After four months away from WWE, the biggest name in the company is back. Brock Lesnar makes his return to “Monday Night Raw” on Aug. 1 ahead of his match against Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2016 in less than three weeks.
Lesnar hasn’t appeared on WWE TV since April 3 when he defeated Dean Ambrose at WrestleMania 32 in front of over 100,000 fans at AT&T Stadium. But Lesnar certainly hasn’t been out of the public eye, fighting at UFC 200 on July 9, and subsequently making headlines because of multiple failed tests for performance-enhancing drugs.
When Lesnar defeated Mark Hunt in his return to UFC, it created some questions about his future. Would he have any more MMA fights after winning what WWE initially called a “one off?" But the news that he failed two drug tests shortly before his heavyweight fight ended any chance of Lesnar fighting in UFC anytime soon, and it created a different set of questions.
While WWE regularly tests its full-time performers—Roman Reigns was recently suspended 30 days for violating the company’s wellness policy—the same doesn’t apply to part-time wrestlers like Lesnar. He won’t be suspended by WWE, and his match with Orton will go on as scheduled.
Since Reigns returned from his suspension, he’s seemingly been punished for his indiscretion, losing clean at WWE Battleground and the following night on Raw. But it’s hard to believe Lesnar will receive any such backlash for failing a drug test that wasn’t issued by WWE.
Lesnar remains a heavy favorite to defeat Orton in his return match. According to Oddschecker, the former UFC champion is a 1/2 favorite at SummerSlam. Orton has 7/5 betting odds, though it’s possible he might have been a bigger underdog had Lesnar not failed multiple drug tests.
Lesnar might be the victim of some chants by the live audience, but unlike Reigns, he should quickly go back to being one of the most popular wrestlers in WWE. The realism he brings to the squared circle makes him one of the most unique wrestlers in WWE history, and even when Lesnar was a heel in recent years, he still received some of the biggest cheers of anyone on the roster.
Two of Lesnar’s first three matches back with WWE ended with him losing clean, as he was pinned by John Cena at Extreme Rules 2012 and Triple H at Wrestlemania 29 in 2013. Since then, Lesnar has wrestled in 21 matches, never once being pinned cleaned. He was submitted by The Undertaker in the main event of last year’s SummerSlam, but only after he was the victim of a low blow.
Orton just came back from a nine-month hiatus himself, and WWE will likely make him look strong at SummerSlam and in the build towards the match. But Lesnar should remain the beast that’s made him WWE’s top star.