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What to Do? What to Do?
March 7, 2003

by Erin Anderson
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


In last week's column, I confidently predicted that we'd all have to wait until WrestleMania to see Brock Lesnar F-5 Paul Heyman. So much for that idea.

Well, the good news is that we all got to enjoy the ass-kicking Brock handed Heyman last night. The bad news, as most of you probably know by now, is that Kurt Angle needs neck surgery and will be out for the next year, presumably after dropping the title to Brock on next week's Smackdown! 

What the hell is going on with the WWE roster? Orton with an injured foot, Batista with a torn muscle, Triple H with more time on the injured list than in the ring, Bubba Dudley and Hogan having back problems, Edge needing neck surgery, and now Angle? It's a conspiracy, dammit! NWA-TNA is slowly but surely orchestrating the demise of each and every wrestler in WWE in a diabolical attempt to corner the sports-entertainment market!

Or not; it's more like a cruel reminder of Murphy's Law. This will no doubt have a huge impact on the booking and storylines for the next few months. With the biggest pay-per-view of the year looming on the horizon, WWE is in a tight spot when it comes to the Smackdown! title scene. And if Angle's injury is serious enough for his match with Brock to be slated to take place before WrestleMania, it's a given that he will drop the title then and undergo surgery as soon as possible. There will be no rematch until Kurt can return at 100%.

So where does this leave Brock? After winning the title just a few weeks before WrestleMania, he'll be hurriedly thrown into a feud with little time to build up a match for the pay-per-view. Good luck with that, WWE.  You'll need it, especially considering your options for Brock's opponent:

Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas: The background for the feud is there, but these boys simply don't have the experience or status to carry a main-event-level match with Lesnar at any pay-per-view, let alone the biggest of the year. Brock may be relatively new to WWE, but he's established himself on a completely different level than Team Angle, who will probably defend their tag team titles instead.

John Cena: He's been building heat with Brock through some thoroughly entertaining raps, but unless he miraculously heals from his "injury" in the next two weeks and magically becomes a main-event-level star overnight, it ain't gonna happen, folks. Save this match for a later pay-per-view.

Rhyno: As much as I'd love to see two big men with speed and agility go toe-to-toe, it's far too soon to consider giving Rhyno a title shot. This could make for a great match in the future, but WrestleMania just isn't the time to do it, especially when considering that the huge ovations he's been receiving may just be "welcome back" face-pops. The fans' interest in Rhyno might diminish over time.

Big Show: On the plus side, Show has a well-documented history with Brock, so a match between the two makes some sense. The problem? It's the Big Show, for chrissakes. This match will not, I repeat, will not, do anything for buyrates. It's been done twice before, and no matter how spectacular it is to watch Show receive an F-5, it's nothing new to us. It would also be helpful for Brock to have an opponent capable of wrestling for five minutes without becoming winded.

A-train: He's affiliated with Heyman (just add Brock, and you've got an instant feud!), but tied up in a program with the Undertaker right now. And honestly, how can the fans take a competitor seriously when most of his heat is due to his uncanny resemblance to a balding gorilla?

Undertaker: He hasn't been back for long, but my faith in his ability to put on a good match was restored with his surprisingly watchable contest against Big Show at No Way Out. He's had a very entertaining match with Brock before, but that was largely due to one of the goriest blade jobs in recent memory. I don't see a two-week title reign in the cards for Lesnar, and that's exactly what would happen if Taker's WrestleMania winning streak is extended to 11-0. If WWE wants to end Undertaker's winning streak, it needs to be done after a considerable build-up, with the streak advertised a good deal in advance; next year would be a good time for him to give the rub to a wrestler who needs it more than Lesnar. Keep the streak alive, and keep Taker away from Brock for the time being.

Chris Benoit: An interesting option, and a good one at that. If you can't have Angle's mat wrestling skills to bring out the best in Lesnar, Benoit is the man to do it. It may be a shame that Angle is injured, but it can also be a great opportunity for the increasingly over Rabid Wolverine, if booked correctly. He deserves it.

Chris Benoit is the best prospect WWE has. He's finally earning the respect he deserves from casual fans; in their eyes, he deserves that title shot. The man is over, as long as he's given the showcase he needs to demonstrate his badass-ness to the fans.

This means putting him in matches with competitors that can keep up with him; he may be able to carry A-train to a decent contest, but that isn't going to garner him a lot of fan support. The crowd gets behind him when he has the chance to go absolutely nuts in the ring. Just look at the standing ovation he received at the Royal Rumble. The following Smackdown!, he opened the show and received a thundering pop the fans remembered and appreciated his efforts in the ring.

His mic skills may be weak, but Chris Benoit doesn't need to talk. His work in the ring speaks perfectly well for him: it tells a story without him having to utter a word. The success of Brock Lesnar is proof that a wrestler can have the charisma of a scrap of cardboard and still become a fan favorite.

Benoit and Lesnar may not have any background to build a feud on, and if WWE does answer my prayers and make this match happen, the smartest thing for them to do is not try to build up any sudden animosity between the two. If they do, the big payoff will be a match in which Lesnar gets revenge for Benoit running over his dog or something similarly stupid. Stephanie could simply give Benoit the title shot as his reward for busting his ass on her show every week. It could be a wonderful setup for a long-term feud between the two, something Smackdown! sorely needs in the absence of Angle and Edge. Even better, it places the focus of the main event picture back where it belongs: on the belt.

All of this is probably wishful thinking on my part, because there are two possibilities that I have not yet examined; the first is that WWE has swerved all of us, and we will indeed see Kurt face Brock at WrestleMania. The odds of that happening are about the same as my chances of winning Lotto South (where the probability of winning is the same as if you don't buy a ticket). Vince and Co. could be trying to pull a fast one on the IWC by faking Angle's injury, but they wouldn't blow their wad on the Angle/Lesnar fued early just to fool a very small percentage of WWE's audience.

So, that leaves us with one more possibility, the mere thought of which makes me cringe.

His name is Bill Goldberg. Now please excuse me while I take a moment to bang my head against a wall repeatedly.

Being a relatively new wrestling fan, I have only seen Goldberg in the ring a few times. He didn't impress me, but that's not what bothers me so much about the possibility of him facing Lesnar. What does bother me is that he'd waltz onto Smackdown! one week, get his title shot, wrestle a half-assed match with Brock the next week, and never be seen again. Sure, it'll spike buyrates a bit, but it won't help WWE in the long run to bring in a wrestler for a very short stint.

Unfortunately, a lot of fans (mostly the more casual viewers who don't even know the IWC exists) would practically drool over the concept of a Brock-Goldberg match. WWE may very well listen to them. God help us all.

Given all of this, here is my plea: make me proud, WWE. Give us Brock Lesnar v. Chris Benoit at WrestleMania. Give us a 30-minute blowout full of spectacular mat wrestling and high-impact offense. Give us a reason to hope against hope that you'll make something great happen in light of Angle's injury. Give Benoit the spot that he deserves on the biggest pay-per-view of the year.

Make it happen.



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