The respective fanbases of pro wrestling and MMA both exploded when news of Brock Lesnar‘s return to the cage at UFC 200 came out earlier this month. Many have speculated that this perhaps was a talent exchange facilitated by WWE in order to get Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 33. Lesnar’s already come out and said this was his decision and his decision alone, and a new interview with WWE chief brand officer and onscreen GM Stephanie McMahon indicates the WWE might not be thrilled with his judgment.
When asked if there is room for both UFC and WWE in the combat sports entertainment universe, she didn’t hold back, commenting:
“UFC is not a competitor to the WWE because we are entertainment and UFC is competitive sport. It’s very different. WWE is all about protagonists and antagonists where ultimately our conflicts are settled in the ring with action that is akin to Hollywood. It’s incredible stunt-like action and the match itself tells a story, but our audience is engaged in the characters and their storyline. It has to be relatable to them so that they care to see the tragedy or triumph and we’re at an advantage because we can script it.
UFC, they can make a big star but the second that person loses, they lose credibility, and how do you continue to make that star rise? So I think we have the best of both worlds and the opportunity to tell the stories in the way we want to tell them.
In Brock Lesnar’s case it was really a special case that we are allowing him to do this fight [against Mark Hunt on July 9]. But like you said it’s not really a cross-promotional opportunity, but we are allowing him to participate in that fight.
We are not supporting the fight necessarily but, again, it’s not a competitor to us and the more that our superstars, that’s how we refer to our talent, the more they do outside of WWE, the more awareness it generates and the broader the audience can be that is then brought back into our properties. So we recognize the value of that.”
Even though WWE might not be thrilled about one of their top stars risking legitimate injury in the Octagon, they’re not entirely distancing themselves from it, as they’ve allowed Lesnar to use his WWE theme music to walk down the aisle and they’ve already announced he will compete at SummerSlam on August 21. Maybe it’s time for the WWE Shop to reprint a run of those “Beast For Business” T-shirts after all.