Shane McMahon and Brock Lesnar provided the WWE Universe with some of the more memorable moments in 2016, and both will surely look to do the same as the WWE embarks on the road to WrestleMania. Shane’s shocking return to the WWE in February is arguably one of the biggest surprises ever unveiled, in a company notorious for them. That return, of course, set the stage for a monumental match between Shane and the Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania 32.
Brock Lesnar’s WrestleMania was lackluster compared to Shane’s, but as it turned out, the Beast was being cautious in advance of his secret plans to return to the UFC for a one-off match with Mark Hunt. Despite a failed steroid test voiding that win, Lesnar returned to the WWE with as much juice as ever, parlaying that into a WWE SummerSlam main event with Randy Orton.
The Lesnar-Orton battle, billed as 15 years in the making, ended in disturbing fashion when Brock bloodied the WWE’s Apex Predator, giving him a legitimate concussion that prevented him from wrestling for the next month. It turned out that Shane’s match with the Undertaker was the biggest selling point of last year’s WrestleMania. He used that momentum and became the new commissioner of WWE SmackDown Live while Brock Lesnar ended his WWE run in 2016 in a marquee program with Goldberg.
Around the time of the Lesnar-Goldberg match from WWE Survivor Series, Vince McMahon had it in his mind to book Brock Lesnar in a match with his son for WrestleMania 33. Lesnar’s program with Dean Ambrose a year earlier was received as such a dud that Vince wanted to make Brock’s next ‘Mania match a priority. When it became apparent that The Rock wouldn’t be available, he turned to Shane.
This was before Goldberg’s return was met with such positive reviews from the WWE Universe. Goldberg and WWE management agreed to extend his reunion tour, at least through WrestleMania, holding off any WWE Hall of Fame talk at least for another year. The new plan, which has gone unchanged in the five months since, would see Goldberg win the Universal Championship and defend it against Lesnar in Orlando on April 2.
As noted, Vince was extremely interested in the idea of Shane and Brock in the same ring inside Camping World Stadium. They actually went as far as to shoot an angle that would have been the catalyst for such a match. This, of course, came following that WWE SummerSlam main event between The Beast and The Viper. Shane tried to stop the carnage but received an F-5 for his troubles.
In between the WWE’s two big shows of SummerSlam and Survivor Series last year, there were several backstage discussions, resulting in multiple ideas for the Shane-Lesnar program that would have culminated at this year’s WrestleMania. One would have simply been a straight up singles match between Shane McMahon and Brock Lesnar, but the other two most notable pitches involved Shane bringing in a proxy to face Brock for him, according to a report from the Daily Wrestling News.
Early on, the first name that surfaced was Samoa Joe. In this scenario, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman would have continually provoked Shane for months before Shane promoted Joe to the WWE to fight on his behalf. Interestingly enough, another idea pitched for Joe’s WWE promotion would have seen him become the first wrestler to beat Braun Strowman in a one-on-one match. That honor went, of course, to Roman Reigns this past Sunday at WWE Fastlane.
Joe still made a significant impact upon his WWE debut, however. He attacked Seth Rollins in late January at the behest of Triple H and is now rumored to be involved in some sort of reincarnation of the Evolution stable, led by Hunter, teaming with Kevin Owens and a yet-to-be-determined fourth superstar.
The other option would have seen Shane request the services of Goldberg to face Lesnar in the ultimate culmination of a rivalry that has spanned 13 years. That idea came once Goldberg agreed to stay in the WWE longer than was originally planned. However, WWE officials decided to take Shane out of the mix altogether and instead, he is expected to face AJ Styles next month in a feud that should continue to take shape tonight on SmackDown.
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