The Curious Case of Brock Lesnar’s UFC 200 Fight
Brock Lesnar made it to the headlines of the sports industry when he announced that he would fight at the UFC 200 pay-per-view.
Lesnar agreed to terms with UFC to fight the Samoan superstar, Mark Hunt in a heavyweight bout. This will be his first fight after UFC 141 where he lost to Alistair Overeem and retiring thereafter. Incidentally, this move benefits WWE the most.
Lesnar, prior to his second stint in professional wrestling, had a successful yet short lived UFC career. He not only won the UFC Heavyweight Championship but also became the highest paid MMA athlete at $ 5.3 million according to the May 2011 issue of ESPN’s magazine. UFC achieved record pay-per-view buy-rates thanks to Lesnar’s stardom and popularity.
However, his struggles with diverticulitis cut short a promising UFC career and Lesnar returned to WWE in 2012, the night after Wrestlemania XXVIII.
Since then, WWE dubbed Lesnar as ‘The Beast (Incarnate)’ and marketed him as an indestructible force that conquered everything else in the world of amateur wrestling and had returned to professional wrestling to reclaim his throne. WWE booked Lesnar in high stakes matches against John Cena, Triple H, CM Punk, Undertaker, Big Show and Mark Henry; all the top stars and veterans of the company in the top pay-per-views.
Such was his dominance that since his return and up to this day, he has only been pinned twice. During this period, WWE strongly booked the beast and he was the one to end the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. That win was followed by him bulldozing over John Cena at SummerSlam 2014 to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
These two massive victories proved that WWE had indeed planned big things for Lesnar. His manager, Paul Heyman constantly brought up the significance of the Wresltemania victory over Undertaker, claiming that the Beast had conquered it all as a pro wrestler. The championship win was the icing on the cake; everything coming to a full circle since Lesnar left the company last time shortly after dropping the WWE Championship.
WWE made big money with Brock Lesnar since his return. The pay-per-views he appeared in generated more buzz and WWE via storyline protected him from clean losses.
Now that Lesnar is ready to go for one last UFC fight whilst still being under the contract of WWE, it opens a lot of opportunities for them! Firstly, the news of his return to the octagon comes at a time when WWE has announced their brand split where Raw and SmackDown will have separate rosters.
UFC 200 will go live on July 9 and the brand split has been scheduled to take place live on July 19 episode of SmackDown. WWE has the luxury of having Lesnar appear on that show after his big UFC fight. It would mean more viewership for the company and increased TV ratings.
Additionally, right after the fight the media, the fans, everyone would be interested to know about what Brock Lesnar would do next. As a result, the casual fans would tune in to watch WWE again. Lesnar has already given an interview on ESPN where he opened up about his UFC career and the reasons why he left the company prematurely. Such media appearances bring WWE to more people, the MMA and sports fans who usually do not follow pro wrestling. They would likely tune in on July 19 to watch what Lesnar does on SmackDown if he is booked to appear in the show.
Thirdly, Lesnar’s appearance at UFC 200 opens the door for UFC superstars to appear and perhaps perform in WWE pay-per-views. Ronda Rousey has already appeared in a segment at Wrestlemania 31 and rumors are that WWE wants her to wrestle at Wrestlemania 33. Lesnar fighting at UFC 200 gives WWE more bargaining power. They can push for stars like Rousey, Connor McGregor to appear in WWE shows.
The attitude era saw Mike Tyson clashing against Stone Cold Steve Austin and turning on D-Generation-X during Wresltemania XIV. The Ruthless Aggression era saw Floyd Mayweather appear and compete in a Wrestlemania bout. Long before that, the late Muhammad Ali was the special guest enforcer at the first Wrestlemania . Superstar crossovers from UFC, if handled correctly by the creative team can lead to great storytelling and stellar matches in future for WWE.
Lastly, WWE can capitalize on the outcome of Lesnar’s fight against Hunt. A win means Lesnar returns to WWE stronger than before, now having scripted his UFC goodbye the way he wanted to. The creative would book Lesnar as the unstoppable force again and he would surely challenge for the WWE World Championship. A Wresltemania rematch with the current champion Dean Ambrose is perfect for that.
But WWE would probably benefit more if Lesnar loses against Hunt on July 19. One of the main reasons that Lesnar has been booked this way till now is that he would be conquered by a rising babyface ultimately. This huge win would then kick start the rise to immortality of that babyface’s pro wrestling career. This is booking 101; you build an unstoppable force so that one day it will be conquered by the ultimate hero, the savior of all.
Should Lesnar lose his fight, WWE can slowly start to go towards that direction. They need not rush. It will be absolutely disastrous from a marketing as well as booking perspective if WWE books Lesnar to lose clean at SummerSlam right after his UFC loss.
However, the process of the slaying of the beast can start gradually. WWE has many rising superstars who can take on that role- Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Cesaro are just a few of them. WWE would be able to create a new top guy for the company, someone who would be of the same level as John Cena/Randy Orton; something they have not been able to do so for quite a while.
WWE has so much to do now. Once Lesnar returns after his UFC bout, it will be their responsibility to capitalize on his stardom and the outcome of his match and weave that into storylines while waiting for Lesnar to deliver stellar action in the ring. This summer, WWE has the perfect chance to hit the jackpot with Lesnar and it would be a shame if they mess things up!