To say that 2016 has already been a crazy year in the world of Professional Wrestling would be the understatement of the decade. AJ Styles and the Bullet Club are a prominent feature of WWE programming. Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, and Shinsuke Nakamura make NXT must see network material, the franchise of WWE is feuding with the franchise of TNA, but everything pales in comparison to the news which came down at the end of the weekend. Brock Lesnar, current WWE contracted wrestler, will be headlining UFC 200.
This is something that wouldn’t even come up in crazy fantasy booking. It is something no one could have expected. Lesnar has stated multiple times that he was unhappy with the way his UFC career came to an untimely end, and who can blame the man? A potentially dominant run at the top of the Heavyweight Division cut short by a severe bout of diverticulitis. Apparently, the end of his UFC career has eaten at him so much that negotiating a one time bout into his current WWE contract was of utmost importance to “the beast.”
Here is what we do know at the moment. Lesnar is still under WWE contract. He resigned before Wrestlemania 32 and will be around for at least another two years. One can assume that a UFC bout was negotiated into the contract before Wrestlemania 32 and Dana White came knocking when both Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey were not making it to UFC 200. My biggest take away from all this is just how much WWE values Brock Lesnar. Short of random appearances by the Rock he is the biggest mainstream star the WWE has at their disposal, so I understand giving the man what he wants. But to say that WWE is doing this without something in return is pretty short sighted. Rumor has it that UFC 202 will be presented by WWE Summerslam. Which ironically is the rumored debut of former WWE Champion CM Punk, but that is a whole other level of “what the fuck?” WWE getting a prominent sponsorship on a big UFC card is good for the company but is it worth putting your biggest star at risk? I don’t have the numbers to really say, but I doubt any hardcore UFC fans watching UFC 202 will hop on the WWE Network to watch Summerslam. The audience only crosses one way. I have seen multiple posts from WWE fans stating they will definitely tune into UFC 200 now, I know I will. UFC fans aren’t going to return the favor.
So what gives? Some people are saying that Rousey will get a match on the Wrestlemania card. Makes sense. Rousey is a self professed wrestling fan, and she has already had a Wrestlemania moment at 31. Some people are still doubting the main stream value of Rousey’s name, especially after her loss and self imposed exile, but I think she still carries weight, more so than most of the UFC roster, not named Conor. I for one would love a Triple H/Stephanie McMahon vs The Rock/Rousey match at Mania. Which I suppose has more of a chance of happening now more than ever.
I really wouldn’t be surprised if WWE gets nothing out of the deal though, and the only reason any of this is happening is so Brock would resign with WWE. I see a big concern out there with the possibility of Brock getting knocked out, specifically getting knocked out early. Which is a concern considering his opponent Mark Hunt has heavy hands. The question is how WWE is going to protect Lesnar if such a thing happens. I ask, why is this even a question to begin with? I like to think that we should be able to understand the difference between Brock Lesnar WWE Superstar and Brock Lesnar UFC Fighter. We should be asking what WWE is getting out of this, outside of the initial press of the announcement? We should be asking will Brock be cleared for Summerslam after his fight? Also, how much stroke does this man currently have? Good on him. He has Dana White and Vince McMahon at his disposal.