In what has been announced as a “special event,” Kevin Owens vs. Brock Lesnar will be happening at a SmackDown Live taping at Madison Square Garden.
This marks one of the first times, since the so-called “brand split,” that two Raw-exclusive wrestlers have participated in a cross-brand promotion. Cageside Seats was the first to bring us the news that the Kevin Owens vs. Brock Lesnar match was happening, and it couldn’t have come a moment too soon, since Owens was campaigning for this match to happen for a long time.
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Naturally, as this kind of fight warrants, Kevin Owens vs. Brock Lesnar will be happening on the most iconic stage in the world: Madison Square Garden in New York City.
And this, right here, is the first reason that this match needs to be aired on the WWE Network. You can’t get a bigger, more iconic stage than MSG — in addition to the millions of people that will be tuning in to SmackDown Live across the nation, you’ll have one of the biggest stadiums in the world full of people with all eyes on these two wrestlers — wrestlers who may, or may not, be otherwise seen by die-hard SmackDown fans.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about an uncomfortable reality of Raw: the ratings aren’t where they should be. While they aren’t as bad as everyone is making them out to be, they’re certainly not on par with what should be expected of the so-called “Red Brand.”
ComicBook.com, in fact, made this very astute observation in a recent news report: that despite the return of such nostalgia fighters as Goldberg giving a temporary boost in ratings, it hasn’t been enough to sustain long-term ratings improvements for Raw.
“Last night’s episode drew 3.11 million viewers, down from 3.61 million last week. The hourly breakdown showed the usual drop in interest all throughout the evening.”
Now, while the Kevin Owens vs. Brock Lesnar fight isn’t meant to be a panacea to all of Raw‘s ills, there’s a reason it’s being billed as a special event on SmackDown: because it gives that fanbase what it wants, which is an honest-to-God fight with no frills attached. Let’s face it: everyone loves Roman Reigns (and no, this isn’t trolling), and he’s certainly a ratings draw. But at this point in the Raw narrative, he’s over-saturated the market. We don’t need to see him every week — let the fans miss you a little, Leati!
But Kevin Owens vs. Brock Lesnar aren’t going to engage in some ridiculous match that involves shoving a prospective bride of a superstar into a pink cake (you have to admit: that whole Rusev vs. Roman Reigns fight devolved into a bit of ridiculousness.) It’s just going to be a straight ahead, entertaining fight between two of the biggest brutes in wrestling today.
And that’s why it needs to be shown on the WWE Network: on there, the focus is on the quality of the fight, not the silly Days of Our Lives-type drama that’s all over Raw.
In the interest of full disclosure, it bears stating that SmackDown‘s ratings have dropped, as well — however, in comparison to how much Raw‘s ratings have dropped, SmackDown is clearly the ratings winner.
Finally, there’s another thing that makes the Kevin Owens vs. Brock Lesnar fight that much more interesting, and thus, worthy of a WWE Network broadcast: the issue of a certain title; namely, the Universal title, and how it ties into the ongoing feuds between Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, and Kevin Owens. Frankly, this is one of the most interesting storylines in the Raw canon, and it’s being criminally under-promoted.
Here’s the situation: right before Kevin Owens vs. Brock Lesnar happens, Kevin Owens has to defend the title at Fastlane, and against Goldberg, no less. There’s some talk that suggests that Goldberg will be snatching the title from Owens for a number of reasons (i.e, Goldberg brings ratings, Goldberg can elevate the Universal title to be on par with the World Heavyweight Championship title), so if Goldberg succeeds in doing so, Owens will be going into the ring as a defeated man.
Despite the fact that this match against Lesnar is “a dream” for Kevin Owens, it would be a total misuse of this opportunity to have Owens go into the ring stripped of the title he’s worked so hard to defend. That would make the Kevin Owens vs. Brock Lesnar into nothing but a gimmick. Follow the results to their logical conclusion: if Goldberg strips Owens of his title, Owens would then partner up with Lesnar against Goldberg. What would they fight against each other for?
This brings us to another possibility: Owens retains the Universal title at Fastlane against. The “special event” then becomes a chance for Lesnar to take the title from Owens. Lesnar then fights Goldberg at WrestleMania for the title.
In short, there are a number of ways this Kevin Owens vs. Brock Lesnar can go, which is why it’s simply too interesting to not be featured on the WWE Network. This match deserves much more than to simply be released as a “Never Before Seen” clip on a random Blu-Ray disc.