Universal Championship Match
Brock Lesnar (C) defeats Roman Reigns
The Reality: Their first match was a top-five Mania Main Event (don’t you dare fucking @ me), but that was with a motivated Lesnar and “less emotionally invested in proving himself” Roman Reigns, which gives the entire match the feeling it might collapse under its own weight into a “shoot” that is so real that it ends up being as terrible and boring as non-sports fights usually are.
Sadly, this match was just 3/4ths the match their WrestleMania performances was even before Seth came down and cashed in. In fact, the only two truly transcendent moments of the match were Roman’s (presumed) blade job and Brock’s Darkseid ass getting the W after it. Everything else was somewhere between run-of-the-mill Brock stuff and Roman’s kicking-out-of-stuff stuff which felt a little too predetermined in this match.
Now, it might be because I am an avowed Roman Reigns mark, but I loved this match and even found Brock winning to be so unexpected and interesting a choice that even if I hated the match, I’d want to see what happens next. However, this match in particular — in a way that didn’t seem so time dependent — seemed to not even be polarizing but actively disliked by a sizable plurality of fans.
Why did my mileage vary so much? Perhaps it could be because of the markdom, but I also believe it’s that my expectations for a Brock match at this point are “suplexes and probably cursing, maybe a flipped over table” so anything involving those works for me on a fundamental level. But I think it may also have to do with our perception of Brock as having one foot out the door, not just towards retirement but the UFC.
And that, I think, is what made me like this match — and in particular the ending — so much: I see it as a symbol of what’s to come in the history of the WWE, with the walls of UFC ever closer to the permeable membrane of kayfabe, slowly but surely turning the company into — both narratively and in terms of roster constitution — in a place where mixed martial artists, theater kids and some of the best athletes in the world can compete in a cooperative artistic space for our entertainment dollars.
To me, Brock’s win and the kind of brutal, hyper violent confrontation it was built around point a way towards at least part of WWE’s future, along with the Broken Universe, the fastest growing division (the women) and promotion (NXT) in the history of the business. It’s good that they feel comfortable enough with Brock — and, again presumably — over the idea of Roman as a conquering hero enough that the next four years will see neither of these performers in the main event of WrestleMania, as it is injected with new life.
So, yes, what I am saying is that Roman had to die so that others may live. Don’t you dare fucking @ me.