There’s no denying that Brock Lesnar is a mega-star attraction in the sports entertainment and mixed martial arts worlds. He’s also admittedly one of the most reclusive combatants in the industry as well, often hiding from the general public while on a farm in Canada or Minnesota. The fact that Lesnar does not engage in any social media activity or watch much television makes it all the more surprising that his last few contract decisions have been revealed publicly by The Beast himself.
While Lesnar may admit to being uncomfortable in a studio, it’s likely that WWE chairman Vince McMahon and UFC president Dana White relish the publicity for their product when Brock appears on ESPN.
During WrestleMania week in 2015, Lesnar went on SportsCenter to announce that he’d be re-signing with Vince and the WWE and not returning to the octagon. He went as far as to say that his MMA days were over, only to reverse course earlier this month. Lesnar, again, was a guest of ESPN’s, this time to proclaim that he was returning for a bout with Mark Hunt at UFC 200. Many wrestling fans were stunned but then soon relieved when it was confirmed he’d still be appearing at SummerSlam in August.
When Vince McMahon originally convinced Lesnar to come back to the WWE in 2012 after an eight-year absence, Brock signed a three-year deal most wrestlers could only dream of. That contract was set to expire after his WWE World Heavyweight Championship main event against Roman Reigns at last year’s WrestleMania in Santa Clara. According to the Daily Wrestling News, his current deal appears only to be of the two-year variety and is set to expire after WrestleMania 33 next April in Orlando.
It looks like extending the relationship with Lesnar is at, or near the top of Vince McMahon’s priority list. In the short term, Vince must focus on executing the upcoming WWE Draft and brand extension to the point it pleases his fan base and USA Network executives. And aside from the day-to-day to make sure it goes off without a hitch, Vince also has every intention to mend fences with the Undertaker as their relationship had become strained since the Deadman’s last match against Shane McMahon. And getting Lesnar to commit to another contract extension is right up there.
Wanting to keep WWE on Lesnar’s good side has been paramount for Vince and other officials, which is apparently why getting the deal done for UFC 200 appeared to happen so smoothly. It’s clear that Brock appearing for both promotions within a month of one another will be best for business even though there’s been little cross-promotion. WWE was hoping for some sort of talent exchange, most notably for Paige VanZant to appear at this year’s SummerSlam. While VanZant made the decision to focus solely on the octagon, keeping Lesnar in the fold with another multi-year deal is likely more pressing.
Brock has often been labeled a global attraction by both Vince McMahon and Triple H, further indication (as if any was needed) that Lesnar attracts more eyes to the product and makes both sides more money. But he’s also been a model employee since coming back to the WWE. He’s received no heat from within the WWE regarding his decision to scratch the itch that is a UFC fight. He shows up when contracted to do so and does what he’s booked to do. Most WWE superstars might say “what’s the big deal?” but because he’s a top star, he’d probably have more leeway when it came to decisions for his character.
The only minor noise we heard from Lesnar’s camp was that he was upset about facing Dean Ambrose at this year’s WrestleMania, and truly, the feud didn’t match the hype of the other two marquee programs at the event. But he wasn’t the only one. Vince felt more should have been done to try to book Lesnar with The Rock, and McMahon is determined more than ever to make sure that match happens next year. But perhaps more importantly, Vince wants to make sure his Beast is back for more when that one’s over.
[Image via WWE]