I guess we all knew Brock Lesnar would eventually lose a match during his much-ballyhooed return to WWE.
What we didn't know, however, was that it would be his first match back.
But before we get too excited about WWE's decision to pin an early setback on Lesnar's broad shoulders, perhaps we should consider that the company may have had good reasons to give John Cena, widely regarded as the face of WWE, a much-needed victory.
Cena has scarcely been in the win column lately, and another defeat coming on the heels of his high-profile loss to The Rock at Wrestlemania, along with a puzzling defeat at the hands of Lord Tensai (aka Albert) on Raw, might have been more than just a little damaging.
And while it may seem counterproductive for WWE to job out its multimillion-dollar investment his first time out, there's a long way to go before next year's Wrestlemania at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey where most pundits are anticipating a mega-showdown between Lesnar and The Rock.
There is a precedent for WWE's strategic positioning of Lesnar.
After all, Lesnar did lose his first match as a UFC competitor, tapping out to veteran Frank Mir in 90 seconds of the opening round.
He won the UFC title nine months later and wouldn't lose again for more than two years.
Look for Lesnar to follow the same route in WWE.
The early loss also could serve as insurance for Vince McMahon in case Lesnar decided to bail on the company, or possibly suffered an injury that might sideline him for any length of time. A claim of plowing through WWE “undefeated” would not be part of the South Dakota native's resume.
While Lesnar may officially have “lost” his match at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, it was Cena who clearly suffered the most physical damage during the UFC-style match. And there's plenty of time for Lesnar to get his win back in a rematch with Cena.
Lesnar, a former NCAA heavyweight champion at the University of Minnesota, reportedly was outraged after the match when Cena delivered a pandering promo before leaving the ring instead of selling his injuries in a more convincing fashion.
While some have speculated that Lesnar's backstage outburst was at least partially a work, especially in light of WWE's leak the following day that he had quit the company, others have claimed that Lesnar was legitimately upset over the finish.
There have even been some reports that McMahon, as a show of power, wants to be able to say that one of his top stars beat a legitimate UFC champion. If that is the case, then McMahon truly isn't putting his million-dollar investment to its best use.
Or perhaps it's simply McMahon playing mind games with a talent that once claimed he didn't really like the pro wrestling business. Maybe it's McMahon's way of breaking a man down before building him back up.
Hopefully the WWE owner realizes that part of Lesnar's allure is that very reputation of being unpredictable, volatile, hard to work with and even somewhat antisocial. In a way, he's everything that John Cena isn't, and he brings to the table a dynamic not unlike “Stone Cold” Steve Austin's character nearly 15 years ago.
It may be admirable for McMahon to protect his franchise player, a star whose fan base ironically is split right down the middle, but it may not be what's best for business.
Instead of fans clamoring to see who this physical freak of nature destroys next, they instead will be treated to Cena headlining against 46-year-old storyline authority figure (John Laurainatis) who hasn't wrestled in years.
That's surely one that can be placed in the missed opportunity category.
Lesnar, whose big-money, light-schedule contract no doubt generates some envy in the WWE locker room, may very well stick around for only a year and leave. But WWE would be well advised to use this amazing physical specimen and box-office draw in a manner that's going to make everyone the most amount of money while he's there.
Even if that means having Triple H put him over.
-- WWE returns to the North Charleston Coliseum today with a Smackdown show headlined by a Triple Threat match for the world heavyweight title. Sheamus will defend his crown against former champ Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio.
Other top bouts include Cody Rhodes defending his newly won Intercontinental title against ex-champ Big Show, and Randy Orton going up against Kane in a No Disqualification match.
The beautiful ladies of WWE also will be on hand, with new divas champ Layla defending against Natalya (Nattie Neidhart). “I plan on punishing her with a lovely sharpshooter,” jokes Natalya.
Tickets are available at the box office, online at Ticketmaster.com or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.
Action gets under way at 6 p.m. at the Coliseum.
-- Voting is winding down for this year's South Carolina Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Nominees include longtime promoter Henry Marcus, Burrhead Jones, Johnny “Mr. Wrestling No. 2” Walker, The Mulkeys (Randy and Bill), Buzz Tyler, J.D. Bledsoe and Lanny Spires.
The top four vote-getters will be announced on May 20. An induction ceremony will be held June 24 at a local Old School Championship Wrestling show.
You can vote by emailing your nominations to email@example.com with “HOF” in the subject field.
-- Domestic charges that were recently filed against former pro wrestling star Scott Hall reportedly have been dropped.
Hall's attorney told TMZ.com that the charges were dropped due to “insufficient evidence.”
He was accused last month of choking his girlfriend during a drunken rage, but she declined to press charges.
Hall also is facing financial problems and a foreclosure action, and owes his financier $75,000 on a Florida home purchased in 2011, according to TMZ. The financier filed a lawsuit alleging Hall has refused to pay the final payment on the home, which Hall currently does not live in, according to the report.
Dana Hall, the wrestler's ex-wife and mother of their two children, said Friday that she was not aware of any house Hall purchased last year and believes that the $75,000 he borrowed on a balloon payment was due on the house he has owned for a number of years.
“I can't imagine him being in any shape to buy a new house,” she said.
-- The family of late NFL star Junior Seau, who took his own life at age 43 last Wednesday, has agreed to donate his brain to be studied for concussion research.
Seau's ex-wife, Gina, told The Associated Press that while Seau suffered concussions during his playing career, she had no idea if they somehow contributed to his death.
Sports Legacy Institute at Boston University and the Brain Injury Research Institute reportedly are the leading candidates for the brain study.
Former WWE performer and Harvard grad Chris Nowinski co-founded Sports Legacy Institute in 2007. His own pro wrestling career was cut short due to concussions.
Reach Mike Mooneyham at 843-937-5517 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @ByMikeMooneyham and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MikeMooneyham.
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