Canton's Corner: Thoughts on Orton, Cena and Lesnar – January 1

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Canton’s Corner: Thoughts on Orton, Cena and Lesnar – January 1
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport

Happy New Year! Welcome to Canton’s Corner. Normally this gets posted on Saturday, but it was New Year’s Eve and I was out of town, so this week only it’s getting posted on a Sunday. We’re ditching the regular format for this week because I haven’t seen all of Impact (just the main event) or Smackdown (just the main event ending). This week’s CC features three commentaries on three big names in the wrestling business: Randy Orton, John Cena and Brock Lesnar. Let’s begin with the polls as always.

Last Week’s Poll Results
The poll question was: When will Daniel Bryan lose the World Heavyweight Title? The results after nearly 1,700 votes:

January 2012 — 44.94%
February 2012 — 26.37%
April 2012 — 11%
March 2012 — 5.62%
June 2012 or later — 4.85%
December 2011 — 4.73%
May 2012 — 2.48%

I’m not surprised by the results. It means that 70% of you believe that he is going to lose the World Title by February’s Elimination Chamber PPV. I voted for February in the poll. If I was booking it, he’d retain at WrestleMania and then lose it at another PPV. However, I don’t see WWE keeping him that strong for that long. It would be nice if they did that, but I’d be surprised if he made it past Elimination Chamber as the World Champion.

This Week’s Poll Question: How many more matches will Brock Lesnar have in WWE?
The subject of this week’s poll is related to Brock Lesnar. My opinion on the matter is coming below, but I want to know what YOU think. The question is how many more matches do you think he will wrestle in World Wrestling Entertainment? Vote below.

It’s a tough one with a lot of different opinions out there. If you think he’ll never wrestle for WWE again then obviously pick zero, but if you believe he has more matches left then go with one of the other choices. It’s one of those polls where I really have no idea what the masses are thinking.

Is Randy Orton’s Back Okay?
The short answer to that one is a “yes I think so.” I’m no doctor. I don’t know what the exact injury is that Randy Orton may have, but apparently he is dealing with a back injury. At the end of Smackdown, as he was having a Falls Count Anywhere match with Wade Barrett, they shot an angle where it appeared as though Barrett had thrown Orton down a flight of stairs. They shot it in a way where Barrett was at the top of the stairs, the camera guy was behind a door filming it and when he got through the door, Orton was at the bottom of the flight of stairs writhing in pain to end the show. This came on the heels of a WWE report (first on Twitter, then on on Tuesday night saying Orton was injured. Immediately, rumors were flying.

Was Orton really hurt or is it just a storyline? It would appear that there’s some legitimacy to the injury, but ultimately it’s just a storyline that will keep him out of action while he heals up. In the days that followed there were reports from various internet “experts” (I use quotations there strongly) that suggested that perhaps he was out for six months from the injury. They had even used, usually a respected source of info, as the site reporting it although they never did such a thing. Then there was some theory out there that maybe he was actually suspended for failing a Wellness Policy test and that the back story was a cover up. I didn’t buy that one either. The other piece of news was from the Smackdown house shows during the week where Wade Barrett got on the microphone to say that Orton would be out for six months. I think that is WWE’s way of mocking that six month injury rumor. Guess what? Heels lie. It’s probably not true.

What’s the likely explanation for all of this? Let’s turn to the man himself for his thoughts on it. In response to a fan question on Twitter about his injury status, @RandyOrton said this on Saturday: “Pain free at the moment. I do some kind of therapy/rehab every morn and night. Funny to sit back and watch the rumors.” That doesn’t seem like the kind of response from somebody dealing with a major injury, does it?

I think this was all done as a storyline reason to give Orton a month off from house shows as well as television. Apparently he does have a legitimate back injury although likely not as severe as the “ doctor” would have you believe. With the Royal Rumble taking place in Orton’s hometown of St. Louis (go Rams…ugh) on January 29th, he’s always been considered the favorite to win. Yes, I know WWE has a tendency to book wrestlers poorly in their hometowns, but I think a PPV like the Rumble is the perfect place to do an angle where babyface Orton wins in St. Louis. By doing the angle the way they did, he can take time off to recover from his back injury and not take bumps while wrestling on the road three times per week plus the two TV shows per week. It’s understandable the guy gets a break from the road. He’s earned it. And if he’s injured to the point that he needs to heal up then let him take the time to get better.

It’s easy to book the scenario in the Rumble too. Wade Barrett can be in the ring along with two or three others as they get near the end, #29 enters, Orton’s song plays (either as a surprise entrant or they can say he’s in the match if they so choose) and the crowd goes nuts as Barrett has his “oh crap he’s gonna kill me” look on his face. Then Orton eliminates Barrett as well as everybody else to win the match. I realize that people will moan at the idea of Orton winning the Rumble considering he’s been heavily pushed or nearly a decade now. Guess what? We got a new, fresh winner in Alberto Del Rio last year. It’s probably going to be a veteran this year. That’s why I’m going with Randy Orton.

I’m a Randy Orton fan. I think 2011 was the best year of his career in terms of in ring performance. He was durable, he had great matches with a lot of people and he remains very popular with the fans. It’s not like he gets booed by the fans despite being a heavily pushed babyface. He’s still over, so his spot is justified. Giving him a month to recover from a back injury makes sense to me. This “breaking news” ordeal was a good lesson for those that want to believe everything they read. Be smart about it, people.

Is Randy Orton going to be okay? Even though we may not see him again until Sunday January 29th at the Royal Rumble, I do believe he’ll be just fine.

What’s next for the John Cena angle?
Heading into first Raw of 2012, there are a lot of things that interest me on WWE’s flagship show. One of those things is the future of John Cena. For the first time during his run as a top guy, which has been going on for over six years now, WWE is running an angle that is playing up to those famous “Cena Sucks” chants. Sure, they acknowledged them in the past, but not in the way they are doing it now. They are selling “Cena Sucks” shirts at WWE events as well as on and reportedly they are doing very well. On Twitter, Cena claimed that they had wanted to do the shirts in 2008. He told them no, but now apparently he doesn’t care anymore. I’m sure he cares that it helps his bankroll, though. He’s no dummy.

Getting back to the angle, we’ve seen both Roddy Piper & Kane lecture Cena about how much people are booing him. They’re wondering what John really feels. The last Raw of 2011 left us with John Cena pondering the words of the crazy guy that wears a mask on his face. How will Cena react to all of this? I’m actually intrigued by it. I honestly don’t know where this is headed.

The most common question I get asked by readers on a daily basis is: “When will John Cena turn heel?” That’s what everybody wants to know all the time. It’s understandable considering his babyface run has lasted for over seven years with the last six years being at a main event level. He’s been booed loudly at a number of events through the years such as One Night Stand 2006 in NYC, Unforgiven 2006 in Toronto and Money in the Bank 2011 in Chicago among others. At no point, though, did I think that he would turn into a fully fledged heel.

Now the thought of a heel turn is a possible scenario. Will it happen in 2012? I say no. I think they are doing this angle to build up the idea of it being possible so that people can watch every week thinking that Cena will snap on somebody like his innocent buddy Zack Ryder, but ultimately I think this is all a tease. Heading into WrestleMania 28, which is likely to do the biggest PPV buyrate in company history, the idea will be to continue these “what will Cena do?” type of scenarios. I don’t see him turning heel, though. I think the “shades of grey” idea will work. They know he’s going to get mostly booed at WrestleMania 28 in Rock’s hometown, so why no play that up? It’s a way to build up to the match in an effective manner, so I applaud WWE for doing it that way. It’s smart booking. I’d assume they have a long term plan in place from now until WrestleMania. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next. That’s not something I may typically say about a Cena angle, but they’ve done a good enough job with it that I’m intrigued going forward.

I’ll be writing a “Rumbling to Mania” column soon, likely next week. In that column I’ll try to forecast where stories are going from now until WrestleMania. In Cena’s case, it’s hard to guess what that direction will be. I think he’ll be in the Royal Rumble, make it far, but not win and then it’s possible that he wins the WWE Title at Elimination Chamber if it’s on the line there. The reason it’s possible is because in February Vince McMahon could think that the Cena/Rock match would mean even more if the WWE Title was on the line. I hope it doesn’t happen because the WWE Title is perfectly fine on CM Punk, but I can see McMahon’s viewpoint on it as well.

The honest answer is I’m not sure what is in Cena’s future. I like it, though. It’s better not knowing. Let’s just hope that whatever plans WWE creative has is something interesting because if anybody on the roster needs a hot angle it’s John Cena.

Will Brock Lesnar return to WWE?
When it was announced a few months back that Brock Lesnar would be in the WWE ’12 video game there was a lot of speculation that maybe one day he’d be back in World Wrestling Entertainment. After years of perceived bad blood between WWE and Lesnar, it finally looked like they were smart enough to do business again. The Legend’s Contract he signed allowed him to be in video games as well as potential lucrative deals for action figures and other merchandising opportunities. Despite signing the Legend’s Contract he still had his UFC deal, which means he can’t wrestle in WWE as long as he has that. It’s an exclusive contract.

Lesnar’s history is interesting. After a highly successful collegiate wrestling career at Minnesota University, he went to WWE in late 2000, spent over a year training in OVW, got pushed as the top guy faster than anybody in the history of the company in 2002 (including a WWE Title win over The Rock at Summerslam), and then walked away in 2004 to try to make the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL. I think it was more a case of hating WWE’s travel schedule than it was him wanting to be a NFL player. When that venture failed, he was at a crossroads in his career. In 2008 he made the move to UFC, which seemed like a great fit considering his amateur background. Even though he lost his first fight to Frank Mir, he recovered from it, won four straight fights and also went on to win UFC’s Heavyweight Title. In late 2009 he got sick and two years later it’s safe to say that he never fully recovered from that.

On Friday night in Las Vegas, Lesnar lost his main event fight to Alistair Overeem in under three minutes. He barely attacked Overeem. He knew it was over likely before he even stepped foot in the ring. Overeem didn’t even knock him out with head shots. He went after his ribs, kicking at them repeatedly until Lesnar collapsed to the mat while giving up, not wanting to take more punishment. Overeem’s a very good fighter that might have beat Lesnar even if Brock was healthy, but it was clear that Lesnar was off his game. Lesnar’s had two different bouts with an illness called diverticulitis, which is an intestinal disorder that required surgery. After the loss, Lesnar retired with a UFC record of 5-3. He promised his wife, former WWE diva Sable, that he’d retire if he lost the fight. At 34 years old, Lesnar’s UFC career is over. A lot of people change their mind when they retire in MMA, but I believe Lesnar. He is done as a MMA fighter.

As for his future, I fully expect Brock Lesnar to try to get out of his UFC deal so that he can wrestle for WWE again, most likely as soon as WrestleMania 28. The question is will UFC let him? I don’t think it will be easy. Like I said, he had an exclusive deal with UFC. He still has that deal even though he’s retired. If UFC President Dana White wants to keep him under contract he has every right to do that even though Lesnar will never fight for his promotion again. Or he could freely let him go, realizing that he can’t make money off Lesnar’s name again. I think WWE may have to get creative in terms of paying off the remainder of his UFC deal in order to acquire his talents. That’s just a guess. I just don’t think Dana White will let him go that easy.

There are some obvious pros & cons to a Lesnar return to WWE. I could write a future column about that, but for now just the main points.

Pro – His name is bigger now than it was when he left WWE in 2004. He’s the biggest box office draw in the history of MMA with his last four fights doing over 1 million PPV buys and the one from Friday likely topped that number too. Sure, his WWE history helped his star power in UFC, but you can also say that being in UFC helped Lesnar’s star power as well. According to ESPN, Lesnar made $5.3 million in estimated prize money and PPV share in 2010. That’s off two fights. Huge money. While I don’t know how much money the top WWE performers make in a year, I don’t think John Cena has topped that figure in a year although I believe that Steve Austin did in 1999. The point is that Lesnar’s name carries a lot of weight these days. For a company like WWE that could use help in the ratings & PPV buyrate department, there is a lot of monetary value in a Brock Lesnar return. His name is even more valuable knowing that WrestleMania is taking place three months from today.

Con – By bringing back another name from the past, you are hurting the future talents of the business. Lesnar’s a prideful guy that walked away from the company, so who knows how loyal he would be? If he came back as a babyface, would he be willing to put over a rising heel like Dolph Ziggler or Cody Rhodes in the same manner that Rock, Undertaker & Angle put Brock over? I’m not so sure about that. Also, even though I respect Lesnar, he is somebody that changes his mind a lot. I don’t think he’d want to be back full time. With that in mind, how well would that sit with others in the locker room? I would hope that a lot of the guys would put their egos aside to realize that Lesnar means more eyeballs on the product, which means more money for all of them. As we’ve seen many times in wrestling over the years, ego is a very powerful thing. You can’t really predict what people will think.

Will Lesnar return to WWE? I think so. He was a good wrestler for WWE. He worked well as a babyface or a heel, he had good matches with a number of different opponents (Angle was the best of them) and he was improving when he decided to leave in 2004. I don’t know when or how many matches he will have, but it would be foolish for WWE to not explore the opportunity. I also get the feeling that Lesnar wants to do it too. My guess is that a return for WrestleMania 28 is possible, especially if they can make a lucrative match like Undertaker vs. Lesnar happen. Once again, though, the fact that he has an exclusive contract with UFC makes it hard for me to believe that he’ll be available to be used by WWE so soon. I think something could be worked out by perhaps Summerslam or maybe wait until next year’s WrestleMania. It depends on a lot of factors such as if he wants to come back (I assume he does), what kind of schedule he would have (I’d guess no more than 5 matches in a year), what his role would be heel (a heel bully would be an awesome role) and who his opponents would be (there are dozens to choose from). As mentioned, there are a lot of issues that need to be resolved before we see Brock Lesnar in a WWE ring. It’s not as easy as signing a contract.

One thing’s for sure. If you follow WWE regularly, you know that rumors persist 24/7/365 (or 366 days in this leap year). I have a feeling that in 2012, it will be the year of the Brock Lesnar rumors. Needless to say, this new development has me excited about WWE in 2012 even more than I was before.

Here comes the pain? I sure hope the pain comes back…home.

Random Clip of the Week
Since I wrote about Orton, Cena and Lesnar this week, I thought it would be fitting to share a video about them. My first inclination was to share the Cena/Lesnar match from Backlash 2003. It was when Lesnar was the babyface WWE Champion against the cocky heel John Cena. I figure that one is more known, though. Then I stumbled upon this match. It’s Brock Lesnar as a heel WWE Champion in 2002 (managed by Paul Heyman) against a rookie named Randy Orton, who was just 22 years old at the time of this match. If you don’t want to watch the whole match that is fine. Just be sure to click play, go to the 5:25 mark of the video and watch how incredible the finish is. Orton hits a crossbody, Lesnar catches him, rolls through, puts him on his shoulders and hits a spectacular F5 to win the match. That’s a perfect example of how good an athlete Lesnar is.

I miss that theme song too. I’ll mark out if he makes the return.

Melo Out with Steve Melo

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season and are looking forward to 2012 as much as I am. First off, I just want to kindly thank everyone that took the time to read last weeks edition of Canton’s Corner which was taken over by me. I really do appreciate all the feedback from all of you. I enjoy doing banners and artwork for the site as both a wrestling fanatic and as a creative outlet away from my everyday life of doing typical Graphic Design work. John is a good guy too, even if he can only afford to pay me in sexual favours, but that’s a story for another time.

I was going to talk about RAW, but John has already covered that in the RAW Deal. I could also talk about Smackdown, but Andrew has taken care of that as well. So rather than go with the usual negative bitch fest of the shows as I normally would do, I am going to talk about something that a lot of people have been talking about since Friday and that is the retirement of Brock Lesnar from UFC.

I don’t want to talk about the fight or if he took a dive and all that stuff. I don’t even want to get into all the “so when is Brock Lesnar coming back to the WWE?” debacle since I, like all of you, have no idea when his UFC contract is actually up. What I want to talk about is a little fantasy booking I thought would be cool since I don’t normally do that sort of thing and I thought it would be fun for a change.

Besides all the buzz surrounding Lesnar now, there has been a lot of buzz with these cryptic videos that have aired on RAW the last couple of weeks. Many believe it is for the return of Chris Jericho and I would have to agree. But you know what I think would be cool on tomorrow night’s RAW? Well, one would assume that the WWE Championship match between Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk will be the main event. One would also assume it would be going just after 11:00pm. Now let’s assume it is Jericho and that all these videos are being directed towards Punk. I think it would be cool to let them have their match, have some close falls, and even though I am not a big fan of having a match end due to interference, I think in this case it would be justifiable. I would have the arena go dark, play the last cryptic video without giving away who it is. Then silence and then have Brock’s WWE theme music play. Dolph Ziggler bails with fear and with all the focus of everyone geared towards the entrance ramp, Chris Jericho attacks Punk from out of nowhere from behind and gives him a long and brutal beating. His diversion worked. RAW then goes off the air with Punk laid out and Jericho standing tall holding the title over his head. Will I be disappointed if these does not happen? Of course not because I would just be setting myself up for that if I did. I am simply just going to sit back, relax and melo out, because that is what wrestling is all about.

Steve “The Melo Man” Melo
Facebook: MeloOutTJR
Twitter: @MeloOutTJR


That’s a wrap for this week. I’ll bring back the Twitter Ten in Monday’s live Raw Deal and also next Saturday here in Canton’s Corner, so if you’re following me on Twitter (@johnreport) I’ll let you know when you can fire away with questions.

I’ll be back on Monday night at 9pmET on writing the Raw Deal live. It’s Punk vs. Ziggler for the WWE Title as well as the reveal of whoever is behind those “It Begins” videos. I think I’ll be marking out a bit for that. We’ll see. Once again, Happy New Year and thanks again for all of your continued support!

Thanks for reading.

John Canton –
Twitter @johnreport
Google Plus: John Canton or just type “John Canton” in the search.

Visit my 10+ year column archive at the Wrestling Oratory right HERE.

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