In World Wrestling Entertainment fantasy often imitates reality. Real-life beefs (Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels, The Rock/John Cena) translated into engaging, believable in-ring action.
Sometimes, however, this emulation is hurtful. Such is the case with current WWE Champion
Brock Lesnar. Lesnar is a freak athlete, on a historical level. So much so that he nearly secured a place on the Minnesota Vikings roster in 2004 (despite never playing organized football above the prep level), and defeated MMA legend Randy Couture for the UFC Heavyweight Championship in 2008 (in only Lesnar’s fourth professional fight.)
Though incredibly inexperienced, Brock went on to defend the belt eight months later against former champion Frank Mir at UFC 100’s mega event generating great heel heat by flipping off the crowd, disparaging the company’s top sponsor, and leaving the cage with his wife, fellow former WWE wrestler, Sable. Lesnar then battled a variety of maladies (including mononucleosis, a result of an overworked immune system brought on by a near-deadly battle with diverticulitis) that would keep him out of action for nearly a year.
During that time, an interim champion (Shane Carwin) was crowned, but the title was never defended, taking much luster off of the heavyweight crown. Brock would return to unify the belts, defeating Carwin in July of 2010 to only drop the title to Cain Velasquez three months later. Brock turned out to be battling a second case of diverticulitis during training for both bouts, and would be out another 14 months, before retiring after a 2011 loss to Alistair Overeem.
After generating huge mainstream buzz for the company, and ushering in the most profitable era in MMA history, the Brock Lesnar experiment ultimately sputtered due to Lesnar’s inactivity. Today, in the WWE, history seems to be repeating itself. After leaving UFC, Brock Lesnar returned to his wrestling roots, rejoining the WWE in April 2012, after an eight year hiatus. And, after the occasional ‘special attraction’ match, the company put the ultimate faith in Lesnar, having Brock put a stop to the Undertaker’s 21-year Wrestlemania undefeated streak, and brutally beating John Cena in a one-sided affair for the WWE Title just four months later.
I viewed the move as not only incredibly bold, but potentially lucrative, and an absolute needle-mover.
If Lesnar was on television on a weekly basis, his monthly title defenses would bring a must-watch element to the WWE Network. Unfortunately, after a single title defense (at September’s Night of Champions event), Lesnar has not been seen on WWE programming. He was not scheduled to appear at November’s Survivor Series event, and won’t defend the title until 2015 at the Royal Rumble as we all know now. This has been awful for not only for WWE fans, but the company as well. No top title presence on its weekly programming brings a severe lack of credibility to the championship. Just like UFC, expect the WWE to survive this Brock-induced lull. However, the Lesnar Hangover is real, and the company must find the remedy soon.
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