Saturday, April 7, 2012

Brock Lesnar's Return: The Short and Long Term Impact

We knew it was coming. We had read the rumors in the days leading up to Wrestlemania. Speculation was running wild leading up to the event. While nothing happened at Wrestlemania, the next night on RAW was different. The crowd made the night special. And then when John Cena was out there waiting for The Rock to come out, the music hit that we were all waiting for. Then through the curtain, Brock Lesnar walked out to one of the biggest pops I've heard in quite some time. I would say it was louder than The Rock received in his initial return. It was a surreal moment that definitely changed the landscape of the WWE for the coming year, and possibly beyond.

Brock Lesnar's return should mean good business for the WWE. Since he left the WWE in 2004, Lesnar has become a bigger star than he once was. Lesnar's success in UFC has garnered him star status. He was a huge money draw in UFC and I'm sure the WWE hopes he can bring over some of that success to them. Lesnar should bring back some WWE fans that left for UFC. And Lesnar's contract, which is said to be for a year, worth anywhere between $3-5 million, and have Lesnar appear for between 30-40 dates a year, seems quite fair for both sides. When it is all set and done, Lesnar should prove that he was well worth the contract given to him.

The big money match-ups Lesnar will create should pay off for the WWE in the long run. It appears his first match-up will be with John Cena. I find it unlikely to happen right away at Extreme Rules. I could see it happening at Over the Limit in May. I would find it hard to believe that the WWE could hold it off until SummerSlam. There's always Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker. The two have history in the WWE and that "confrontation" they had after one of Lesnar's UFC fights. Lesnar could also have a brief program with C.M. Punk, Sheamus or maybe even Daniel Bryan.

Of course, we all know the real money match for the WWE is The Rock vs Brock Lesnar. That match is rumored to be headlining next year's Wrestlemania. Along with Lesnar's return, The Rock also reportedly signed a new one year deal with the WWE. On RAW this past Monday, Rock talked about him becoming WWE Champion again. If The Rock is going to win the WWE Title, it should happen around Survivor Series/Royal Rumble time so he has the Title leading into Wrestlemania. Or they could reverse roles with Lesnar winning the Title, and Rock challenging at Wrestlemania. A Rock/Brock match, in the New York market, could sell Wrestlemania out immediately.

But while the return of Brock Lesnar will mean big things in the short term, the WWE also needs to look at Brock Lesnar's return for the big picture. Lesnar will bring in new viewers and hopefully keep them for the whole year he is around. So during this time, it is important for the WWE to not only hype up Lesnar, but also finally get behind their young talent and push them to either the new viewers they will gain and their old viewers returning for Brock. They failed to do that with the return of The Rock, but they must do that with the return of Brock Lesnar. Rock didn't help move the ratings needle too much, but I believe Lesnar will.

There are WWE talents who are unhappy that Lesnar is back, similar to what they felt when The Rock returned. First of all, those guys need to stop being a bunch of whiners and grow up. Second of all, they need to realize that the return of Brock Lesnar will not only help the WWE long run, but it could help them as well. Assuming Lesnar is gone again after Wrestlemania 29, the WWE will need to keep their viewers around after he leaves. The WWE has a lot of young talent on their roster. From Sheamus, to Cody Rhodes, to Daniel Bryan to Wade Barrett. Now more than ever is the time for the WWE to finally put all of their energy into showcasing these guys to their new viewers.

Now Wrestlemania wasn't  exactly the best start for Sheamus, but that wasn't his fault. But Sheamus should still be a big part of the WWE's future. I don't know if this Daniel Bryan stuff will last only a week or continue long term, but it could help Bryan and Sheamus long run. If anything, it could lead to a pretty big double turn down the line in this feud. Sheamus could start to get frustrated with the fans for cheering Bryan and just snap, while Bryan can continue to do what he is doing and garner more fan support without changing his act much. All of this could have been avoided had the WWE booked a longer match at Wrestlemania. But it will be interesting to see where these two go from here. If the support for Bryan continues, the WWE will have quite an interesting dilemma on their hands.

I think the two big pieces of the puzzle, however, are Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes. And to a lesser extent, Dolph Ziggler. If I had to pick three guys to show off and fully get behind a main event push in the next year, it would be these three. Barrett has shown since Day One that he could be a top guy in the WWE. He was put into a top storyline, made the leader of a rebel group known as Nexus, and held his own in the ring and on the mic the entire time. Barrett has already handled a main event program before, and there is no reason to believe that he couldn't again. If Rock and Brock are going to headline Wrestlemania for the WWE Title, but neither plan on sticking around after, how do you get the Title off of them? Easy, have Wade Barrett win the Money in the Bank contract and cash in right after the match and leave WWE Champion. Then the next night on RAW, Barrett can brag that with the entire world watching, he was the one that left Wrestlemania on top and as WWE Champion. That's how you make a new star.

Cody Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler are different stories. Both men have improved every day since they started in the WWE. While Dolph has taken a step or two back in the last couple months, he still has shown that he has the talent to be a top level worker. The WWE seems to get behind him, then change their mind about half way through the push. That needs to change. Ziggler is one of the better in ring workers in the company. He can handle a main event program if given the time. Cody Rhodes, meanwhile, continues to change his character as time goes on. Cody's program with Big Show heading into Wrestlemania was very entertaining, especially his promos on Big Show. Rhodes went from being a corny 80s gimmick to a serious wrestler. His character isn't really defined, but he is still entertaining to watch. With Barrett gone on Smackdown, I think it is Cody's time to rise to the top and take on a main event program. I think he could get a run at Sheamus this summer. When Wade Barrett returns, I could see a move to RAW in either his or Rhodes future.

No matter who it is, the WWE needs to realize that the return of Brock Lesnar can pay dividends for them in the short term and long. If the WWE wants to keep viewers around for the long term, they need to get behind other talent and show them off to their new viewers. The WWE just can't half ass their other booking outside of Brock Lesnar. They need to take advantage of this golden opportunity handed to them.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

No comments:

Post a Comment