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At the culmination of Survivor Series 2016, the internet exploded. In the twitter age, where people can immediately vent their gut reactions to an event, many thousands did just this following Brock Lesnar’s 90 second loss to Goldberg. Some felt cheated that this “mega match” which had been subject to a very good build up with excellent performances from Lesnar, Goldberg and Paul Heyman lasted a mere matter of seconds. Others were aghast that Lesnar was squashed in such fashion after being booked as an unstoppable monster for most of his run in the promotion since his return in 2012; particularly since his streak breaking victory against the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 30. The shock value of the Survivor Series squash goes some way to explaining these reactions, was this a case of those people tweeting before engaging their brains? Perhaps so, because if you look at this logically then it becomes apparent that being squashed in such a fashion was exactly what was needed for the Lesnar character and that it has done more for him than any single appearance for the WWE since that Wrestlemania triumph over the phenom.
Losses Don’t Matter
Brock Lesnar is a proven box office draw. You can question the quality of his matches and his motivation, but before the bell rings, he enables a big fight feel in the arena. The odd loss has no effect, repeated ones do. In the UFC, the earning and drawing power of Connor McGregor was enhanced, not weakened by his defeat to Nate Diaz – with the audience keen to see the rematch to find out if McGregor could come back or if Diaz could put him away again. Similarly Ronda Rousey was humanised by her shock loss to Holly Holm and anticipation for her return bout is arguably higher than any of her fights to date. WWE embraced this theory in the Survivor Series main event – never underestimate the drawing power of the rematch which for Goldberg and Lesnar is just around the corner.
The duration of the match was a positive
Going 90 seconds isn’t necessarily a negative, granted you wouldn’t want every match to be like this, but the occasional, well placed quick finish in a big match only adds to the unpredictability of events in the WWE. The fact that such a quick finish can occur in boxing or MMA is a big part of the appeal of those sports, at a time where a section of the fan base are looking to see an element of realism added to their sports entertainment, there was no harm in this, it played to Goldberg’s strengths, added to his aura and caused us to question what happens next to Lesnar, which leads to…
Storytelling and Characters were enhanced
The most important point at all here is that we now have a real, personal issue for Lesnar and Goldberg to get their teeth into. Since his 2012 return, rivalry with the Undertaker aside, Lesnar has been portrayed as a gun for hire and little more. From a storyline perspective he has now lost twice clean to Goldberg, the character has a clear motivation, revenge against the guy he has not been able to beat. The return of Goldberg has been note perfect as well and seems to have been underplayed by the IWC in general, whilst his intensity was never in doubt, his promos have been outstanding and with a clear motivation for his character – the chance to wrestle in front of his son and to prove to himself that he is still a force to be reckoned with – this feud has been simple but effective. Survivor Series may be seen as a key moment in terms of rivalries for Lesnar in the future; too often since his return, Lesnar has been booked on a different level to the rest of the roster, the defeat to Goldberg removes some of that shine and can be used against him as we move forward. You can imagine Kevin Owens for example cutting a promo on Lesnar gleefully pointing out that if Goldberg beat him in 90 seconds, then he should have no problem putting the Beast down either.
People on the Internet like to Complain
Whatever the booking of the Survivor Series main event, this is something that was unavoidable although it seems there was a more hypocrisy at play than usual – many commenters previously complaining that they were sick of seeing Lesnar suplex his way to victory in every appearance were still complaining despite the WWE trying something different here. Those complaining that two stars from previous eras would be hogging a vast portion of one of the big four PPVs didn’t like it that the match went 90 seconds, and the whole segment went barely over 15 minutes of a 3 and a half hour show. Maybe this was a case of a few bruised mark egos not happy because the WWE put on a main event that caught them off guard and logically advanced a program by booking with an eye on the long term rather than the next TV show or fortnightly PPV, another frequent complaint.
Its better than the alternative
Come on – no one wants to see Brock Lesnar Vs Shane McMahon at Wrestlemania.
One more thought in closing – how different may Goldberg’s place in the business have been if this 2016 booking had been applied to his 2003 run. What if he had squashed the Rock in his first match back then – the Rock was on his way out to Hollywood anyway, that would have been quite the launchpad for Goldberg. Or, imagine if WWE had managed to secure Goldberg in January 2003 instead of April, and been able to set up a match at Wrestlemania that year against the retiring Steve Austin….
Comments? Want to talk graps? Find me on Twitter @nickgrapples