The contract status of WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar continues to be a major topic of debate and even controversy as we continue to push forward to Wrestlemania 31. As of last Thursday, March 12, 2015, Lesnar had not reached an agreement with WWE on a new contract and was still only booked through the Raw after Wrestlemania on March 30, 2015.
It appeared that Lesnar’s relationship with WWE was on the brink of collapse — something that happened a little over a decade ago — when Brock left the February 23, 2015 Raw taping in Nashville, TN without appearing as advertised. Numerous accounts of a verbal confrontation with Vince McMahon were reported, with it being learned there are continued issues with Lesnar’s merchandise royalties going forward in WWE.
Brock has not been happy with what he’s made on merchandise. While he’s guaranteed a higher rate than a lot of guys, he feels that WWE has intentionally under merchandised him — not even featuring it at most shows — to keep from losing money on it. To solve the problem, Brock has requested on his new contract, he be guaranteed a set amount of his merchandise royalties. This would force WWE to push his merchandise to guarantee they didn’t lose money on it and he made his money no matter what.
Sources indicate that Vince McMahon feels this is a dangerous precedent to set and as of last week, had not backed down from his stance of “no deal.”
Of course there is the possibility that Brock’s “walk out” was some type of elaborate work as days later he was seen talking to Dana White at UFC 184 in Los Angeles, CA. While some may consider that a stretch, Vince is known to like to “toy” with White and what a better way to get some free promotion than have the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at a UFC pay-per-view? Further, WWE approved Paul Heyman mentioning Brock going to UFC by name in a promo on the March 9, 2015 episode of Raw.
As a result, there continues to be more optimism that Brock will sign a new deal with WWE and remain with them past March 2015.
Whether or not Brock re-signs with WWE will likely play a large part in how he’s booked in his WWE World Heavyweight Championship match against Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 31. However, there remains the possibility that WWE has to book him at the show without knowing his future.
Sources close to Brock Lesnar have maintained he wants to field offers from interested parties after his WWE contract is up but would Vince McMahon risk letting him walk after his biggest show of the year? Not to mention there are continued concerns in regards to the reaction towards Roman Reigns that he should be the guy to end The Beast.
Is this a case where Brock Lesnar goes over Roman Reigns and WWE utilizes the Money in the Bank briefcase and has Seth Rollins successfully “cash in?”
It’s truly not known what WWE will do but what we do know is we don’t know Brock Lesnar’s future past Wrestlemania 31. Not yet.
One reader wanted to know how Brock Lesnar could walk out of Raw while under contract and go unpunished. I’ve answered a variety of this question on a number of occasions but how are they going to punish him? If Brock’s “walk out” was legitimate, they certainly didn’t want to risk the Wrestlemania main event they’ve built for the past few months and were hoping cooler heads would prevail (and they did, as Brock returned and has actively participated in the push to the show). Obviously had Lesnar refused to work any further, WWE could sue him for breach of contract but that was a road they were hoping they wouldn’t have to travel down, which we now know they did not.
Some are worried Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 31 turns out to be nothing more than what Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg was at Wrestlemania XX in 2004 - a major letdown. Obviously that possibility is there but a lot has changed since Brock’s “final WWE match” 11 years ago. For one, Brock was brought back under an exuberant contract to work main event pay-per-view matches. He’s not upset with anything creatively and just wants a better deal with his merchandise royalties. He has no real reason to not at least try to put on an entertaining match, especially if he wants WWE to bid heavy on his services after the show (something that could very well happen as WWE could join UFC and Bellator all vying for Lesnar’s signature).
Furthermore, Reigns has as much if not more than anyone riding on the match against Brock Lesnar. This isn’t Goldberg from 2004. This is a guy looking to make a name for himself and he’s hungry to steal the show. He knows he has haters and he wants to prove them wrong.
Combine Lesnar wanting to keep as many parties interested in his services and Reigns hungry to prove himself with the fact the show is being held in an open-air stadium (to dull audience members looking to hijack the match), the probability of Lesnar vs. Reigns at Wrestlemania 31 becoming like Lesnar vs. Goldberg at Wrestlemania XX is unlikely.
All and all, Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns remains as intriguing outside of the ring as it will be in the ring. There continue to be a number of questions that won't be answered until Wrestlemania 31 ends in just over a week. What there won't be is a shortage of material to write about or side debates about each of the participants.