The Biggest Event of the Summer airs live tonight on WWE Network! The action starts with the Kickoff at 5 ET/2 PT, followed by SummerSlam 2016, featuring Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton, at 7 ET/4 PT.
Unsurprisingly, Vince McMahon and Triple H are reportedly in disagreement when it comes to the finish of Orton vs. Lesnar as ”Vince wants to keep Brock strong and this match was originally booked as just a way to get Brock a decent win but keep him away from the world title.” The flip side of that argument, of course, would be to book Orton to pick up the victory in his first match back in nearly a year as a way to reestablish him as a top star.
It’s quite the conundrum for WWE, one that really goes all the way back to WrestleMania 30 in 2014.
When Lesnar shockingly beat The Undertaker inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, it created a ripple effect that is still wending waves throughout WWE even to this day. Since ending “The Streak,” Lesnar still hasn’t lost a match cleanly, which means that whoever eventually does defeat him is going to benefit in a major way from beating the man who beat the streak.
Will that be Orton? Better yet, should it be?
A common argument as to why Lesnar should beat Orton is that,according to FORBES, Lesnar is raking in $6 million a year from WWE, so if he’s going to be making more money than any star not named John Cena, he should be pushed as an unbeatable monster. But Lesnar should not beat Orton at SummerSlam, and it has nothing to do with how much money he’s making and everything to do with how little he seems to care about WWE these days.
This is a job and I’m not caught up into it like maybe I’m supposed to be. I approach this as, I’m a skilled worker. I clock in, I clock out. People pay to watch me and, by chance, I guess they find me entertaining. … When I look back and what I’m proud of is the money in my bank account.
Lesnar is all about the Benjamins, and his lack of excitement over being a pro wrestler has shown in his lackluster recent work, which was recently criticized by WWE Champion Dean Ambrose, who blasted Lesnar’s effort at WrestleMania 32 in an appearance on The Stone Cold Podcast (h/t Fox Sports):
Artistically, Brock didn’t want to do anything, if we’re going to be perfectly honest. Brock’s gonna Brock. He’s all about Brock. I had a vision for that match to be the craziest thing imaginable, you know what I mean, and I was trying to pitch everything to everybody and had every idea. I put so much effort in and so much work in, and other people did too, and I was met with laziness.
Once a virtual shoo-in to put on a good, if not great, match no matter his opponent, Lesnar has gotten far too comfortable inside “Suplex City,” where essentially every match he has seems to follow the same formula: Suplex, suplex, suplex, repeat. His matches at Roadblock and Fastlane left more than a lot to be desired, with Lesnar relying heavily on a barrage of German suplexes rather than putting together an actual story.
To make matters worse, Lesnar failed two USADA drug tests for his UFC 200 fight against Mark Hunt, leaving a black eye on both UFC and WWE and calling into question both the legitimacy and fairness of WWE’s Talent Wellness Program. Lesnar, of course, was not suspended by WWE for this violation, with the company issuing the following statement:
“WWE’s talent wellness program does not apply to part-time performers such as Brock Lesnar.”
That surely didn’t sit well with the boys in the back who work full-time schedules, must adhere to the Wellness policy, clearly have a passion for pro wrestling and essentially are the exact opposite of Lesnar, who walked away from the UFC drug test fiasco with a spot in a SummerSlam main event and without so much as a blemish on his WWE record.
So, what kind of message does it send to the locker room if Lesnar actually beats Orton, too?
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, “Lesnar’s contract is unique as there are provisions regarding what he can and can’t be disciplined for,” which is essentially WWE’s way of admitting that he can do virtually whatever he wants without fear of repercussions.
But one thing he can’t do is beat Orton at SummerSlam.
Orton is one of SmackDown’s top stars, and more importantly, he’s a full-timer returning from a long layoff. He needs a victory to regain some momentum and in order for WWE to show that its full-time superstars are the company’s top priority.
If Lesnar beats Orton? It accomplishes nothing, aside from continuing the disturbing trend of rewarding a superstar who puts very little effort into his WWE career and hurts the product as a result.