There is no doubt that Brock Lesnar is one of the biggest money-making assets the WWE has at its disposal right now.
His involvement at Extreme Rules and SummerSlam this year boosted pay-per-view buy rates significantly, but that doesn't mean that his return to WWE programming should be rushed.
When Lesnar "quit" the WWE following his defeat of Triple H at SummerSlam, it was quite clear that it was merely a ploy to keep Lesnar off television for a while. Lesnar has a contract through WrestleMania XXIX, and while it limits the amount of appearances he is obligated to make, Lesnar is very much in play between now and the biggest event on the calendar.
The WWE's ratings for RAW in particular haven't been great lately, but that is no reason to thrust Lesnar back into the picture without rhyme or reason. The WWE always experiences a ratings dip during football season, and while things have been a bit more dramatic this year, it isn't a huge deal.
Ratings are important in terms of attracting advertisers, but the WWE has no competition to speak of, so it isn't as if lagging ratings are going to sink the company.
I'm sure that Vince McMahon would prefer the number to be up, but that doesn't mean he's going to make a rash decision. It would have been a different story if WWE was doing battle with a capable company such as WCW, but TNA is regularly pulling in ratings below 1.0, so the WWE has no incentive to step outside its comfort zone.
Most expect Lesnar to join forces with WWE Champion CM Punk and long-time business partner Paul Heyman when he does return, and the vast majority of fans figured that would happen at Hell in a Cell. It was referee Brad Maddox who helped Punk defeat Ryback instead, though, so eager Lesnar fans were left waiting for him to make his presence felt.
In many ways, delaying Lesnar's inevitable return is helping to build the anticipation.
Having him show up at Hell in a Cell would have been great and logical, but the shock factor might not have been there. The more that fans are teased with possible situations that could facilitate a Lesnar return, the better the response will be when he does come back.
Also, the emergence of a new Lesnar-esque figure in Ryback has softened the demand for Lesnar himself. Ryback reminds me a lot of Lesnar when he was a face because he's a dominant figure who seems almost unstoppable, and he is extremely over with the fans despite not having the ability or desire to connect with them on the microphone.
With that said, Ryback would likely be the perfect superstar for Lesnar to feud with when the WWE decides the time is right for him to come back.
They are similar in a lot of ways and Lesnar "quit" the WWE based on the premise that he accomplished everything he possibly could. Ryback has yet to be legitimately beaten, though, so perhaps Lesnar can come back in an effort to exert his dominance over the young upstart.
Do you think WWE is smart to delay Brock Lesnar's return?
I'm not sure whether that would involve him interfering in the triple-threat match between Punk, Ryback and John Cena at Survivor Series, a potential No. 1 contender match between Ryback and Cena prior to TLC or perhaps not until the Royal Rumble match, but I'm fairly confident that Ryback will be Lesnar's main target when he returns to the fold.
His desire to beat Lesnar could stem from a need to prove that he's superior or it could simply be explained as a favor to Heyman, but Lesnar vs. Ryback at WrestleMania is a match that a lot of people would love to see and it would certainly help sell tickets and pay-per-view buys.
Lesnar is undoubtedly different now than he was during his original run with WWE, as his physique isn't quite as impressive and his moveset is more MMA-centric, but his popularity is undeniable. Lesnar drew people in as part of UFC even when he wasn't performing at a high level, and he has done the same since returning to the WWE.
I understand that fans want to see Lesnar back as soon as possible, but keeping him in the holster will only increase demand and it will also allow the WWE to save his dates to the point where he can appear almost weekly between Royal Rumble and WrestleMania.
That is the true stretch run for the WWE, and having Lesnar available regularly would be a major coup.