It all seems so obvious in hindsight: WWE has a ratings problem, so WWE runs back to Brock Lesnar.
WWE scrambling back to part-time talent isn't anything new, but this is the same approach that dug the promotion into a ratings hole in the first place. Yet there was Brock Lesnar, winning the men's Money in the Bank briefcase at the latest pay-per-view, meaning the shadow he casts over the roster's main event scene is alive and well.
It at least made for some hilarious moments on Raw:
But that's about all it will likely amount to from here. Running back to part-time talent, even Lesnar, is a big part of the reason WWE felt the need to do this in the first place. The main event for the briefcase had plenty of worthwhile competitors before Lesnar stormed out at the last second and stole it atop the ladder.
Instead of Finn Balor, a monster push for Drew McIntyre or even a slingshot to the top for Andrade, the title shot goes to Lesnar, who doesn't need the help because he can simply show up at any time and demand a title shot—he'll get it.
Keep in mind a Bray Wyatt surprise would have been quite a bit more fun here. Also, it's reasonable to think Lesnar's presence shoved the match to the end of the pay-per-view, which potentially prevented Bayley's big moment from closing the show. The drawbacks to this "gotcha!" moment, despite the surprise as it happened, are seemingly endless.
But there is an interesting story in here somewhere. Rollins, after all, famously cashed in on Lesnar in the WrestleMania event in 2015, stripping him of the WWE title. The roles are reversed now, and Lesnar can get a little revenge through some sleek storytelling.
But Lesnar's limited schedule makes this a tough sell. Ratings were going to jump up during the post-Raw Money in the Bank episode no matter what. Same for SmackDown. That the infrequently seen Lesnar has the briefcase doesn't change much. It simply reeks of another desperation move, just like the silly wild-card rule that is essentially a way of getting Roman Reigns on both programs.
Maybe this isn't entirely fair to WWE. It did introduce the new 24/7 title, and that creates some interesting opportunities to tell stories. It is a visually unappealing belt, to put it nicely, but there could be some fun things developing, as fans could see a title change hands on social media or something.
To its credit, WWE is trying, at least to an extent. The problem is the execution of the ideas. The wild-card rule trivialized the recent Superstar Shakeup to a laughable degree, and while the 24/7 title could be fun, hot-potatoing it from Titus O'Neil to Robert Roode and R-Truth isn't a hot start. The latter's silent introduction despite being presented by Mick Foley said it all.
Maybe the biggest problem with the whole ordeal is there aren't a lot of ways to go with it. There is about a zero percent chance Lesnar whiffs on a cash-in attempt. He's Lesnar, and having Rollins fend off a cash-in attempt doesn't do much for him. If and when he decides to strike, he's probably winning the title.
Which kills the whole point, really, if not makes it feel like a ratings ploy. But even this could get tired and backfire; fans know Lesnar hardly shows up. That isn't likely to change simply because he has a briefcase. They can only pull the Lesnar music hitting or Paul Heyman screeching into a mic unexpectedly so many times before it lessens the impact of when he does decide to cash it in and take a title.
The saving grace to all this? Lesnar uses the briefcase to cash in on Kofi Kingston, giving fans a fresh feud and shifting the attention to SmackDown, which would free up Rollins and Raw for new things as well.
But even this would feel a bit forced. The blue brand is moving to Fox, which would naturally want a talent like Lesnar to lead the show for ratings. Remember who else is already over there? Roman Reigns. Lesnar makes his move on the blue-brand champ, and WWE goes right back into having one of its top titles going three months or more without a defense.
And to be clear, even that small wrinkle is perhaps wishful thinking for something fresh within something tired. Lesnar is now presiding over both brand's top titles, not just one.
On paper, Lesnar with a briefcase would be fun if he were a full-time talent. But WWE made it clear in storylines it was unhappy with ratings while he was champ. He dropped it to open WrestleMania 35 in a matter of moments. Now the fact that he's hardly around is clumsily being worked into a title storyline.
And what's happened so far? The Raw after Money in the Bank, Rollins and Kingston were right back in—you guessed it—a tag team match. Lesnar threatened. Then he left.
If that's a sign of things to come, Lesnar's run with a briefcase will probably have viewers packing it up and leaving just like him, only returning every now and then.