Editorial Columns

Brock Lesnar Is Vastly Overvalued

James Hayes looks at second run of current WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, and makes the statement that ‘The Beast’ is vastly overvalued.

We’ve all had that person who we obsess with, and the more they ignore us, the more we want them.

No? Maybe that’s just me. Wait, there’s a guy in the back trying to avoid eye contact.

What up Vince?

We need to talk about Brock. He has been overly revered and glorified by WWE for years. I know you’ll point to television ratings, merchandise, and huge PPV buys.

But in the age of The WWE Network, PPV buys don’t have the same significance that they did 10 years ago. Also, Brock has been the top star on Raw for years now, and the ratings have plummeted. In fact the November 26th, 2018 episode was the lowest rated show in the history of its run. And as for merchandise sales, Brock is not even in the top 5. You wouldn’t think is true considering how much Vince compensates Lesnar.

You have to admit Brock is a Hell of a businessman. Once he puts that Steve Harvey suit on and shows up unannounced at a UFC event… Watch out! Vince made Brock the highest paid wrestler in 2016. He then brought in 6.5 million for 2017, as well as 2018. Both years he was second only to John Cena.

I will concede that this man is a freak of nature. There are not many people just walking around who look like Brock. Perhaps if you go to Feldhofer Cave of the Neander Valley, you could find some Neanderthals that mirror him, but outside of that place, good luck.

WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross, recalls the first time Vince McMahon ever saw Brock. The second Vince laid eyes on him it was love at first sight. Ross says, ‘He was our number one target and we got him.” Brock had first made waves the year before when he almost became the NCAA National Champ. The next year he made good on that promise and became the 2000 Champ, as part of the Minnesota Golden Gophers Wrestling Team.

It’s not hard to see what Vince saw in the behemoth. Brock stood 6 foot 3 and was 280 pounds. He had blonde hair and looked like a second cousin to Thor. Vince could not hide his elation.

I suspect Brock picked up on this and even as a young man he knew he could take advantage of this situation. Everyone can tell when someone is interested in them, and most of us either like it, dismiss, or start plotting ways to gain from it. Perhaps Lesnar always had a sense of entitlement and self -belief. Maybe that’s what comes from being pursued by so many athletic organizations at a young age. 

Brock was born and raised in Webster, South Dakota, Humble beginnings that gave no hint of the eminence he would ultimately rise to.

Lesnar got signed later that year and spent a couple years down in Ohio Valley Wrestling development. He was part of the ring crew, and not only was he part of the guys who set up and broke down the ring, but he moved into a leadership role and was in charge of transporting, as well as making sure everything went smoothly after the setup. Everything did not always go smoothly, Brock clashed with the hot-tempered, yet hilarious Jim Cornette. Things got so hairy between the two that Jim made it clear he would never fight Brock, but he would have no reservations with shooting him. It was not a bluff Cornette kept a gun in his desk drawer.

Here is Brock in his prime at OVW.

Lesnar was called up on March 18th of 2002 and within months he defeated The Rock to become the youngest WWE Champion in history. Like most young men who are given something so valuable, while so young, he didn’t really appreciate it. He didn’t seem to grasp the lineage or the prominence of the title. And he certainly did not care for all the responsibility that came with it.

Brock didn’t like having to work so many dates, and he hated all the travel so he took his ball and went to New Japan, where he would go on to become IWGP Heavyweight Champion in his first match. He was promptly sued by WWE for violation of the non-competition agreement. The parties settled in March of 2004.

You would think, surely Vince won’t hire this guy again, right?

Later that year, Brock found his way over to the NFL, where he failed to make the final roster for the Minnesota Vikings. 

Never one to let disappointment hinder him he quickly rebounded. In 2006 Brock pursued a career in MMA. In Vince’s eyes, this must have been the equivalent of your ex-girlfriend leaving you for the guy who used to tease you in gym class. For Vince, there must have been a sense of jealousy that eventually gave way to admiration, but I suspect he seemingly rooted for Brock to do well in the same way you hope your ex-fiance has a great honeymoon, builds a huge house, and has three lovely children. Do you really mean it?

Brock eventually won the UFC Championship… he would also eventually meet Cain Velasquez, who would beat him bloody and strip away his title. Brock took another beating from Alistair Overeem, then decided he had enough and called up his ex, hoping there was still a little love left. His hope landed and in 2012 Vince played the role of the faithful girlfriend who ignores the cheating and welcomes her partner back with open arms. 

No questions asked.

We should address the diverticulitis. Lesnar almost died because of the illness and I’m glad he made a full recovery. I’ve suffered from similar stomach issues and they can be terrifying. Also, I’m sure it did affect some of his UFC fights. Especially the lost to Alistair Overeem.  With a new bill of health and a freshly signed contract Brock was ready to reclaim his spot.

In his return match at Extreme Rules, he slaughtered poor John Cena. Although, ironically Super Cena still won. I think this was Vince’s way of confirming that WWE is still better than UFC. Vince often does this when a successful talent first arrives into the WWE. Remember Sting’s ill-fated Wrestlemania match with Triple H? 

This is before the match where he sent Cena to Suplex City SIXTEEN TIMES!  

Did I mention my disdain of Suplex City?  Oh, how I hate going there. It’s never fun. The weather is bad. Everyone is unfriendly. It’s basically a huge ghetto. And everyone time I leave there I feel like I just got ripped off.

There have always been rumors of Brock and Vince screaming at each other during his contract negotiations.  I don’t think Brock was ever going anywhere, but he needed to make Vince believe he would. As is true in all relationships, the person willing to walk away has the power. That’s why these tantrums work so well.Below is a video of Brock throwing the Universal Title at a startled Vince McMahon. I think this just made Vince love him more.

Do you guys know anything about drugs like Clomiphene and hydroxy-clomiphene? Well, Brock knows all about them. He was busted and suspended by USADA. We never really found out why someone like him would need to take a short-cut.

Speaking of that, I remember my friend watching Brock wrestle after he got caught with PCT (post cycle therapy treated with the above drugs) in the Mark Hunt fight and he said, “We always knew this was pre-determined, but treating Brock like a monster now is just insulting.” The spell was broken for him, as it was for many casual viewers who watched just to see Brock. They saw the light. 

Why can’t Vince?

Remember that episode of Raw where Brock had to be forced to show up and even then he didn’t want to come out to the ring?

THIS IS THE REAL BROCK LESNAR.

They were getting Roman Reigns to speak the truth about Brock in order to turn him heel, with the hope that it would turn Roman more babyface, and it worked. He started getting booed. And when Roman finally beat Brock people popped. There was excitement.

Problem is Roman got sick and Vince got spooked, then went back to that place of comfort that he lives in whenever something he didn’t book happens. That place led him to put the belt back on Brock.

Except once you tell the truth is hard to convince people to believe a lie. WWE themselves called him “The Worst Universal Champ ever.” 

Brock didn’t need or deserve to still be champ, and they should’ve just put it on, Braun Strowmen.

Vince would rather go back to something old and no longer as useful then risk trying something new they may fail. I had a friend who would always run back to an unhealthy partner whenever they were scared or nervous. The Devil you know… I seriously doubt Brock was surprised when Vince called him.

Brock had already done all the groundwork, so of course, he took the belt back and deposited another million in his bank account. 

No wonder Brock has seemingly chosen WWE over the UFC. He has not quite been able to get Dana to fall in love with him, I suspect because Dana knows Brock’s heart is spoken for. Besides, Dana only has eyes for Jon Jones.

We’ve seen Vince take wrestlers back who spit in his face and punch him in the jaw (Bret Hart) We’ve seen him take guys back who blackmailed him before a show (Ultimate Warrior). Vince likes Alpha males. He responds to confidence with confidence. Someone whispered that into these guy’s ears and they got away with murder. But none of them have gotten away with more than Brock. From refusing to put on actual wrestling match for fear of getting injured (Dean Ambrose match), and losing out on a UFC fight, to admitting that he doesn’t know or even talk to the majority of boys (or ladies) in the back. 

Whatever happened to being a locker room leader?

He could care less about the WWE fans. He wrestles because it pays him well. Most of the times he simply stands behind Heyman and jogs in place while looking tough. And when he does wrestle it’s never over 10 minutes and it consists of simply tossing around guys who he outweighs by 100 pounds. Brock might as well be back on his farm throwing bales of hay.

Brock Lesnar, through no fault of his own, kind of represents everything that is wrong with WWE’s monopolized mentality that keeps stuffing the same few Superstars over and over while younger talent starves. Lesnar is a glass ceiling. Vince McMahon created Lesnar and will never truly side with a talent that he didn’t create. If you are a young wrestler and you have a following, and you want to be a top star, is that more likely to happen in ALL Elite Wrestling or WWE? I am not a big Finn Balor fan, but I wanted him to beat Brock at The Royal Rumble because I thought it would be a symbolic sign that WWE knows it needs to make changes. They would finally understand it’s time to elevate the full-timers.

By the way, who has Brock elevated?

Finn can’t even get a clean win over Lio Rush, Samoa Joe is lost on Smackdown Live, Braun Strowman is regressing into a latter-day Big John Studd.

And both A.J. Styles and Daniel Bryan are stuck on the B show, fighting over a title that cannot main event, even WWE’s lesser PPV’s.

And as much as I enjoyed their matches with Brock, there can be no suspense if we know they cannot win. And of course, they didn’t.

One of the moments in the last 5 years that kept me watching WWE, when I was drifting towards UFC, was the first Brock vs Goldberg (second, actually) match at the 2016 Survivor Series. I loved when Goldberg beat Brock in less than 90 seconds. It was shocking. It was thrilling. It felt real.

WWE needs much more of this. You can’t do that protecting the status quo.

Thank God they were smart enough to not book Ronda in the manner they have booked Brock. She seems like she could actually lose her matches.

In fact, Ronda is what Brock should have always been.

She loves the industry.

She embraces the fans.

She shows up and WRESTLES every week.

She does not turn down doing press.

Ronda has gone out of her way to earn the respect of everyone backstage.

She does all the things Lesnar won’t plus she is a bigger star than he ever was.

And she is interesting, complex, and riveting to watch in and outside the ring.

Want to make Lesnar an interesting character? Let him lose. Let’s see how the Beast reacts. It’s these shades of grey that make characters work in the long run. That’s why Bret became so fascinating. When did the Undertaker character truly transcend into greatness? When he lost. When his legend started to come down to earth. 

I am not saying Brock should become Big Show or Mark Henry, but he NEEDS to change. 

At Wrestlemania get the title off Brock Lesnar. Put that belt on Seth, or better yet someone from NXT. Let Brock start feuding with Bobby Lashley over the IC title. And he should lose this feud. He does not need, or deserve, even secondary titles. Why? Kofi Kingston of New Day said it best, “Brock don’t wanna come to work!”

Brock’s absence has not elevated the title, and the only thing he has enhanced is his bank account.

No one is saying get rid of Lesnar. He still has value, but not as Vince’s top star.

They can still be friends, but it’s time for Vince to fall out of love with Brock and start flirting all the other young talent that he already has signed.

Vince, I need you to change your phone number. Update your status on social media. Get some ice cream, listen to some Taylor Swift, cry it all out, then contact Triple H and tell him you are calling up Ricochet.

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