For the second time in three months, the WWE is billing a marquee pay-per-view match as “15 years in the making” when Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton finally tangle on a big stage this Sunday at SummerSlam. At first, it appeared the company was going to rely solely on the star-power of Lesnar and Orton alone to sell the match, but several other outside elements have added to the intrigue of this showdown.
The WWE made the decision to announce Lesnar’s SummerSlam opponent before Brock’s UFC fight against Mark Hunt. Fortunately for them, Lesnar won the fight, so the hope was that some of that mainstream momentum would carry over to the WWE. However, then it was revealed that Lesnar failed a USADA-administered drug test, and some of that attention turned negative.
Lesnar’s violation came on the heels of Roman Reigns violating the WWE Wellness Policy, to which Brock labeled Reigns as unprofessional. And while Roman was suspended for 30 days for his first violation of the policy, Lesnar received no punishment from the WWE because he’s considered a part-time superstar and not subject to the same rules as the full-time members of the roster.
Fans didn’t have to wait long to see if the WWE would address the issue on their programming. They tried to get out front of the Reigns suspension when Seth Rollins opened an episode of RAW with an onslaught of criticism for his former Shield partner. And then making his first appearance since the fall of 2015, Randy Orton made his triumphant return at Battleground as Chris Jericho’s guest on the “Highlight Reel,” as recapped by WWE.com.
During the segment, Jericho put Lesnar over by saying Orton was scared of him and had been avoiding him for 15 years. Orton replied that all it will take is one RKO to take the Beast to Viperville. No enhancement necessary. That certainly got a rise out of the crowd, and according to the latest issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the line was Jericho’s idea. Y2J mentioned on his podcast that he went to both creative and Orton with the line, and it was approved beforehand.
However, during last week’s RAW during the segment with Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar, and Heath Slater, Lesnar told Slater that he “didn’t give a s*** about (Slater’s) kids.” That line was bleeped from the broadcast, but as it turns out, it was not scripted. It’s interesting to note that Lesnar’s contract has certain provisions detailing what he can and cannot be punished for, and he has not been punished for the line.
There was internal talk that WWE employees of a lesser stature would have, and some of them have been fired for much less, including Brad Maddox, who was terminated for using the word “prick” on a house show. Lesnar, John Cena, and maybe one or two other superstars have a much longer leash when it comes to abiding by any kind of script. Many believe that if a mid-carder or below said what Lesnar said, they would have been fired immediately.
One line that wasn’t scripted during this feud that didn’t make television came during the taped promo video two weeks ago that aired during RAW. If you recall, Orton said that Lesnar left the WWE in 2004 “because he didn’t like people.”
Apparently, during the interview that was used to make the video, Orton said, “S***, I don’t like people either and I’m still here.”
That line was edited off the version that aired on TV, but that package may have been the most real angle the WWE has produced in some time.
The feeling is that this program will begin and end with the one match at SummerSlam. Expectations are that Lesnar will take more time off while Orton will move on to a feud with Bray Wyatt. The only punishment Lesnar may receive from the past two months of indiscretion is taking the loss at the hands of The Viper.
[Image via WWE]