Whether it be cheers or boos, there is no doubt that Brock Lesnar elicits one of the more impassioned responses in all of sports entertainment.
Lesnar made his surprising return to WWE the night after WrestleMania 28 to a huge reaction, mostly from those who actually remembered who he was or followed his career in mixed martial arts.
But Lesnar returned with plenty of questions. After being away from the ring for eight years, what kind of style would he work? After not competing since WrestleMania 20, would the majority of current viewers even care? After battling diverticulitis twice, what kind of health would he be in? Most importantly, what kind of schedule would Lesnar be working?
The answer to the latter was originally reported as a one year deal where Lesnar would make 30-35 appearances. The deal would culminate with a payoff match at WrestleMania 29. One of the main reasons Lesnar left WWE in the first place was their grueling schedule, something he was no longer interested in doing.
With his return, Lesnar had everything that he wanted. Why was it different this time? Obviously, Vince McMahon and WWE had seen the star Lesnar had become by crossing over to the UFC, where he became one of their biggest pay-per-view draws.
Immediately, Lesnar was thrust into a program with the top superstar on the roster, John Cena. This led to a match at the Extreme Rules event which was one of the best matches so far this year. Cena won the match and the new question became, how much did the loss hurt Brock?
It turned out that it didn't hurt him much as a new angle was started the following night on Raw where Lesnar attacked the WWE CEO Triple H, setting up a future battle. That match came at SummerSlam in August. During Lesnar's first run with the company, one of the main guys fans wanted to see him face was Triple H. They got their mega match, even if it was 10 years later.
Lesnar won the match and in the process, put "The Game" on the shelf for the time being. But the most important question was, how did the event do?
The 2012 edition of SummerSlam sold an estimated 350,000 pay-per-view buys, up 18 percent from last year's event. Despite not having a title on the line, Triple H and Lesnar were given the main event spot at the event and that proved to be the correct choice.
So now what? What is Lesnar's value to WWE at this point? Taking all of these things into consideration, it should be very high. Lesnar has proven he can still get it done inside the ring and the MMA style he has worked against Cena and Triple H makes him a very unique competitor. He has also proven that he can be the big attraction that he was in the UFC, headlining the second biggest event of the year.
Reports are now surfacing that WWE will look to re-sign the "Next Big Thing," and that is the right thing to do, assuming that is what Lesnar desires.
There are still several blockbuster matches for Brock, including facing The Rock or The Undertaker again. He could also be placed in the ring with younger stars like Sheamus or Ryback; how good would that be?
When negotiations pick up again with WWE and Lesnar, WWE doesn't need to give into his every need, but they should agree to most of it. Whether it be another high dollar contract or agreeing to a limited number of dates, Lesnar has proven he's worth it.
WWE keeping Lesnar around as long as they can is not only good business, it's the way things should be.