I wrote a little about dream matches and my expectations of Samoa Joe vs Brock Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire a few weeks ago. Now that the match has actually happened did it meet my expectations? Initially I wanted to say it just fell a little bit short, but now that it’s been about 24 hours I would say that it did. The match actually did a few things that surprised me.
Obviously spoilers are incoming.
The first thing that surprised me was how even in defeat Joe looked like a monster. It’s not often that people come out looking strong after a loss to Brock, but Joe took him to his limit. The crowd even got behind Joe to the point of chanting “Joe’s gonna kill you” at Brock. While that chant is infectious, they bought into the fact Joe could beat Brock. Not many people have had that honor since he’s come back.
The match itself was short and violent. It started with Joe jumping Brock before the opening bell and putting him through an announce table. The rest of the match was high impact moves from both men and ended with Joe being pinned after a single F-5 from Lesnar. At first I was a bit peeved about this, but I think this was actually a good call. We’re in an era where a lot of matches end with multiple kick-outs after finishers so it was a breath of fresh air to see one finisher put someone away. Not every match can be Omega/Okada and sometimes a violent sprint can be satisfying.
Even though it was just one finisher that put Joe down, he didn’t seem to stay down. As Brock and Paul Heyman left Paul kept looking back at the ring to make sure Joe didn’t attack again. It really felt like Brock wasn’t trying to win the match as it was to escape getting choked out by Joe. For the first time since his return it seemed like Brock was desperate. That desperation wasn’t there in the Undertaker or Goldberg feud. His primary goal was to conquer, but with Joe it was just survival. Brock looked beat up as he looked back in the ring and Joe looked like he wasn’t finished yet.
The build-up was amazing and Joe stepped up his game big time. Heyman was on point as usual and Brock seemed to be pretty motivated. In my opinion the match delivered. I didn’t get the feeling that things were over, especially from the murder stare that Joe was directing at Brock. Even if it’s not at Summerslam I’m hoping these two cross paths again.
Dream matches are a rare thing. They’re the ultimate “what-if” because rarely do we ever get a match where the competitors are in their prime. WWE had a chance to give us Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 8, but by all accounts they got cold feet when a Madison Square Garden crowd was rather ambivalent to a match they had at a house show. We got Macho Man and Flair instead, which I think was the better option anyway. WCW eventually got the Hogan and Flair match and it was too late. ECW gave audiences Sabu vs Cactus Jack and that wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. This would be rectified later, but considering Cactus Jack was still under contract with WCW they didn’t get as…extreme as they could have. We’re a few short weeks away from another dream match.
Currently WWE is building up their, ugh, Great Balls of Fire PPV with the main event being Samoa Joe taking on Brock Lesnar. After years of languishing in TNA, Samoa Joe showed up in NXT revitalized. If you followed Joe’s career, it was liking WWE had gone back to 2004 and somehow plucked him from time. He was in better shape; he moved faster, his promos had fire. On the Raw from 6/5 he had a tremendous promo with Paul Heyman and both men did a great job selling the match. I don’t doubt that Joe will bring his best. Heyman will also bring his best to help the selling of the match. The wildcard in all of this is Brock Lesnar.
Since showing up in the WWE again, Brock has been pretty hit or miss. The man is being touted as a “must see” attraction and early on in his return he was. Then “Suplex City” happened and all of Brock’s matches have been formulaic. None of his matches from 2016 really stand out and I though his feud with Goldberg was mostly forgettable. If Lesnar actually gives a damn this match could be one of the all-time greats. If Lesnar shows up not caring, then it’ll just be Joe getting tossed around for about 10-15 minutes and the crowd will shit all over the match.
However, Joe is no stranger to dream matches. His first major one was in Ring of Honor against the legendary Kenta Kobashi and it was an incredibly hard hitting match. In fact, it’s that match that might serve as a template for his match with Lesnar. It featured a lot of suplex variations and strikes, which is likely what the match with Lesnar will have. Later on in TNA he would go on to have a great series of matches with Kurt Angle when the Olympic Gold Medalist first appeared there. These matches also featured a lot of suplexes, but also had a strong focus on submission wrestling.
The story for the match is a no-brainer. Brock is the guy who’s had opportunities given to him by WWE and doesn’t put in a whole lot of work. Joe is the guy who has spent the last 15 years kicking and clawing for his place. Brock has something Joe wants and Joe will come to take it, as he has done in his short WWE career. For the in-ring work I’m hoping we get a nice mix of old school King’s Road style All-Japan wrestling with some cool submissions thrown in. In any event it’s the most I’ve looked forward to a (main roster) WWE main event this year.