The Brock Lesnar storyline finally exploded on the July 30 edition of Monday Night Raw. Lesnar came back to the red brand, threw his weight around and delivered exactly the type of character that everyone expected. He may not have broke any new ground but he at least he showed up. That’s more than he had done in a very long time.
Lesnar has not been seen on WWE programming since The Greatest Royal Rumble on April 27 and neither has his Universal Championship. But now he’s back and Roman Reigns has yet another chance to take down The Beast Incarnate. The match will happen at SummerSlam on August 19 and despite how much the fans didn’t want this, it’s happening all the same. But it’s time that this angle finally wraps up, one way or the other.
The absentee Universal champion has been a red hot topic of conversation since his appearance at UFC 226 on July 7. His MMA career may have restarted that night but his WWE career continued to stand still. Week after week, fans waited for the champ but week after week, he did not appear. But even as fans criticized him, Brock remained out of the WWE spotlight. But who was to blame?
Lesnar is the most controversial Superstar in WWE and he does nothing to deserve that honor except adhere to his contract. He may not be the most personable guy in the business. He may not love the sport like many of his peers. But Brock has a deal in place, he follows that deal and fans hate him for it.
That’s the irony of this storyline but many fans don’t see it. The reason for that is due both to Brock himself and to the way WWE has portrayed him. It’s indeed a perfect storm and it seems custom made for the narrative that the company is pushing. A good storyline is one that doesn’t necessarily feel like a storyline. This one has enough elements to completely blur the lines between fiction and reality.
It began as whispers in the beginning. In fact it was nothing more than just meaningless chatter; Brock Lesnar is the champ but he‘s never around. But that’s always been the case with Brock, which is why many fans remained unfazed by the situation. They knew he would be back eventually. That’s how the company handled Brock’s WWE world title reign in 2014. When the time was right to bring him back, he came back. When he wasn’t needed, he stayed away. Fans knew the deal and they always have.
But as time went on, the whispers became louder. The Universal Championship was supposedly WWE’s second top title. But how could anyone take it seriously when Brock never defends it? Why would anyone care?
Those concerns were soon met with affirmation from WWE when Roman Reigns addressed the title situation on the air. The Big Dog may be hated by a good portion of the WWE faithful but that did not seem to matter. Reigns had a point and everyone knew it. Lesnar was not around to silence him and every time Reigns spoke, everyone in the audience was listening.
Through the macho bravado that typically accompanies any pro wrestling promo were many truths. Those truths spotlighted Brock’s absence and lack of commitment to WWE. Roman was still booed of course but the more he spoke, the more he got over.
Then WWE stoked the fire even more when Raw General Manager Kurt Angle began discussing Brock’s title reign as well. Angle and Reigns were adding words to the chorus that fans were singing. Suddenly it became Brock Lesnar versus the world and that was the theme leading to his return on Raw.
Fans know that Brock doesn’t watch Raw so he reminded Paul Heyman of that very fact backstage. Fans also know that Brock would rather be any place but WWE so they put him on a couch with hunting magazines. Lesnar is his own man and doesn’t really care about pro wrestling angles, so he got physical with Heyman and left him on his back in the middle of the ring.
Brock Lesnar became the very thing that everyone believed he was. WWE prepped its audience for Lesnar’s Raw return so everyone knew exactly what to expect. The company obviously had a plan and executed it perfectly. It was so perfect in fact that fans were chanting Roman’s name when Brock was in the ring. That was surely the intended outcome. WWE did an amazing job with this storyline, there is no doubt about that.
However the time has come to end it. Brock is in the drug testing phase of his UFC return and will not be available to fight until January 2019. So WWE could have almost anything planned for Lesnar over the several months. But SummerSlam should be Brock’s final bow.
Maybe he loses the Universal Championship to Roman at SummerSlam thanks to outside interference from Paul Heyman, who would facilitate a Reigns heel turn. That would leave Brock on the outside looking in while Roman and his new advocate reigned over Monday Night Raw.
Or perhaps Brock pins Roman at SummerSlam and finally brings their rivalry to an end. But just as Lesnar is ready to leave with his title, Braun Strowman’s music hits and he cashes in his Money in the Bank contract. Fans have a full-time Universal champion and a newly extinct Beast Incarnate.
But no matter what direction the company takes on August 19, the fact is Brock’s run must finish. He’s played his part, he’s bided his time and now he can get back to his MMA career. WWE was indeed not his main focus and a loss at SummerSlam would tie up all loose ends for him. The temptation to keep the belt on him so he can walk into the Octagon as a two-sport champion is likely real, but WWE should ignore it.
If not, then everything Roman Reigns did to this point has been for nothing. Fans may or may not fully accept him as a babyface if he beats Brock. But if they don’t, it will not be due to a lack of effort on WWE’s part. This last gasp to baby him out could not have gone better on July 30.
But if it fails on August 19, then it will just have to fail. WWE can move on and work with what it has. Roman is not going anywhere. But Brock Lesnar seems ready to move on and WWE should let that happen. The fans are definitely ready to move on and the WWE should be as well.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, iHeart Radio, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com