At UFC 226 last weekend, Brock Lesnar made a surprise return to the promotion and in a scene reminiscent of Monday Night Raw, challenged new heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. Though we had heard rumblings that Lesnar’s new WWE contract included a clause that would allow him to return to UFC competition, it was a true shock to me on Sunday morning to see the headlines and video of Brock’s reemergence. While this may be the shot in the arm the UFC needs right now, it begs to question what implications this will have on his current WWE commitments.
You might not remember, and who could blame you, but Brock Lesnar is the reigning WWE Universal Champion.
In my mind, the ruckus at UFC 226 puts two potential WWE scenarios in play.
The first is the simplest, safest, and perhaps the best for all involved. This scenario would simply involve Lesnar dropping the Universal Title at SummerSlam (challenger TBA) and taking a long sabbatical as he prepares for his UFC return. Dana White all but confirmed Saturday night that a Cormier/Lesnar match WILL take place. Lesnar has been confirmed to have reentered the USADA testing pool, allowing him to complete the remainder of his suspension from a failed drug test prior to UFC 200, and a potential showdown with Cormier for the heavyweight championship could take place as early as late December or early January. Allowing for a 6-12 week training camp for Lesnar to prepare for the fight, the timing would seem right to have him work SummerSlam in August, drop the title, take some time off to heal and recharge the batteries, and begin UFC training in October or November. It would make for a clean break for Lesnar and the WWE on good terms, with the obvious potential for a future return. As for the present, Lesnar moves on, WWE can move on (with a full time Universal Champion to boot), done and done!
Scenario B gets a bit more complicated. Without getting to heavily involved in the how, the end result of this scenario would ideally conclude with Brock Lesnar carrying the Universal Title all the way into next year’s WrestleMania, with the hope that he also walks into MetLife Stadium as the UFC Heavyweight Champion as well. There are already reports out there that Vince McMahon and WWE are very interested in this potential prospect. Granted, there is an allure to the visual of seeing Lesnar walk down the ramp at the biggest show of the year with both the WWE Universal and UFC Heavyweight championship belts over his shoulder. However, there are a few big red flags with going in this direction.
For starters, regardless if Brock Lesnar works SummerSlam or not, going in this direction would all but guarantee that Lesnar would not again defend the Universal Championship until WrestleMania 35, perhaps Royal Rumble 2019 at the absolute earliest. He would obviously need that time from September to late December/early January to train for his UFC fight. You’d have to assume all WWE engagements would be off the table at that point. So if Lesnar leaves (or simply remains) that title holder after SummerSlam, there would be no top title on RAW for the entire fall and majority of the winter. That’s nearly seven months! We know Lesnar has been an absentee champion, but surely over half a year without a champion to promote would be too much even for Vince, right?
Additionally, we can’t forget about the biggest variable in this scenario- the UFC fight itself. Lesnar might beat Cormier; Cormier might also beat Lesnar. Each outcome comes with its own set of issues.
First let’s look at what the ramifications if Brock Lesnar walks into his UFC fight as Universal Champion and loses. If that happens, the preceding seven months are a total waste. The lack of a visible champion, the lack of a Universal Title defense on any major show, etc. All done in the hopes of having a “dual champion” at Mania, now up in smoke. Plus, what effect would it have on Brock’s drawing power? Would there be much interest, both from traditional wrestling fans and the casual viewer that Mania draws in each year, in watching a guy in a “fixed” fight for entertainment sake when he just lost a real, legitimate contest just two months prior? And if the end game was for Brock to ultimately drop the title anyway, why take the risk? Why not have him drop it early, while his name is hot again and it will make newsfeeds across the sports and entertainment realm, rather than take the chance of him dropping it much later when no one cares anymore?
Now, what if Brock Lesnar were to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship? The scenario becomes even more problematic in my opinion! You have to assume that the WWE and UFC have some sort of working relationship and an understanding of what both parties are wanting to gain from Lesnar’s participation in their promotion. You would also have to assume there are a few strings attached on both sides. So WHAT IF Lesnar wins the UFC Heavyweight Title at the start of the year. He rolls into Mania as a dual champion. Do you really think the UFC, a legit fighting company, would be keen on the idea of their champion losing a “fake” match to a wrestler/entertainer? I don’t think so! Now I am taking nothing away from any WWE performer or the wrestling business itself, but I don’t think anyone could argue that it would do the UFC no favors to have their Heavyweight Champion get “pinned” in front of a multi-million member audience and then also promote him as the baddest man in the fighting game.
Would Dana White have the stroke with Vince to tell him he will not allow Lesnar to lose in WWE while he is the reigning UFC Champion? Would Vince even entertain that? Would the WWE be at the mercy of Lesnar’s UFC career and be forced to keep him as the Universal Champion until he dropped the UFC title first? Would Brock even agree to wrestle anymore if he wins the UFC title, for fear of injury? It’s a fascinating rabbit hole to go down.
In the end, all things considered, I think SummerSlam is the right place and time for Brock Lesnar to drop the Universal Title. At this point, I don’t even care who he drops it to. While the idea of a crossover champion is interesting, it offers way too many potential obstacles to overcome and chances to have to take. If Vince wants to do what’s “best for business,” it’s time to put the Lesnar Era to bed and move on.
Is Kofi Kingston On His Way to The Top After WWE Elimination Chamber?
What does this recent push for Kofi Kingston mean?
Kofi Kingston is a man on a mission. Of course that mission is no different than any other WWE Superstar that wants to rise up and steal the show. Kingston is very accustomed to seizing his opportunities and creating moments that fans will never forget.
Now he has the chance to do that once again when he walks into the Elimination Chamber on Sunday, February 17. Kingston’s reputation as a dynamic highlight machine will be realized again and there’s no doubt that he will provide his fair share of amazing moments inside the Chamber. But will he do more than that?
This is the part where many WWE fans immediately begin shaking their heads. They already believe that Kofi’s inclusion in this match is nothing more than a filler. He’s a replacement for Mustafa Ali, who is dealing with injuries and cannot compete. So when the company has a spot to fill, they must fill it with a dependable Superstar that can deliver. Kingston is that Superstar.
Then there’s the fact that Kingston has been here before. Kofi was seemingly on his way up the food chain in 2010 against Randy Orton, but that rise never materialized. Many fans blamed Orton for stopping Kingston and not allowing him to move forward.
Others said that it was all too much, too soon for Kofi. The Superstar just wasn’t ready for the pressure that comes along with being a top guy and WWE had no choice but to pull back. Despite which side the fans took, the fact is that Kofi’s run was exciting and full of promise. But why was that?
The WWE faithful are suckers for a feel-good story and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some of the most memorable stars in the history of pro wrestling rose up from nothing and achieved success because they built a loyal fan following. Perception is reality in many cases. So when fans perceive a guy to be the well deserving underdog, then that belief becomes very real.
There’s just something about a rising talent fighting his way to the top that makes fans immediately feel connected to the moment. They invest in the run itself and before long, the talent in question gets white hot.
The only problem with Kofi is that fans have indeed seen him in this position before. They believed in him then and he showed some strokes of brilliance, if only for a brief time. Yet he was ultimately pushed backed down to earth. Kingston’s ascension was a tease. But maybe it was something more.
For WWE, it’s all about the experience. Just because a Superstar gets a break and hits a winning streak, does not mean he’s on his way to the world title. The company obviously sees potential in someone and the only way to cultivate that potential is to turn on the spotlight.
Once that happens, the Superstar’s strengths immediately shine through. Suddenly, the conversation shifts from “why him” to “is he the next big star?” That’s a completely natural conclusion and it’s reached from a train of thought that’s encouraged by the company along the way.
So when it comes to this situation, booking Kofi Kingston in The Elimination Chamber may have nothing to do with the desire to elevate him to the WWE Championship. In fact there may indeed be no plan to do anything with him in the singles division after February 17. It could very well be that Kofi will do his part, lose the match and then go right back to stealing the show along with The New Day.
If that happens, then it’s really no harm, no foul. WWE gets what it needs and the fans get an exciting match they will talk about long after it’s over. To be fair, there’s really nothing wrong with that and the company is only doing what it must do in order to keep moving ahead. The show must go on.
But then there’s the other side of the conversation and that’s the side the fans live for. They believe they have the power to light a fire under a Superstar and they’re right. Stone Cold Steve Austin, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are all living proof of that. Yes, the talent and the hard work was definitely there.
But without the fans demanding more, WWE would perhaps have never used any of them on the main event level. The same is currently true for Becky Lynch. So if the fans believe that Kofi Kingston should rise up and they indeed begin supporting him, then the desire to see him breakout and achieve major success will be irresistible. Of course that doesn’t mean WWE won’t resist.
WWE is a land of many stars, but very few megastars. It’s just not how the company is built. So when it comes to elevating anyone, there’s only so much forward progress that can be achieved. To the company, Kofi Kingston is surely a valued hand who is well loved and respected on every level. But is that where his story ends?
It’s only a matter of time until The New Day splits. The group has been together since 2014 and they’re currently the longest running unit in modern WWE history. However that run won’t last forever. When the time is right, The New Day will come to an end. When that happens, Kofi Kingston may finally get his break. Or maybe he won’t. Whether or not that will make a difference to him, or to WWE, is unknown. Whether or not it makes a difference to fans will never be in doubt.
Heel or Face? Make Up Your Mind WWE
Heel or face? WWE can’t make up their minds!
WWE has shown little regard for heel and face alignment, and Carol Cassada wants the company to make up their minds!
Any wrestling fan knows that there are two types of wrestlers: the heels and the faces. Although, every once in a while you’ll have a tweener, someone who’s not a villain, but not a good guy. With WWE, they often switch a wrestler’s persona around to fit a storyline.
WWE has a history of flip flopping when it comes to a wrestler’s persona. One week they’re face, the next they’re heel, then all of a sudden they’re face again. Recently, WWE has been doing this with a bunch of their stars, which leads me confused on whether they’re heel or face.
First, let’s start with Dean Ambrose, who’s been portraying a heel the past four months. Yet, in recent weeks he’s shown signs of becoming a face again. After Monday night’s RAW in which he offered his former Shield brother Seth Rollins support in his match against Brock Lesnar, it’s safe to say that Ambrose is a babyface. Given the news that Ambrose is leaving due to creative differences with Vince McMahon, Dean would be seen as a face no matter what role he portrayed on television.
The next turn that had me questioning a wrestler’s persona is Alexa Bliss. The Goddess has been viewed as a heel as well as her partner Mickie James. But three weeks ago she and Mickie wrestled against the heel team of Nia Jax and Tamina. It’s very rare that WWE has two heels compete in a match, so it could mean that WWE is turning Alexa into a babyface like the reports suggest. Although, in a recent segments, she’s coming off as more of a tweener than babyface.
Another turn that had me confused is Nikki Cross. When the Sanity member made her debut on RAW a few weeks ago, she was a babyface teaming with Bayley and Natalya to take on The Riott Squad. But during the women’s tag team qualification tournament, she teamed with Alicia Fox to attack Bayley and Sasha backstage. But on the most recent episode of RAW, Cross appeared to be a face again as she faced Ruby Riott.
The last person who’s been flipping back and forth between his persona is Elias. Since his debut, he’s been more of a heel. But in October, WWE decided to switch things up and make Elias a face. Elias is a star who’s naturally over with the crowd, so it doesn’t matter what type of role he has. Yet, WWE must’ve felt the face turn wasn’t working because they’ve had Elias resort back to his devious behavior.
WWE likes to do spur of the moment stuff all the time, but having the wrestlers switch from heel to face one week from the next is becoming too much. It’s leaving fans confused on whether they should boo or cheer a wrestler. I know WWE likes to test the waters and see the audience’s reaction; however the constant changes to a wrestler’s role will not only baffle fans, but it may hurt the wrestler’s credibility.