Brock Lesnar is going back to his roots when he returns to WWE, as he will be facing fellow class of 2000 Superstar Randy Orton at SummerSlam. The match was made official on the July 7 edition of Thursday Night SmackDown, and now fans are beginning to debate the good and bad of it all.
But despite what fans may think, there's no changing what lies ahead. The Beast is indeed coming back, and this time, he's coming for The Viper.
This is a good move for WWE, in more ways than one.
The best part about this, of course, is that it's something different. Many newer fans likely have only seen Brock vs. Randy on the WWE Network, which makes this current match fresh. Randy is still in amazing physical shape, he's got a sinister killer instinct, and with the exception of facing Mark Henry, he's not been manhandled in the ring in quite some time.
This will not be the typical mauling Brock's accustomed to. Randy will not be that easy to dominate. Despite being a babyface, he's still got that edge, and it will serve him well against Lesnar. Brock has always had his way with opponents, and he will deliver all of his usual offense against Randy.
However, Brock's focus on destruction keeps him one step behind in terms of being able to anticipate mind games.
The Undertaker's mystique didn't phase Brock, but the unexpected low blows he gave during their matches did. Taker went left when Lesnar thought he was going right, and that made all the difference.
Orton will do what must be done to gain the advantage. Just because he's the good guy, it does not mean he's a good guy.
So, how does WWE handle this impending feud from here?
Maybe Randy Orton doesn't need to be the good guy here.
After all, Brock may or may not be around to promote the match himself on WWE programming. With that being the case, it could become very difficult for him to come back as a heel. Is Orton supposed to cut babyface promos on Brock, disrespecting him and calling him out on TV?
Wouldn't that cause fans to pop even more for Lesnar when he comes back?
The only way to do it is to present Orton as an antagonist. That way, he can build the match and get major heat before SummerSlam. Of course, fans will likely offer a positive reaction for The Viper as well. That would make it hard for him to get over as a heel.
This could get messy fairly quickly.
The obvious answer here is Paul Heyman. Paul will be Brock's mouthpiece as always, and that means The Beast won't have to say a word. He can fight at UFC 200, come back as the winner or loser, and the stage will be set for him either way.
This is what Heyman does, and no one does it better.
Orton could be put in the role of babyface by default, thanks to the constant verbal attacks that Heyman unleashes. WWE has used this tactic many times in the past, and it's a good idea here. There's no other way for WWE to handle it.
There's a little over six weeks between Brock's UFC fight and SummerSlam on August 21. That's plenty of time for Paul to verbally construct a feud of epic proportions.
When Lesnar appears on WWE TV during those six weeks, he must be hands-off with Orton. The temptation to put these two in physical confrontations will be there, and fans would want to see it happen.
But the more WWE delivered that, the more it would become old news. One to two physical brawls would be more than sufficient here.
Their past as the OVW class of 2000 could be exploited, as footage from those early days could be shown on TV. The two men have a definite link, and it would be a great way to establish a firm history between them.
Brock is such a force of nature, and so untouchable; this history would bring him back down to earth again.
For Orton, this match would be about reaching a goal. Because Brock is indeed untouchable, it's logical to assume that Randy would want to test himself here. Orton is a 12-time world champion and 16-year veteran. He's worked main event matches all over the world, and he's been a constant presence in WWE since the end of The Monday Night Wars.
He's done it all. But beating Brock Lesnar at this stage of The Beast Incarnate's career is not a feat that many men can lay claim to. Why wouldn't Randy want to step up against him?
Orton's desire to push himself, combined with Brock's lack of viable opponents, would be the best possible foundation to build this storyline before SummerSlam. It's a win for both men, and it would heighten fans' anticipation for what's to come on August 21.
Here's the rub; who wins?
Who would WWE book to go over in this match? The easy answer is obviously Brock. After all, he has destroyed everyone the company has ever put in front of him. From Triple H to John Cena to The Undertaker, Brock has faced the best and beaten the best.
He's a wrecking machine, and no one is better at it.
What sort of threat could a 36-year-old, fresh-from-shoulder-surgery Randy Orton, pose to Brock Lesnar? Why would Brock even care? The truth is that no matter how many times fans have seen Lesnar annihilate guys, this cannot happen now.
Orton must establish an advantage early in the match and hold his ground against Brock. Fans must see that Orton is indeed fully healed and ready for the biggest challenge of his career. Getting tossed around by Lesnar is not the way to do that.
Orton must be quick, and he must be smart. Of all the Superstars Brock has faced over the years, no one has ever been able to employ the rope-a-dope method with any success. Randy could be the first.
Lesnar's strength and ferocity could be used against him, with Orton constantly staying in the corner, causing Brock to tire out. Lesnar is a physical specimen, of course, but all Orton needs is one moment to gain the upper hand.
When he has it, he needs to keep going.
Suplex City will eventually be visited, as this has become Lesnar's primary offense. Randy will take his fair share of German Suplexes, and Brock will eventually wear him down to the point where fans believe it could all end for The Viper.
But Orton cannot roll over and play dead. Losing to Brock would do nothing for him, and it would leave him in the same spot he's been in for quite some time. Orton's next stop needs to be the main event scene again, which means he needs some momentum.
By the same token, Brock has nothing to gain from beating Orton. The only real benefit would be if WWE were setting something up later on for Lesnar to indeed lose at a big event. By booking him as the indestructible monster he's always been, Lesnar's character would grow even more than it already has.
So when he finally loses, it will mean something.
The problem here is that no one knows just yet how the company will handle this. The matchup is interesting, the talent involved has a history, and fans can get invested in this one quickly. But what WWE chooses to do is anyone's guess.
No matter what the plan may be, fans will be ready for this match at SummerSlam.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online here.