They say that life is not lived in a vacuum, but for the sake of this exercise, put some blinders on and let’s look at a specific situation for what it is.
The situation at hand: the rivalry between Cody Rhodes and Brock Lesnar.
Yes, the feud began under odd circumstances. A night after Rhodes was cheated out of finishing his story in the main event of WrestleMania, he was attacked by Lesnar, who was angry that Rhodes was in said main event and he wasn’t. That’s not the most exciting reason in the world, but it’s something, I guess.
Did it make any sense for Rhodes to have to go on this detour instead of continuing to chase Reigns? Nope.
Could this have been a good first feud for Rhodes as the new champion? Yup.
Were people even clamoring for a feud between Rhodes and Lesnar? Nope.
Yet here we are. Despite the litany of issues you can point to regarding this story, if you take the narrative for what it is, it’s actually not that bad. In fact, I think it’s pretty good.
I know that sounds wild considering I am among the legions of people that believe Rhodes should have won at WrestleMania. Even without the win, count me among those that believe Rhodes should still have his attention focused on Reigns.
But I can’t help but watch what we have been presented on television and kind of like it. What has intrigued me the most about the feud is its simplicity.
In case you missed it, the story goes like this: Lesnar is mad and he beats up Rhodes. Rhodes and Lesnar have a match at Backlash where Rhodes pulls off the upset. But that only angers Lesnar even more. Lesnar then takes out his frustration on Rhodes by breaking the poor guy’s arm, which caused him so much pain at Night of Champions that he passed out, giving Lesnar the win and evening the score a one victory apiece.
The first two matches were also quite enjoyable, in my opinion, and they perfectly set up a rubber match between the two. Said match is reportedly taking place at SummerSlam at Ford Field in Detroit, and not Money in the Bank in London.
While none of this has been officially announced, one would imagine that there would be a stipulation added to the third encounter to raise the stakes a little bit. And I have a sneaky suspicion that it will be one of the best matches we watch all year from WWE.
At the end of the day, WWE is probably going to get three premium live event matches out of a feud that could be summed up in a couple of (short) paragraphs.
It’s a strategy nearly as old as pro wrestling itself. It’s a formula that has been used countless times by countless promoters in endless parts of the world. It’s a path that has proven to be lucrative as well as critically acclaimed.
WWE — and professional wrestling in general at times — has spent the last couple of decades actively looking for ways to over complicate its own storytelling process. Today, shocking twists and turns are simply looked at as part of what makes professional wrestling what it is. What is professional wrestling without the occasional swerve, right?
And fans go as far as to try to guess the surprises. I have seen fans express anger toward WWE on social media for announcing the Royal Rumble participants ahead of time, anticipating the element of surprise more than seeing the wrestler itself.
But those memorable swerves are also more difficult to execute, especially when there are constant last-minute changes before showtime.
The dramatic, soap opera-esque moments can be the ones that stick with you the most as a wrestling fan. But straightforward stories can be of quality, too, and I think for the most part, Rhodes and Lesnar have delivered that.