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MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - Analysis of What Happened Backstage Between Brock Lesnar and Vince McMahon at WWE RAW
By Mr. Tito
Feb 27, 2015 - 12:05:07 AM

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Many wrestling fans were upset at Brock Lesnar for reportedly leaving the arena during WWE Monday Night RAW and not appearing on the show as promised. Early reports suggested something backstage upset Lesnar but for no reason given. Then, someone on Reddit's website created a rumor about the situation that was proven UNTRUE. When I first heard about the issue, I immediately Tweeted the following late on Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning before additional news reports came out on during the days of Wednesday and Thursday:

I'll explain why I guessed that momentarily... But let's post the news stories that have since developed, such as this news story on Wednesday, 2/25/15 transcribed by LoP's Marc Middleton from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter:


As noted, WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar was backstage at Monday's RAW but left before the show was over after some sort of dispute with WWE officials. In an update, Lesnar was backstage when RAW began but left after a business disagreement with Vince McMahon. Apparently the disagreement had to do with their negotiations for Lesnar to sign a new WWE contract. There's speculation that the negotiations included Lesnar wanting to fight for UFC while under contract with WWE but even if that speculation is true, that was not a part of this disagreement. The issues from Monday were only related to WWE's offer and the terms of the new deal. The issues also had nothing to do with current or future creative plans.

The situation was not settled as of today but could be settled any time now. Lesnar's camp and WWE are at a key impasse right now and neither side wants to back down. It's believed that Lesnar will show up for his remaining WWE dates because skipping them would bring a breach of contract. Lesnar is currently scheduled for the March 9th RAW in Pittsburgh, the March 23rd RAW in Los Angeles, WrestleMania 31 and then RAW the day after WrestleMania. On a related note, it was reported this week that Lesnar flew to Nashville on his private jet but that's incorrect. Due to a stipulation in his contact, WWE always provides a jet to bring Lesnar from his home to the event he is needed at.


It's business, folks... Brock Lesnar is nearing the end of his 2-year extension that he signed during 2013 following his initial 1 year deal that he signed during 2012. Reportedly, Lesnar made around $5 Million per year with the WWE with very limited dates (specific number of RAW appearances but not wrestling and 4 Pay Per Views per year where he'd actually compete). His deal is coming up and he has 3 options ahead of him... Stay with the WWE or return to Mixed Martial Arts whether it's Ultimate Fighting Championship or Bellator. With Lesnar deal ending after his final appearance on the RAW after Wrestlemania 31, Lesnar and Vince McMahon had discussions... And apparently, they weren't pleasing to Brock Lesnar.

In my opinion, Brock Lesnar is attempting the following with his WWE negotiations:

(a) He doesn't want to return to MMA and enjoys the limited date schedule he works for the WWE. I believe that since WWE let him become a dominant monster again at SummerSlam 2013 against CM Punk, he actually enjoys being a pro wrestler again. He's buying into the character, having fun in his matches, and loves how the WWE is presently booking him.

(b) He wants to use WWE as leverage for MMA deals. If WWE were still offering him a reported $5 million per year, then he could present that to UFC and Bellator as a bargaining chip to maximize any deals there.

I do NOT believe that Brock Lesnar has any issues putting over Roman Reigns. None whatsoever. To Brock Lesnar, pro wrestling is a business... During 2004, Brock Lesnar was actually upset about dropping the WWE Title to Eddie Guerrero just before Wrestlemania 20. However, he still did business with Guerrero and Brock dropped the title. Then, on his way out, Brock Lesnar did not protest losing to Bill Goldberg. Brock approaches pro wrestling more like a businessman than say someone who grew up as a kid loving pro wrestling. He was an amateur college wrestler during the late 1990's that didn't have a strong UFC, back then, to join... Thus, his options after NCAA wrestling were limited and he quickly observed how WWE and WCW were actively recruiting him to try pro wrestling. He took a nice developmental deal with the WWE and the rest was history.

What made Brock Lesnar walk out of the WWE on Monday night, however, was Vince McMahon. People rip Vince McMahon, all the time, for how he's the ultimate decision maker on creative team matters. However, many forget what a shrewd and ruthless businessman he can be. That particular skillset has allowed him to make the WWE become the #1 pro wrestling promotion in the world not once, but twice. He destroyed the territory system during the 1980's and put many pro wrestling companies out of business. Then, he took on the corporate WCW by helping WWE to become a corporation itself and changing his business model to compete. Since 2001 when WCW closed its door, Vince McMahon as Board Chairman and CEO has been able to keep other competition out of his pro wrestling marketplace. For the most part, WWE has been profitable. Sure, he's made a few mistakes like XFL (which NBC ate about half of it) and WWE Films, but he has kept wrestler salaries stable as expenses while creating many new revenue streams to build a stronger WWE global empire. That's why many investors like Vince and worry about the future without him.

I believe that Vince McMahon is taking one of the following firm stances with Brock Lesnar:

(a) Reduction in salary and other perks for new deal. For a reported $5 million per year, the WWE is only getting 4 Pay Per View wrestling matches and very limited amount of RAW appearances to hype those matches? Thank God for Paul Heyman, as he's kept Brock's spirit alive despite the limited amount of RAW appearances. WWE may believe that the contract is too expensive for the low amount of appearances and matches.

(b) Retain same $ amount on contract but INCREASE the amount of appearances and matches. I believe that Vince McMahon was so used to having the WWE Champion defend on EVERY Pay Per View that it felt weird to him to see multiple Pay Per Views since SummerSlam 2014 without the WWE Title being defended. Furthermore, RAW needs Brock's star power. By being hyped to appear, this week's RAW had strong viewership. If $5 million per year is true, then Vince may want more bang for his buck. Historically, Vince does not grant limited date contracts with only a few exceptions (Hogan, Hall, Nash, Goldberg). In fact, Sting reportedly didn't join the WWE during the 2000's because of Vince's demands for Sting to work a full time wrestling schedule. Maybe 2015 is also an exception?

In other words, Brock either wants to return to the WWE for the same money and limited dates OR he wants to force WWE to make the same offer if not better to impress UFC/Bellator. HOWEVER, Vince McMahon has done something, as a businessman, that is completely contrary to what Brock Lesnar wanted to accomplish with these WWE negotiations. I'm guessing that Lesnar was given either option (a) - lower salary or (b) - more matches & appearances from Vince McMahon and then Lesnar flipped out. In fact, I believe that Vince did BOTH... Reduced salary and more appearances/dates. While I believe that Vince McMahon would like to have Brock Lesnar, Vince was burned by Lesnar before (2004 when Lesnar quit) and Vince would like to push younger stars instead. Once Roman Reigns defeats Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31, that could certainly cool Lesnar's momentum in the WWE.

If the $5 million contract is true, one has to wonder if the WWE Network's expenses are making Brock Lesnar's contract a financial matter. In addition to wanting to feature Lesnar on more Pay Per Views, which air on the WWE Network, the WWE may need to reduce expenses. WWE Network has been very expensive for the WWE to start-up, particularly in the bandwidth. The early estimates for the WWE Network to "break even" in the United States were to exceed 1,000,000 subscribers. For 2014, as the WWE was adjusting from its old business model (Pay Per View) to new (WWE Network), the endured a -$30 million net income loss for the year according to their 2014 10-K report. While that may improve with time, WWE may have to do something to impress WWE stock investors. By reducing Brock's salary or getting more appearances/matches at the same price, it's a better move financially for the WWE. Aside from Extreme Rules 2012 and SummerSlam 2012 seeing significant bumps in Pay Per View buys because of Lesnar (and Cena/Triple H, of course), it's hard to see if whether or not Brock has drawn or kept WWE's numbers stable. One could easily argue that Brock's limited status has proven that the WWE numbers are the same without him.

I very much believe that Vince McMahon is acting as the WWE Corporation's Chairman of the Board and CEO on this matter. He's not stupid... He needs MORE Brock Lesnar and yet it's hard to justify paying Brock Lesnar up to $5 million for just a few appearances. Furthermore, I'd argue that Vince McMahon and his #1 advisor Triple H have strengthened the Brock Lesnar brand. UFC and Bellator will get a major drawing superstar on their MMA events after what the WWE did for Brock. The WWE let Brock mow through Triple H, CM Punk, Big Show, Undertaker, John Cena, and John Cena/Seth Rollins. Most of all, he ENDED the Undertaker's Wrestlemania Streak! That is a shocker... And then, he squashed John Cena at SummerSlam 2014. WWE, just as they did during 2002-2004, built up Brock Lesnar's standing in the world as a celebrity. He was too injured to compete in MMA any longer when he rejoined the WWE during 2012. Now, he leaves on top of the WWE and he beat many top names handily.

Brock should THANK the WWE, not walk out on them. Look what the WWE has done for Lesnar since 2013 and this is the same promotion he quit on during 2004.

That's what you're seeing, folks... Brock wants paid to remain a WWE wrestler or when rejoining MMA. Vince either doesn't want to pay him or expects more out of him. Two different takes and in my opinion, Vince McMahon is being a responsible CEO/Board Chairman by possibly taking this stance. That's why he's still here... He not only helped to make the Brock Lesnar brand stronger, but Vince is also looking out for the WWE's bottom line. They either want him at a cheaper rate or get more appearances/matches.

If WWE draws this financial line in the sand and causes Lesnar rejoin MMA, then they better hope that Roman Reigns becomes a major star by defeating Brock Lesnar. That is quite a gamble... But in my opinion, the WWE's bench of younger stars is looking pretty good right now. If not Reigns, hand the ball off to Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Rusev, and many other talents... And there's always John Cena who can always represent the company well.

It's Brock Lesnar's move... Will he continue to negotiate with the WWE, the company who has re-established his brand and could continue to give him an easy schedule for a nice paycheck? Or will he rejoin MMA at an older age and with 4 years of being away from it? Brock Lesnar will be 38 this year... Think about this... With his real life wife, formerly Sable in the WWE, he has 2 young children. Does he want to get his brains bashed in or does he want to have some control over how physical he can get in a pro wrestling ring? He has barely broke a sweat in the WWE and you know that other wrestlers take it easy on Brock out of fear of him shooting on them. WWE has provided him with a nice paycheck, improved celebrity status, and a much easier schedule than training all year 'round for MMA fighting. Better yet, he barely has to work when he's on Monday Night RAW. WWE employs Paul Heyman to do all of the talking for him! Lesnar just has to stand there and hold that big WWE Title. That's it! LIFE IS GOOD IN THE WWE for Brock Lesnar.

But, maybe Brock has "something left in the basement" to prove something in MMA? I don't know...

If Lesnar's gripe is about MORE appearances, I'm laughing... During his 2002-2004 initial run, I had actual wrestling sources telling me how disgruntled he became over preferential treatment of certain wrestlers during that period of time. The television shows, Pay Per Views, Houseshow circuit, and appearances were burning Brock Lesnar out. Meanwhile, several former World Championship Wrestling (WCW) joined the WWE roster during 2002 and 2003. During 2002, the WWE roster didn't seem to mind the return of the New World Order in Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall for their limited dates. Many backstage respected those guys, especially Hogan, and it wasn't as big of an issue as the 2003 signing. I heard it repeatedly that many WWE wrestlers resented the RAW/Pay Per Views only deal that Bill Goldberg signed. Things became worse when many wrestlers felt that Goldberg was under-performing on big Pay Per View match-ups and just seemed a bit isolated backstage. Brock Lesnar was one of them...

Through late 2003, Brock was accumulating injuries and as one of the top stars, he felt that he should a preferential schedule like the former WCW superstars received in 2002 and 2003 for their deals. He was reportedly denied fewer dates and that caused Lesnar to become disgruntled and vocal backstage at WWE events. By early 2004, he had enough and began contemplating leaving the WWE. Dropping the WWE Title at No Way Out 2004 upset him, even though he still did business with Eddie Guerrero, and he was reportedly upset at the booking after Wrestlemania 20. Reportedly, Lesnar was to return to feuding with the Undertaker who had just returned to his "Dead Man" gimmick. It seemed very likely that Undertaker would get the better of that feud... Want to know why Brock Lesnar and Undertaker stared each other down at the UFC 121? There's some heat there possibly resulting from what didn't happen during 2004. Kudos to the Undertaker, however, doing the honors for Brock Lesnar 10 years later at Wrestlemania 30.

It's funny to me because the limited date yet higher pay contract that Brock Lesnar sought during 2003-2004 is what he received, and then some, for 2012-2015 in the WWE. Funny how things change with time... The WWE has been more than generous to him... Can you blame Vince McMahon for asking for more appearances and/or a lesser salary for limited appearances? I don't... Vince McMahon knows what he's doing and through 2015, WWE doesn't need Brock Lesnar to survive. He has defended the WWE Title TWICE since August 2014 and the WWE is drawing just fine.

It would be sad to see him go, but long-term, the WWE needs guys who can appear on most Pay Per Views and RAW programs. Furthermore, $5 million can buy many new wrestlers to develop into the stars of the future. That, or $5 million could plug holes in your Income Statement. Take your pick.


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