By Alex Howells. Catch him on Twitter @AJHowler.
On Saturday night in the USA, and very early in the morning in the UK, UFC 199 aired live to millions of viewers across the globe. The card included a career defining Middleweight title win for England’s first ever UFC champion Michael Bisping, it had the announcement that Conor McGregor’s rematch with Nate Diaz will take place at UFC 202 and it had one further bombshell: Brock Lesnar will step back in to the Octagon at UFC 200.
The Beast Incarnate will return to the legitimate fighting organisation where he only further enhanced his reputation as a real deal multi sport athlete. I’ve seen multiple reports on the internet since I woke to the shocking news and many criticising WWE, many suggesting this means Brock has pulled a off a big coup by having this option in his WWE contract. What many people are missing is that this could be huge for WWE.
Firstly and most importantly this move is by WWE to allow a contracted talent, their biggest star no less, to compete for another company keeps their most unique asset happy. Happy Brock, who will make a king’s ransom from Dana White’s wallet from this, is more likely to do extra dates, do business creatively and hang around into the medium to long term with the world’s biggest sports entertainment company.
In addition to happy Brock WWE feel like they are the bigger man in this situation. They have allowed this to happen, even through a contract clause, they have allowed UFC to borrow a star from their locker room. WWE come out looking like the bigger company. UFC want to use their WWE contracted talent! There is no way that Vince McMahon has sanctioned this without a future agreement in place for something in return. Could we see Ronda Rousey in WWE? Could Conor McGregor take on someone at Wrestlemania 33? Everything is on the table now.
With all of the above said I think the biggest potential benefit to WWE from Lesnar appearing and defeating someone in dominant fashion at UFC 200 is when Brock returns to WWE and loses. Think about it like this: Brock Lesnar appears at UFC 200 and dominates a fighter. He destroys him and wins his one off return match for Dana White’s company. Worldwide press report the return, the victory and the dominant nature of the victory. The Beast then returns to a WWE ring at SummerSlam and is defeated, clean by a WWE superstar. It might be Bray Wyatt, it might be Kevin Owens or it might be Cesaro. Whoever it is will have their victory reported around the world by mainstream press maybe it’s Finn Balor, who knows. Not only have the beaten “Brock Lesnar” but they’ve beaten “Brock Lesnar recent UFC monster”. Storyline or not whoever it is that takes the win over Brock would be immediately catapulted to the top of WWE. It is a unique opportunity that WWE must use carefully as the person who gets this rub needs to be ready for it.
SummerSlam’s buy rate, network subscriptions and interest in the WWE product in general would surely peak should this scenario play out and I have a feeling that critics, or anyone questioning the move from a wrestling standpoint, will look back at this moment as a masterstroke from Titan Towers. If I’m booking WWE post UFC 200 heading into SummerSlam I use this once in a lifetime opportunity to make my next mega star. This has certainly got tongues wagging in the combat sports world and I for one will be watching UFC 200 and more importantly SummerSlam