It was almost a year ago that Vince McMahon and the WWE reintroduced us to “The Next Big Thing” aka, Brock Lesnar. His appearance on the April 2, 2012 edition of Monday Night Raw, following Wrestlemania 28, was anticipated by everyone. What wasn’t anticipated was how Lesnar would return, hitting the F-5 on an already bruised John Cena, who had just lost to the Rock on the previous night.
This set up what was considered at the time to be one of the best matches of the year; Lesnar verse Cena at Extreme Rules. This match painted a clear picture for the WWE Universe that McMahon had specific plans for Lesnar. Not only was he a former WWE Champion, but he was a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, and arguably one of the most recognizable faces in the sport. McMahon had spent big bucks in bringing back Lesnar for what was a reported 20 appearances at the time.
The limited number of appearances guaranteed an even more limited number of matches, and given the already foul mood of the IWC toward part time wrestlers such as Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, and Chris Jericho, it was definitely a risky move played by McMahon. But this just wasn’t McMahon throwing money at a “big name.” Bringing back Lesnar had alternative motives, which were made more clear when then GM John Laurinaitis announced that he signed Lesnar in order to bring “legitimacy” to the WWE. This message was delivered loud and clear once again when in his second bout, Lesnar once again brought a more “MMA” style approach to the squared circle, defeating Triple H and breaking his arm in the process.
It has been well documented that McMahon has an absolute gigantic ego. It’s also been well documented that the overall success of Dana White and the UFC is something that has disturbed McMahon and his multimillion dollar empire. If there is one thing we should know about Vincent K McMahon by now, it is that if this man has an itch, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to scratch it. No doubt, such a character flaw has led to many poor business decisions. But it has also led to some epic victories over the past 30 years. But what about this itch? What about McMahon’s pride and ego that causes him to blur the line between professional wrestling and mixed martial arts? Is this a wise move? Will this lead to a revolutionary change in sports entertainment, or will this just be another example of a failed attempt by McMahon to not burry his ego at the sake of being a trend setter.
White chimed in on McMahon’s fascination with the UFC when he shocked the world by stating the following, “Vince is too old, which he won’t think he is and he’ll go crazy (when he hear about this). He wanted to do that one time. Vince wanted to fight me. Swear to God, he called me up and said, ‘Let’s do it. We can either do it in the UFC or let’s do it at WrestleMania.’ And I said, ‘You are crazy.’ I always said I respect Vince and I’ll say it again. I respect Vince very much, but Vince is too old to be fighting.”
McMahon has always been willing to put himself, including his own physical health, on the line in order to sell more tickets. He’s been Stone Cold Stunned, Rock Bottomed, Mandible Clawed, and more recently, GTSed more times than I care to remember, all in the name of entertainment. But to challenge another promoter to a fight? Really? Why? Because Vince has an itch.
And so when he couldn’t scratch that itch via a Wrestlemania match between then UFC Champion Lesnar and WWE Superstar the Undertaker, or even a publicity stunt between he and White, McMahon did the next best thing; wait for Lesnar to become available. And when he did following a loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141, McMahon pounced.
Fast forward one year and what have we really been witness to? A revolutionary change? Hardly! Lesnar’s involvement since his first appearance on a WWE screen in almost a decade has been lackluster at best. Sure his matches are intense and for the most part visually pleasing given the addition of blood, but what we are witnessed to isn’t something that will change the industry. It’s a gimmick. A side show. A method to gain viewership from individuals who might not otherwise purchase a pro-wrestling PPV. And so when said individuals watch, they are treated to something that might somewhat appear to be related to MMA, but is a much more watered down version. Face it Vince, MMA is a sport. And although your form of entertainment might appear to be related, no one above a junior high education level really believes that professional wrestling is “real”.
Which is why in order to make Lesnar vs. HHH 2 appealing, they had to spice it up with stipulations. But this isn’t the only failed venture when it comes to professional wrestling attempting to capitalize on the success of mixed martial arts. TNA’s relationship with Bellator has been limited to a cameo by Dixie Carter and an embarrassing loss by King Mo, who was suppose to be TNA’s super crossover star.
So in closing let me appeal to those in charge. STAY AWAY FROM MMA!!!! You’re not fooling us, you’re only fooling yourselves.