending and really was likely the origin of the people who weren't behind Brock finding him a lot more interesting.

Once on SmackDown and in a position to be seen in a favorable light compared to UT and HHH, he also ran into Kurt Angle, who seems to be able to make any feud or match good. We've been promised a payoff match at Wrestlemania since the fall, and people have prepared themselves for the extended push leading up to it. What Brock does after that - i.e., if there's still interest in him once he's not around Kurt Angle anymore - is the real test. That's especially true since, as you noted, Brock's not doing so hot in the ol' wordrate department. He is entertaining in the ring, though, bumping around a lot more than should be expected for his character of the superhuman face, in direct opposition of the Unbreakable Heel HHH.

Now, if Brock does beat Angle straight up at Wrestlemania, I expect the anti-Brock feelings to start surging back. He will have done everything in his (WWE) rookie year - won King of the Ring, won the Undisputed title, won the title match at SummerSlam, beaten Hogan, Rock, Undertaker and Angle, won Hell in a Cell, won the Royal Rumble, won the main title match at Wrestelmania. There will be nothing left for him to do and no legit threats left save Austin and HHH, one of whom is sure to beat him. Angle nees to win to give Brock something to work on and something to aspire to over the next year. It suddenly makes every opponent for Lesnar someone who has a chance to beat him, and thus makes for matches worth watching, since there has been will finally have been established a way for someone to overcome Brock. They need to do this, and if that means the face wins the other title match and it just happens to be Booker going over HHH, I think we can all live with that, can't we?
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#5 Posted on 3.3.03 1009.38
Reposted on: 3.3.10 1010.28
Everything for Lesnar rides on his Mania match with Angle. If he looks bad there, the floodgates will open on him. Up to this point, he either was programmed mainly against spot wrestlers (RVD and the Hardys) or against Hosses (Big Slug, Taker, Albert, Rikishi). Unlike Angle early in his career who was able to develop rapidly from working with Benoit on a consistent basis, Lesnar has not had that option (and as for Steiner, look back at his first few years in the business, he was probably more beloved for his workrate than Angle). Now that he faces Angle, Lesnar has to show whether he has the goods or is just a better version of Batista. And, he has no excuses in this match-up, as Angle has entered the 'Flair carrying a broomstick to 3 star' territory.
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#6 Posted on 3.3.03 1216.02
Reposted on: 3.3.10 1220.32

    Originally posted by Jeb Tennyson Lund
    Why then, if these men are our heroes, were we willing to take Brock Lesnar at face (or heel) value? When he was a heel, we booed. Now that he is a face, we cheer. Why? In each case, we are doing what we have been instructed to do.


I disagree. We booed him initially because he was Paul's new boy and he was remeniscent of Goldberg in the way that he was "undefeated" and used all power, had a similar look, etc. And we didn't cheer him as a face because we have been instructed to do - we TURNED him face. That wasn't the plan but Vince noticed around SummerSlam time what was going on, and they decided to turn Brock.
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#7 Posted on 3.3.03 1238.23
Reposted on: 3.3.10 1240.35

    Originally posted by Jeb Tennyson Lund
    In WWE tapes, you can enjoy the F-5 (remember: lift, rotate, drop), a clothesline, a suplex and a bear-hug.


C'mon, give him some credit, you're leaving out his shoulder blocks into the turnbuckle! :P
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#8 Posted on 3.3.03 1325.07
Reposted on: 3.3.10 1325.38
I don't see any real comparison between the pushes of both Brock Lesnar and HHH, aside from the fact that they're pushed more than they should be.

HHH uses his political position to get his way, but Brock is simply a product that Vince McMahon is pushing in the hopes of creating a new star. He's too green to make any sort of decisions while HHH is more savvy. HHH has control, but Brock really doesn't.

There are numerous criticisms of Brock Lesnar, most of which you stated in your column, that are echoed by many people. Brock may have more support than HHH, but that's mainly because he's a fresh face and has shown some wrestling talent. Overall, though, I don't see Brock nor HHH as being big money draws - especially in their current state - for WWE at any point in the future.
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#9 Posted on 3.3.03 2006.51
Reposted on: 3.3.10 2008.13
It seems to me that Brock Lesner is getting a 'Hongan' push.

Hogan, supposedly, I can't rightly remember THAT far back all that well, was supposed to be quite a wrestler back in his pre-WWF days. Vince got a hold of him and pushed him past the stars and into the next solar system, which is exactly what is happening with Brock.

Hogan, if I remember right, before doing the tag team with Ed Leslie, had Freddie Blassie as a manager, to help get him over and used to talking on camera. Brock, in much the same way, had Paul Heyman out with him, as his mouth piece, until such time as he was getting over with the fans.

Hogan was thrown into the world title very quickly, as some would say, he was hand picked for the job, groomed to take down the heel champ at the time, The Iron Sheik. Brock, like wise, was also thrown into the world title hunt, and went on to win it against the Rock, who perhaps WASN'T as hated as Iron Sheik, but was getting booed thanks to his whole Hollywood thing.

If it wasn't for an injury, Brock would probably STILL have the title now, I think, but what do I know.

Is he deserving of it any more then Helmsley is? Yes, only because Brock isn't sitting in on booking meeting asking 'How is letting so-and-so go win going to help ME get over?' or banging the shit out of the boss's daughter. Brock is relatively new to the business, he's not the political behind the scenes guy like Helmsley is.
Wolfram J. Paulovich
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#10 Posted on 9.3.03 2354.33
Reposted on: 9.3.10 2357.17
I don't have much to debate. I just wanted to go on record and say that I pretty much agree with a little (or a lot) of what all of you guys said. Your exceptions to what I said were all really legitimate; both on their own merits and because I was being a bit sloppy in my column. Not a whole lot of anti-Brock stuff has been written in columns, and I figured the partial novelty of what I wrote would excuse the holes I was leaving in my own arguments. Well, you all called me on them, so I'm boned.

My attitude on the "we turned him face" argument is a little different, though. I think the Brock/Rock match was a battle of tired gimmicks. We just happened to rebel (naturally) against Rocky's older, more tired and more force-fed gimmick. Brock turned face not by strength of character but by default, and there was really no more legitimacy in that than in anything he'd done previously. He benefited luckily from circumstance — doing the same thing with the screwy ending with Taker. The problem is that time is running out on this change, just as time was running out around Summerslam.

I very much hope that the rumors I hear of him turning heel again are true. Even more so, I hope he loses at Wrestlemania... to anyone. For him to win KOTR, the title (twice), and at Wrestlemania — all in his first year — will be just plain gross. I don't care how good he is: that's just a recipe for creating an egomaniac, and also for inducing Brock to stifle whatever urge he might have to improve himself. By then, he will have become too big an asset/liability to give up on or cut. Moreoever, why should he work any harder at creating a personality when he just gets rewarded anyway?

Sure, Benoit has little personality, but the man keeps trying. The difference is that he has yet to be handed the title and the mic time to grow into his role, whereas Lesnar has. It's a strange disparity of faith: some are given the job in the hopes that they grow into it. Others have to grow into the job long before they are called. Lesnar has been called once, and will likely be called again. But I (and I may just be blinkered) don't see much difference between Brock from April 2002 and Brock from March 2003.

Oops. I guess I did have a bit to debate.

(edited by Jeb Tennyson Lund on 10.3.03 0055)
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#11 Posted on 10.3.03 1401.44
Reposted on: 10.3.10 1405.00

    Originally posted by Jeb Tennyson Lund


    I very much hope that the rumors I hear of him turning heel again are true. Even more so, I hope he loses at Wrestlemania... to anyone. For him to win KOTR, the title (twice), and at Wrestlemania — all in his first year — will be just plain gross. I don't care how good he is: that's just a recipe for creating an egomaniac, and also for inducing Brock to stifle whatever urge he might have to improve himself. By then, he will have become too big an asset/liability to give up on or cut. Moreoever, why should he work any harder at creating a personality when he just gets rewarded anyway?

    Sure, Benoit has little personality, but the man keeps trying. The difference is that he has yet to be handed the title and the mic time to grow into his role, whereas Lesnar has. It's a strange disparity of faith: some are given the job in the hopes that they grow into it. Others have to grow into the job long before they are called. Lesnar has been called once, and will likely be called again. But I (and I may just be blinkered) don't see much difference between Brock from April 2002 and Brock from March 2003..



Couple of points
1. I actually think handing him the world could be better for him. If it causes him to be secure of his spot, then he's more likely to do jobs in the future. Part of the problem with some of the main eventers who shall go nameless is their insecurity over losing their spot. Also, I don't think any amount of victories will stifle Brock's development if Brock wants to improve. You could apply the same things you're saying about Brock to Angle, and he continued to improve exponentially. You don't become an NCAA champion without having some desire to improve.

2. I think that there has been at least a subtle improvement in Brock's skills since he has appeared. He's been able to drag pretty good matches out of not so good workers like A-Train, Big Show, Undertaker, Orton, Cena, and even Hogan. I don't think the Brock that we saw when he debuted could have possibly had a match even close to HIAC with Taker at that point.
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