In hopes of capitalizing on the media attention given to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, the WWE have announced his next opponent. Brock will make his official WWE return at SummerSlam and his opponent may or may not be a bit of a surprise.
The WWE made the subtle announcement on their Aftermath show which airs in Canada after SmackDown. According to the announcement, Lesnar will return to the WWE after a lengthy sabbatical at SummerSlam. Lesnar’s opponent will be the also returning Randy Orton.
There is however a bit of controversy surrounding the announcement. The WWE had promoted that the opponent would be revealed on this week’s SmackDown. Canada gets SmackDown before the United States does. However, there was no announcement made on the actual SmackDown broadcast as promised. The announcement came on the post-show which has opened up quite a few conspiracy theories.
Dave Meltzer mused about the change in plans on his most recent F4WOnline.com podcast. Meltzer had a few theories. The first is that the WWE had a sudden change in plans and forgot to inform the producers of the post-show. Meltzer speculated that change could be a result of a few different things. One being that the match was changed and Lesnar will not be wrestling Orton. The other being that the WWE wants to wait and see what happens at UFC 200 before making the announcement.
I think most conspiracies will be squashed if the United States version of SmackDown that airs Thursday has the reveal in the show. It doesn’t mean Meltzer is wrong as they could have changed their minds once again figuring the cat is already out of the bag. What it will do however is confirm that the match is indeed on between Orton and Lesnar.
I can understand the WWE trying to piggyback off of all of the media attention Lesnar will get at UFC 200. Yet there is a great risk to making this announcement now as opposed to waiting until after the fight. The biggest risk is injury. Lesnar is going into a real fight with a guy that may be one of the hardest hitters in combat sports. There is a big chance that Lesnar will get punched and even knocked out. If so, Lesnar will then have to theoretically get into the concussion protocol program. Beyond just being knocked out, he could get hurt, seriously injured as well.
Now back to Randy Orton. It’s an odd choice but if you remember back to 2012 when Lesnar returned, Orton vs. Lesnar was rumored at one point for that year’s SummerSlam. Lesnar wound up wrestling Triple H instead, setting up their WrestleMania program. I don’t think it’s a bad match and you have some history there if you want to focus on it in the storyline since both came up through OVW together. I just think you have better options for Lesnar, especially since Orton is coming back cold.
Bray Wyatt would have been the obvious choice. Wyatt even teased the match on a recent ESPN appearance. It is highly likely that the WWE doesn’t want to beat either guy which is why the match is not happening. Kevin Owens or even Roman Reigns would have been better opponents for Brock as well.
Whether the WWE sticks with Lesnar vs. Orton is something we may not know until after Lesnar fights on Saturday night. Either way it’s clear indication that Brock isn’t going anywhere and that the Viper’s return is right around the corner.