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  1. #1
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    May 2018

    Bull from a Bulldog: Lesnar vs Rousey

    I need to start this one with a shameless plug for our Forums Fact or Fiction thread. The latest topic discussed the prospect of all the Women’s titles changing hands at the Evolution PPV. Unfortunately, the topic was conceived & circulated before SummerSlam, but all responses were written afterwards. With Ronda Rousey winning the title at SummerSlam, all potential discussion ended there – nobody believes she’ll be losing the title any time soon.

    And therein lies the reason for this thread. In my summary of the topic, I compared Rousey to Lesnar, stating the following:
    I think it's safe to say putting the title on the female Brock Lesnar has ruined any discussion we could have had here. Despite being a proponent of part timers in many of my columns, the Women's roster is not strong enough at this point in time to handle being treated in this way. Rousey is worse for the Women's title than Lesnar was for the Men's.
    Mizfan & KingZak13 were quick to respond, both disagreeing with my sentiments. I considered an impromptu ‘live’ topic to discuss Rousey vs Lesnar, but decided this was a topic that needed a column of it’s own.

    Lets look at a couple of basic facts.

    Lesnar: Came into WWE in 2002 hyped as the Next Big Thing. Nobody can deny he lived up to that hype, winning the WWE title quicker than anyone else in history and becoming the youngest ever champion to date. He won the King of the Ring and the Royal Rumble on the way to getting that Championship run. During that time, he had dozens of classic matches which have stood the test of time. Based on his run from 2002 to 2004 alone, he was a guaranteed Hall of Fame headlining performer.

    When he returned for his latest run, by my count he won the WWE World Heavyweight title in his 8th match, including a couple of losses along the way.

    Rousey: No wrestling experience whatsoever. Became the undefeated WWE Raw Women’s Champion in her 4th match ever.

    And therein lies my problem with her. Despite the fact I’d never heard of her before she appeared in WWE (I don’t follow UFC at all and didn’t watch any of the Judo at the Olympics) I can accept that I may be in the minority and that she has a large fan base outside the WWE. That doesn’t mean the rest of the roster should be buried in order to promote her.

    Think about what WWE are saying about themselves. By putting an inexperienced woman over a roster full of wrestlers who have spent their lives perfecting their craft in such a dominant fashion, WWE are clearly admitting they are inferior to UFC.

    Compare that to Lesnar’s 2012 return. He lost in his re-debut to John Cena, prompting many to speculate that the booked result was not so much based on Cena vs Lesnar, but was actually about WWE vs UFC. Vince McMahon recognised that UFC were potential competitors for the same audience demographic and used the match as a way of saying “our guy is better than your guy” – even though in this case UFC’s guy was originally WWE’s guy.

    Why then, have they clearly chosen to go in such a different direction with their latest UFC acquisition, Ronda Rousey? We all know the prime focus of WWE is story telling – whether you agree with the stories they tell or not, it cannot be denied that is the focus of the product. While we may pick many holes in the logic behind the stories, that is primarily because of continuation issues.

    Why then do we not question the logic of creating a story where WWE makes itself inferior to it’s competition?

    With Brock Lesnar, they could tell the story that they created a beast who went on to conquer the world, then came back to re-conquer his original empire. With Ronda Rousey, they can only tell the story that all the women who have spent their lives working to become the best of the best in their chosen business are still not as good as someone who has to date only had 7 matches.

    In many ways, Lesnar was the perfect Champion. You had to earn the right to face him for the title. When he had a worthy opponent, a title match was set and he proved time and time again that nobody was as good as him. Most significantly, his past resume justified that position and he was good enough in the ring to back it up. He also had Heyman, one of the best talkers and one of the most popular managers of all time in his corner, someone who was capable of talking up his client whilst also putting over the challenger, making for the perfect scenario for all involved.

    What do we have with Rousey? Someone who is clearly inexperienced in the ring (although admittedly she is improving at an impressive rate). One of the weakest talkers of all the top-tier women’s wrestlers. She may be appearing on a weekly basis, but aside from that there is very little upside to her as champion at this point in time.

    I’m not going to deny that she can grow into the role she’s be thrust into, but to date it has not been handled well. So far I have only been told the story that someone can come in from the outside and immediately beat the best in the business. Had she been presented as a big thing, but also as someone who was still learning her new craft she could have been built up to become a valid challenger for the Women’s Title at next year’s WrestleMania. That could have been a great long-term story and made her a legend in the wrestling business as much as she appears to be outside of wrestling.

    As things stand however, a rookie has come in and dominated everyone, with the only potential story left being for her to lose. Surely it would be better for business if they were promoting next year’s WrestleMania with her challenging for the title, potentially even in the main event, after building her up and creating a resume of matches where she had proven herself worthy of the title she was fighting for? Those casual fans tuning in to see her may stick around if she wins. As things stand, the correct story (assuming they don’t repeat the mistake they made with Lesnar & Reigns this year) is to build someone up to beat her at WrestleMania. When that happens, those casual fans who wanted to see her are very likely to tune out again.

    That’s fantasy booking for the future though. At present, the facts are these:
    • Lesnar tells the story of WWE being better than the rest of the world.
    • Rousey tells the story of the rest of the world being better than WWE.

    Which is better? I know what I think…
    Last edited by DynamiteBillington; 10-05-2018 at 06:51 AM.

  2. #2
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    May 2018
    A couple of things jumped out at me while I was reading this.

    First, I have to admit my eyebrows went up pretty high at the idea that you can't deny Brock Lesnar became the next big thing in his 2002-2004 run. I remember at the time there were plenty of people - and it was a pretty open secret that a lot of them were in the wrestling business itself - that Lesnar gave a pretty poor return for the investment that they made in him. A strong showing up to Wrestlemania XIX and then very rapidly a law of diminishing returns. I don't know that those people are definitely right but I am sure there's a whole other narrative out there which is credible, one that says Lesnar didn't really deliver until he came back - as a UFC star, rather than trading primarily on his previous WWE run.

    The other thing that jumps out at me is that the real focus of the WWE product is to make money, rather than to tell stories. If they think Ronda Rousey is going to make money then they're going to do it. I hate to make it that crass but that seems to me to be the truth.

    Lastly, I haven't seen much of Rousey so I can't speak to how she's been booked, or whether there was a better way of doing it. I'm now up to six months without seeing a RAW or Smackdown, so yeah, very limited exposure to her run. But if I were to make two observations, they'd be 1) celebrities from other athletic disciplines have always come in strongly without it necessarily hurting the existing talent, going back to Wayne Munn in the 1920s, and 2) I wonder if the WWE is even 'real' enough in the way it tells it's stories for any overarching narrative where it is in a relationship with the 'real' world to really matter?

    So yeah - I liked reading it and it made me think of a few things, but - and perhaps this is in part because I'm at a greater distance from the product now - I found it hard to get as bothered by the situation as you seem to be.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  3. #3
    Hate to say it dyno... But 2360tj.jpg

  4. #4
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    May 2018

    The facts are all correct, it's all about how you interpret them. You know you can come up with a better argued point than just saying I'm wrong because it's not your opinion.

    Try harder
    Last edited by DynamiteBillington; 10-05-2018 at 10:47 AM.

  5. #5
    Couple thoughts. First of all,

    Quote Originally Posted by DynamiteBillington
    At present, the facts are these:
    Lesnar tells the story of WWE being better than the rest of the world.
    Rousey tells the story of the rest of the world being better than WWE.
    I wouldn't call these facts. A fact is something like, "Ronda Rousey is the current RAW Women's Champion", or "Rey Mysterio wrestled over 60 minutes in the 2006 Royal Rumble". I would call what you've presented to be interpretations. Something like storytelling is so subjective it can hardly be presented as fact.

    Secondly, I think you're hinging the argument that Lesnar technically lost his first match back too heavily in the way of that meaning Lesnar not dominating the roster in the way Rousey has. Lesnar tarred and feathered Cena, arguably like nobody had done since about 2003, and lost at the last second (somewhat comparative to his first UFC fight against Frank Mir). After that, would you not say he ran roughshod over the roster for the next 4 years? Never was pinned or submitted without the use of weapons until Goldberg in late 2016. Beat the Undertaker's streak. Won arguably the most lopsided WWE Championship match against John Cena. I think you're getting too caught up on a W/L result.

    (By the way, I'm not complaining about Lesnar's dominance - he put on a ton of fantastic matches in that run).

    Lastly, I think it would have been asinine for WWE to handle Rousey's rookie year in a more traditional "slow build, work your way through the ranks" kind of way. One reason why is that the Women's division is far less stretched in terms of underlying tiers than the Men's division is, and has been for at least as long as Lesnar debuted back in '02. The likes of Flair, Banks, Asuka, Bliss, Jax, Bayley, Lynch, etc. could be called the top tier. The likes of the IIconics, Morgan, Logan, Deville, and Rose might be called the second tier. They don't have the stretch from a World Championship tier to a midcard tier to a jobber tier. Who would have been the equivalent in 2018 women's wrestling to the 2002 Jeff Hardy that Lesnar destroyed in his first feud? The IIconics? I think if you had put Ronda Rousey in a feud with the IIconics to start things off, very few people would have found any sort of credibility or interest in that. And that leads to another reason why I feel it made perfect sense to start Rousey at the top - she's a well-known ass-kicker. Very few people would have bought her "learning" the wrestling world by having competitive matches with the likes of Absolution or the IIconics. In fact, to a lot of people, the fact that Bliss was in competitive matches with her was probably a bit of a stretch. Personally, I loved it, as it was presented in a way that made Bliss look craftier, wilier, more willing to capitalize on advantages, but in no way a true threat once Rousey had her squared up in a fair fight.

    Also, I'm with Prime Time in the assessment that I don't believe Lesnar was a guaranteed lock for a headlining HoF class based on his '02-'04 run. I think he may have had a decent shot at a headlining spot, but it wasn't a lock, in my books.

    By the way, I'm not shitting on either Lesnar or Rousey, I've largely enjoyed both of their runs (with mild disappointment cropping up scarcely). But I just don't think your comparison of the two is a very accurate one.

  6. #6
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Gotta agree with Skul and Pete here, I'm just not seeing the strength of the argument here. Lesnar came back from UFC and was instantly positioned as being better than every wrestler who had worked on their craft in the intervening 8 years since he left. The fact that he lost to Cena via a last second fluke barely registered and he ate pretty much everyone for lunch at every opportunity afterwards. By comparison, it seems like Rousey has been positioned more evenly with existing talent, even though she has ultimately come out on top.

    Also, the crux of your original argument in FoF was that Rousey is worse for the women's division than Lesnar was for the men's, and that's what I object to the most. Lesnar's effect on the men's world title division was essentially to render it meaningless, or rather nonexistent, appearing only rarely and often to defend against other part time wrestlers with no connection to the full time roster. Rousey is present and accounted for, and creating a more competitive atmosphere as wrestlers jockey to push her off the top of the mountain. That's my interpretation anyway, as an admittedly rare WWE-watcher who stopped watching in part because of runs like Lesnar's.

    Bottom line, I get your final point. I don't like the idea of MMA being treated as massively superior to wrestling, by wrestling. I just think the transition was handled better with Rousey than it was when Brock came back, and Rousey's commitment to actually showing up makes a comparison between them tenuous as best because they are serving really different roles as champion. Interesting column but I just can't agree with most of your points!

  7. #7
    First and foremost I should say that Rousey does not deserve to be champion right now. She shouldn't have had to work her way from the botro.e up either as she is a well-known fighter. I'd have instead booked her in feuds with the top tier women's wrestlers for her to gain some much needed experience and then pursue the title. This was just way to soon.

    But to the WWE this just doesn't matter. Business is at the top of the list on WWE and apparently Rousey is good for business. And because of that she was put in the forefront of the Women's Division. It's funny though; considering that UFC is a WWE competitor, the fact that a former UFC mainstay is allowed to run roughshod over the Women's Division because she's such a great fighter (where she gained popularity in UFC no less) might just prove your point that that's showing that any person from the UFC can destroy any talent on the WWE because they are real fighters. Not really logical from a competition perspective.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by DynamiteBillington View Post

    Try harder
    There is no try. Lol!

    For reals tho. I dont agree that Lousy is worse for the division than Lesnar. I Do think they are both awful for professional wrestling though.

    I do my best to not watch anything where the winner is that certain. Which makes watching anything with Lesnar, Reigns, Rousey, or Charlotte pretty crappy. I'll only tune in if it's someone who I really want to win. Then get pissed when they lose again.

  9. #9
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    May 2018
    Thanks all for the read & feed, debates like this are what forums are for & there's been a lot less of it recently. It's good to see the forums are gradually getting their mojo back.

    I suspect most of you have guessed this, but a key feature of my Bull from a Bulldog columns is that I'm aware they are mostly Bull. Although I do believe in the overall concept of what I write, I embellish the content to flesh it out into what I believe is a worthy column. My comment in the ForF thread was a throwaway statement that I put very little thought into at time of writing. Then when I got a couple of responses about it and started thinking about how to answer, this idea crept into my mind and I realised it could be an interesting column in it's own right.

    Do I genuinely believe Rousey is worse for wrestling than Lesnar? No, of course I don't. She's shown more commitment to wrestling in 6 months than Lesnar has in the past 6 years. Like I said in the column, she may be a little green, but she's improving at an extremely impressive rate. I do genuinely believe though, that she's been pushed too hard too fast. I'm also genuinely concerned that the only real parallel between the two (former UFC stars instantly being put at the top of their division) may be setting a precedent that isn't good for wrestling.

    There's possibly a whole extra column in this next statement, but at the end of the day in past era's wrestlers have become mainstream celebrities. That hasn't happened with the current generation of wresters, so those mainstream celebrities have to come from somewhere. If UFC is the answer to getting more people to watch wrestling, and ratings improve as a result (lets face it, the current generation of wrestlers hasn't done much for the ratings - Hi Tito!!!), we'll probably see more of this happening.

    One thing that can't be argued against though is the bottom line that if they make money for Vince, it's what we're going to get.

    Prime Time: I'm probably even further removed from Raw & Smackdown than you - I haven't watched either in their entirety for a few years now, sticking to just PPVs. I don't have time to watch 5-8 hours of programming a week that is essentially just an advert for the events I do watch.

    That said, yes I'm sure I have exaggerated Lesnar's initial run from a behind the scenes business perspective. From purely a kayfabe viewers perspective though, I don't think I have. Not too much anyway. And I totally agree that if Rousey is where the money is, that's what we're going to get. To be honest, I don't genuinely feel as strongly as I've made out in the column, but I do believe the way they've pushed both Rousey and Lesnar weakens the entire roster by saying UFC stars are superior.

    The most important thing however, is that you enjoyed the read. Thanks

    Skull: When it comes to storytelling, the line of fact and interpretation is blurred. WWE blur the facts they tell us all the time in order to interpret the stories they want. I don't think what I've done is any different to that. Yes, I'm fully aware that I've focussed more on the overall win/loss record rather than the match content, but that interpretation was needed to create the facts in support of my story.

    That Cena/Lesnar match is a good example of how Rousey could have been built up as a genuine threat without weakening the rest of the roster so much. Dominate her matches using MMA techniques, but fall prey to tricks specific to the wrestling business. As she learns those tricks, she incorporates them into her moveset. She'd still become the alpha-female they are presenting her to be, it would just be done in a more acceptable timescale.

    Mizfan: That final point is the key thing. Taking the Bull away from the Bulldog, I totally agree that Rousey showing up each week instantly makes her better for the business than Lesnar has been since his comeback, but where's the column in that?!! It's no fun writing a column where the only response is a Daniel Bryan Yes meme.... However, it's the UFC vs WWE issue that needs resolving. So far both have proven that UFC is superior. That surely can't be a good thing?

    Like I said to Prime though, the most important thing is that you found the column interesting and it sparked a bit of debate. That's what we're all here for after all!

    Don: Your comment totally sums up my genuine feelings around this issue. There's no way WWE should be presenting UFC as the superior brand. Maybe we wait and see what they do with Matt Riddle?

    There is no try.
    Well played

    Not sure I'd include Charlotte in that list you don't enjoy, she's presented as an alpha-female certainly, but I'm not sure she gets quite the same level of favourable booking as the others you mentioned. I'm also not sure both Rousey & Lesnar are genuinely awful for the business as a whole. They have their place, just possibly not quite in they way they've been presented.

    Like I said to the other guys though, the most important thing is you read the column & it made you want to comment. Agree or not, if you enjoyed reading I've done my job

  10. #10
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    A columnist exaggerating to get a reaction? Say it ain't so! Great clarification, definitely think we are closer to the same page in our actual thoughts.

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