Posted in: Mr. Tito
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Brock Lesnar vs. the Undertaker at WWE SummerSlam 2015 - Can It Deliver?
By Mr. Tito
Jul 23, 2015 - 12:20:14 AM

Follow Mr. Tito on @titowrestling

The Excellence in Column Writing has returned! And wow, WWE Battleground really stirred up wrestling conversation. Overall, it was a great show from top to bottom and I was satisfied as a $9.99 paying WWE Network customer! On average this week on RAW, 300,000 people decided to watch RAW on average than they did last week. See what a good Pay Per View can do? Certainly helps that an all-time great, the Undertaker, has come back to seek revenge on Brock Lesnar... Over a year to see revenge...

But I want to quickly address John Cena vs. Kevin Owens, as many in the internet are FURIOUS that John Cena won the series. Hello?!? John Cena is the #1 star in the company in terms of popularity, merchandise sales, houseshow draws, etc. Kevin Owens wrestled his first official WWE match in May 2015 and we're in July 2015 right now. HE'S STILL A WWE ROOKIE!!!

Settle down, internet... John Cena gave the guy THREE great matches to start his WWE career. Now, the majority of the internet knows the guy because he (a) beat John Cena in his debut match and (b) pushed John Cena to the limits in 2 other matches. Believe me, the WWE could have given him a much worse or lesser known debut. Instead, they let Owens headline 3 Pay Per View (or WWE Network) specials against the #1 company guy. That's a gift. Aside from the Shield's amazing debut and run as a trio, nobody debuting from a developmental system has started their WWE career better.

And John Cena is not even close to his downslide of his career... That's why you push him to the WWE Title again against the failing Seth Rollins as champion. Sorry, but viewership is pushing below 3.5 million viewers with Rollins as champion. The Buck Stops Here with the WWE Champion. I know, arguing with Kane and neutering him as a character (bye bye Curb Stomp) has hurt Rollins... I've argued that for a while. But eventually, you need to more as a character and tell people backstage "NO" to stupid ideas. WWE tried with Rollins and now it's time to pull the plug unless WWE wants to run a series of matches with John Cena. I'm fine with an extensive Cena vs. Rollins feud that lasts for the rest of 2015.

But let's talk about what REALLY drew on Monday Night RAW... Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar. Quite a brawling segment and sending an army of wrestlers to break them up helps emphasize that both guys are badasses and that both guys absolutely hate each other. On one hand, Brock Lesnar ended the Wrestlemania streak and through Paul Heyman, he has bragged about that victory for over a year now. On the other hand, the Undertaker just ruined Brock Lesnar's shot at becoming WWE Champion again at Battleground. Better yet with Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar, there is a lot of past WWE and real life heat to build on...

(a) Brock Lesnar and Undertaker has a nice Smackdown brand feud during late 2002. You have to realize that Lesnar was within his first year on the WWE roster and defeating the Undertaker was a big deal for him.

(b) Reportedly, Brock Lesnar was supposed to feud with the returning "Deadman" Undertaker following Wrestlemania 20 during 2004. However, Brock Lesnar quit the WWE and Lesnar's match at Wrestlemania 20 was his last... Lesnar burned out from the WWE road schedule and unhappy with creative at the time. Lesnar's exit ruined WWE's plans that summer and Undertaker was reportedly upset about the matter for years...

(c) Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker had some words and a staredown following Lesnar's fight at UFC 121 from October 2010. In case you haven't seen the video, here is the official feed on YouTube. In my opinion, some heat from the 2004 exit was a source of contention for the Undertaker. "Kind of a personal thing", said the Undertaker during the interview.

SAME heat from points (a), (b), and (c) were helping to fuel their Wrestlemania 30 match... HOWEVER, in my opinion, the match did NOT deliver aside from the utter SHOCK of Brock Lesnar ending the Wrestlemania streak. Here was my own personal review:

Mr. Tito's PHAT Wrestlemania 30 Review
The match was decent, ***, but you can easily see that the Undertaker was not at the age or physical condition to hang with someone like Brock Lesnar. Either way, the 21-1 record at Wrestlemania was an awesome ride and the Undertaker made the most of the streak, particularly during the 2000's.

That's what I wrote on April 7th, 2014, but the second viewing of Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar @Wrestlemania 30 did not hold up well (probably go **1/2 now). Two things that I noticed:

i) Brock Lesnar was too much of the aggressor. Sure, he's a former UFC fighter, but the Undertaker is an established badass and Lesnar should sell more.

ii) Undertaker is older and the scars of his 2 Triple H Wrestlemania matches and the Shield attack are still there. On top of that, Undertaker sustained a concussion at Wrestlemania 30.

Undertaker's match against Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania 31 wasn't bad... Few things I liked about the match. Shows that Undertaker can sort of go as long as the opponent is willing to sell for him. See the Wrestlemania 29 match against CM Punk. Undertaker looked amazing in that match because CM Punk sold everything like a champ. Bray, to an extent, made Undertaker look good by selling. That was the flaw of the Wrestlemania 30 match. No selling by Brock... Things were compounded when the Undertaker became concussed and Lesnar continued to no sell everything. As far as match quality goes, the Wrestlemania 30 match between Brock/Taker underwhelmed... Thankfully, the SHOCK of the streak ending helped mask any issues with mask quality. Everybody will remember the streak ending and not how well the match went. Given how dominant Brock Lesnar was during 2013-2014, his dominance of the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 30 can be accepted.

FAST FORWARD to 2015... Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar is going to legitimately headline SummerSlam 2015. The hype of the streak is no longer there to mask match quality. Furthermore, this match will be the MAIN EVENT of SummerSlam. It's one thing to put on a clunker on the undercard but it's entirely different to bomb in the main event. The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar must work together to pull off a "Match of the Year" type match. I know, that's a lot to ask, but a weak match would just exploit how the WWE wants to keep propping up the older Undertaker. In real life, the aging Undertaker would have no shot at defeating Brock Lesnar in a fight... But a convincingly good match performed by both Lesnar and Undertaker can sell that the Undertaker is still a hot commodity in the WWE.

Better yet, a strong SummerSlam 2015 match helps to set up a THIRD MATCH.

Things are much different in 2015 than they are in 2013. Brock Lesnar has sort of morphed into a quasi-babyface character. Additionally, he was attacked by the Undertaker at WWE Battleground. The Undertaker "screwed" Lesnar out of a WWE Title match. Wouldn't that make the Undertaker become heel? Undertaker didn't just ruin the match, but he delivered 1 chokeslam and 2 Tombstone piledrivers. That's quite an attack...

Thus, SummerSlam 2015 has a more interesting dynamic of Undertaker acting as a HEEL and Brock Lesnar acting as a FACE. By forcing Brock Lesnar as a babyface character, he'll have to sell more in the ring. In order for the quality of this match to improve, Lesnar has to "tell a story" that the Undertaker is a real threat to defeat him on this very night. Undertaker needs to tell a story that he'll do whatever it takes to get revenge on Brock Lesnar for his streak and that he's obsessed over this moment since Wrestlemania 30. After all, Undertaker WAS at Wrestlemania 31 did nothing to get revenge against Brock Lesnar. And Lesnar was WWE Champion then... I guess the attack comes when you least expect it...

Undertaker might have to go dark to convince fans to believe that he's a heel... Some are already suggesting a return to the Ministry of Darkness era, but I really liked the Undertaker of the early 2000's that went heel. The early 2002 stuff was good and the Wrestlemania 18 bout against Ric Flair was very heated. Undertaker pushed a darker version of the Bikertaker gimmick and it worked. It could also work in 2015...

For the match at SummerSlam 2015, something has to be done early to show vulnerability on Brock Lesnar. Something like an early Tombstone or Hell's Gate submission for a long time by Undertaker that causes Lesnar to look vulnerable for the rest of the match. Brock Lesnar HAS to sell in this match. He needs to realize that he's a WWE employee for just less than 3 years and must act like a professional. Lesnar, for example, did all that he could to make Roman Reigns look good at Wrestlemania 31. Why? He sold moves and then when he hit the ringpost, sold the vulnerability that made Roman Reigns appear credible enough to beat Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31. For the most part, aside from the HHH matches where nobody sold, Lesnar has appeared to be an unstoppable tank. What the WWE needs to quietly sell is that the further Brock Lesnar gets away from UFC, the less dominant he gets.

Point being, Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar MUST deliver and WWE officials should do everything in their power to encourage both competitors to make it happen. There is REAL money in doing a rematch at Survivor Series 2015 or Royal Rumble 2015... But if they deliver a weak match and worse yet, if that bad match results in Undertaker winning... Looks very bad for WWE.

Hopefully, both wrestlers can do business at SummerSlam 2015. Then, they can move on to a rematch and then, in my opinion, move on to unique match-ups at Wrestlemania 32:
- Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton
- Undertaker vs. John Cena

Sadly, Undertaker and Brock Lesnar are running out of BIG NAME opponents. Sure, the WWE has a bunch of developmental call-ups in their upper midcard and some in their main event, but in terms of star power comparable to Undertaker and Lesnar? Not there... RAW Ratings speak for themselves on Seth Rollins, but Bray Wyatt feuding with the Undertaker didn't help his career much. WWE needs to do a better job developing stars into Main Eventers. You know, starting them at the bottom of the card and letting fans see their climb to the top. Again, go watch the WWE Network to see how John Cena, Steve Austin, the Rock, Mick Foley, etc. climbed the ladder. Even guys like Undertaker and Hulk Hogan who dominated in the WWE from the start had to endure years of paying dues in other promotions. For every Brock Lesnar, there are multiple failures of wrestlers pushed way too fast following their debut. In my opinion, Sheamus can't get over because he was pushed too fast from the start and WWE keeps forcing the issue by continually pushing him.

Worse yet, the developmental stars are not drawing right now... That's what causes Vince McMahon to seek the security blanket of his older stars. Aside from the Undertaker showing interest in returning, Vince McMahon his a long history of cuddling up with veterans when times appear tough. We're now consistently under 4 million viewers on RAW and now beginning to be under 3.5 million. NOT GOOD.

A bigger disaster is caused if Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2015 doesn't deliver.



Question #1: What wrestlers should have been BIG Main Event Stars in your opinion?

Two specific wrestlers come to mind. Many suggest Owen Hart, but I don't think he had the drive and political backbone to be a regular main eventer. Owen actually had fun as a wrestler and was discussing retirement during 1999 before he was killed. I could also suggest Magnum TA from NWA, as an injury stopped him cold. He was very over in that territory back then and he could have followed up the Dusty Rhodes top babyface position to challenge Ric Flair. WCW was thin on top level babyfaces as a result of that injury.

The 2 I have in mind are Barry Windham and Shelton Benjamin.

In my opinion, Barry Windham should NOT have left WCW during 1989 for WWE. Bad decision. WWE had no interest in using him at a high level and they marginalized him on the midcard with the "Widowmaker" gimmick. The guy had a serious workrate that few could top back then. Go watch his 1 hour long battle with Ric Flair, amazing stuff. He was never the same after that WWE run.

Shelton Benjamin was the most talented in-ring performer of the "Class of 2002" developmental class. He was a freak inside of that ring. Unfortunately, he was buried by bad booking. Don't believe me? He was given a stereotypical overweight black lady to portray his mother on television. Seriously... World class wrestler had that handcuffed to his wrestling career. When WWE lost multiple main event talents during 2004, he would have been the perfect guy to push along with Batista, Orton, and Cena. From all that I've heard, Benjamin was vocal backstage on how he was used and snitches got back to WWE management on what was said.

And I could argue the Big Show, as the WWE has wasted him since 1999.


Question #2: How big was the Von Erich and Fabulous Freebird feud in World Class? As big as hyped?

It was huge for its time. I actually watched it unfold from the replays that actually aired on ESPN during the afternoons. I remember coming home from school and immediately walking towards the television to watch World Class, AWA, and Global Wrestling back in the day. I really enjoyed the Freebird/Von Erich stuff because there was tons of heat surrounding the matches and the matches always delivered. As much grief as Michael "PS" Hayes may get for his current WWE management work, he's not lying on his World Class stuff. It legitimately drew.

Von Erich brothers were crazy over in Texas as top babyfaces and the Freebirds arrived as out-of-towners. The big feel of this feud, as someone on the World Class DVD suggests, was like College Football between Texas and basically any team South East Conference (SEC) region. Like a Big 12 vs. SEC feud... Freebirds proudly represented all of the Southern states East of Texas and proudly displayed the Confederate Flag their clothing or waving the flags. Makes you wonder if Corporate WWE will cleanse their footage of the Freebirds... Uh oh.

To Hayes's benefit, his ability to draw with World Class has probably opened the door for him to work anywhere including getting a prized job with the WWE. And he can keep the WWE job for an extended period by being a close and loyal associate to Stephanie McMahon/Triple H. Many wrestlers have complained about Hayes over the years for becoming a WWE "stooge" and I think you can see that by the way he acts in the CM Punk DVD and on the "WWE Legends" roundtable discussion on the Monday Night Wars. The way Hayes spoke to Eric Bischoff was very unprofessional and uninformed, in my opinion. Like he can be the voice of reason against Bischoff.


Question #3: Any interest in writing daily wrestling columns again?

Nope... When I wrote daily last time, 2010-2012, I really burned myself out. Between being workaholic, family man, managing the house, etc., writing columns daily again came at the expense of lost sleep. During this period of time, 5 hours of sleep was actually a good night. I was developing bad insomnia and that's not a good thing.

In order for me to ever write daily, with due respect, I need to be paid... I'm fine writing once or twice a week voluntarily, but daily takes a lot of time and energy. My columns can take anywhere between 1-2 hours to actually write but I'm often daydreaming about a topic beforehand. Writing daily thins out any creativity I could have per column. Being honest here, I would have to compensated to write daily again. Time is money to me and writing daily consumes my time... But if compensated, I would try to make time.

Besides, you want to keep Old Man Tito around... My production level, even after almost 17 years of being Mr. Tito, remains high. On average, I write over 1 column per week and purely on my free time as a volunteer. I enjoy my audience at and that continues to drive me to still write.


Question #4: Should Daniel Bryan retire?

Yes he should. Neck and head injuries. Until he's able to convince me that he can adjust his in-ring style away from the high risks, he should not return to the ring. Sadly, Bryan needs to wrestle that way because of his size. Worse yet for Bryan, he can't rely on his character or mic skills instead like say Steve Austin did after SummerSlam 1997 when Austin broke his neck.

Bryan should set aside any ego of trying to return quickly to the ring and talk to big stars who had to retire due to neck injuries (Austin, Edge) or concussions (Bret Hart).



- I enjoyed hearing JJ Dillon's thoughts on one of the WWE Legends roundtable discussion. He explained how WWE stayed in business. I know that many have disputed the claims that WWE was missing payroll during 1997. Dillon explained it perfectly. As bad as the 3-4 episode of RAW tapings were, that saved the WWE tons of cash on production costs. Secondly, WWE refused to pay wrestlers top dollar compared to WCW. In other words, WWE kept costs low during 1996-1997 and that is truly why they kept alive during that period of time.

- Covering WWE events would be idiotic for ESPN to do. They need to do more with UFC even if FOX Sports covers the sport. That's the wagon that they need to hitch onto. Certainly, covering NBA and NFL extensively and growing coverage on Soccer is important, but informing old men like me as to WHO the UFC fighters are and why a certain event matters would go a long way. ESPN is reportedly experiencing some financial issues for the television rights they've acquired over the years (letting go lots of top name talent lately, too).

- WWE and New Japan Pro Wrestling working together would be interesting... In my opinion, I believe that Japanese wrestling would surge if any of their top stars made it huge in the WWE. For example, Mexico has given the United States multiple stars in WCW and WWE but Japan always falls short. Great Muta, a personal favorite, was the best crossover wrestler from Japan... But if one of their biggest stars could translate their success in Japan to the WWE, that's huge and opens the door for much more interest in Japanese wrestling.


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