What we do know about Brock Lesnar’s WWE future is that his next match will take place against Triple H (ugh, I know) at Extreme Rules.
What we don’t know, however, is what he will do after that pay-per-view. Presumably, he will go away for a while, but exactly when he’ll be back is more of a mystery.
In 2012, Lesnar wrestled John Cena at Extreme Rules before disappearing for a few months, returning during the summer and going on to face Triple H at SummerSlam. In 2013, it seems likely that Lesnar’s absence from WWE TV will be of a similar span.
As everyone knows by now, Lesnar is under an extremely limited contract that only requires him to work a few major matches (and a handful or less of TV shows leading up to those matches) per year. In his first year-plus back with the company, he’s wrestled only on major PPVs—Extreme Rules (which has become one of the WWE’s biggest B-level PPVs), SummerSlam and WrestleMania.
In all likelihood, that trend will continue. After all, it’s highly unlikely that the WWE would use one of Lesnar’s limited dates for a PPV like Payback, Money in the Bank (which is sold on the MITB match itself) or even shows such as Night of Champions or Hell in a Cell.
The WWE wants to book Lesnar on its bigger PPVs to make them even bigger.
Although there’s a case to be made that it’s more beneficial for Lesnar to wrestle on a PPV that otherwise probably wouldn’t generate a big buyrate, like Payback perhaps, it seems that the WWE is sticking with the philosophy that having Lesnar appear on a big show is more beneficial than having him appear on a small show would be.
That’s a logical way to look at things, and based on what we saw last year, the best bet for Lesnar’s in-ring return would be SummerSlam once again—with Lesnar’s TV return coming in either June or July to give the WWE adequate time to build toward the match.
But what if the WWE changes things up a bit this year and has Lesnar return to the ring at another “Big Four” PPV instead? How about Survivor Series?
Traditionally speaking, Survivor Series is supposed to be one of the WWE’s biggest PPVs each year, but over the last four or five years, the show has lost the “big show” feel that it should have. Other than the 2011 PPV, which featured the in-ring return of The Rock, the PPV simply hasn’t compared to the other “Big Four” PPVs—The Royal Rumble, SummerSlam and WrestleMania.
Lesnar could change that, though.
It’s certainly no secret that Lesnar is one of the WWE’s biggest draws. He proved that at both Extreme Rules and SummerSlam in 2012, when his first two WWE matches in nearly a decade helped propel those PPVs to huge buyrate increases.
Perhaps holding Lesnar off of WWE TV four or five months and then bringing him back for the buildup to Survivor Series could give that PPV the selling point that it desperately needs. The traditional 5-on-5 matches are no longer the main highlight of Survivor Series, and at a time when part-timers reign supreme, it almost feels like we need Lesnar at Survivor Series.
The Rock’s WWE career is currently in question. The Undertaker appears to have been written off of TV until WrestleMania again. Triple H’s next match after Extreme Rules probably won’t happen until 2014. Meanwhile, there’s really no telling how much longer Chris Jericho will be around.
There’s a very good possibility that the only major part-time superstar who will even be able, willing and ready to get in the ring at Survivor Series is Lesnar, and if that’s the case, then that’s exactly what should happen.
With recent injuries/hiatuses to The Rock, John Cena and CM Punk, there’s always the possibility that the WWE uses Lesnar sooner than Survivor Series in order to make up for the (possible) absences of guys like Cena and Punk. But using one of Lesnar’s rare appearances on a summer PPV, when interest in the WWE is traditionally down, seems like a waste.
Other than SummerSlam, none of those summer PPV buyrates are going to be very high—just like none of the fall PPV buyrates are going to be all that great because of competition with the NFL.
But Survivor Series is to the fall what SummerSlam is to the summer. It’s the one PPV during that season that has a “big feel” to it and the name value as well, and it’s the one PPV during that season that should seem like more than just another PPV.
Who can bring that feeling to Survivor Series? Brock Lesnar can.
Leaving him off of TV for four to five months after Extreme Rules would give the WWE ample time to spotlight the company’s rising stars—Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, etc.—while he’s off TV in order to potentially set up a feud for him when he does return.
There’s no shortage of potential opponents for Lesnar, who could do battle with anyone from Sheamus to Randy Orton to CM Punk to The Rock down the road. But giving him an extended TV absence will only make that list grow.
New stars can be groomed this summer, and if Lesnar doesn’t return until this fall, one of those stars can face him at Survivor Series—which will finally feel like a “Big Four” PPV again.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!