WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar is currently not scheduled to appear at Monday Night RAW tonight from TD Garden in Boston, and due to what transpired at UFC 226 in Las Vegas this past weekend, there is speculation regarding his current status and timetable with WWE.
Reports and rumors circulated last week that Lesnar would not be appearing on WWE television soon, his status in the company was up in the air, and that he was not scheduled to fight at Summerslam and defend the Universal Championship.
Original plans were for a multi-man match to main event Extreme Rules on July 15 to determine the No. 1 contender for the Universal Championship, but that has since been scrapped; current rumors have Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley closing the pay-per-view.
Following Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier defeating Stipe Miocic via first-round knockout on Saturday to win the Heavyweight championship, Lesnar entered the Octagon for the first time since his win against Mark Hunt at UFC 200 – which was later overturned to a “no contest” after Lesnar failed drug tests for clomiphene, and was later issued a one-year suspension by the USADA.
During Cormier’s post-fight interview (above), he called out Lesnar, who was shown on the broadcast making his way cage side before the main event started, into the Octagon; Lesnar entered, and was then immediately interviewed by Joe Rogan, who gave his thoughts on the heavyweight fight from earlier in the night between Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis, followed by some colorful language and the response to Cormier calling him out for a fight.
Because Lesnar “retired” approximately six months into his suspension, he would have to re-enter the USADA pool per UFC policy and submit to screening before any type of fight can happen again. UFC president Dana White confirmed Lesnar had begun the process, but did not confirm when he officially began. Later Monday, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani confirmed, per the USADA, Lesnar re-entered the pool on July 3:
Jeremy Botter originally reported following the Cormier-Lesnar post-fight “confrontation” the rumored plan was to have Lesnar vs. Cormier main event UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden in New York City this November, but now Lesnar will return sometime in 2019:
Also per White, Lesnar originally thought Miocic would defeat Cormier, but plans clearly changed.
According to reports from earlier this year, the UFC appearance by Brock was not a surprise to WWE, who were running a house show Saturday night at, ironically, Madison Square Garden. There was a clause in Lesnar’s most recent contract extension with WWE following WrestleMania in April that permitted him the opportunity to fight in UFC:
This is something Lesnar has wanted for a while; he was always interested in stepping back into the Octagon a few more times before retiring for good.
In fact, WWE seemed like they were more than ready to promote Lesnar’s UFC appearance:
When it comes to Lesnar, WWE has always been willing to renegotiate his contract on a timely, appearance basis based on direction. Although a fluid situation, the idea for Lesnar in the long term has always been to lose to Roman Reigns on his way out of the company, establishing a transition and cementing his persona as the “Top Dog” on RAW, although Reigns’ promos already reflect that.
There is no concrete report regarding Lesnar and Summerslam yet, but Lesnar has always been a money man.
Summerslam, once again, is in New York City this year, and has become WWE’s second marquee event. If Lesnar is leaning to using his leverage not to appear, Vince McMahon and WWE have the option to negotiate a deal on the fly, most likely to include more money, to ensure Lesnar appears on the card. Another option could be booking Braun Strowman into the equation to cash in his “Money in the Bank” opportunity he won last month.
Because a potential UFC title fight in November presents a unique scenario, one that has never happened before since both companies have existed, McMahon may be inclined to keep the Universal Championship on Lesnar through November and opt to take the title off him either on the Road to WrestleMania or at WrestleMania 35 in MetLife Stadium next year. Other rumors have WWE saving Lesnar’s remaining contract dates until later in the year, which would neatly fit into this scenario should McMahon and company go that route.
The opportunity for Vince’s champion to be one in the same with a potential, hypothetical UFC Heavyweight champion is good business. McMahon at his core, like Lesnar, has always been the consummate businessman.
Summerslam is more than a month away – as the dirt sheets say, plans always change – so Lesnar shouldn’t be entirely ruled out until WWE issues a formal statement saying he will not be appearing at the event.