The Ruthless Aggression Class of the WWE brought us some of its biggest stars to date with the likes of John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, and even Brock Lesnar made themselves the flagbearers of the company when the sun was setting on the Attitude Era. Two of them will finally face off in a high-profile match up at SummerSlam tonight: Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar.
It was announced that Orton's first match back since a shoulder injury last year would be against Brock Lesnar a month ago, and critics everywhere were already prepping for reading Orton his Last Rites. That shouldn't be the case, though.
Everybody knows that Cena is the face that runs the place and the face of the company for the past decade. Batista went on to act in movies and had a short comeback run with the company back in 2014, right before Guardians of the Galaxy became a box office sensation, but left shortly after WrestleMania. Randy Orton was handpicked for greatness and became the youngest World Champion in WWE history at the age of 24. Lesnar's story is a bit more winding, as he was only the company for initially 2 years, becoming a multi-time WWE Champion before leaving in 2004 to play in the NFL.
Of course, that didn't work out and Lesnar eventually found himself in MMA and New Japan Pro Wrestling, quickly becoming the IWGP World Champion. Lesnar made his WWE return in 2012 and immediately challenged John Cena and found his fan base once more.
Since then, Lesnar has been billed as the "Beast Incarnate", some brutal force of nature that cannot be leashed or tamed. An unstoppable monster that quickly turns his opponents into victims. Rinse. Repeat. Since his victory over the Undertaker at WrestleMania 30, Lesnar has yet to lose cleanly. Could be part of his limited dates contract and he has creative control, could be something else entirely, but the hype behind Lesnar cannot be denied as Paul Heyman as the voice for the Beast.
It's also gotten incredibly stale.
The thing about Lesnar's undefeated streak thus far is that it's speculated that his time is almost up with the company. It's reported that Lesnar is making about $6,000,000 a year from WWE, so yeah, it's understandable that if you're getting paid that much, you should be billed as this demigod, but outside of his bank account, WWE should invest more into the future of their actual product.
Randy Orton was considered the future of the company back in 2013 when he unified the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships. Randy Orton has wrestling in his veins and sure, the payday isn't bad, but he's not going to hand in some half-assed (or lazy) performance at a marquee event. That's not what Randy Orton is about. Orton can tell a story in his offense and defense and while "The Viper" has played up the heel game almost second to Triple H, a victory over Lesnar could secure solid face work in the future.
Fans have caught up to Lesnar's politics within the company as well. Consider the fact that Lesnar failed two drug tests, but wasn't suspended by WWE. Their reasoning was that the Wellness Policy does not apply to part-time performers like Lesnar. Yes, Orton has had Wellness violations in the past, but addressed the situation and apologized the fans and came back strong ever since. Orton even used the drug tests as a barb towards Lesnar back on Raw a few weeks back. Being drafted to SmackDown! puts him in a league with John Cena, AJ Styles, and current WWE Champion Dean Ambrose, but a victory over Lesnar would cement something else: the future belongs to somebody who bleeds this sport.
Even looking at booking wise, a win over Lesnar would give Orton that edge of returning WWE Superstars usually have. It's assuring fans that they haven't lost their touch and instantly regains the momentum they might have lost while on the shelf recovering from an injury.
If Lesnar wins, it does nothing for the company, much less for Lesnar's own legacy. The two athletes came into the company around the same time and a collision on this scale should have happened at some point, but with Lesnar jumping ship the way he did, the match up was post-poned until now. It's true they had a minor match while on SmackDown! back in 2002, but neither men were nowhere near the superstars they are now.0comments
That's why this match is important because when Lesnar finally does call it quits, again, Orton will more than likely still be around. One of these men will help create new stars for future fans to embrace, proud of his legacy. The other will be proud of his bank account.
Randy Orton shouldn't just beat Brock Lesnar because at the most basic storytelling it's the right thing to do, but because he deserves it.