Rumors are running rampant that Universal Champion Brock Lesnar is planning on making his UFC return after he reportedly got back into the USADA testing pool.
According to Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer, speculation grew on Tuesday after rumors of Lesnar and real-life manager Paul Heyman attending the UFC offices during International Fight Week began to spread. There were also rumors that he allegedly spoke about participating at the UFC event scheduled for November 4 at Madison Square Garden.
This, of course, leads some to believe that Lesnar’s days in WWE are numbered, despite having worked for both promotions at the same time last summer during both UFC 200 and SummerSlam. Pessimism grew after numerous wrestling websites reported that Lesnar doesn’t intend to re-sign with WWE after his contract expires following WrestleMania 34.
While all those factors could just be negotiating ploys by Lesnar and real-life manager/kayfabe “advocate” Paul Heyman to get more money, let’s assume they are valid for the sake of argument.
Where does that leave WWE in the post-Lesnar era? Who takes the reins after the Beast walks away?
Well, the obvious choices are all currently involved in the Universal Championship picture. Of course, Roman Reigns is in consideration as WWE’s long-assumed heir apparent to John Cena as the “face of the company.”
Regardless of how overwhelmingly negative it is, Reigns evokes a reaction from the audience every single time his music hits and he’s made tremendous improvements since joining the main roster in 2012.
Most have long assumed that Lesnar and Reigns will carry a feud into WrestleMania 34, with the “Big Dog” finally capturing a victory over “The Beast.” If Lesnar is in fact departing, WWE would likely use this situation as a way to book its golden boy in heroic fashion once again.
Let’s also consider both Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman, who have each gotten over as monster heels in recent months. While Joe’s popularity isn’t much of a surprise given his success everywhere else, it’s still worth noting how quickly he’s adapted to the main roster, become a legitimate main event star and familiarized himself with the casual audience.
The former TNA Champion managed to look like a credible opponent against the usually unbeatable Lesnar and carry the feud in dueling promos with Heyman.
Strowman has continued to gain steam each week and become a superstar. With such a limited amount of experience, it’s remarkable that he’s gotten so good so fast and will only continue to get better.
It’s likely one of the three challengers will win the Universal Championship since we’re all assuming that’s where last Monday’s clustered main roster ending is going. Joe or Strowman could hold the title through the latter months of 2017 before Lesnar makes his return to meet his contractual dates. That would likely build to a rematch with Reigns at ‘Mania if in fact that’s what WWE has planned.
However, I don’t see why Lesnar would pass on his current WWE deal given how sweet it truly is. He’s getting paid far better than the majority of the roster to make a few limited appearances per year and be booked like a demi-God.
It doesn’t interfere with his MMA career or training, so why not have your cake and eat it too? Again, I think the rumors are more of a negotiating tactic for his next contract, as they’ve been in the past. But if WWE does need to move on with life after Lesnar, it is in good hands.