Today I woke up to one of the most important announcements in WWE history and one which could define the future companies’ success in getting to the 2,3, and 4 million network subscriber mark they are aiming for. Two months ago I wrote an article pleading with Vince McMahon to pull out all the stops and convince Brock Lesnar to re-sign with WWE, but deep down I knew a return to UFC would prove too tempting. This morning I read the fantastic news that Vince, as he has done so many times in his career, has once again defied the odds and convinced one of the greatest athletes in WWE history and the most credible champion ever to remain with the company. Now Brock simply must retain the title at WrestleMania and continue to sit at the top of the tree for the next year until we have someone truly worthy of defeating him.
I am going to simply repeat a lot of what I said two months ago in this article, but as Paul Heyman will concur repetition is one of the key tools in communicating effectively. In addition the fact is I still hear so much complete and utter nonsense about how the supposed “mercenary” is damaging the company I feel the need to make a few points again.
What is this obsession with the guy working a full schedule or how much he earns? You would think that these people are personally paying Mr Lesnar’s wages every month the way they obsess about his every move. The fact is the rest of the roster should be able to put on a decent enough event without having to rely on Brock to come in every single show to save Raw or Smackdown from being completely terrible. It isn’t Brock Lesnar’s fault that Vince, Triple H and the creative team have managed to bodge together the worst build up to WrestleMania since its creation. It isn’t Brock Lesnar’s fault that the other titles have been appallingly booked. It isn’t Brock Lesnar’s fault that there are no other superstars currently at his level. It isn't Brock Lesnar's fault that in the other two "main events" that three of the four competitors are also part-time.
I would love someone to explain to me the benefit of having the champion defend his title week after week against anyone and everyone. What is the benefit for the champion, the challengers or the belt? When Floyd Mayweather won the WBC Light Welterweight title he didn’t defend it for 5 months. When he won the Middleweight title he didn’t defend it for 7 months. He wasn’t fighting every week against every chump who wanted 5 minutes of fame, instead when someone of the right calibre came along a match was booked and then promoted as the major spectacle it was.
“The Beast Incarnate” is on course for the most memorable Championship run in WWE history if his reign continues for the next 12 months. Nothing devalues a title more than it changing hands regularly and Lesnar’s dominance is giving the title more value than ever. Despite efforts to make fans dislike him with the “mercenary” tag he is getting over due, in part, to his Paul Heyman association and chemistry but mostly his emphatic in-ring displays.
Winning the title now has become more special, more unattainable, an almost impossible dream, an achievement a contender will have to have the best match of their life to achieve. It is a mountain to conquer in more ways than one. The UFC association is a benefit for WWE in this instance as Lesnar brings credibility to the title like no champion before him. I’ve no doubt that his recent appearance at UFC will now also grab the attention of people who wouldn’t normally watch WWE when he competes. This is not just a benefit for “the Beast” himself in fans buying into him as a legitimate champion, but will serve to benefit the next generation of wannabe headliners as he pushes them to their limits.
Paul Heyman is known for being something of an eccentric and people in the WWE hierarchy, such as Michael Hayes, have openly admitted to taking some of what he says with a pinch of salt as they know he is a fantastic salesman.
It is however hard to argue with this quote from an interview Heyman did with Rolling Stone in January: “If you look back on WWE 20 years from now, I would suggest the two most newsworthy matches (of this past year) were Brock Lesnar conquering the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania, and the most one-sided, uncontested beatdown of a top star in history when Brock hit John Cena with 16 suplexes and crushed him at SummerSlam….I don’t think anything else, from a historical perspective, can hold water to those two.”
I would now add the triple threat from Royal Rumble to that list. Brock Lesnar has been involved in the most exciting matches in what have been some pretty dull WWE PPV events. The internet has been awash with fans claiming NXT to now be the superior product; well if you were monitoring twitter after The Royal Rumble triple threat then you will know fans were definitely back on board. When he was tossing Cena around at SummerSlam people were going crazy, in a good way.
People will continue to argue that his part time status means he cannot continue or it is disrespectful to the belt. I agree with Mr McMahon on this one, as he said in his Stone Cold Steve Austin interview he is a special attraction and you don’t want to see him every single week. Vince has made more than his share of bad decisions but he would not have used him to end ‘The Streak’, something synonymous with his biggest pay cheque of the year, unless he was 100% sure he was the man to do it. He knew it was the only credible conclusion and long term would be “best for business”.
I’ll happily take six matches a year and get the top six matches of the year if that’s what it takes to keep him on the roster. When did recently appear on Raw to destroy the authority it was the best Raw moment I had seen in a long time, on a par with a vintage Stone Cold attack on McMahon and co. But if you dine on the finest steak every night eventually steak loses the value it once held and then something that used to be special isn’t anymore.
WWE have struggled in developing a team of superstar headliners to rival the ‘Attitude Era’ but this is the perfect opportunity. The storylines for the next 12 months should be built around the pool of superstars trying to outdo each other and reach the new level that has been created, the Brock Lesnar level of physical performance.
Rather than not discussing the absent champion as WWE have tended to do when he’s not around, Reigns, Ambrose, Rollins, Bryan, Wyatt should all competing with each other for the number one contender spot. That spot and chance to be “the one that conquered the one that is the one in twenty one and one” becoming almost as valuable as the championship in itself. Each of them, over the next year, getting their turn at the ‘staple’ PPV events and their chance to show what they can do against “The Beast”. If the WWE get their act together then there will also be other credible belts that people are competing for.
Seth Rollins is now accepted, more so than the as unpopular as ever Roman Reigns, as a main event guy after pushing himself to new limits against Lesnar and even hospitalising “The Beast”. If this is played out correctly by the time next WrestleMania comes we will have a group of superstars, rather than just Vince’s blue-eyed boy Cena, right on his tail and all deemed worthy of defeating the champion.
Lesnar is 37 now but is a ridiculous physical specimen and may as well be 27 and I’m shocked Mr McMahon convinced him not to go back to UFC to regain his title. It doesn’t matter how much it has cost he will prove to be priceless for WWE. Now “The Beast Incarnate” can be the one to take over from the Undertaker as the companies’ unstoppable force and along with Heyman spearhead the company for the next ten years.