Jon Gruden’s video was easily the best thing to come out of WWE this past week until Brock Lesnar did the unthinkable and said on ESPN, “I’m here to say that my legacy in the octagon is over. However, my legacy this Sunday at WrestleMania will not be my last.” In fact, I’m not sure which segment is better. They’re pretty close. As of Lesnar’s announcement yesterday evening, I’m leaning toward Lesnar for one reason: It means there’s a distinct possibility the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns can now go either way. That’s a big deal. It means there’s a chance we won’t have to watch a forced, awkward belt transition and fall-out story lines over the next year. Dubbed Vince McMahon’s binky, many expected Reigns to win, especially if Lesnar had opted to press the restart button on his MMA career.
Long side tangent: I was a big fan of Reigns while he was a part of his group, The Shield, because he was an emerging star who was allowed to grow naturally. Unlike now, the company didn’t expect him to be like the Titan Atlas, or at the very least, help carry the “A+ players,” as The Authority so ingeniously put it a year ago. (Side, side note: When I say “Titan Atlas” I’m talking about Greek Mythology. That’s not a WWE star. *SIGH* An unfortunate, but possible necessary clarification.) Sure, expectations were always high for Reigns; McMahon’s decisions as it relates to the former’s direction clearly reveals that. However, those expectations were kept quiet and goals were subtly met, at least to those who don’t check WWE rumor mills on an hourly basis.
To those not in WWE’s creative board room or with immediate connections, Reign’s expectations were the equivalent of lava bubbling right below the surface of a dormant volcano. And to the casual (but still dedicated and well-informed) fan, that was and still is enough. Fans wanted to be that awesome idiot who took the world’s most dangerous selfie as he hung over a lava lake. They wanted a first hand look at a possible new super star in the making. Fans knew Reigns would get a push, but they hoped when that volcano blew its top it wouldn’t Mount St. Helen’s the crap out of everything along the way; fans included. They wanted a clean explosion. A spectacle with zero causalities. Hell, based on the failed track of the WWE to produce a steady flow interesting talent, fans would have been happy with slight property damage.
As part of The Shield, Reigns could thrive in tag-team competition by relying almost solely on high-impact moves. When The Shield split, a lot of his original shine quickly wore off. Blame Creative, but mostly McMahon. And blame Reigns. Blame the former for putting him on the mic too much. Blame the former for shoving Reigns down fan’s throats and by also writing Reigns’ awful promos. Blame McMahon for making him a baby face so the latter can be the new, rising “face” of the WWE, even though Reigns is clearly a better heel. But also blame Reigns for not doing himself any favors. If had been able to develop a more complete set of wrestling moves, he probably would have been able to make up for some of his other correctable deficiencies.
In fact, he would have been able to take a page right from Belichick. Don’t have a secondary. Screw it. We’ll just fake them out. Out scheme them. Hide it. Make them pay attention to something else. We’ll figure it out as we go. But anyways, at this point, “It is what it is.” ….as Belichick would say right before he “Belichicked” McMahon back to the latter’s glory days.
Originally, the point of this post was to also hit on Jon Gruden’s QB Camp: WWE Edition. Which, yeah, is pretty sweet. My only qualm about his bit was he failed to dissect each wrestler more, which he does to quarterbacks. However, unfortunately, what can you expect? Gruden knows jack about proper wrestling techniques–likely–and WWE Creative probably wrote his watered down promo. That’s the same Creative who had Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns play tug-o-war over the World Heavyweight Championship in the middle of the ring on RAW this past Monday. Yes, the same RAW that is supposed to be THE preview to this weekend’s WrestleMania. So, I wouldn’t put it by them to have slightly botched Jon Gruden’s segment as well.