The beast will be back! Brock Lesnar transcended the wrestling world (again) when he made national sports headlines. His decision to re-sign with the WWE at his age meant “I’m officially closing the door on MMA” as he so eloquently put. Lesnar is already one of sports’ most legendary figures and he still has a few more good years left in him. Competing professionally in the variety of sports he has is an incredible accomplishment. His initial rise to the top of the WWE was impressive enough. For him to cross over to the “real” fighting world of MMA and not only compete but become their World Champion was a huge feather in his cap and by proxy added to the legitimacy of the WWE.
The WWE deserves that legitimacy. In many ways it’s more dangerous than MMA. MMA fighters train for months for one fight. WWE Superstars work a grueling schedule, with non-stop travel and very little time off. MMA fighters can tap out any time they want while in wrestling the “show must go on” and it’s common for wrestlers to finish matches with concussions and broken bones.
With the huge rise in popularity for MMA, they have become one of the WWE’s biggest competitors, whether they like to admit it or not. Lesnar’s first contract with UFC was a huge coup for Dana White and brought them wonderful exposure. In fact White has constantly said that Lesnar was the biggest PPV draw in the promotion’s history. The most recent and very public departure of outspoken CM Punk, one of the WWE’s top stars was another huge blow to the WWE. With the negative response by the WWE’s older fans to the PG-era, the potential loss of their current champion to their biggest competition would have been a huge blow. Keeping Lesnar in the fold brings the WWE positive mainstream news coverage and is a huge win for them.
Talent poaching is nothing new to Vince McMahon, he built his empire with it. You have to believe he wanted this badly. At his age, and with Triple H and Stephanie taking more control, the Lesnar signing might be Vince’s last major fingerprint on the incredible empire he built.
10. Plenty of young talent to work with Brock
With his age and past health issues, returning to the UFC could’ve been a huge risk for Lesnar. It’s far less likely he could have the same impact as he did before. Luckily the WWE has him in a situation where it is good for him to work with young talent.
In the WWE Brock is still a fearsome competitor. The nature of the business obviously removes the uncertainty. He could easily coast through a great last few years, and be remembered as someone who helped transition the younger talent. Now it’s on WWE to place him in the right feuds and not have him wrestle fellow part-timers, but guys who could actually use the rub from a match with Lesnar.
9. Opportunity to try Lesnar as a babyface
Lesnar has been a heel for most of his WWE career, only being a face for about nine months, from late 2002 to mid 2003. He’s been seen as a heel, or tweener if you will, since his return in 2012. Since the WWE has him under contract for three years, there’s plenty of time to experiment Lesnar as a babyface and try a new dimension for his character. Lesnar actually is capable of throwing out some funny one-liners and packing a punch in short bursts. Whether that means Paul Heyman is still by his side or not, it’d be an interesting avenue to explore. As long as Lesnar doesn’t face Triple H for a fourth time, he can have several interesting feuds as a face, including Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins, or maybe a heel Reigns?
Faces also tend to sell more merchandise than heels, so the WWE might increase their revenue in that area as well.
8. He broke The Undertaker’s streak
Breaking Undertaker’s streak is perhaps the most shocking moment in wrestling since Hogan turned to the dark side. A particularly large-eyed fan at front row said everything with his face. The crowd was stunned, and reception of the decision is still divided. With The Undertaker so close to the end of his career and his streak often the highlight of WrestleMania many wondered if it made sense to end it. Giving it to Lesnar made sense as his natural intimidation makes it believable he could beat the Dead Man.
But why give give Lesnar the ultimate honor if he was just going to leave? It would have made more sense to invest the streak-breaking in a wrestler who had many more years with the WWE. Now that Lesnar is staying, he has even more credibility to his wrestling character. Vince has a much stronger argument right now for ending the streak, even if many of us still don’t like it.
7. More intrigue in feud with Roman Reigns
It’s no secret that the WWE is pushing Roman Reigns hard. Vince listened to the huge response The Shield received and pushed Reigns into the spotlight, though it’s obviously a bit too soon for him to be on his own. Nevertheless he’s on the “Fastlane” to meet Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. As Lesnar shocked the world with his Undertaker win, he has become a bigger monster than ever before. If Reigns can get the crowd behind him and put in a credible performance defeating Lesnar it could do wonders for his career. But there’s an added dimension of intrigue with Lesnar now staying.
With Lesnar staying, it gives the WWE options. If Reigns wins at WrestleMania, they could have Lesnar win a rematch, setting up an exciting tie breaker. Option two is if the WWE feels the crowd is more behind Lesnar (which is very possible) they could have him retain the title at ‘Mania, giving Reigns more time to develop.
6. He’s still one of the best draws
Lesnar is one of the best things going in the WWE. Fans are wise to the inner working of wrestling and the WWE needs to make the people “believe” again. Lesnar is the most believable guy they have. He’s already proven to the world he can fight with the best in the world. In many ways, Lesnar is a throwback to the older days of the “shoot” wrestlers like Bruno Sammartino. Sammartino was notorious for refusing to lose unless wrestlers could actually beat him. The style of wrestling back then was much more similar to the MMA of today, which made it so believable. It wasn’t until the WWE that the much more cartoony and dramatic style took over. Lesnar could help mould the future in the shape of the past.
5. Vince McMahon is triumphant
Vince loves to win. He single-handedly destroyed the territory era, he beat the steroid trial, and he clawed back from the dark years to buy out WCW and ECW for a pittance. McMahon is a winner and this is his latest victory. To lose CM Punk was bad enough, but Vince has always loved big guys like Brock, and losing him as well would be a crushing blow. CM Punk had already seemed done with the WWE, but his signing with the UFC came as a surprise. Lesnar however, was publicly being courted by both parties. Lesnar showing up at a UFC event while still under WWE contract was no accident, and was a shrewd business move. The world was waiting to see where he would go, and Vince came out on top.
4. Daniel Bryan vs Brock Lesnar would be epic
Fans have been incredibly vocal about their desire to see Bryan face Lesnar instead of Reigns. It does make sense. Bryan would be the ultimate David to Lesnar’s Goliath. The story makes more sense. Fans have proven in the last two Royal Rumble debacles that they are firmly behind him overcoming all odds as the new people’s champion. Fans loved seeing him “occupy” Raw and take on the Authority. His underdog story against the Brock would be a perfect fit.
Reigns’s story on the other hand depends on him looking as strong as possible, becoming a dark hero giant killer. The results have been tepid, with Paul Heyman as the only one shining in this cookie cutter feud. This could eventually work at “Mania, but perhaps the most exciting thing about the upcoming main event is not who will win, but who the crowd will cheer for.
With Lesnar now re-signed for three years, the WWE can eventually do this match, either at SummerSlam or possibly WrestleMania 32.
3. He’s more “Attitude” than PG
The WWE’s older fans have been vocal about their dislike of the PG era. Raised on the Attitude years, these fans love the “badass” factor of Lesnar. The WWE gave those fans the ultimate gift when Lesnar completely destroyed the vanilla good guy John Cena at SummerSlam. The WWE won’t be returning to edgy programming any time soon but Lesnar represents what little edge is left. He’s the opposite of nice, he’s a monster who crushes heroes. Whether it’s Cena or Undertaker, Lesnar has been built up as a the real legend-killer, and the loudest group of fans love it.
2. The Deal works for both parties
Lesnar appears genuinely happy with his WWE deal and that’s obviously a great situation for everyone. We all saw how dark Shawn Michaels got when his buddies Nash and Hall left for the WCW. Having a happy star should show in the product. And why shouldn’t he be happy? His new contract will give him huge money and more importantly a reduced schedule. Lesnar has openly spoken of his dislike of professional wrestling’s travel grind, so this was obviously a huge factor for him.
Vince also said on Stone Cold’s podcast that he sees Lesnar as a special attraction and it’s in WWE’s favor that he only appears sporadically. Whether you agree with that line of thinking or not, the bottom line is, both sides are happy.
Lesnar spoke about money and health. He said he had experienced the ups and downs of both and his current situation gave him the best of both worlds.
To break it down, Lesnar said “At the end of the day, it’s all about me wanting to have fun.”
1. It made WrestleMania better!
With Lesnar’s contract expiring the day after WrestleMania, it was a double-edged sword for fan expectations. To see Lesnar’s potential final match in the WWE would have been a great draw, yet knowing he was leaving killed any suspense, as Reigns would be guaranteed to win. Now with Brock staying, the WWE could have either superstar win. WrestleMania is their biggest event of the year, reaching the widest audience, and traditionally they have always gone with the good-guy happy ending. But who’s the good guy now? This isn’t Hulk Hogan versus a generic foreign enemy, it’s more shades of grey than black and white. A large contingent of fans love Lesnar and are cynical to Reigns’s huge push. Knowing we haven’t seen the last of Lesnar greatly improved WrestleMania, and that’s great for business, and great for the fans.
Update: We saw evidence of this Sunday, as we got a far more unpredictable ending than we would’ve otherwise. In addition, Lesnar’s presence at future WrestleManias instantly enhances those as well.
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