The news broke over Wrestlemania 28 weekend and then it was confirmed this past Monday Night on RAW. Brock Lesnar is back in the WWE and will be wrestling a schedule that has been described as “more then the Undertaker but less then Goldberg.” The deal is reportedly a one-year deal and while Lesnar returning to the WWE is good for business, I don’t understand why the fans of the WWE are so excited for him to be back.
The pop that Lesnar got when he returned was historic; I’d be lying to you if I too didn’t “mark out” when “The Next Big Thing” came out on the ramp of the RAW SuperShow. I was a huge fan of Brock Lesnar when he was in the WWE from 2002 to 2004 and while it’s great to have him back in the WWE, I have a tough time welcoming him back with complete open arms. While it’s great that he is back and it’s great for business, I haven’t forgotten everything that was in-between the years he left the WWE in 2004 and today in 2012.
It amazes me how quickly we can forget the way Brock Lesnar exited the WWE back in 2004. A week before his much anticipated and much hyped Wrestlemania 20 match with Goldberg at Madison Square Garden news broke that he was leaving the WWE for a shot at the NFL. The wrestling world was spun upside down with the shocking news that the biggest star in the WWE the past two years was leaving the company.
He was the next big star, he was the next big hero and he was going to be the star that carried the WWE on his back for years to come and for two years he did exactly that. Until he wanted out of the WWE to pursue a career in the NFL and leaving the WWE without it’s future & current top star. The WWE heavily invested a lot of time, money and effort in making Brock Lesnar that next link from Hogan to Austin to The Rock to him and he walked away because he had grown unhappy with the wrestling business.
The fans of the WWE were shocked and upset that Lesnar was leaving the company voicing their displeasure for the exiting superstar at Wrestlemania 20. The moment is infamous and the match itself was one of the worst Wrestlemania matches ever. His exit from the WWE pissed off an entire legion of WWE fans that watched him grow the past two years and knew he was the next to carry the company.
His attempt at the NFL was a failure as he was a late cut by the Minnesota Vikings and he wanted to return to wrestling at a New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) but it was blocked by the WWE since Lesnar had signed a no-compete clause that prevented him from wrestling and fighting in any Mixed Martial Arts companies until June 2010. This lawsuit actually was the start for a slight door opening as the WWE and Lesnar had agreed upon a new contract for him to return during the summer 2005. The agreement was short lived as he shortly thereafter withdrew involvement with the WWE and once again angered the wrestling community.
Shortly after a new WWE deal ended so did the lawsuit he had with the company that helped build him as he was able to appear on MMA shows and he was now able to wrestle for NJPW. His short time with NJPW saw him also win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship before losing to TNA wrestler Kurt Angle in what would be his last wrestling match until now. With the lawsuit out of the way Lesnar and his wrestling career done he was no available to train for an MMA run.
The MMA & UFC career of Brock Lesnar is well known as he was able to turn the MMA world on its heads and helping make it more mainstream during his three years in the UFC. At one time he was the highest paid athlete in all of the UFC and in MMA making $5.3 million in his final year with the UFC. He fought his last match and retired at UFC 141 on December 30th, 2011 leading to an immediate whirlwind of “WWE return rumors” to begin the moment he announced retirement.
It wasn’t until Wrestlemania 28 weekend that we heard that the WWE and Brock Lesnar were working out a deal which lead to a one-year deal being finalized. The wrestling world and their fans were excited to have Brock Lesnar return to the WWE. “The Next Big Thing” was returning to the squared circle and wrestling again in the WWE…my how quickly forget the past.
I am a fan of Brock Lesnar, I enjoyed watching him wrestle and I enjoyed watching his MMA career but what I don’t understand is why the wrestling world welcoming this man back with such big arms? We are coming off a month of news where there was heat and disdain towards The Rock for leaving wrestling in 2004 (the same year & show Brock Lesnar did) but coming back last year to wrestle in the main event match at Wrestlemania 28. Now the same exact thing is happening again but it appears the wrestling world is fine with it and excited for it, I just don’t get the hypocrisy in it all.
In 2004 The Rock for all intensive purposes was a part-time wrestler. His full-time career in the WWE basically came to an end the day he dropped the WWE Championship at Summerslam 2002 to Brock Lesnar. He sporadically appeared right around Wrestlemania 19 and 20 becoming what The Undertaker is today, a “Wrestlemania attraction.” But during those 7 years away The Rock at least made minimal appearances on WWE TV and at the Hall of Fame ceremony, during Lesnar’s time away he bashed the wrestling business.
In 2004, Lesnar was a full-time wrestler and was the biggest star in the company. A month prior he held the WWE Championship before dropping it to the late-Eddie Guerrero. His exited from the WWE at Wrestlemania 20 was because he was “unhappy” living life on the road, wanted to pursue an NFL career and never wanted to deal with the “what if’s” we question late in life. He walked out on the company that help build him and most importantly walked out on the wrestling fans.
Granted the MSG crowd let Lesnar hear it at Wrestlemania 20 but they had every right to because they were pissed that the same guy the WWE invested the last two years was the same guy they invested their time as a wrestling fan the last two years and he was walking out on them. Remember how Lesnar reacted to those chants? By giving the WWE fans the middle finger before getting stunned by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, that was his last image in a WWE ring until this past Monday on RAW.
Lesnar blamed the wrestling business for making him addicted to painkillers saying in some interviews that he doesn’t remember the latter part of his WWE run because he was hopped up on “vodka and painkillers.” His comments towards wrestling and the WWE in his post-WWE career were not glorifying at all as he bashed the business. But here we are eight years later and we are welcoming him back with open arms again, I just don’t get why fans want are happy that Brock Lesnar is back in the WWE.
To me this is a case where Lesnar is striking the kettle while it’s hot and getting the most money he can out of the WWE, Lesnar needed to return to the WWE as soon as possible before he became and afterthought & mostly forgotten now that his MMA career is over. “The Next Big Thing” needed to stay in the spotlight and knew it was now or never to cash in on his popularity before it was too late. To think that Lesnar is coming back to help the wrestling business, bring more viewers to the WWE or improve the wrestling business then you are clearly mistaken. Lesnar wants the most money he can make and the WWE is going to offer it to him right now.
Lesnar walked out on the wrestling business, the WWE and the wrestling fans abruptly in 2004. I don’t understand why 8 years later they are welcoming him back like the savior that he thinks he is. It appears that a return to wrestling was only convenient for Brock Lesnar when wanted to, had he returned any other time the next couple of years he may have been forgotten and not cashed in on the most money.
Wrestling fans should be asking themselves, after the way he left YOU all high and dry in 2004 is it right to be wanting him back as badly as we do in 2012?
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