Another wrestling year is nearing completion as 2012 goes the way of Abraham Washington. 2012 gave us Ryback, another Chris Jericho return and 1,000 episodes of Monday Night Raw. 'Tis the season to rank them in order of importance. Stories will be evaluated based on longevity, mainstream coverage and social media influence.
Top 10 of 2012, No. 5: Brock is Back!
Brock Lesnar's 2012 WWE return, like his UFC, NFL and previous WWE careers, eventually became a story of what could have been.
The sound of the familiar electric guitar riff inside the American Airlines Center, signaling Lesnar's theme music, sparked arguably the biggest pop of the year.
Exploding headlines even made their way back to Lesnar's old boss Dana White, who was inspired to comment on the matter:
I'm happy for him. To do what he did in the WWE, came here and did what he did, now he's back over there. Good for him; good for them.
Lesnar would go on to ride the post-WrestleMania waves of momentum into a hot feud with John Cena. The unique rivalry saw a rare bloody brawl between the two former WWE champions just one week after Lesnar's return.
But Lesnar lost.
Lesnar was able to salvage any lost mojo with an attack on Triple H the following night, but it soon became apparent that his welcome-back tour peaked just one month into its existence. Lesnar's notorious hatred for his own celebrity, combined with his blockbuster appeal, led to a limited-dates clause being instituted in his contract.
The sporadic use of Lesnar limited the impact of the monster booking that made him a superstar. Lesnar's initial push in 2002 saw the monster appear on Raw every week. Any semblance of human existence in Lesnar's path was crushed.
Ten years later, Lesnar's occasional monster booking was mixed in with instances of buffoonery. One example came during Raw 1000. After previously (kayfabe) breaking Triple H's arm, Lesnar uncharacteristically ran away from Triple H during a showdown segment. This came after his manager Paul Heyman was emasculated by Stephanie McMahon, who had no business near this storyline.
At WWE SummerSlam, Lesnar would go on to plod through a match against Triple H that was a shell of his brilliantly told contest against Cena. The match was poorly received by a traditionally hot Staples Center crowd, likely because of the questionable buildup that saw Lesnar retreating more than he was beasting.
To accommodate his limited-dates contract, Lesnar was booked to announce his resignation from the WWE shortly after his victory over Triple H. To date, Lesnar's hyped return to the WWE—while a proven difference-maker at the box office—has ceded just two pay-per-view matches over a nine-month period.
Given the one-million buy cash cow he has proved to be, much has been left to desire in the latest chapter of Brock Lesnar.