WWE has benefited from a recent ratings surge, primarily due to the reemergence of The Rock as the WWE champion and his subsequent appearances on WWE television. All signs indicate that Rock will leave the company for another hiatus after WrestleMania 29.
What can WWE do to ensure that ratings don't return to the record low numbers of the "pre-Rock" era? The answer is simple. WWE should put the belt on another high-profile star.
Brock Lesnar will be WWE champion in 2013.
Once Rock heads back to Hollywood, many feel that ratings will dip again. It's generally assumed that John Cena will take the title from Rocky at WrestleMania 29. Once that happens, fans will be back to watching the same stars who were featured while ratings dropped to historic lows.
One way that WWE can prevent another ratings decline is to start a Cena/Lesnar feud as soon as possible after WrestleMania. Assuming that Cena wins, he'll need a high-profile feud right off the bat in order to keep ratings fresh. Starting a program with CM Punk or Dolph Ziggler just won't get the job done. Cena feuded with both of those guys throughout 2012.
Enter Brock Lesnar. Few WWE stars carry the cachet of Lesnar. Once the Cena/Lesnar feud is underway, putting the belt on Brock is the best thing WWE can do.
Click on to find out why WWE should crown Brock Lesnar in 2013.
The first reason WWE should put the belt on "The Next Big Thing" is that he's almost as big a star as Rock. Ratings rose dramatically after Rock re-appeared on WWE television. There's little doubt that Lesnar could bring the same result.
In some ways, Lesnar is an even better choice to hold the belt than Rock.
Lesnar, though not as musclebound as the 2013 version of "The Great One," is in better ring shape. It was evident in both of Rock's matches with CM Punk that he was not ready for extended in-ring action. Lesnar can give fans a 30-minute match without becoming winded.
Lesnar's act is somewhat fresher, particularly with Paul Heyman in the mix. Rock is still Rock. That's part of the problem. Rock in 2013 is very much like Rock in 2003. Lesnar isn't anywhere near the personality that Rocky is, but he gets a boost from using Paul Heyman as a mouthpiece. Assuming Heyman either ends his association with CM Punk or adds Lesnar to his stable, there will be no problems connecting with the fans.
The reality is that big stars draw big numbers. Rock proved it, and Lesnar would too, if given the chance. Putting John Cena or CM Punk in the top spot will simply put WWE back where it was two months ago.
More than any superstar in recent memory, Brock Lesnar has a high-impact style in the ring.
When Brock is in the ring, there's a feeling that no one is quite sure what will happen. That isn't the case with Punk, Cena or even Rock.
Lesnar's offense looks like it hurts for real. Watching Rock drop The People's Elbow on someone is entertaining. Watching Lesnar put an arm bar on someone is unnerving.
While Mark Henry, Ryback and Big Show can all bring dominant offense, and guys like John Cena and Sheamus often display feats of strength in the ring, Brock combines devastating power with an athletic move set.
On the current roster, only U.S. champion Antonio Cesaro combines athleticism and power the way Brock can. However, while Cesaro's offense is impressive, Lesnar's is downright scary.
Putting the belt on Lesnar would give WWE a champion with an unpredictable, forceful, exciting and scary in-ring style.
One of the things Rock has given the WWE is a champion with some pedigree and credibility. Even new fans know that Rock was a stalwart in the Attitude Era, and he looks right holding the belt.
Lesnar has also held WWE gold. Further, he's been the UFC Heavyweight champion and thus has real-world credibility to go with his WWE pedigree.
Lesnar is remembered by as many WWE fans as Rock. His matches during his first run with the company are legendary. Brock has history as a title-holder. He can still be dominant in the ring and would feel like a legitimate champion.
There's also the believability factor. Even the biggest Rock fans know that he's a 40-year-old movie star. Lesnar is five years younger, a former UFC champion and one of the most physically imposing men on the planet.
Rock, as ripped as he is, looks like a professional wrestler. Lesnar looks like a bad human being who happens to wrestle. In the ring, Rock wants to win. Brock wants to hurt people.
One of the biggest reasons to put the WWE championship on "The Next Big Thing" is that Brock is already under contract for two years.
This ties Lesnar to WWE through WrestleMania 31. Unlike Rock, Lesnar won't be leaving for an extended period any time soon. This gives the company continuity with a top star.
Unlike Punk or Cena, it's believed that Lesnar's contract calls for a limited number of television appearances. This will keep him fresh.
Since his deal apparently calls for limited dates, why not put the belt on him and book him like Hulk Hogan, Bob Backlund and Bruno Sammartino were booked? That legendary trio seldom appeared on free TV, maybe cutting a promo once a month or participating in a tag team match. If Lesnar were booked in a similar fashion, his appearances would still have a huge impact. His contract status would guarantee that, even with limited exposure, Lesnar would be a WWE staple for the next couple of years.
As sad as it is to say, it may be a good idea for WWE to put the belt on Lesnar simply to keep him interested.
Lesnar looks best in the ring when he's engaged. When simply crushing the babyface of the week, he frequently appears bored. Giving him the title would raise his interest level and cause him to be more invested in the product.
History has shown that a motivated Lesnar is something special. He's fearsome, unpredictable and impactful in the ring when he has something to shoot for. Putting him in a feud for the WWE title then letting him defend it would keep Lesnar engaged. It would also demonstrate that the company is invested in him for the long term.
While still exciting, the mercenary, in-and-out Lesnar frequently appears bored. During his last WWE appearance, he destroyed the MizTV set (and the Miz) without really changing facial expression.
If Lesnar is going to be around for a couple of years, it's in WWE's interest to give him something meaningful to do.
Putting the belt on Lesnar opens the door for a number of other high-profile matches that wouldn't happen any other way.
If WWE were willing to book more part-time champs, putting the belt on Brock could lead to short-term feuds with guys like Undertaker, Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, HHH and Shawn Michaels. With the exception of Austin, the legends listed here could easily engage in a two- or three-month feud with Lesnar, particularly if the belt were involved.
Lesnar could also be used to elevate current stars. Picture Lesnar in a feud with Ryback, CM Punk or even John Cena. A win over Lesnar would immediately make these current stars more credible.
A feud with Lesnar could be a stepping stone for up-and-comers like Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Antonio Cesaro and Wade Barrett. Nothing would give these new guys more cachet than to look good in a feud with a WWE legend.
Without the title belt, it could be a struggle for WWE to justify some of these feuds. With Lesnar as champion, any or all of these feuds could be initiated with a simple No. 1 contender's match.
With Lesnar as champion, the sky is the limit for WWE. Imagine a Rock vs. Brock match for the strap at WrestleMania 30.
While not as well known as Rock, Brock has more mainstream appeal than almost anyone else already on the roster. If you ask 100 people who aren't wrestling fans who Brock Lesnar is, it's a good bet that 75 percent of them would know. Can you say that about Daniel Bryan or CM Punk?
Lesnar's MMA background brings a different fanbase to WWE. Current and casual fans will be entertained by his presence, and those who only discovered him during his cage fighting days are likely to tune in just to see him in this "new" arena.
Rock's title run has been used to attract casual fans and increase the company's profile with non-wrestling fans. If Rock and Brock were to face each other, there would be two mainstream stars to bring in new fans.
Vince McMahon loves mainstream publicity. Nothing pleases him more than to see his company on ESPN or even CNN. That's not likely to happen if CM Punk, John Cena and Ryback become the only standard-bearers for the company.
Lesnar as champion keeps WWE in the mainstream press, and that's something that Mr. McMahon wants more than anything.
If the Raw creative team is smart, Brock Lesnar will become WWE champion in 2013.
He has star power, history and credibility in the ring. His in-ring style is exciting and devastating, and his presence increases ratings for both TV shows and PPVs.
He's under contract for the next two years and could elevate a whole constellation of stars, both past and future, with a title run.
He has more mainstream appeal than anyone else on the roster and still has the cachet to stand tall against legends like Undertaker, Austin and Rock.
WWE needs to put the belt on Brock Lesnar right after WrestleMania 29. It's just good business.
Dying to see Brock with the belt? Think it would be the worst idea ever? Want to propose your own plan for "The Next Big Thing?" Speak your mind in the comments section below.