Sunday, August 12, 2012
The Match That Would Never Happen
The Rock vs. Shawn Michaels. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan. Some matches in WWE seem like they were never meant to be. At one point in time, Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar was propelled straight into that category, only for the showdown to resurface 10 years later as SummerSlam's "Perfect Storm."
Should we really be all that surprised?
On the Aug. 26, 2002 edition of Raw, Brock Lesnar and his manager Paul Heyman opened the program with a gloating victory address to the New York City crowd, one night after Lesnar won his first WWE Championship at SummerSlam. At just 25 years old, the behemoth who Heyman dubbed "The Next Big Thing" defeated The Rock to become the youngest WWE Champion of all time — a record that Brock was especially proud of.
"I'm the youngest WWE Undisputed Champion in history," Lesnar cockily exclaimed to the WWE Universe. "I'm the youngest ever! And nobody — nobody! — can beat me!"
Triple H had something to say about that.
The King of Kings, who entered to HBK's music after viciously injuring him at SummerSlam, was quick to remind Brock (or as he called him, "boy") that Triple H had softened The Rock up the previous week on Raw in a No Disqualification Match. Claiming that Brock owed him, The Cerebral Assassin engaged in a heated staredown with the new WWE Champion and posed that all-too-familiar question: "Are you man enough to play The Game?"
With Triple H and Brock face to face and ready to throw down, The Undertaker joined the fray and told The Game that it was he who gets "first crack at the young blood." There was only one real way to settle this dispute over No. 1 contendership: a one-on-one battle in Raw's main event.
Who did Brock want to face in his first title defense? The answer became crystal clear when Lesnar interfered in the No. 1 Contender's Match and bludgeoned The Phenom with his WWE Title, allowing The King of Kings to get the pinfall and claim an opportunity to face Brock for the championship gold.
That's the closest the WWE Universe would ever be to watching The Next Big Thing try to play The Game. As the show came to a close, SmackDown General Manager Stephanie McMahon made a surprise appearance to tell Raw GM Eric Bischoff that she pays Brock "a whole lot of money to be exclusive to SmackDown," thereby nullifying Raw's No. 1 contender. Even though Lesnar was the WWE Undisputed Champion, Stephanie added that doesn't mean both brands have to feature him and it was the "champion's prerogative" which program he competes on.
Triple H would never get his one-on-one matchup with Lesnar, but you can bet these intense competitors have probably savored the thought of clashing in the ring all these years. Therefore, it shouldn't come as a total shock that the WWE COO was brutally attacked when he tried to put Brock in his place back in April, reigniting their decade-old conflict. After all, he was the one who was so quick to rain on Lesnar's parade as soon as he made history as a 25-year-old WWE Champion.
Now, the two titans will finally collide at SummerSlam on Aug. 19, live on pay-per-view. It won't be for the WWE Title this time around, but the weight of their personal grudge feels far heavier than any piece of championship gold.
Who will prevail when the match that seemed destined to happen at last comes to fruition?
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