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What Brock Lesnar could have been for UFC in 2015 & what he will be for WWE now

By Zach Arnold | March 29, 2015

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Brock Lesnar is hours away from headlining Wrestlemania at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. It almost could have blown up in everyone’s face had he not re-committed to WWE. Or maybe not.

The whole build up to Wrestlemania in the Bay Area has been flat out strange. The state Athletic Commission continues to tax WWE mega-events in the state while arbitrarily enforcing their regulatory powers. I’m amazed with so much money on the line that WWE hasn’t bothered to send the lawyers to file a basic writ of mandate to force the Athletic Commission to back off. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars here for a gate tax.

Then there’s the actual main event and the enigmatic Lesnar. The fans only care about him when he’s wrecking someone. Summerslam 2014 was hot. Then ice cold until Royal Rumble and back to ice cold until recently for Wrestlemania 2015. The majority of the talk heading into the event has been about Roman Reigns. Charitably-speaking, Lesnar’s a bore for WWE fans when he’s not hurting someone. Paul Heyman has been doing some of his all-time best promo work and yet the fans are treating his verbosity as a timeout for a nap. There’s a reason the ratings haven’t been all that great with Lesnar as champion. His win over Undertaker last year at Wrestlemania remains more interesting for a debate than what he’s up to now.

Brock Lesnar played Vince McMahon. UFC played WWE. Lesnar played UFC. They all played each other and didn’t bother hiding it. In the end, WWE predictably caved. Lesnar decided he didn’t want to have Cain Velasquez put him in a fetal position again. And UFC was prepared to give Lesnar the moon and the stars. For all of the talk about how much momentum UFC has generated the first four months of 2015, they also know that no one on their roster can reach the ceiling that Lesnar has previously established.

You don’t reportedly offer someone up to 10 times what you were originally paying them unless you’re really desperate. Brock Lesnar sells PPVs. He’s not a regular ratings attraction or a gate attraction. He’s a big money fight guy and that’s it. Even with UFC diversifying their business model, PPV still is a critical component and Lesnar trumps anyone they have in selling PPVs. Earlier in the week, I received an e-mail purporting to be from the University of Missouri and it was touting a UFC marketing study which stated the obvious: the heavyweight fights sell the most PPVs for UFC by a significant margin. The current depth of the MMA heavyweight scene is bleak. Brock Lesnar could still fit into the MMA scene in 2015 because of this. Unlike the other weight classes, Heavyweight mostly remains stuck in time. This was the leverage Lesnar possessed. A stale heavyweight scene with an oft-injured champion and on-going TV exposure thanks to WWE.

So why the desperation from both UFC & WWE to obtain Lesnar’s services when his current WWE run has been rather milquetoast for the most part? Fear. With New York state looking very likely to pass MMA legislation soon, the very last thing Vince McMahon wants to see is UFC running an event on his home turf at Madison Square Garden with Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir as the main event. Lesnar headlining MSG for UFC would have been a killer to Vince. WWE helped boost the modern UFC era with RAW as the Spike TV lead-in for Ultimate Fighter. That turned out to be a difficult pill to swallow for McMahon. Lesnar headlining MSG for UFC’s entrance into New York would have burned Vince’s ass.

WWE ended up paying for a new deal with Brock Lesnar. Who knows how this next run will turn out. Strangely enough, Lesnar has more intriguing rivals in UFC than he currently does in WWE after Wrestlemania. I suspect more fans would be interested in Lesnar/Mir III than Lesnar/Undertaker: the rematch. Curiously, Lesnar’s return to WWE will be linked with CM Punk’s tenure in UFC. Who ended up with the better end of the bargain? That question has been asked several times over the weekend in Bay Area media circles. Get used to hearing it more as the hype starts for Punk’s first UFC bout.

Topics: Media, MMA, Pro-Wrestling, UFC, WWE, Zach Arnold | 4 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

4 Responses to “What Brock Lesnar could have been for UFC in 2015 & what he will be for WWE now”

  1. Tradition Rules says:

    Brock was smart, but both Vince and Dana were not….

    I understand he is a PPV draw, but much more so in wrestling, then MMA, even though you are right about more interesting match ups in MMA.

    But, lets be honest, Velasquez, Dos Santos, Hunt, would smash Brock’s face in. His boxing/striking defense is nonexistent . MMA fans will enjoy seeing the beating,….but it’s not worth paying $60.00. It’s a great additional attraction, and maybe even a main event or two,…but the novelty would wear off quickly.

    Vince is dumb for so many reasons:

    First, for giving everything away for free at $9.99 a month. He should have offered all the B-Level PPVs with all the classic content, NXT specials, a few WWE specials, and leave their top 4 PPVS just that, PPVs.

    If that didn’t work THEN they could start adding the “A” PPVs. What is the connection? It’s not going to be worth it for Vince to have signed Brock, because it’s not really really going to affect/increase PPV buy rates, since they are given away with the network.

    • Safari_Punch says:

      WWE Network has been around for about a year now. For a lot of people this is the renewal time for subscribers that got on board initially. WWE is making more money than you think. They have information about how many people are subscribing; what type of content they are watching; Probably selling the information to other marketers too, etc.

      Lesnar isn’t going to be on every major event. I don’t even think they call it PPV anymore, because PPV doesn’t exist with them. There wasn’t any point in giving half of the money they were making to cable providers for PPVs people weren’t buying. WWE MADE PPV. Wrap your head around that. If they got out of it, they obviously know something you do not. They are surviving without it. Could the UFC do that?

      Lesnar is more of an attraction now. He’s getting paid great money to be a part-time pro wrestler. Try not to give Lesnar too much credit; he’s been advised by Paul Heyman for more than 10 years now. Heyman is very connected in wrestling and showed Lesnar how to maximize his value.

      WWE makes more money off of merchandise than anything. As long as they have Lesnar’s likeness, they are making money and then some. Lesnar doesn’t even have to wrestle and they are making money off of him.

      • Tradition Rules says:

        ” I don’t even think they call it PPV anymore, because PPV doesn’t exist with them.”

        Well, sure,…because THEY did away with it.

        “There wasn’t any point in giving half of the money they were making to cable providers for PPVs people weren’t buying.”

        True,…but how much were they charging for PPVs? I’m sure the PPV percentage was more more then the “$9.99” a month they charge for “The Network”. They even were trying for the $12.99 a month with no commitment, so, of course like any business, they would like to make more. But they are giving it all away for $9.99. not to mention the production costs for all the crappy new “programming’ they are offering for the network.

        “Lesnar is more of an attraction now. He’s getting paid great money to be a part-time pro wrestler.”

        That is why I said he is the smart one.

        “Try not to give Lesnar too much credit; he’s been advised by Paul Heyman for more than 10 years now. Heyman is very connected in wrestling and showed Lesnar how to maximize his value.”

        Heyman wasn’t advising him when he put the screws to New Japan, when he was their champ 11 years ago and refused to fly back and defend their title. And they were paying him $35,000 per match(and reportedly paid all his travel expenses too) so he already knew how to play the holdout game.

        ” If they got out of it, they obviously know something you do not.”

        Of course they might,…then again, it could work out like the WBF or XFL too…Not saying it is sure to fail or collapse, just that I believe they offered too much too soon. In addition to Vince made a mistake putting the title on/keeping it on Brock in the first place so close to his contract expiring. Brock was more then likely going to resign (and Vince probably would have had more leverage if Brock WASN’T champ)anyway, but Brock was able to “hold up” Vince if he really wanted to.

        You think Vince would have learned from the whole situation with Bret Hart and the fact that he KNEW about what he did to New Japan when he was their champ.

  2. DIAZ'S PACKED BOWL says:

    ufc got cleaned out AGAIN, Dana is sobbing in his supplements right now… not only did they secure Lesner, but ufcs current hottest PPV draw RR is also working the show…
    http://giant.gfycat.com/FriendlyFriendlyKillifish.gif

    hah hah hah

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