Brock Lesnar is the prototypical wrestling monster. The man, from his looks, size, style and real-life personality, was constructed by some greater power to entertain fans and terrorize babyfaces in professional wrestling.
His meteoric rise to the top of WWE upon first debuting a decade ago hasn't been witnessed since. That's why fans were giddy when news spread the day of WrestleMania 28 that the Next Big Thing was on his way back. Clue to Impact Wrestling's Dixie Carter: That was an announcement that shook the foundation of the industry.
Unfortunately, Lesnar's first year back in the company was a disappointment.
Sure, it was awesome watching him bloody John Cena on Raw and even better to see a brutally stiff extreme rules match on pay-per-view. But the loss to Cena and painfully plodding feud with Triple H severely cooled fan excitement.
This summer, though, WWE has kicked Lesnar's run into gear as he, Paul Heyman and CM Punk are delivering must-see television on a weekly basis. Lesnar and Punk is one of the few dream matches that remains in the industry, and we're going to get to see it at SummerSlam in less than two weeks.
Lesnar is as part time as a performer can get without being named Undertaker or Rock. He only wrestles on PPV and appears on television sparingly. He's also one of the only characters WWE actually considers valuable enough to consistently book storylines for.
Unfortunately, WWE found it necessary to burn out the potential huge-money feud between Lesnar and Cena in a single month, crushing Lesnar as a threat in a single match. Cena was no better or worse in the eyes of the WWE University after that match. Nothing was gained.
Then we get the nearly yearlong Lesnar-Triple H saga that was intended to draw sympathy for Triple H and failed miserably. His attempted fallen hero slow walk from the ring at SummerSlam last year resulted in the crowd chanting, "You tapped out."
So, of course, rather than allowing Lesnar to use that victory as a launchpad into a title shot or main event level feud, Triple H needed to get his heat back and beat Lesnar in a weak brawl at WrestleMania. Then, in a last-ditch effort to save the storyline and prop up the Extreme Rules buyrate, we saw the conclusion to the trilogy with a Lesnar victory.
If you've made it through that droll explanation of Lesnar's slow-paced, uneventful first year back, we finally see light ahead.
See: Lesnar is finally being used in a manner that accentuates his talents to the best of his ability and the benefit of the WWE and its roster.
CM Punk held the WWE title for more than 400 days. He faced off with The Rock on consecutive PPVs. He battled The Undertaker at WrestleMania. While these feuds elevated Punk to the level of Cena in the eyes of WWE fans, he hasn't beaten a top guy other than Fruity Pebbles himself.
In a WWE landscape that lacks the presence of a prior generation to put over new talent the likes we saw during the Attitude and post-Attitude eras, Punk needs victories over credible part-time stars to reaffirm his place.
Lesnar is the ideal monster to put in Punk's path. With a victory over Lesnar, Punk will look like a megastar. Even if he doesn't win the first encounter at SummerSlam, we will certainly see the feud continue.
In a pipe dream, I can imagine the two battling at Hell in a Cell and beyond.
Punk doesn't yet have a definitive rival in the WWE. It could be Cena, and in time it may be him or Daniel Bryan.
Were you to ask the average WWE fan to name Punk's greatest feud, they'd be hard-pressed to distinguish a salient moment outside of the Cena feud through Money in the Bank and SummerSlam in 2011. No, his feud with Samoa Joe in Ring of Honor doesn't count.
This feud may be the one that launches Punk to the next level, and that's because of the visceral reaction one has when watching Brock Lesnar on a wrestling program. He's intimidating. He's combustible. He creates a feeling of danger—a sense the WWE has lacked in recent years.
After feuding with Punk, Lesnar must continue to be used to further the careers of other WWE talents. His greatest value to the company isn't box-office success in the near term, but instead creating bankable stars who convert to TV ratings and buyrates in the future.