While he may be being as pushed as strongly as ever—that beatdown of Mark Henry on Monday’s Raw was one for the ages—the recently returned Brock Lesnar finds his WWE career in a very precarious position.
His once-formidable drawing power doesn’t seem to be what it once was, if the disappointing SummerSlam buyrate is anything to go by.
As Wrestling Inc notes, Vince McMahon was openly critical of the show's performance on the October 31 conference call. The boss didn't even try to spin it; that's how dismal it was.
While the Daniel Bryan/John Cena match went on last, Lesnar’s bout with CM Punk was just as much hyped, if not more. It's hard to look at those figures and argue that Lesnar is worth whatever the company's paying him these days.
The star’s cage match with Triple H at the Extreme Rules event a few months before that didn’t deliver well either, looking at the figures. (Numbers via PWTorch.)
Whether he has lost his touch or WWE has squandered his immense potential is up for debate.
(Although considering the company’s foolish decision to book the star to lose clean to John Cena in his return match at Extreme Rules 2012, I lean towards giving Vince McMahon the majority of the blame here.)
But we can be sure of one thing: Lesnar hasn’t turned around business like many assumed he would when he signed his big-money contract in April 2012.
But what will Lesnar do through WrestleMania? (At this point the only thing we can be certain of is that he’s sticking around until at least then.)
One possibility is that the former UFC champion will face Big E. Langston at the Royal Rumble—with Langston looking to gain revenge for Lesnar’s treatment of his best friend/tag team partner.
Langston himself even hinted at a potential bout in a November edition of WWE Inbox.
It wouldn’t even be too surprising to see the former NXT wrestler gain a victory here: Judging by his strong push on Raw and SmackDown over the last few months, WWE clearly has big things in mind for the 27-year-old.
Could the booking team decide that defeating Lesnar—clean, no less—on pay-per-view would solidify him as a major star?
Has WWE damaged Lesnar's star power over the last 18 months?
Of course, it’s hard to argue a loss at the Rumble for Lesnar wouldn’t hinder his credibility even more. WWE may just settle for Langston delivering a strong showing against the star, before eventually being pinned.
Lesnar could, of course, enter the Royal Rumble match. But with Batista returning—and, really, can anyone but “The Animal” emerge victorious? Probably not—it’s hard to see him winning.
And, really, there’s little point in putting him in the bout if he’s just going to end up being eliminated?
Regardless of the outcome at the Royal Rumble, come February we should probably expect Lesnar to start trash-talking The Undertaker and proclaiming he is the only Superstar in history who can end the legend’s infamous streak.
The talkative Paul Heyman will surely have a field day when it comes to cutting promos for the match, too.
Lesnar/Undertaker has been anticipated by fans ever since the two’s ringside confrontation at UFC 121 in October 2010. The video has even garnered a whopping five million viewers. Booking the bout at WrestleMania XXX is a perfect idea.
It’s not quite a done deal yet though. Reports (Wrestling Observer Newsletter via Wrestling Inc) have surfaced that people in management are worried about Lesnar’s notoriously tough in-ring style and its potential impact on the fragile Undertaker.
Per these claims, Sheamus’s name has been thrown around as a potential replacement. (What a colossal disappointment that would be.)
However, regardless of these claims, at the end of the day, it’s difficult to see WWE making the call to remove Lesnar from the bout.
Besides, I’m sure if he was told explicitly to lighten up on The Undertaker, he would. He is a professional, after all.
Assuming the match does happen on April 6, expect Lesnar to lose—albeit in a strong fashion.
If Triple H, Shawn Michaels and every other major star in history couldn’t end the streak, Lesnar surely won’t be able to either.
Of course a loss at WrestleMania XXX won’t aid his star power or drawing ability. But, as noted, WWE may have already done the damage in that area anyway.