After five long months away, Brock Lesnar finally made his WWE return on Monday as he interrupted Vince McMahon's attempt to fire Paul Heyman and hit the chairman with a thunderous F-5. Many were clamoring for Lesnar to be a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble, but the WWE made the right call.
Lesnar hadn't been seen on WWE programming since the night after he defeated Triple H at SummerSlam. Lesnar announced that he had quit the WWE, and while fans realized that it was obviously part of the storyline, many openly wondered if he would ever return as his absence felt like an eternity.
Although his time away from the WWE was prolonged, I never had any doubt that he would be back at some point. He is signed to a lucrative contract through WrestleMania, and according to Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com, that deal was extended for two more years recently, so Lesnar is in the WWE to stay for a significant period of time.
There has been some backlash regarding the WWE's usage of Lesnar or lack thereof. It was well known that he had only agreed to work a limited amount of dates over the course of the year, but many fans grew frustrated. The WWE should be given plenty of credit for the way it brought Lesnar back into the fold, though, as he made an obvious impact that won't soon be forgotten.
With that said, there were plenty of opportunities for Lesnar to return sooner. He could have potentially helped CM Punk retain the WWE Championship at Hell in a Cell or Survivor Series, but it's obvious that the WWE decided to go a different route with him. It doesn't appear as though he'll be involved with Punk at all. He returned to help Heyman and is likely going to goad Triple H out of semi-retirement as well.
Ahead of the Royal Rumble, there was a lot of talk about Lesnar as a potential surprise entrant. There is no question that it would have been an awesome moment if Lesnar's music hit and he proceeded to decimate the Rumble field, but it wouldn't have made sense from a storyline perspective. There was no reason for Lesnar to want to be in the Rumble given the way he "quit" the company.
When Lesnar walked away following SummerSlam, he said that he had nothing left to prove in the WWE. That would seem to suggest that he has no interest in titles as he was already WWE Champion in the past. If Lesnar doesn't care about titles, there would have been absolutely no point in putting him in the Rumble match, especially since getting eliminated would have hurt his credibility a bit.
The only way entering the Rumble would have been acceptable is if someone he was scheduled to feud with was also in the match. I was pulling for a Lesnar vs. Ryback feud, but that obviously isn't in the cards. In all likelihood we're going to see a rematch between Lesnar and Triple H at WrestleMania, and if that is indeed the plan then the WWE booked Lesnar's return perfectly.
We have yet to hear what Lesnar's motivations for attacking McMahon were, but it will almost certainly lead to Triple H coming back in the near future. I would anticipate Lesnar continuing to do things in order to get under Triple H's skin until The Game finally decide to step back in the ring. Destroying Triple H's father-in-law was obviously a good first step.
I fully understand why there were people who wanted him to return in the Rumble as it would have been a fun moment, but it simply wasn't logical. Reintroducing Chris Jericho in the Rumble made sense because he still cares about being a champion and his feud with Dolph Ziggler was reprised. Lesnar's only issue is with Triple H and his family, though, so that is precisely who he should be targeting.
Also, since Lesnar's Rumble entry would have been announced anyway, it wouldn't have had any effect on buy rates. Perhaps it would have bumped Raw ratings a bit, but those ratings were going to be strong regardless due to the fact that The Rock won the WWE Championship. There was simply no incentive to bring Lesnar back in a different manner.
The WWE hasn't handled Lesnar perfectly since his return the night after WrestleMania XXVIII, but things are definitely starting to look up. There were several options when it came to putting Lesnar back on television, however, and the WWE definitely figured out the most impactful way to do it.