Forget Carmen Sandiego or Matt Lauer. Many fans in the WWE Universe for the past several weeks have been asking “Where in the world is Brock Lesnar?”
We do know that Lesnar will be making an appearance on the highly anticipated 1000th episode of Monday Night Raw on July 23. It will mark his first appearance on WWE’s flagship show since the night after Extreme Rules a couple months ago when he snapped Triple H’s arm in the lethal Kimura lock.
Of course, the general feeling is that the reason for Lesnar’s lengthy absence is due to the fact that WWE used up too many of the Next Big Thing’s allotted amount of television appearances in anticipation of his match with John Cena back at the aforementioned Extreme Rules.
Even if they used too many of Lesnar’s appearances prior to Extreme Rules, I don’t blame WWE one bit for doing so. Sometimes you have to strike while the iron’s hot, and I credit Vince McMahon and company for trying to do so in the wake of the night after WrestleMania.
That’s when Lesnar officially returned to WWE. Everyone remembered the astounding ovation he received from the ecstatic Miami crowd back on the April 2nd edition of Raw. After witnessing the fans head over heels for Lesnar’s return, it’s easy to see why WWE wanted Lesnar in a match—pronto.
McMahon and the bookers likely didn’t want to lose any momentum generated from Lesnar’s Miami appearance, which is why they booked the Cena-Lesnar match for Extreme Rules as opposed to holding off until a bigger pay per view like SummerSlam.
Of course, building up a feud between two megastars for an extended period of time can pay grand dividends. During the height of WCW’s run, Eric Bischoff and his bookers built up the highly anticipated showdown between Sting and Hulk Hogan for nearly a year.
The end result was Sting beating Hogan for the World Heavyweight title at Starrcade 1997, a pay-per-view event which pulled in a staggering 650,000 buys—the best in WCW history. McMahon tried to recently duplicate that method by booking Cena’s WrestleMania match with the Rock a full year in advance.
As a result, WrestleMania 28 pulled in roughly 1.2 million buys, although it was originally reported to be more. After a month of buildup, the Extreme Rules pay per view featuring Lesnar and Cena was bought by roughly 250,000 homes.
Maybe holding off until SummerSlam would’ve resulted in significantly more buys; maybe it wouldn’t have—only hindsight knows that.
Still, I credit WWE (for once) for trying to spice up one of its typically filler pay per views with a main event worthy of “Big Four” pay per view status. And looking back, while some fans may have not liked the ending of Lesnar-Cena, it was still a much better match than we got from the main event of both No Way Out and Over the Limit.