The night after Wrestlemania 28, John Cena stood in the ring at the end of the Raw after Mania waiting for The Rock. But instead of The Great One, the music of the beast incarnate Brock Lesnar played. Lesnar made his first appearance in WWE since his final bout against Goldberg at Wrestlemania XX in 2004.
Lesnar had been gone eight years, and in that time, he had become the UFC heavyweight champion. He legitimatized his character and gave him the feeling that he was a real fighter compared to the rest of the roster. This is something that still feels unique today in this business. Brock Lesnar is one of only a few people to leave WWE, and come back a bigger star than when we left.
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The night he returned, as his music hit there was a huge ovation for the returning star. He made his presence felt straight away. He gave John Cena an F-5 to set up his first feud back immediately. The week later he gave his reasons for his return. He thanked the then Raw and Smackdown General Manager John Laurinaitis for bringing him back to bring legitimacy to the WWE. John Cena would interrupt him and a pull-apart brawl would ensure Cena having a busted lip. This proved that things with Lesnar will have a real feel to them. The night ends with Lesnar giving Cena another F5.
His promo proved that Lesnar hadn’t improved on his mic skills. This was something that he lacked on his first run after his partnership with Paul Heyman ended. It showed that his faults are more to do with talking in a live setting as a week later Lesnar excelled in his sit-down, pre-recorded interview. He came across as a total badass.
You would have to think that in hindsight Lesnar should have never been allowed to speak. Keeping him quiet is the best part of his persona and what makes him special. It makes him look like an assassin and if we could go back I would put Heyman with him immediately.
Brock Lesnar’s limitations showed once again the next week, when during a contract signing for his match with John Cena. The match was to be completed in an Extreme Rules match at the same-named pay-per-view event. Lesnar didn’t deliver what was needed. He was disjointed and as always when he does a promo, he felt awkward.
Extreme Rules is a pay-per-view that never appears in the history of Lesnar. For some reason, and I still don’t understand why John Cena pinned Brock Lesnar. Lesnar showed his real and legitimate side when he busted Cena open the hard way in the first minute of the match. But after a beating, the all-familiar setting of a Cena comeback meant that he picked up the victory. What should have gone down in my opinion is a similar way to their Summerslam match a few years later. When Cena does his comeback, Lesnar should regain control and finish the match strongly and pick up the win.
This scenario plays into the whole John Cena had the worst year of his career storyline that they play; which, is a total myth as in the year between Wrestlemania 28 and 29 he beats Brock Lesnar on Brock’s return, wins the Money in the Bank match, and wins the Royal Rumble. They could have used that he was dominated by Lesnar straight after his loss at Wrestlemania 28. This could have been another key factor in the Cena story.
Brock was still portrayed as a legitimate fighter but that aura was lost in his loss to Cena. Within a couple of months, Paul Heyman is introduced as his advocate and he ends up wrestling Triple H at Summerslam. WWE tends to leave out the month of April 2012 when mentioning the history of Brock Lesnar because they got it wrong at the start of his return. Luckily they changed things quickly and by Summerslam in August, he’s almost the Brock Lesnar we have today.