Brock Lesnar is perhaps the most unique combat athlete of all time. His size, strength, agility and overall athleticism are something out of a video game, and only achievable then with a cheat code. He looks like a dude who could eat a Volkswagen, and his accomplishments in NCAA wrestling, MMA and pro wrestling will probably never be matched.
A two-time NCAA All-American (1999, 2000) and the 2000 Heavyweight Champion in Division I wrestling, Lesnar, who also won a national title in Junior College, has won four WWE heavyweight titles, the 2002 King of the Ring, 2003 Royal Rumble, and an IWGP Heavyweight Championship all (well, three of the four WWE titles, at least) before moving on to mixed-martial-arts and capturing the UFC Heavyweight Championship. And oh yeah, he broke The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania 30.
Despite this, Lesnar’s value in WWE has seemingly decreased since his feud with the Undertaker ended at Hell in a Cell last October.
As a part-time attraction with as much drawing power as anybody on the roster in decades, it is up to WWE to make Lesnar’s sporadic appearances feel as important as possible. When Brock first started ascending back to title contention, destroying the likes of Mark Henry and Big Show, his destructive, monster persona was being reestablished. Then, when he beat ‘Taker at Wrestlemania, it was clear WWE had invested in his legitimacy.
Destroying John Cena at Summerslam 2014 was a highlight of the current era. Putting the title on the biggest, strongest competitor, the guy who looked like he could beat the entire locker room in a brawl, suddenly Lesnar was the most legitimate champion WWE had ever presented.
Taking the title off Brock at Wrestlemania 31 was the right decision. They kept it away from Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins got an all-time great moment out of it and the belt was on an up-and-coming full-timer. Working around Brock’s rematches with Undertaker’s interference and building towards that rivalry was great. “Taker finally had a reason to extract revenge on Lesnar, costing him something comparable to what Lesnar had taken from Undertaker at ‘Mania a year earlier.
After what I considered an incredibly disappointing match to end The Streak in New Orleans, Lesnar and Undertaker engaged in two battles that blew me away at Summerslam and Hell in a Cell in 2015. Taker got a controversial win to set up the caged rubber match, and then the blow-off was a bloody mess, just as it should have been.
But since then, Brock just hasn’t had the same shine.
Personally, I thought it would have been great for WWE and Roman Reigns had Brock either won the title at the Royal Rumble and defended against Reigns at Wrestlemania in a rematch or have Brock come back as a hired gun for HHH after Reigns overcame the incredible odds and retained his championship at the Royal Rumble.
Unfortunately, we got two uninspiring main events out of Brock and Roman at ‘Mania. A predictable weapons match victory over Dean Ambrose for Lesnar, and a match between Hunter and Reigns that felt like it just wouldn’t end.
Lesnar hasn’t been back on WWE television since ‘Mania, and Reigns is getting booed out of every building.
Now, Lesnar has a deal in place to return for a one-off fight at UFC 200 on July 9th, before returning to WWE for Summerslam in August. WWE is promoting Lesnar’s scheduled UFC appearance, which is great for both companies.
UFC 100 is the best drawing UFC pay-per-view of all-time, an event headlined by Lesnar successfully defending the UFC Heavyweight Championship against Frank Mir. Looking to top the 1.6 million PPV buys from the 2009 event, UFC is bringing back the most notable combat athlete on the planet.
If Lesnar, who will turn 39 a few days after UFC 200, is able to win in his return to UFC, his mystique will be near an all-time high as WWE returns to Brooklyn for their second-annual Summerslam New York weekend.
Even if Lesnar loses, he can come back to WWE looking to prove he’s still the most dangerous man in WWE and can be booked as a monster with a chip on his shoulder. But in victory, he can once again be the special attraction who picks and chooses his victims, as well as the time and location of their decimation.
In victory, WWE could return to the Summerslam 2014 formula, and choose to put the belt on him. He could carry it for however long it takes for fans to get behind a star to seriously challenge him, and make a new face of the company that way. His reign could even be longer than the last. I wouldn’t mind seeing Lesnar hold the belt for a year, if that’s how long it takes or the next “Next Big Thing” to emerge.
Regardless, Lesnar is the best asset on WWE’s roster in terms of box office draw and mainstream appeal, as well as potential for making a new star. A legitimate win over Lesnar for a star under 35 could be what WWE needs to unify an audience that resents the decision makers, and refuses anything that feels forced upon them by the ironically named “creative,” headed up by Vince McMahon.
Getting Lesnar back in legitimate competition under the label of WWE Superstar, as has been written on WWE’s website, brings attention to his other endeavors, and brings back that big fight feel for his WWE matches. On a roster packed with new faces, WWE needs more legitimate main eventers, and Brock Lesnar, following a return to UFC, will be as big a main event attraction as ever.