WWE’s decision to have Cain Velasquez perform as a weaker version of his UFC self is a terrible decision for his long-term prospects in the ring.
Cain Velasquez had the first professional wrestling match of his WWE career last week against Brock Lesnar in Saudi Arabia at the propagandized Crown Jewel event. It was passable as a wrestling match but left a lot to be desired in terms of storyline development and building up the Cain Velasquez brand.
In short, Cain Velasquez is a great wrestler but his problems are two-fold — he’s currently injured and WWE wants Cain to wrestle a style where he pretends to ‘shoot’ on his opponents and really fight them, or at least appear to do so to the untrained eye.
Outside of WWE, Velasquez was an agile luchador and in the confines of most world’s most famous squared circle — he’s just MMA Cain, but a much worse version of who he is in reality. Wrestling is supposed to build-up its stars to be bigger versions of the real-life men that play ‘Superstars,’ yet WWE managed to botch their version of Cain Velasquez in his very first match, even after being billed as a credible threat to Brock Lesnar — who’s untouchable outside of the three times a decade he needs to drop a championship for storyline convenience.
Cain Velasquez was supposed to be a ghost from Brock Lesnar’s past that was capable of humanizing ‘The Beast.’ He was supposed to be the man capable of prying the WWE Championship from the hands of Brock Lesnar.
We were sold wolf tickets.
WWE’s version of Cain Velasquez is not as good as the Cain Velasquez you remember from last week, last month, his entire MMA career, or even in his professional wrestling career to date outside of WWE. WWE Brock Lesnar is better than UFC Cain Velasquez. It’s that simple.
There wasn’t anything wrong with the match itself, but it wouldn’t make sense while trying to suspend disbelief — the ingredient that makes pro wrestling work. It didn’t make sense from a pro wrestling ‘kayfabe’ perspective or in a worked-fight sense.
In the final seconds of the 2:10 spectacle, Cain Velasquez got under-hooks on Brock, hit him with a knee to the abdomen, hit him with a left punch, then dropped him with a left high kick that connected to the skull, followed up with some ground-and-pound — only to have Brock Lesnar of all people lock in a Kimura to submit a flailing, non-defending Velasquez.
It started off well, it ended poorly. It would also get worse.
Instead of Brock Lesnar losing to Cain Velasquez and Cain getting justice for the things Lesnar did to Rey Mysterio and his son, Brock gets beaten down easily at first only to throw up a Hail Mary kimura on Velasquez to make Cain submit.
Afterwards Rey Mysterio came into the ring with a steel chair, leading to Lesnar further brutalizing Cain with the chair, presumably to write him off of television mere weeks after his company debut so he can get surgery to take care of lingering injuries. Rey Mysterio then mounts a comeback and fends off Lesnar with another steel chair.
Cain did not come off looking well, Brock did not come off looking well, and even Mysterio, who ended up looking the best, looked like an idiot because introducing the chair led to his friend getting “hurt” worse than if the chair had never been introduced in the first place.
The outcome of the match only makes sense if you blend reality, the world of pro wrestling, and completely neglect the sports histories of Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar. Assuming you know Cain Velasquez has nagging injuries and requires surgery, this all makes sense, though terrible business sense if the plan is to have Cain be a long-term fixture in WWE.