On an otherwise throwaway edition of WWE RAW on Monday night, there was a bombshell dropped. This week on Smackdown, Brock Lesnar's Summerslam opponent will be revealed. Just days before his return to the octagon at UFC 200, the company is getting ahead of itself to make headlines.
This column will dive into a few possible opponents for The Beast, as well as just why exactly WWE is (oddly) announcing the news now.
First, the timing...
Why NOW, days before UFC 200? - I think this is being done for two reasons. One good, one kinda pointless.
The pointless reason is maybe WWE wants fans to know what their Summerslam plans are BEFORE he has his UFC fight. Kinda petty but in their mind, nobody can turn around after Saturday night and claim that his win (or loss) changed WWE's plans. Online folks love their conspiracy theorists, and you KNOW people would have had these wild statements after UFC 200 that WWE scrambled for a new opponent, or they were upset he lost, or he would be in the main event since he won, or whatever. You get the point. WWE is getting ahead of the curve and letting the world know of their plans - win or lose at UFC 200, it doesn't matter.
Second reason (and much more logical) is that WWE and UFC had to have struck some kind of deal to make the Brock Lesnar fight happen. I know both sides have pretty much denied this, but come on! Vince McMahon did not arm wrestle Brock to let him walk into the biggest UFC pay-per-view of the year while under a WWE contract. There is more to the story than meets the eye, and one of the terms could have included a Summerslam plug/promo during UFC 200.
Even a quick 30 second video during the broadcast would be a major deal, seeing as this will be a major event for the MMA world.
In that, wouldn't WWE like to have the Brock Lesnar match already set in stone? Easy to hype up, instead of a broad statement that he will return to the squared circle in a month? Heck, I already threw out the idea that Brock's opponent will be sitting cageside, front row at UFC 200.
Again, that would mean the Summerslam opponent must be announced before Saturday. If that means getting few mentions to piggyback off UFC and give Smackdown some shine heading into the WWE Draft in two weeks, that is win-win for everybody! WWE gets to tease the Lesnar/Summerslam showdown in front of a massive UFC PPV audience. Plus, viewers were given a little incentive to watch Smackdown this Thursday night.
Makes sense to me...
As for WHO that opponent will be?
A lot of names have been thrown around the past 24 hours, but in reality, I have narrowed it down to three. I was thinking of WWE revisiting The Wyatt Family feud...but please no. Please no. I didn't want that feud earlier in the year, and I certainly could do without it now.
Here are my top three choices:
Note: This is being written BEFORE the Tuesday Smackdown tapings, as I do not read spoilers. Please be respectful of that.
Randy Orton? - This is the big rumor at the moment. It would be a VERY fresh matchup for WWE Summerslam and one that fans have been begging for. Mr. RKO is on his way back from injury, so he may not be quite ready to take a beating from Brock Lesnar, but keep in mind the event is over a month away. That gives both plenty of time to rest, heal up, and prepare themselves.
Truthfully, I am not THAT pumped for a Randy Orton vs. Brock Lesnar matchup. Like the much discussed Sting vs. The Undertaker dream match, I was always kind of indifferent to it. We have seen Lesnar and Orton go at it before, but that was over a decade ago before either was truly a main event legend. Thus, you have to assume both men would love the idea to finally have a real feud, as would WWE. Easy to slot them into the Summerslam card without disrupting the WWE Draft and/or current feuds.
The Winner Of The Shield Triple Threat Title Match At Battleground? - Another popular idea. Brock Lesnar gets a title show versus the winner for the Battleground PPV main event? Dean Ambrose? Seth Rollins? Orrrrr Roman Reigns? We all know the WrestleMania 31 main event rematch is going to happen eventually. Reigns vs. Lesnar Part 2! Remember there never was a finish to that match, as Seth Rollins inserted himself late. I really like this idea, but at the same time, that would mean one of two things at Summerslam.
Either Brock Lesnar would lose his return bout or we have another Brock Lesnar championship reign...
Admittedly, that would be a bit different with apparently TWO separate WWE World Titles coming soon. However, I am not sure we are in store for another Brock/part-time champ. Thus, that would mean Brock Lesnar would lose to Reigns, Ambrose, or Rollins. Same thought: I am not sure he should be losing right after his UFC 200 performance (win or lose there).
Tough to imagine. Still, it would partially explain why the announcement is this Thursday on Smackdown - it leaves things up in the air as a mystery until Battleground ends.
Finally, we arrive at the odds makers number one selection as of press time...
Kevin Owens? - This has been the thought for months now. Brock Lesnar vs. Kevin Owens in a summer feud. Owens will be finished with Sami Zayn after Battleground, and if the plan is to move him up the card (but not become champ), then this is the best idea. Owens gains a lot no matter what, and it gives Lesnar a different opponent for a month or two.
Even before Raw last night, this was my pick. Yeah, Owens took a pie to the face and got humiliated. My response is "Who cares?" He will be just fine, and him and Paul Heyman dueling on the mic is a quick fix to that small embarrassment. Plus, Owens was 'protected' in the RAW main event by being one of the few to not be pinned or forced to submit.
As much as I can see WWE looking for a "mainstream marque main event" for Brock Lesnar, the Kevin Owens option is highly intriguing.
What do yo folks think? Let me know below in the comment section. Again, please avoid any spoiler talk. Thanks!
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