When The Beast signed a new three-year contract with the WWE in March this year, wrestling fans were delighted by the prospect of seeing more of Brock Lesnar in the ring.
Turning down a lucrative deal with UFC – and announcing his retirement from the MMA scene – Lesnar had handed the WWE a major coup in beating one of their market rivals.
It all started so promising.
A huge night at WrestleMania followed where Lesnar took Roman Reigns apart in their bout for the former’s World Heavyweight title before Seth Rollins steamed down the runway, cashed in his Money in the Bank and took the gold.
It wasn’t how Lesnar would like to be remembered but it set up the potential of a huge rivalry between the former UFC champion and his heir to the WWE title.
At this stage, however, it became clear that his new WWE deal was very much the ‘part-time’ arrangement he had previously alluded to.
Sparing appearances on RAW and no pay-per-view bouts since have seen Lesnar become the elusive figure he already portrayed when his future with the company was in doubt.
For fans, this is divisive.
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) June 29, 2015
On the one hand, Lesnar’s appearances are even more special for their rarity.
He is an omnipresent figure that sporadically appears on screens and when he does grace the WWE Universe with his presence it is explosive.
Sitting in the other camp are those that feel a little cheated by his lack of appearances.
Lesnar’s ‘Supplex City’ line against Reigns was one of the year’s most talked about moments and his sheer brutality bordered on being beautiful.
To not have this ring out around arenas and Lesnar to not be dominating his counterparts or facing off against the top tier of an immensely competitive roster is a bitter pill to swallow.
He has an aura, a presence of the ring which is both believable and terrifying in equal measure.
But the longer it goes on that Lesnar pops up as and when he, Paul Haymon and the WWE see fit, the longer fans will be disappointed.
With Kevin Owens, Rollins, John Cena, Bray Wyatt & co. putting in shift after shift, week after week, we are not short of talent to grow more of an association with.
For the WWE and Lesnar not to build more of a bond between fans and the most impressive athlete in the locker room seems an opportunity missed.
Hopefully, Battleground’s Main Event against Rollins will finally see Lesnar become a more permanent figure on our screens.
Saying that, you wouldn’t stake your house on the Universe being taken for regular trips to Supplex City any time soon, Lesnar seemingly very content with his part-time performances.
Considering his pay packet to do just that, you can’t blame the guy.
MOVE OF THE WEEK – Rollins flying powerbomb through a table
A little bit brutal, a little bit raw and a great deal of fun. Seth Rollins (with the aid of J&J Security) launches Reigns through a table (below from 3:16 – great number!).
TWEETS OF THE WEEK – #RockReturns
The Great One had fans talking this week as he made a special appearance at a house-show in Boston. You never quite know what you’re in for at a WWE Live event.
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) June 28, 2015
The Rock hitting Bo Dallas with the Rock bottom. Bray should have confronted The Rock after! DAMN! that would have been good.
— Dev. (@itsDevT82) June 28, 2015
Bo Dallas has been in the same ring as Sting and The Rock.
— OleOleOle (@BrockSolidBlue) June 28, 2015
The Rock returned to tell Bo Dallas to tell Bray Wyatt to make Roman Reigns look strong at their match at #WWEBattleground.
— CM Punk (@CMPunkFight) June 28, 2015
— Jack (@Jack_Hesselden) June 28, 2015
— Jason Solomon (@solomonster) June 28, 2015
THE ROCK VS BO DALLAS IM SCREAMING
— Alex (@BanksBossx) June 28, 2015
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) June 29, 2015
While NXT continues to provide the best proving ground for WWE wrestlers, with a conveyer belt of Superstars graduating to main shows and pay-per-views, the company are not quite done there.
– #Quiz360: WIN gym membership at FitRepublik
– GALLERY: WWE Live Abu Dhabi
– WWE TLC: Cena vs Owens shaping up to be an absolute classic
It was announced in January that a new series of WWE Tough Enough would air over the summer as 13 contestants vie for a future in the WWE.
Returning after a five-year absence, the male and female competitors will be trained under the guidance of Booker T, Billy Gunn and Lita with Chris Jericho taking up hosting duties.
@WWEToughEnough it all goes down tonight ,I can’t wait to look into their eyes and see who really has it in their blood brother. HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) June 23, 2015
In its sixth edition, a decade on from the first show, Tough Enough is an incredible opportunity for wrestlers hoping to forge a career with the biggest boys in sports entertainment but it does seem rather unnecessary.
Given the success of NXT in creating some of today’s biggest in-ring names, the popularity of its current Divas reality show and the longevity of RAW, Smackdown and its PPVs, the WWE risks overloading the Universe with content that takes away from the product. It can prove annoying, much like a friend on Facebook that overshares in hourly posts as a reminder that they are still there.
The WWE doesn’t need to cry for attention.
It already has a captive audience, buoyed by a first six months of the year that has developed some incredible storylines and delivered even better matches.
While not writing the project off entirely, that would be unfair, it is hard to see a place for it in the WWE’s schedule.
Saying that, creative obviously see the benefits of breathing new life into a show that looked expired.
Bar The Miz and MNM, contestants have struggled to make their mark in the WWE over the years, something that NXT has had remarkable success in delivering.
That aside, there is no doubting the incredible investment and faith entrusted in the reincarnation.
A panel of judges for the show will include Hulk Hogan, Daniel Bryan and Paige and the winning male and female will each secure a $250,000 (Dhs918,000) one-year contract.
— WWE Network (@WWENetwork) June 23, 2015
Where it will truly shine is in that digital world which the WWE dominates.
Fans will decide who gets given the boot each week and will be able to follow the action through a dedicated app and the WWE Network.
Not only that, Periscope has been brought on board to bring live behind-the-scenes access to fans.
It will be a tough nut to crack, especially with so many fans more concerned by the action elsewhere but if anyone’s Tough Enough to break the nut’s shell, it’s the WWE.
Fans in the UAE can watch WWE Tough Enough on OSN Sports 2 HD LIVE every Wednesday, premiering June 24 from 4:00 a.m. GST, with repeats at 4pm and 9pm.
When NXT champion Kevin Owens shocked the world at Elimination Chamber by beating John Cena in dominant fashion, it was a sign of things to come.
The pair had traded excellent spots on Raw and the tension between the ‘next big thing’ and ‘face of the company’ was evident.
Even better, their chemistry in the ring was exceptional.
This all culminated in a second match at last weekend’s Money in the Bank which left the entire WWE Universe aghast at what they had seen.
The fight promised much in the build-up, but it delivered even more.
Innovative and brutal, the second bout was told superbly by both cast members, with a pace built out of tension before a number of surprise turns and near pinfalls lead to a final crescendo that will live long in the memory.
In this column’s preview and prediction to MITB, we said this one would end with a Cena win to set up a decisive match with both Owens’ NXT and Cena’s US titles on the line.
— WWE (@WWE) June 16, 2015
We are over the moon that this prediction was, ahem… on the money.
It leaves us with the prospect of one of the most mouth-watering unification bouts in WWE history, despite the relative stature of the titles and infancy of the rivalry.
The reason why Cena vs Owens has drawn such a fervours response is a number of factors that highlights the strong position that the WWE finds itself.
Firstly, creative has managed to tell an enthralling story between two of its wrestlers on the back of intense support both positive and negative towards the wrestlers.
Cena, long-time franchise favourite, is still jeered and cheered in equal measure at every stadium, while Owens has developed an ardent following through his NXT performances, even as a heel.
It is his no-nonsense, and at times cruel, persona that has seen him leave a trail of destruction in his wake, first through the proving ground and now the big stage.
— WWE (@WWE) June 16, 2015
In Cena he has also found the perfect man to help him step up the ladder.
Cena is a 15-time World Heavyweight champion, so when Owens cleanly beat him his win was given instant credibility.
Likewise, Cena’s victory in one of his finest in-ring displays (of which there are many) last weekend reasserted himself as a worthy champion and brought a few more naysayers back on his side.
Throw in two matches that have upstaged the last two PPV main events and a few never-before-seen moves and you’re clearly on to a winner.
If the last match was anything to go by, then we should all hope that this rivalry runs and runs.