The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has released the soonest date that Brock Lesnar can fight in the UFC. The USADA said in a statement:
“After receiving notice of his intent to compete in the UFC, USADA re-entered Brock Lesnar to the testing pool on July 3. With six months and four days remaining on his period of ineligibility, Lesnar will be able to compete on or after January 8, 2019, should he remain in compliance with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.”
Lesnar famously failed his UFC 200 drug test leading to a one-year suspension. Lesnar spent that year performing for WWE, eventually winning the less-than-a-year-old Universal Championship at Wrestlemania 33 and defending it at Wrestlmania 34.
Now that Lesnar is ready to make a return to MMA, the question becomes; Who will he drop the Universal Title to, and when?
My answer: Anyone and not soon enough as he DOES devalue the title.
The most obvious (and likely and easiest) choice would be Roman Reigns at SummerSlam. It would give Roman his “big win” and also give Lesnar enough time to slink away and begin his training to face Daniel Cormier, lift trees on his compound, or do whatever it is he does when he’s not on TV.
I’d say there are a few more interesting options though:
Finn Balor – The first Universal Champion who never lost the championship. There it is. The simplest and easiest non-Roman Reigns story you can tell with the title at SummerSlam. It’s a win-win, because it gives Finn back his credibility as one of the best in the world, and it gives us the audience an amazing David and Goliath story. Who wouldn’t want to see Finn figure out a way to overtake the Beast?
Kevin Owens – Kevin Owens is the most entertaining person in WWE right now, non-Alexa Bliss Division. He’s a funny, self-aware heel and his reign as Universal Champion gave us The Festival of Friendship, probably my favourite segment of WWE TV in the last 3 years. Let him grab the title at SummerSlam and run with it right through Wrestlemania.
Bobby Roode – Stay with me on this one. We know that Roode can be an amazing Heel champion. He’s done it before, he can do it again. Right now, strong definitive Heels who are actually on TV are in short supply in WWE programming. Let Roode be Roode. Build an Evolution-style stable around him. Call it the Glorious Era. Build it’s dominance for a few months then have him snatch that title away at Survivor Series.
Braun Strowman – Arguably the most popular WWE Superstar active today. Also, by all accounts, a hell of a nice guy. Is it too soon to pull the trigger on a Strowman title reign? Maybe. I have little faith that WWE would know where to go with him next. But, it would make for a great match at Hell In A Cell to watch Braun rag doll Lesnar out of the WWE.
John Cena – Look, Cena has been spinning his wheels (or belt) at 16 World titles for a couple of years now. He’s never held the Universal Title, so it’d be a double-win in WWE’s eyes to give us a “FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER” call from Michael Cole. Getting that 17th win to overtake Flair is inevitable, so let’s get it out of the way as early as SummerSlam before John is 45 and busy making Skyscraper III: Skyscraper With a Vengeance.
The WWE has spent the last 464+ days convincing us, the audience, that the Universal Title and subsequently the Champion, are so big and special that we don’t need to see them every week. We only need to see them on special, pre-advertised, occasions for predictable and repetitive segments. This is not a slight against Paul Heyman, who’s ability to polish turds into gold is second to none. This is a criticism of the WWE and their whole-hearted gulping of the Lesnar Kool-Aid.
As for Lesnar himself, with the exception of a rare moment or two when someone accidentally knees him in the face, I don’t think I’ve seen a wrestler who appears to care less about being in the ring, being the champion, or being part of the company.
The Universal (AKA WWE) Championship has been often referred to as the “richest prize in the game.” During the best and most entertaining eras in wrestling, THE TITLE was the most important thing in the programming, and the main motivation of everyone on the roster. From rookies, to mid-carders to the top, everyone wanted the title, everyone wanted to be the Champion, and being the Champion MEANT something. You were the pinnacle, the face of the company. The one they sent for all the interviews and the one that everyone is chasing. A inspiring leader for fans and talent alike, or in the case of Heel Champs, the greatest villains in the organization.
Brock Lesnar does not inspire. Brock Lesnar is not a great villain. Brock Lesnar is a very large man who’s decent at punching people in the face when he feels like it.
It’s time for that to end. It’s time for the Title to mean something again. It’s time for someone on the roster to stand up, shirk off the over-produced talking points and say (and mean it) “I’m here, I’m YOUR champion, and I’m taking on all Challengers.” Someone who brings VALUE to the Title.
Do you feel that Lesnar devalues the title? Who do you think Lesnar should drop the title to? Let us know in the comments.