Brock Lesnar: No WWE Star Should Ever Have the Same Power as Him

facebooktwitterreddit

Brock Lesnar’s unique contract situation and backstage influence sets a bad precedent for WWE in the future.

Brock Lesnar is both WWE’s biggest current superstar and its biggest contractual problem. Under his current form, Lesnar can pretty much do whatever he wants. He makes a ton of money, and only needs to appear on a sporadic basis. Despite this, Lesnar’s still booked into main-event-level matches whenever he shows up.

In other words, Lesnar’s able to put in less than half the time and effort into his wrestling than the regular workhorses on the program, yet gets paid more than arguably anyone else. This is a problem for WWE, and as a situation, it should never be allowed to repeat itself with anyone else ever again.

During his first run between 2002 and 2004, Brock Lesnar was pushed to the moon at a meteoric rate. Within three months, Lesnar had demolished several high-profile legends and won the WWE Championship. He left WWE after WrestleMania XX, mainly because the travel schedule was too taxing on him. But he remained in the public eye, first as a football player, then as a wrestler in Japan, and finally as an MMA fighter.

Related Story: Ranking All 31 WrestleMania Main Events

By the time he had returned to WWE in 2012, eight years later, Lesnar had become a certified star and big-money draw. So big, in fact, that he managed to do something that few wrestlers, if ever, have managed to do: manipulate Vince McMahon into one of the most one-sided contracts ever.

Lesnar’s contract stipulates that he only does irregular appearances, usually in the weeks before a major PPV. During the rest of the year, his appearances are few and far between. We’ve already seen what happens when Lesnar gets to exercise this stipulation.

Remember when Lesnar beat John Cena to become WWE Champion in 2014? Shortly after winning, he proceeded to disappear from WWE programming, despite being its top champion and most important active superstar.

Gone were the days when the World Champion defended his prize on the house show circuit or even on every PPV. During that period, the B-class PPVs had to rely on other, more gimmick-oriented stories to carry the brand, because the World Champion wasn’t there.

Simply put, when WWE needed an interesting and high-profile draw the most to keep their ratings at an acceptable level, Lesnar, that desired draw, was nowhere to be found. WWE’s shows during that period dipped noticeably, mainly because the most important person in the company, the World Champion, wasn’t there defending what’s supposed to be the most prestigious championship in WWE.

It shouldn’t have surprised anyone, then, that ratings increased whenever Lesnar appeared. He was the champion on top of being one of the biggest draws in combat sports at the time. But his appearances were very short-term solutions to an underlying problem that WWE still has not fixed.

More from WWE

If the WWE Champion, the person meant to carry the brand they’re on, can simply choose whenever they want to show up, it sets a bad precedent for the future. If suggests that, as long as a veteran from ages past has even the slightest modicum of remaining fan popularity, they can simply waltz back into WWE and be placed in the top spot at the expense of the regular roster.

Need proof of this? Consider Goldberg, who ended up in this very position. Goldberg returned after over a decade of being away from WWE. Yet despite this prolonged absence, he still retained some degree of popularity with the fans. He returned, and within a few months, won the WWE Universal Championship.

While he wore that belt, he appeared sporadically, despite it being WrestleMania season, a time during which it is crucial that every show does as much as possible to build up the eponymous annual PPV.

Goldberg has since lost the Universal Championship to none other than Brock Lesnar who, once again, has gone on hiatus while being the champion. Once again, this presents WWE with more problems.

Without a World Champion on the brand, there’s no way of testing new wrestlers to see if they can main event in the future. If you look back at Backlash 2003, the first person to challenge newly-crowned WWE Champion Brock Lesnar was John Cena, who was main-eventing his first PPV. It was a B-class PPV, and it was Cena’s first chance to prove he could main event. Once he passed the test, it was a sign to WWE’s higher-ups that Cena, though still young, could carry a PPV in the future.

WWE are repeating this approach currently with Jinder Mahal. They’re giving Mahal a chance to prove that he’s worthy of the main event by giving him a WWE Championship shot against Randy Orton (also at Backlash).

Win or lose, this major opportunity will allow Jinder to show everyone what he can do in a big-match situation. And even if he loses, at least we’ll have seen if he can perform well under in the highest-pressure situation possible.

WWE cannot do this with Brock Lesnar as WWE Universal Champion. Lesnar won’t be defending the Universal title until most likely SummerSlam, thus indirectly telling fans, ‘these shows I [Lesnar] am not on are beneath me, and therefore you shouldn’t waste your time watching them because I, the champion, the most important person on RAW, won’t be there’. If the numbers come back for the shows without Lesnar and they end up being lower than expected, you’ll know why.

The other problem with Lesnar’s contract situation is that it perpetuates the idea that wrestlers from the past are still bigger than today’s stars. By giving Lesnar, a certified part-timer, the most important title on RAW, it proves that no one else on the roster’s big enough of a name to carry the brand.

This comes at a major price, because it’s an obvious message to everyone else on the roster: ‘none of you [the RAW talent] is popular enough with the audience to be champion.’ This is despite the fact that many of them get loud ovations and fans spend tons of money to support those stars.

More from Daily DDT

It’s obvious that Roman Reigns is still earmarked for a top spot in WWE, and Vince sees Lesnar as merely a vehicle for him to use to get Reigns back into that top spot. But if so, why must Lesnar carry a championship he’s not even going to defend?

Why should Lesnar be champion when he’s not going to be talking about it in what few public appearances, if any, he does outside of wrestling? What prestige does it bring to the championship if the champion isn’t there to counter whenever someone talks smack about him, and only shows up when WWE coughs up enough money to pay him?

No one is getting over with Lesnar as Universal Champion, especially since his matches are few and far between. He’s also not doing as much to increase ratings, despite his ‘special attraction’ status. As history has proven, when Lesnar was world champion and appeared on a sporadic basis, it did very little to help WWE’s plight to increase general fan interest.

Yes, Brock Lesnar is a one-of-a-kind athlete, and a household name in many places. But to WWE’s regular fans, he’s like the Undertaker in some respects: shows up once in a while and is a big deal when he does so.

But for the rest of the time, fewer people really care about him. Regular fans care more about the names and faces they see weekly, because these are the wrestlers that entertain them on the most frequent of basis.

Next: All 26 Champions in NXT History, Ranked

No wrestler should ever be allowed to do what Lesnar has done. If, in the future, a veteran or semi-retired wrestler decides to walk into WWE and demand special treatment like Brock Lesnar, Vince McMahon should save his money instead of giving into those demands.

Because as long as part-timers from yesteryear keep getting top billing in WWE, the regulars will never be true superstars capable of main-eventing and bringing the company more money than it is now.