Brock Lesnar defeated Kofi Kingston to win the WWE title in the debut episode of Smackdown on FOX. The decision, and particularly the way it played out, was controversial enough. Lesnar’s victory was immediately followed by the appearance of Cain Velasquz, who will reportedly be facing Lesnar at the Crown Jewel event in a matter of weeks.
There are likely a number of factors involved with the decision, some of which make sense. WWE has made something of a habit out of bringing stars from other fields of entertainment and gradually training them for a career in wrestling. Ronda Rousey is a successful example of this, debuting last year at the Royal Rumble and going on to have a very successful run at the top of the women’s division. Velasquez is similar. He’s already stepped in the ring, having wrestled for a Mexican promotion. He has history with Lesnar as well. The two faced off at UFC 121, with Velasquez knocking out Lesnar in the first-round to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship. The storyline is a smart one, especially considering how WWE is hoping for big ratings gains. But the manner in which Velasquez’s first appearance played out has many fans feeling skeptical.
Kingston, the current WWE champion, faced Lesnar in the main event of Friday’s episode. In quick fashion, a mere ten seconds by some counts, Lesnar got the win with his signature F-5 move. Kingston, who has held the WWE title since his victory at Wrestlemania, didn’t manage to get a single move in. Alongside Rey Mysterio, who Lesnar recently attacked, Velasquez made a surprise appearance just before the show came to a close. Velasquez seemed to frighten Lesnar, who quickly and repeatedly backed away. According to a report by Wrestling Observer, this was done to set up a match at Crown Jewel on October 31st.
The reaction online was harsh. To many fans, the development was an encapsulation of everything that’s amiss about WWE’s priorities. Kingston was quickly defeated, in favor of the debuting Velasquez. WWE has routinely faced criticism, even from wrestlers themselves, about prioritizing part-time performers and celebrities over the regular roster. To make matters even more complicated, the Crown Jewel events held in Saudi Arabia have been routinely met with controversy.
While the report is as yet unconfirmed, it seems very likely given what has transpired after the main event. It is a busy time for WWE. Next week, there will be a draft which will see superstars moving to either Raw or Smackdown on an exclusive basis. In the eyes of fans, there is plenty of ways to course correct. But, for now, the appearance of Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar’s quick victory will be the dominant subject among enthusiasts and critics.
Source: Wrestling Observer