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Has The Rock Squashed Brock Lesnar’s WWE Return?

Brock Lesnar WWEWhile Brock Lesnar may be interested in returning to pro wrestling, one has to question whether Vince McMahon would want him back in the WWE. Thanks to The Rock, it wouldn’t shock me to see the Chairman of the Board take a pass.

Negotiations to bring Brock Lesnar back to the WWE have been off and on now for over a year. Most reports indicated Lesnar was ready to return last year or even this year but a little thing called a contract with the UFC prevented that from happening. While that may still be an issue, a bigger holdup may be the change in business from last year to today.

The WWE brought back The Rock last year to great success. The WrestleMania 27 buyrate was outstanding, attributed mostly to the return of Dwayne Johnson. The Rock’s initial television appearances brought in big television ratings and all seemed happy. Then something happened. He actually wrestled and nobody cared.

Most expected huge numbers for the Survivor Series which featured The Rock back in action for the first time in years. I am sure Vince McMahon expected even more with the money he is likely shelling out for the return of The People’s Champ. Well unfortunately the numbers just came back in for the Survivor Series buyrate and it looks like Vince McMahon spent a whole lot of money and got very little ROI for his troubles.

Most indications are that the WWE Survivor Series 2011 buyrate came in at around 160,000 buys. No that is not a misprint, Survivor Series got 160,000 domestic buys. That number is down close to 100,000 compared to expectations. To put that into perspective with other 2011 domestic numbers, the Royal Rumble did 281,000 buys, SummerSlam did 177,000 buys, and the Elimination Chamber did 145,000 buys, only 15,000 less than Survivor Series. This could be a huge problem for Brock Lesnar.

The Rock is not entirely to blame for that low buyrate. The booking of The Miz and R-Truth made the match come off as nothing more than a glorified squash match. Would the buyrate have been significantly higher if Awesome Truth were booked strong for months going into the match? Maybe or maybe business is just what it is and even the lure of seeing someone like The Rock doesn’t make a difference? I don’t know but the same people that booked that mess will be creating Brock’s storyline so what makes anyone think the ROI will be different?

Brock earned more money in MMA during his last full year as a fighter than anyone did in the sport. He is a man used to getting $3 million or more for a fight. He is expecting big money to return to the wrestling ring for Vince McMahon. As fun as it would be for the WWE to have him back, one has to question whether the Survivor Series buyrate will make Vince think twice about paying his former stars big money to return for minimal impact.

Could Brock get that kind of payoff for WrestleMania? He probably could but remember, Brock is retired. He is likely interested in making multiple appearances as part of a WWE deal. I think it is fair to say that The Rock was a much bigger star than Brock Lesnar ever was in the WWE. If The Rock can’t pull in more than 200,000 for a wrestling match, what would Lesnar draw? 145,000? Vince could get that number on his own, so what financial sense would it make to bring Brock back?

I also think it is also fair for the WWE to question just how “into it” Brock Lesnar would be if he was only coming back for a handful of matches. Take a look at Brock’s UFC performance Saturday and you will see a guy that knew he was fighting his last or second to last fight. Take a look at Brock’s last WWE appearance and you’ll see a guy that knew he was one and done. This isn’t to say that he didn’t have some great matches, most notably against Kurt Angle. But, for a guy that has never seemed to like pro wrestling all that much (unlike The Rock), is it worth paying him for what could be another low point in WrestleMania or WWE history?

Additionally, the bloom is somewhat off the rose for Lesnar. He would have came in at WrestleMania 27 as a recent former UFC champion. He has now beaten twice in a row, dropped in the first round to a massive audience. Is he returning as a conquering hero or a failed UFC star? Will the MMA crowd even care when after all, they never particularly liked Lesnar in the first place? Additionally, longtime WWE fans regard Lesnar’s last WWE match as one of the lowest points in WrestleMania history. Will those memories linger thus making fans think twice about paying to see him wrestle?

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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