The WWE is just about at the finish line in regard to regaining the services of some of their top stars who were recently lost to injury. Late 2015 into early-to-mid 2016 saw a rash of injuries unlike any other in recent memory that claimed months off the careers of John Cena, Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, and Randy Orton. Of those, only Cesaro was available immediately after WrestleMania and Brock Lesnar couldn’t help soften the blow as he embarked on his customary hiatus.
Cena, Rollins, and Wyatt have all completed their journeys back, leaving Orton as the lone potential headliner (Neville is also nearing a return from injury) on the shelf. Fans have become used to Lesnar’s extended absences, but this time is different as Brock will be competing inside the octagon at UFC 200 during his “time off” from the WWE.
We know that Lesnar is already contracted and committed to appear at SummerSlam in August. His short list of potential opponents for the big event include Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt and maybe Kevin Owens. If it were up to Lesnar’s advocate, Paul Heyman, Randy Orton would be added to that list, as the Inquisitr reported this past Wednesday that Heyman wants to see a “modern-day Brock Lesnar against a modern-day Randy Orton.” It’s a program fans have wanted, but have never gotten, since 2002 when they both arrived in WWE.
In order for that to happen, both Lesnar and Orton first have to get back in a WWE ring. According to Daily Wrestling News, after much speculation and a lot of back and forth (internally and reporting), Lesnar is in fact scheduled to appear on the July 19 Tuesday night live edition of Smackdown, which will play host to the WWE Draft. Many thought the likes of Lesnar (and perhaps the Undertaker) would not be subject to draft rights, but rather play the role of free agent and appear on any show they wish. Today’s news may indicate that Lesnar could be drafted, but in any event, chances are he’ll be there to set the wheels in motion for his big SummerSlam feud.
The WWE Draft takes place 10 years after Lesnar’s UFC fight with Mark Hunt. Barring injury (and WWE has been unlucky in that department as noted) Lesnar will head back to WWE after fulfilling his UFC obligations. His WWE contract is set to expire in April 2017, but as the Inquisitr pointed out on Thursday, Vince McMahon is already making it a priority to re-sign The Beast well beyond next year’s WrestleMania.
As for Orton, while he is being advertised for live events beginning in August, his shoulder is still not at 100 percent and he remains about a month away from training for a return to the ring. His original timeline suggested that he’d report to Orlando’s NXT headquarters in mid-June to begin in-ring rehab, be there for a few weeks and then be back on the main roster from there. Obviously, that time table has been pushed back by at least a month and a half.
There have been no indications linking Orton to an appearance at the WWE Draft, so it will be interesting to see how they handle him when it comes to the new COOs of RAW and Smackdown making their selections. The Viper won’t have to do anything physical during that show, so it’ll just be a matter of aligning his schedule. Whether WWE officials want Orton there if he still isn’t able to compete for another month remains to be seen. Lesnar appearing simply adds a major attraction to a show that will likely be pulling out all the stops for big ratings. Smackdown going live and moving to Tuesday nights is a result of USA Network executives complaining about low viewership in the Thursday time slot.
[Image via WWE]