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Originally published as:
VIP - Mitchell's Memo: Lesnar Brings
Back Real Heat (#1097) By Bruce Mitchell, PWTorch senior columnist
Jul 16, 2009
Published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
with the expressed consent of the author.
This big cement-headed Swede comes out
of the snow-blown wilds of Minnesota. He's bigger, badder, and
thicker than all the rest, (it doesn't seem quite fair) and he
clearly knows it. He refuses to work his way up from the bottom -
mostly because he doesn't have to. He's sporting championship gold
way too early for either the fans or the other fighters.
Worst than that, he's got a big mouth. He's good, he knows it, and
he loves telling you all about it. I mean, it's bad enough he'll
grind you into the mat and black your eye, but this guy is a jerk
about it besides.
This big bully will look directly in the camera and intensely tell
you he's tougher than you are and dare you to do something about it.
You're furious at his nerve and a little scared of him at the same
Don't quite believe him? Think he's a fake? He'll prove himself to
you personally. He brazenly invites any tough guy - truck driver,
barroom brawler, whatever, just as long as you think you're tough -
to come down and try him on for size.
It's not just talk either. Go down to the coliseum on a Monday
night, give the man a couple of hundred bucks to train you to be a
fighter, and he'll slap a sugar hold on you and put you out, then
laugh at you when you come to and run away (without your money.)
When it comes time for the big show you buy a ticket, because you
want to be there to see it when he gets his, because there's a good
chance that big mouth is finally going to get shut once and for all.
Hell, he's got to be a fake, nobody can be as good as he keeps
saying he is.
Damnit, he grinds up his opponent again, week after week, month
after month, and year after year.
Finally, one spring night 33 years ago (on May 24th, 1976) this old
man at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium has had enough of Ole
Anderson and his infuriatingly big mouth. He takes a hawkbill knife
and slices Anderson deep across his arm and chest, almost killing
See, here's the thing. As good as today's top WWE bad guys (Edge,
Randy Orton, and Chris Jericho) are at the modern art of heeling,
fans react to them in a very different way as the fans did to the
top villains decades back. The great majority of fans today first
acknowledge an act like Jericho is performing, then make a conscious
decision whether to buy into rooting against him. As soon as the
heel is off the screen, they're anticipating the next entertaining
ago, the vast majority of wrestling fans listened and looked at Ole
Anderson, and "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, and "Cowboy" Bill Watts,
and "Professor" Boris Malenko, and John Tolos, and reacted with
visceral, immediate rage. They believed they were loud mouth jerks
who deserved the beating that clearly was coming. Fans didn't think
about performances, they just reacted to the arrogance, cheating,
and cruelty of Anderson and his ilk.
The world moves on, for better and worse. In many ways, the likes of
Jericho and Edge have a bigger mountain to climb to get a
money-making reaction from fans. In other ways, they have many more
tools at their disposal to do so. That's life.
Saturday night (July 11, 2009), at the biggest pro wrestling show of
this and many other years, Brock Lesnar brought back that Ole
Anderson-style old-time heat. The majority of fans at UFC 100
weren't waiting for their "entertainment," they simply wanted the
fake wrestler to get his clock cleaned. They chanted "Stand them
up!" at the referee in the first round because Lesnar had Frank Mir
smashed up against the mat and was punching his face in - they
didn't get care doing so would be against the intent of the rule,
which is meant to be invoked in order to keep the action going.
They hated it even more when Lesnar won, and Lesnar played that
hatred like an Iowa fiddle in his now-infamous post match promo.
(It's a good thing Lesnar didn't smash an unconscious Mir with a
crushing punch to the head, the way the respected Dan Henderson did
to another loudmouth, Michael Bisping, earlier in the night. There
might have been a riot.)
Lesnar played against the fans' rage with glee after the fight, just
like Ole Anderson did back in the old days. It worked today like it
worked back then, because fans know it's a real fight and god, he's
such a prick. The sports media, the talk show babblers, all fell
over themselves Monday trying to figure out what it all means. (It
means UFC has a real money-drawing heel.)
Some reacted with the same visceral fury as the fans. Kevin
Blackstone on ESPN's "Pardon The Interruption" blew up at the
comparison between what Lesnar did and what Muhammad Ali did in his
hey-day, forgetting Ali changed American culture forever with his
heels promos. (Don't believe that beloved icon stuff, most of
mainstream America hated Ali in the '60s and early-'70s.)
Lesnar (and UFC) benefits from his contrast with respected heroes
like George St. Pierre, Randy Couture, and Dan Henderson, just like
Ole Anderson benefited from his attitude being compared to those of
Paul Jones, Wahoo McDaniels, Rufus R. Jones, and Dusty Rhodes. (The
act doesn't work if too many, as happens in WWE, play heel.)
Don't get me wrong. Ole Anderson really was a loud mouth jerk. So is
Brock Lesnar. Both learned how to amp up that side of their
personality to draw money from fans who want to pick sides when they
see a fight.
When Paul Jones & Wahoo McDaniel finally beat Ole & Gene Anderson
after facing them again and again in all those towns week after
week, their team was made. The next big star in UFC might well be
the guy who shuts Brock Lesnar's big mouth and takes his UFC
Heavyweight Championship. The place will come unglued at that.
The funny thing is, not too long after that (and as long as he wins
again - this is America after all) Brock Lesnar will be the biggest
hero in UFC, instead of the biggest villain, because there's nothing
better than when the big mouth bully is finally on your side.
That's pro wrestling, too.
Oh, and Ole Anderson?
Less than 48 hours after that near-fatal attack, barely held
together by dozens and dozens of stitches, Ole Anderson returned to
the WRAL TV studio ring. He may have lost his share of matches, and
pissed-off fans paid good money for years just for the opportunity
to have the chance to see him do so, but no one ever shut his mouth.
Copyright © 2009 Bruce Mitchell. All rights reserved.