Five million dollars can buy you a lot of things. The WWE bought Brock Lesnar for $5 million. Lesnar’s return has created a lot of buzz thanks to the investment. But can $5 million bring back disgruntled fans and introduce new ones to a product that is slowly on a decline?
It is an interesting question to ponder. Beyond the intriguing matches, initial ratings interest, and MMA buzz, what is the value of Brock Lesnar? Can one guy turn a company around? Can the biggest box office draw in MMA sustain the same marketability in the WWE? If I was going to base my answer off of Brock’s first two weeks, I’d say no.
As great as that opening angle on RAW was this past Monday, the program had probably lost all new interest by the end of the show. Seeing Brock punch John Cena in the mouth is fun, but after two hours of weak angles, horrendous comedy, and uninspired matches, how many of those new fans actually stuck around for the entire two hour program? How many of those new fans were so inspired that they will run out and pay $50 to watch Brock’s match on a pay per view stuffed with material they could watch for free on RAW or SmackDown, that they were not watching before Brock came back? Are they going to come back next month, the next month, and the remainder of Lesnar’s contract?
Banking on Brock impacting WWE business the way he did the UFC is just downright stupid. That would be as dumb as someone predicting The Rock’s impact on WWE business based on his movies. The audiences are completely different and have very little interest in crossing over. MMA and the WWE are just two completely different animals. Even if a select few did, do you really think they stuck around after those horrid Three Stooges segments?
I also keep going back to Brock Lesnar’s last run in the WWE and his New Japan stint. Take away matches with some of the best workers of all time like Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, and Kurt Angle, and Brock Lesnar was pretty darn average. Even worse, his New Japan Pro Wrestling matches were a shell of what he was as a hungry, inspired, up and coming WWE star. What will happen the first time someone pays $50 to watch Brock wrestle and he delivers a stinker? Those fans aren’t coming back.
Brock is not that hungry, up and comer anymore. Brock is a man who has conquered the world of MMA and set himself up for life financially. Brock is a man who lives a very modest lifestyle and doesn’t need the $5 million to get himself out of debt, put food on the table, etc. Brock is also a man that retired from the UFC due to medical reasons. While fighting and pro wrestling are entirely different, just how hard can Brock go in the ring in his current physical state? I wouldn’t hold your breath for a Brock Lesnar shooting star press anytime soon.
But Brock isn’t the biggest problem here. Brock Lesnar could pay dividends in the right situation. Unfortunately the biggest problem here is Vince McMahon and the WWE Creative Team. I have no confidence that this seam team of writers who almost blew The Rock vs. John Cena after a year can book Lesnar in an effective manner over the course of 12 months. Shooting him to a main-event with John Cena right off the bat is all the evidence I need to back this point up.
It is obvious from watching the Monday Night RAW angle with Cena and Lesnar that they are trying to get the WWE over as a legitimate sport with Lesnar. The announcers made this point several times throughout the broadcast. That is fine, but five minutes later you have Santino running around with the Stooges or a ridiculous Hulk Hogan parody. You can’t send mixed messages here, especially to the fickle MMA fan that is already tuning in with apprehension. Unless the WWE is willing to go all the way here, they are just going to alienate the fans expecting a different product.
So 12 months from now I expect Brock Lesnar to be far gone from the WWE, criticizing his run, and regretting a big part of it while Vince McMahon takes glee in planting stories to save face and make Lesnar look like a big flop. I’d love to see it play out differently, but one man cannot change an entire landscape of disappointment.