Big business is big and Brock Lesnar is good for it.
That's why World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have been so willing to put up with the headaches he's caused over the years. For being such a simple guy, a recluse who likes to hunt in Canada and spend time with his family in Minnesota, Lesnar sure is high maintenance.
You should know the story by now but if you don't, here's a brief synopsis. Lesnar came back to WWE, his short time working with John Cena was rather tumultuous, he was written off television, he showed up at a UFC event to meet with promotion President Dana White, and now he's got heat from everyone because it kind of sort of seems like he's playing both sides against the middle.
Which is probably the case, as I, and many others, have maintained all along.
In the latest Figure Four Weekly, Bryan Alvarez talks about the latest rumors surrounding Brock and his status with both companies:
Brock Lesnar was the center of discussions in WWE and UFC again this week. Until Raw Monday, Lesnar has not appeared or been mentioned on WWE television since he met with Dana White at UFC 146 on May 26th in Las Vegas. White this week reiterated his claim that the post-show meeting with Brock was a disaster. "Probably the worst meeting we've ever had with Brock Lesnar, and I haven't talked to him since," White said. This mirrors the stories coming out of the meeting the day after it went down. However, sources in both WWE and UFC this week expressed skepticism that this was really the case, and both sides had differing opinions regarding rumors that Brock wanted to fight for UFC before the end of 2012. The WWE side almost universally claims that Brock has an iron-clad contract and that there is no way he could fight for UFC until that contract expires following WrestleMania 29 in April of 2013. On the UFC side, there are people who insist that his contract is non-exclusive (more than one source used the term "on loan to WWE"), and that he and White were discussing a potential fight during the meeting. Not everyone in UFC believes he'll fight. Some believe that even if his WWE contract allowed it, his heart really isn't into fighting and all of this is some sort of ploy by Lesnar to increase his bargaining power or leverage with WWE. There is a great deal of heat on Lesnar from the WWE side, in part due to the belief that the stories coming out of UFC about the meeting going poorly are false. As of last week he was still scheduled to wrestle HHH at SummerSlam. The company has an angle planned which involves HHH appearing at No Way Out to address his future. This is a situation where the plan is to shoot the angle on the PPV in the hopes that it will add viewers to Raw the next night as opposed to shooting the angle on Raw hoping it will add buys to the PPV. As reported last week, Lesnar is only scheduled for 24 dates under his one-year contract, so it is believed that after SummerSlam he won't be used at all until around Royal Rumble 2013 when the build for WrestleMania begins.
So folks with WWE say Lesnar isn't going anywhere because his contract is exclusive while folks with UFC say he's only on loan and will come back sooner or later. Meanwhile, Lesnar hasn't said anything to anyone and because of the nature of reporting in pro wrestling and Dana White's penchant for being dishonest if the situation calls for it, what can we really glean from all this?
All we can really tell here is Lesnar is definitely in business for himself. But that's not exactly news. When he left UFC, he had one fight left on his contract but the understanding was that if he retired and wanted to go to WWE, White would allow him to do so. And why wouldn't he? It seems interesting now, though, that Lesnar has dipped his toe back in the Octagon waters and perhaps gotten White's hopes up for a return to fighting that hasn't come to pass. That could be why folks are maintaining that Brock will return at some point soon. If White wanted to make a power play, theoretically, he could.
Even with new information here, I maintain my stance that Lesnar is simply leveraging himself for better treatment while he works with WWE. His career in fighting could still be lucrative but if he went back and was badly beaten, as he has been the last two times in the cage, it would badly damage his brand, perhaps beyond repair. And with his appeal already seemingly at a low point based on the Extreme Rules buyrate (and you know the right folks will spin it that way), he needs to maintain whatever appeal he still has left.
Triple H is scheduled to address the situation at No Way Out this Sunday night on pay-per-view and his promo should reveal more than any rumors floating around the Internet possibly could.
Stay tuned, Cagesiders.