Having defeated and damaged Triple H at Extreme Rules 2013, Brock Lesnar needs a compelling rival to maximize his WWE run.
Since returning to WWE in 2012, Lesnar has battled only John Cena and Triple H. Deciding who will be the next man in line is an impactful and important decision. How impressive Lesnar is going forward will largely depend on the quality of his next foe.
In Lesnar, WWE has a unique monster, a fantastic athlete with UFC credentials, a man who teems with intensity and power. He's a monster who needs an opponent who can survive his onslaughts and deliver their own. With Lesnar's ring time limited, WWE needs to choose who that is wisely.
Unless there are some heels headed away from the dark side, the two most likely candidates to face Lesnar are Sheamus or Randy Orton.
John Cena looks to be busy with Ryback for the time being. Alberto Del Rio has a date with Dolph Ziggler. The rest of WWE's faces are either not believable competition like Miz and Kofi Kingston or are not regularly available like The Rock and Chris Jericho.
That leaves two men with a history of being a part of compelling brawls.
A History of Viciousness
Mat wrestling and in-ring storytelling should certainly be a part of what Lesnar does next, but it's clear that his best work is done with the rules tossed aside.
Blood, chains and steel steps played major parts in Lesnar's clash with Cena last year. After amping up the violence in his feud with Triple H, those stars gave fans two intense matches marked with suffering, intensity and weapons.
Orton and Sheamus are the type of warriors who can thrive in those kinds of battles.
Fresh off a victory over Big Show at Extreme Rules where he smacked the giant with whatever he could find under the ring, Orton could transition right into a war with Lesnar. Orton's resume includes a fantastic street fight against Mick Foley, Last Man Standing matches and brutality and barbarism against the likes of Triple H and Cena.
Sheamus has a similar record of violence.
His battles over the world title against Big Show last year were hard-hitting affairs that grabbed fans' attention. He's also made a habit of producing great slugfests against Wade Barrett on WWE Raw. Imagine then what he could do against Lesnar, against elevated competition and the most dangerous predator he has faced to date.
A rivalry with Lesnar would not only make for great entertainment, but it would benefit Sheamus in a big way.
The Effect of Challenging a Monster
Fighting with Lesnar puts the lion's share of the spotlight on his rivals.
Without a championship or even without seeking one, Lesnar has been a part of three pay-per-view main events in the last year. His previous WWE success and his star power elevate the profile of his matches. Both former world champs, Sheamus and Orton would suddenly be thrust back in the main event scene and benefit greatly from tangling with Lesnar.
Sheamus' win against Mark Henry made him look impressive, but getting within striking range of WWE's most intimidating force bolsters his resume like few things can.
For Orton, slugging it out with Lesnar will have him gain major momentum. Even if he loses, being able to go toe-to-toe with Lesnar ignites his career. The way a good showing against The Undertaker at WrestleMania is a victory in itself, survival against Lesnar holds a great deal of power.
Hold your own against Godzilla and watch the accolades roll in.
The best element of the Triple H and Lesnar battles were the grandness they exuded. It felt like we were watching titans colliding.
That's what Lesnar needs in his next feud. WWE has viable options to fill that role, men who can bang heads with Lesnar in entertaining fashion. Going with Orton or Sheamus or some third option can have Lesnar build on the momentum he gained from knocking off Triple H.
Delaying Lesnar's next conquest, having too much time pass between battles lets the air out of what WWE has built for him.
For the sake of his foes, the fans and Lesnar himself, WWE must find an adversary capable of stepping up to Lesnar's level, of giving us a Goliath vs. Goliath matchup we'll never forget.