Five years after being forced to leave the UFC due to health issues, Brock Lesnar made a commanding return to the MMA company at their “UFC 200” event, beating Mark Hunt by unanimous decision.
While this is a time of a celebration for Lesnar and MMA fans everywhere, it’s not all good news. Lesnar has gotten a taste of cage fighting again and knows he can be great within UFC, but it puts his regular employer WWE in a tight spot.
Lesnar is a contracted WWE Superstar who works a part-time schedule and is next set to appear at the company’s “SummerSlam” in August. The bout has already been announced, as he’ll be taking on a returning Randy Orton.
The issue at hand is it’s practically impossible to believe Lesnar is going to be booked to lose against Orton after such a strong showing at “UFC 200.” While MMA is a sport and wrestling is entertainment, Lesnar is portrayed as a freak athlete that’s hard to beat. That’s something that’s only going to increase given his high-profile UFC return.
That’s bad news for Orton and WWE as a whole because after “SummerSlam,” Lesnar will most likely be going away, possibly until 2017’s “Royal Rumble.”
Orton, on the other hand, will be returning to WWE full-time, appearing on either “Raw” or “Smackdown.” After such a high-profile loss, how much will his return actually mean though?
These are the issues that spring up when it comes to WWE contracting part-time superstars. It’s the same problem former WWE Champion CM Punk voiced shortly after he left the company. After losing a string of matches to part timers like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, The Undertaker and Lesnar, Punk — real name Phil Brooks — believed damage had been done to his credibility as one of WWE’s top stars.
That’s a boat Orton will now find himself in. Granted, he will be returning in a major match on the show, which will almost certainly be promoted as a co-main event. What about the next night on “Raw” though, when Lesnar isn’t there and Orton is coming off of a loss with no way to exact his revenge on the Beast Incarnate, as Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman has dubbed him?
Luckily, it’s not too late for WWE to change course and give Orton a win, even if by nefarious means. Why not have Lesnar lose via interference, setting up a story for his eventual return?
As WWE is taking “Smackdown” live in July, with it having a unique roster, the last thing the company needs is to make its full-time superstars look weak. Especially when that superstar is a cornerstone of the company like Orton.