The thin line between storyline and reality in pro wrestling was never more prevalent than Triple H’s WWE.com video interview with Michael Cole -- released on New Year’s Day -- in which they discussed former WWE/UFC champ Brock Lesnar’s return to the company earlier in the week on Monday Night Raw.
In the video Cole expressed his shock that Triple H would bring Brock Lesnar back into the WWE fold considering their history, and Triple H responded that the move made sense because Lesnar is “great for business.”
Triple H played up the multiple broken arms he suffered at the hands of Lesnar, fantasy injuries used to advance storyline. But the business benefit is all too real.
Rumors leading up to last week’s UFC 168 that Lesnar would attend caused former foe Shane Carwin to offer a thinly veiled and rather emasculating tweet in Lesnar’s direction.
Lesnar didn’t show at UFC 168, but all the MMA scuttlebutt created even more impact when Lesnar showed up on RAW Monday and planted Mark Henry with his F5 finisher at ringside.
Lesnar’s star appeal in necessary. Earlier in Triple H’s conversation with Cole, the COO said he wanted this to be the “biggest year” that WWE has ever had.
“Whether this is bringing back something from the past, whether that is lighting a bonfire under today’s stars or whether that is bringing them something in the future the likes of which they have never seen before, 2014 is going to be epic,” he said.
The “lighting a bonfire” comment is significant considering Triple H’s real-life business focus. He spearheaded last July’s opening of the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., meant to develop more talent that can emerge into starring roles.
In recent years, WWE has more and more had to reach back to past stars to sell events like WrestleMania, which this year holds its 30th edition in New Orleans on April 6.
Triple H himself donned the tights to face Lesnar at WrestleMania XXIX at MetLife Stadium. Former champ Batista is returning next month. WWE has hinted at the potential of Shawn Michaels coming out of retirement to face former protege CM Punk. And then there’s the one-match-a-year Undertaker appearance that’s responsible for a good deal of the show’s interest. WWE still has to tie up extensive resources into talent that perform limited schedules because the full-time roster has struggled to reach the heights of The Rock or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
So while Triple H is happy that likes of Lesnar can carry the company for now, he seems to recognize that it’s not a viable long-term business model.
“Talent is the WWE’s only natural resource," Triple H said at a press conference during the performance center’s grand opening. "... So insuring a constant supply of fresh talent is essential."