The Stomping Ground: Shotgun Booking + Brock Lesnar = Catastrophe?

Those of you who know me are aware that I rarely make knee-jerk decisions when it comes to the business of professional wrestling. Sometimes my emotions can get the better of me (I am human, after all), but for the most part I’d like to believe I’m more of a thinker when it comes to particular issues. I like to look at angles in the long run and see what possible outcomes might be on the horizon.

I think I can confidently say that the WWE’s new short-term booking plans have killed Brock Lesnar’s momentum.

I know, that comes across as quite the blanket statement….but you know I’ve got an argument to back it up.

Talk of Lesnar’s return to the squared circle started around the time he was announced as a playable character in last year’s WWE ’12. When it was revealed he had only made a deal for his likeness to appear in-game, those rumors died down. Then, on the weekend of Wrestlemania XXVIII, there were whispers of Brock re-signing with the company. I took this with a grain of salt, as ‘Mania was on April Fool’s Day. Well, Brock went and showed up the night after Wrestlemania to deliver the F-5 to John Cena and the cat was officially yowling and hissing out of the proverbial bag. Details surfaced about Lesnar’s new deal with the company: one year for a guarantee of 30+ dates, including Wrestlemania XXIX. The rumor mill was churning out the goods every day, proclaiming Lesnar would face Undertaker or The Rock at Wrestlemania and Randy Orton or CM Punk at Summerslam.

But along the way, someone forgot to mention that there are 52 weeks in a year. Add in 12 PPVs and you’ve got over 60 shows to produce.

Brock’s only around for HALF of those dates.

The problem lies in the fact that the contract was agreed upon by both sides with no indication of how those appearances would be UTILIZED EFFECTIVELY. It’s akin to buying a new video game the day it comes out without checking reviews beforehand; you won’t find any bugs until after the purchase is made. Long-term booking agreed upon BEFORE the contract signing would have solved this issue, but with the WWE’s new stance on TNA-like “throw shit at the wall” planning, the cracks in the foundation are showing.

Case-in-point: Vince McMahon changed the finish of the Lesnar/Cena match at the last minute, as Brock was supposed to go over. Then Brock “quit” so the company could have him save up his appearances. They brought in Paul Heyman, a man who has legit history with Lesnar, to speak on his behalf. With Heyman representing Brock as his legal counsel, that should temporarily satiate the audience. But how long can this go on? Lesnar has to return at some point, right? And when he does, how would the company explain his subsequent periods of hibernation? You have to believe the WWE plans on using Lesnar for the Big Four PPVs this year, which means appearances on all episodes of Raw leading up to the shows themselves. That’s about 18-or-so paid appearances from now until Wrestlemania XXIX; that would leave us with six or seven dates on the calendar to work with. Does Brock wind up “injured” at some point?

If that’s not enough to sway you, how about this: because the WWE is into short-term booking, they’ve gone from the idea of Triple H vs Lesnar at Summerslam, to Triple H vs Lesnar at Money in the Bank, to Triple H vs Lesnar at No Way Out. While this would arguably increase the buy rates of the lesser PPVs (I’m not sure how Extreme Rules did this year), it reeks of mishandling the angle and suggests that the company might be growing desperate. To whit: last Monday’s edition of Raw drew UNDER 3 MILLION viewers. The numbers have not shown a real increase either, especially when it comes to the alleged “social media score.”

I could be wrong; there might actually be an end-game to all of this. I’m sure they could negotiate more dates for more money down the line. However, after seeing what’s been going down lately, I’m willing to bet that McMahon and company didn’t really think about how to utilize Lesnar in the long run to complement his short-term contract. They struck while the iron was hot when he agreed to sign…now let’s see if the ‘E can mold something memorable out of the material they’re handling.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

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