As of last week, WWE was reportedly moving forward with a huge program between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg that would culminate with a match at Survivor Series in November. Goldberg's impending return generated a ton of buzz around the wrestling community, but eyebrows were raised at the same time with the announcement that his first match back would be next month rather than on the bigger stage of WrestleMania.
As we reported last week, the initial backstage response was that because WWE officials wanted to pair Lesnar with Shane McMahon at WrestleMania, not even Goldberg's return would change those plans. Vince McMahon feels that a Shane-Lesnar match would be a bigger draw than Lesnar and Goldberg.
Word behind the scenes was that Lesnar's next several opponents have already been lined up, including Shane at 'Mania, and management didn't want to change course just because of Goldberg. For months, speculation was that Vince desperately wanted Brock to face The Rock at a WrestleMania but figured if The Great One's schedule doesn't allow for it, then Shane is the next big draw, considering the response he received coming back for this past year's showdown with the Undertaker.
The WWE has the benefit of live audience reactions nearly every day of the week and, despite the sentiment to the contrary, are aware of the online reaction to certain storylines, characters, etc. The backlash from the online wrestling community forced the WWE to hold off on pushing Braun Strowman into matches with the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar this past spring and summer. And now, mixed reaction to the Goldberg-Lesnar plans may have them re-thinking again.
According to a report from Daily Wrestling News, nothing is officially set in stone for Brock Lesnar and WrestleMania 32. One of the only things confirmed is that they felt Lesnar was wasted in his feud and match with Dean Ambrose at 32, and this year needs to be different.
Aside from planning a much more significant program for The Beast, we also know that Shane McMahon will most definitely be involved. As noted, the initial plan was to book Shane and Lesnar in a straight-up one-on-one singles match. That still may happen, but it's far from confirmed seven months out from WrestleMania 33.
The conclusion of SummerSlam saw Lesnar bloody Randy Orton in a disturbingly effective finish, which resulted in Shane running down to protect his SmackDown star. After a brief stare-down, Lesnar attacked Shane with an F-5, and the rumor mills churned feverishly. While WWE's creative staff were planting seeds for an eventual feud between the two, some speculated that Shane would summon a proxy to battle The Beast on his behalf.
Recently, that very subject has come up behind the scenes as well. While Shane fighting Lesnar himself is the leading plan at the moment, Vince and company are also considering two other options for Brock and his WrestleMania feud. There has been some consideration given to the idea of Shane recruiting Samoa Joe to fight Lesnar on his behalf in what would be a monumental push for Joe, entering the WWE's main roster whenever that may be.
And then, due to much of the mixed reaction to the idea of pitting Lesnar with Goldberg in a little over a month, WWE officials are reconsidering that move by potentially waiting until WrestleMania as many felt appropriate. Once again, Shane would solicit his services to go head-to-head with Brock in what would be a rematch from their disappointing bout 12 years ago.
By including Shane McMahon in a program with Brock Lesnar, it allows the WWE to book the build-up without Lesnar physically there every week. Whether Shane fights for himself or uses Goldberg to do it for him, he and Paul Heyman can carry the feud from a promo perspective while only using the competitors sporadically, as special attractions. Of course, if they went with Samoa Joe, the idea would be to build Joe into the next huge monster on the roster, assuming they would go ahead and put him over Brock.
[Featured Image by WWE]