What a week it has been. We have had what was in my opinion one of the best PPV’s all year by any wrestling company with TNA’s Turning Point and we have had the revelation that Shane McMahon and Carl DeMarco met with UFC head honcho Dana White last week and yet in my opinion the biggest story of the week is the one that involves someone who used to be in wrestling and may not be in anything much longer. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am of course talking about Brock Lesnar and you are reading “Wrestling Rumblings.”
For the uninitiated Brock Lesnar has come down with various ailments over the past few weeks that have led to several postponements of his UFC Heavyweight Title defense against Shane Carwin which was originally scheduled for this weekend. He was diagnosed with Mononucleosis a week ago which sent tremors through the MMA and Professional Wrestling world as that is not exactly something that someone gets over in a week and then just when everyone thought they heard the worse Brock wound up being hospitalized over 11 days with what is being referred to as a ?bacterial infection? and had ?minor surgery? that is leaving his career in question. To those that have stuck with this so far and don?t follow MMA and ask ?What does this have to do with wrestling?? my answer to you is everything.
It is no secret that wrestling is no longer the PPV kings of the universe anymore. WWE buyrates have gone down year after year and TNA’s buyrates are rumored to be so abysmal that no one in TNA management will let those numbers out into the open. Sure ROH and Dragongate USA have made strides in the last couple of years on PPV but those numbers are even lower than WWE’s and TNA’s. While boxing may have had a couple of their showdowns do great numbers this year it is no secret that the only company to get great returns on their events is UFC. I don?t want to insult UFC and say that Brock Lesnar is the reason that they are getting great buys after all UFC has held 13 events in 2009 and Brock only competed on 1 of them but he has been there biggest draw ever since signing with that company and the straw that holds that heavyweight division together. Outside of Brock Lesnar the UFC doesn?t have many stars in that division that would draw buys that aren?t in some ways perceived as too new or damaged goods. Antonio Nogueira? He is old and on the tail end of his career. Frank Mir? He was already ground up and fed to Brock. Shane Carwin? Cain Velasquez? Still too new to sell PPV’s. The fact of the matter is Brock fighting was very similar to Mike Tyson for boxing back in the 80’s. His just being on the show guaranteed buys and the man who would beat him would basically be an instant star with credibility that would help establish the rest of the division. I know there are many MMA fans who didn?t like Brock but the simple truth is Brock was such a great heel that they paid their money to see him get beat. Those same fans are not going to be as quick to pay money to see anyone else.
It’s been a banner year for UFC but 2010 is already looking bleak. With injuries to Nogueira and Carwin they are already without two of the other top heavyweights in the division for at least the first quarter of the year. Lyoto Machida is just not a draw as champion, Quentin ?Rampage? Jackson looks as if he may truly be done with UFC and MMA in general as he tries to pursue a movie career, George St. Pierre is just not that big of a draw at the moment and neither is B.J Penn so where does that leave UFC? They are almost guaranteed to miss out on strong PPV buys for the first quarter of 2010 and that is not a good thing for UFC but it could be a great thing for wrestling with WWE holding the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania in the first quarter of 2010 maybe some fans who crossed over to MMA may cross back to wrestling due to the lack of star power on some of the UFC shows. This could be the time for WWE and even TNA for that matter to stack the deck so to speak to make sure those fans that may cross over for a month or two don?t turn back.
What about Brock himself? Could he come back to MMA? No one is sure yet but one thing that is certain is that he is in the prime of his career right now and the time that he would need to even consider a comeback at 100% is considerable. MMA fans will remember that Frank Mir was on top of the world in 2004 as UFC Heavyweight champion until a motorcycle accident derailed his career. It took him nearly 2 years to somewhat matter again and in the eyes of many he was fortunate to find himself in the position he was in with the first Brock Lesnar fight being Brock’s second MMA fight ever and his victory over Antonio Nogueria coming on the heels of a staph infection suffered by Nogueira. In other words his ?comeback? may have simply been an illusion and there is a possibility that the sport has somewhat passed him by. Would Brock even want to risk that possibility for himself by coming back a year or two later given those odds? Let’s not forget that while the illness has been speculated to be diverticulitis it has not been confirmed as such and there are other intestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease that are incurable even with surgery like Brock has just went through. Not only would it be incurable but only treatable by steroids. I am not saying that Brock has Crohn’s disease but as of this writing no one really knows for sure what he has. If he has something that he has to treat with steroids it could be even longer if he is ever able to legally compete in the world of MMA again.
So what if he can?t come back? Sure he has made a lot of money, one would even say he has made enough money to retire and never work a day in his life. However we don?t know how Brock has handled his money over the years. He has children, he has a wife and well he has a standard of living that he has been accustomed to ever since first signing with the WWE in 2000. Steroids may be illegal to compete in MMA but we are all aware by now that under the WWE Wellness Policy steroids taken under a physicians care for a valid reason with a valid prescription are tolerated. WWE has struggled to compete with UFC is it inconceivable to think that WWE would sort through the legal wrangling of Brock Lesnar’s UFC contract and bring him back to the WWE? There is a lot of money to be made there with feuds with HHH, Randy Orton and John Cena all on the horizon and all would be big PPV buys for WWE if promoted properly. Brock has had his differences with WWE in the past but we have seen that when he is desperate for money as he was in 2005 he would consider a return to wrestling. Maybe Vince McMahon could give him a reduced schedule similar to that of the Undertaker. It worked before and it could work again and let’s just play devil’s advocate and say that it doesn?t work we all know by now that Dixie Carter would be all ears to a Brock Lesnar signing by TNA. So Brock going down to this ailment might be the worst thing for the UFC and Brock’s MMA career but it could be the best thing for wrestling.
Of course all that glitters is not gold sometimes and UFC is not likely to take the potential loss of Brock Lesnar forever lying down. Especially if the possibility of him coming back to wrestling were to occur, UFC President Dana White still would have one card to play, a card he has been holding close to his chest for quite a while and that card is Bobby Lashley. It is this columnist’s opinion that Bobby Lashley’s heart is not in wrestling. It’s a little known fact but before he ever got involved with WWE he was training for MMA but of course we all know it is not the most sexy way to make a living when you have no name recognition to make a living in the world of MMA and Vince McMahon and WWE came calling and the rest is history so to speak. After leaving WWE he figured he would have enough of a name to really make a go at it but of course at the time Dana White figured Bobby Lashley wasn?t ready for the kind of deal he would want to fight exclusively in the UFC and Lashley had to keep up his standard of living hence his return to wrestling in TNA. Dana White has said in the past that he is opposed to Bobby Lashley or for that matter anyone trying to compete in wrestling and MMA at the same time and he would demand there complete devotion to the UFC and MMA. With his heavyweight division in the shambles that a Brock Lesnar retirement would put it in is it not too farfetched that Dana White just may make Bobby Lashley that offer that would make him quit TNA and give up wrestling for good? Now there are some that may say ?good? TNA wasn?t doing anything with Bobby Lashley to begin with but just the whole idea of UFC potentially raiding wrestling for fighters could set up a new precedent in the world of Wrestling and MMA alike where we would see other MMA promoters try to entice popular wrestlers who may not be on that John Cena level to compete in MMA and where would this put wrestling then? I don?t want to find out.
In closing let’s hope that Brock Lesnar has a healthy and speedy recovery and that both MMA and Professional Wrestling rebound from everything and both come back stronger than ever for its fans. On that note I am going to wrap up this week’s column. As usual I take all feedback at email@example.com and that’s it, next week I will try to do better and until then, I am out.