Sunday, August 3, 2014


Extreme Rules 2012 Analysis

Enjoy watching John Cena vs Brock Lesnar at the 2012 Extreme Rules pay-per-view in anticipation of SummerSlam, and then read the brief analysis below.

Note: The following was originally posted on The Good Worker's Facebook page where you should definitely be following! Ewwwweyeaaaah!

While some will surely point out that John Cena performs only a single wrestling move in this entire match, and continue to bemoan his very existence, this one-sided fight is still an excellent example of pro-wrestling story-telling.

This match is more accurately described as a dramatic scene, akin to the climax of a film where the villain gains the upper hand on the hero and relentlessly punishes him or her.

Observing this match from that perspective and not with an overly critical focus upon balance, execution, and move-variety, and instead focusing on what the story actually is and the strengths of both performers on full display, it's incredibly immersive.

Lesnar was cleverly booked as bringing legitimacy to the WWE, so for the match to open with a very real series of elbows to Cena's head, and a bleeding gash, is a purposeful shock to the WWE viewer's system. You're thrown off balance having witnessed a real punch to a real head, followed by a real injury. Lesnar then moves into the more nuanced, performative attacks, but that initial shock remains, permeating every action, unsettling you.

In this way the build of the match has been realized in the actions of the performers. The drama is heightened. Reality and fiction are bent in a way that only the pro-wrestling medium can achieve.

Lesnar relishes in the destruction he causes, sauntering about the ring in a delightfully vicious and deliberate manner.

Observed from the perspective of the children who love John Cena (in many ways a more objective perspective in this particular case), this scene plays out not unlike the moment from a Superman comic where the Man of Steel is slowly dismantled by a more powerful or more cunning adversary.

It's a trope in fiction, but an effective one. Where "Cena's haters" would likely applaud the success of their favorite superhero trapped in a similar conflict on the big-screen, here their hatred of Cena interferes with their ability to judge the theatrical worth of an effective wrestling story.

It's painful to watch a mythic, benevolent hero get destroyed, and so his sudden victory, within the context of this narrative, is all the more shocking and exhilarating.

While we've certainly seen far too much of Cena for far too long at the top of the mountain, and while many complaints about his ability and the manner in which he is booked are valid, it's important to remember that there are many ways to tell effective professional wrestling stories.

And Cena just might have a few more to tell.

Follow on the gimmicks!

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