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Brock Lesnar's Future, Too Much Crazy?, Rumble Main Event, Competing w/WWE

The following is today's edition of Ask WNW. Ask WNW is the most popular feature on the website where Richard Gray answers four questions daily, Monday through Friday. To submit your question for the next installment of Ask WNW, click here.
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Is it just me or did Brock Lesnar look leaner on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw? Perhaps an indication he’s returning to MMA competition?

Brock Lesnar is in the best shape of his life and he’s looked leaner for the past several months. Diverticulitis halted his fighting career but he’s healthy and has a big decision to make in 2015. Will he re-sign with WWE after Wrestlemania 31? Entertain a return to UFC? Or, will he head to a competing MMA company in Bellator?

We first reported here on Premium that Bellator/Spike TV had been “going hard” at CM Punk, but Punk’s people postured to Bellator that he wasn’t doing MMA. Punk wanted to fight in UFC and the feeling was there was no way he was going to turn down an offer from them. Bellator is upset they missed out and want Lesnar if he chooses to leave WWE.

I’m told Brock wants a chance to “explore free agency” and there is a possibility that WWE will have to book him at Wrestlemania 31 without knowing his future. From a business perspective, Brock should absolutely hold out as he’s likely to get a very good deal regardless of where he goes.

Having written all of this, whoever had Brock come through the curtain on Raw without the WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt should be held accountable. I’m not going to call for someone’s job but what a way to further devalue the belt by having Lesnar appear without it when he first returned. Brock later came out with the title but his initial run-in without it was noticeable and that’s an inexcusable mistake.

Do you believe WWE overuses the “insane” gimmick? Off the top my head I can think of Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Kane (to an extent) and Randy Orton.

All of the gimmicks you mentioned are different nuances of crazy. Dean Ambrose is “unstable,” Bray Wyatt is “possessed,” Kane is a “demon” and Randy Orton is “vindictive.” I understand the similarities but WWE has to play to the strengths of their workers.

Someone in the comments area on Monday accused me of being a mark for describing Dean Ambrose as a guy who I believe actually enjoys high spots. No, I do not think Ambrose is “legitimately insane” to the point where he can’t function, that’s ridiculous. But it’s well-documented he’s willing to sacrifice his body for the sake of entertainment. WWE would be completely be missing the boat on Ambrose if they didn’t play to what made him one of the top independent talents in the world.

WWE is scripted entertainment but the best gimmicks are real-life personalities turned up to the max (Steve Austin the redneck, Hogan the super hero, CM Punk the anti-establishment, etc.) When WWE tries to force a gimmick on someone, it almost always fails. The company clearly has a set of guys that are all good at playing different degrees of crazy, as every gimmick you mentioned has been successful.

Do you see John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar closing Royal Rumble over the Royal Rumble match?

It’s a possibility but I am unable to confirm that at this time. I think an argument could be made for each scenario. The argument for Cena vs. Lesnar to close is that it’s the “final battle” between two icons, with the winner likely defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 31. Not to mention it’s the first WWE World Heavyweight Championship match in more than 5 months. The counterargument is that it’s a match a lot of fans aren’t looking forward to seeing again and WWE could face the possibility of “losing the crowd” if they close with it over the Royal Rumble match. CM Punk vs. The Rock closed Royal Rumble 2013, while the Rumble match closed this year’s show. This year’s show turned out to be one of the worst Royal Rumble pay-per-views ever because of the forceful booking of Batista as winner.

I have been following Ring of Honor and some other independent promotions for some time now. Recently ROH's Final Battle had some very good production quality and a new ring setup. Also the new shows like Lucha Underground and Global Force Wrestling are coming up. Do you think anyone has a chance at going head to head with WWE?

It’s going to be very difficult for any company or promotion to compete with WWE. TNA Wrestling had everything they needed - a solid financial backer, a major US TV deal and a talent roster every bit as good as WWE but they never even came close to competing. Could a different management team with the same resources produce a different result? It’s possible as we all know the dysfunction that flows out of Nashville but there’s no way to know for sure.

I think it’s great for the wrestling business to see new programs pop up but none have the level of distribution that WWE has. Obviously that could change but it’s going to be an uphill battle competing with the corporate giant that is WWE.

From the Ask WNW vault…

January 2013: What match should go on last at Royal Rumble – CM Punk vs. The Rock for the WWE Championship or the 30-man Royal Rumble match? - If I was booking the show, I would open with the 30-man Royal Rumble match and close with the WWE title match. There aren’t many bouts big enough to bump the 30-man Royal Rumble out of the main event of the pay-per-view which carries its name but did you see the promo work between CM Punk and The Rock on this week’s Raw? As far as I’m concerned that segment took this match to another level and I look forward to watching it play out. For those wondering why I would open with the Rumble match, rather than somewhere in the middle of the card, there needs to be a significant amount of time between the two matches to give the crowd time to recover. Booking the bouts too close together runs the risk of wearing the crowd out and hurting the reactions. With that being said, I haven’t heard WWE’s plans for the show.

The next installment of Ask WNW is scheduled to run on Wednesday, December 17, 2014.

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