Defending Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns’ “Tug of War” on WWE Monday Night Raw

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The recoil to the now infamous tug of war with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns has become considerably widespread. Many have been hailing the closing moments of the final edition of WWE Raw leading to Wrestlemania 31 as a childish display likening it to youngsters fighting over a coveted toy. This has led to a cluster of memes including Brock and Roman substituting the title belt for a box of eggos with the premise being a parody of the “leggo my eggo” slogan of the product. Vince Russo has even lambasted Vince McMahon for this tweeting that he has “lost it”.

Brock Lesnar defending against Roman Reigns was never exactly accepted by the more astute subdivision of the fan base at the outset and in addition there was a voluminous dissatisfaction for what was perceived to be a weak, if not, nonexistent build to the match. The heavily criticized tug of war is the nail in the coffin for this headline bout. There has also been similar disdain for the Intercontinental Championship ladder match featuring the competitors involved “stealing” the physical title itself from one another which has been referred to as juvenile as well.

While there is some merit in catering to the younger fan base, the product is designed to be both multi generational and also appealing to the entire adult demographic. There are, however, a few positive notes a midst the overall negative reaction to both the tug of war and the cycling of the IC belt in the material form to the various entrants of the ladder match.

One element that has been properly executed in the Lesnar vs Reigns build involves the fact that they have not gotten physical with one another. Such a component represents a pure sports build to the match but limits options to generate interest, although that is not exactly impossible as it has been done effectively in the past. Such an approach relies on the match itself being epic with plenty of drama. With the biggest prize and months of anticipation such an undertaking is possible. Jim Ross, arguable the greatest sports entertainment commentator of all times has even acknowledged that some liked the closing segment and that them not resorting to physicality until the match itself is a plus.

The imagery surrounding Brock and Roman both grasping for the title they will be fighting for while staring each other down six days before the scheduled match should have had a greater effect than it did. Perhaps it did have attain the desired reaction to the more casual viewer that the WWE appears to be targeting. Reigns having the title in his possession, however briefly it was before Brock tried grabbing it back, could have been meant to create a subconscious cue to both what Roman would look like after earning the championship. Same goes for those in the Intercontinental Title ladder match.

In the book Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, written by Bret Hart, he describes a poster that was created for a proposed match at Summerslam 93′ challenging Hulk Hogan for the championship with the two having a tug of war with the title belt. Hogan dropped the title to Yokozuna before leaving the WWE and the match never came to fruition. Hart takes the sport of professional wrestling very seriously and was excited for the potential match that would see the torch passed to him from The Hulkster.

Regardless of disapproval of the build to Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns, Wrestlemania 31 will be the most watched event to be run by the WWE of 2015 and the opportunity to deliver a entertaining match that could pleasantly surprise detractors is still a possibility for this reason.

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