It is something that is unprecedented in professional wrestling, but the WWE has reportedly agreed to allow Brock Lesnar to promote his sponsors on his attire at Extreme Rules. While some purists may not be in support of that, it is a shrewd maneuver by the company.
According to F4WOnline.com (via WrestlingInc.com), Lesnar’s attire will have advertisements on it, just as the back of his shirt has during his first couple of appearances with the company. Since the WWE is typically so wrapped up in its own sponsors, it’s a bit surprising to see an individual superstar promoting outside sponsors.
The report suggests that Lesnar negotiated the ability to promote his own sponsors in his contract, and that seems like it’s quite likely. There have been numerous reports that have said that Lesnar signed a contract somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million for one year, but receiving sponsorship rights may be his biggest coup.
Whatever the case, Vince McMahon was very smart to allow Lesnar to continue sporting his sponsors’ logos. Sponsorship has become a huge deal for UFC fighters, so that was probably a major demand of Lesnar’s during contract negotiations. McMahon could have been a hardliner and stuck to his guns, but giving in a little bit got him a lot more in return.
It isn’t as if the ads are going to have any bearing on the product, since Lesnar is simply wearing them and not actually addressing them in any way. Some might think that it sets a bad precedent in terms of letting everyone promote their own sponsors, but this seems to be a special exception that was absolutely necessary in order to land Lesnar.
There is no question that it will be interesting to see how fans react when he finally does don the sponsor-laden trunks. While most probably won’t even care or notice, it might upset some purists. Whenever there is talk of teams putting sponsors on their uniforms in one of the four major sports leagues, there is often a ton of backlash, so perhaps the WWE would be the same.
Fans deal with commercials and sponsors enough as it is while watching wrestling, so it might irk some people that they’ll have to see ads on a wrestler’s trunks as well. It certainly isn’t something that would bother me, though, and if anything, it will probably give Lesnar’s match with John Cena more of a realistic feel.
Also, while there is some crossover appeal, UFC fans aren’t necessarily interested in WWE, since the hardcore supporters tend to turn their noses up at the WWE for being “fake.” With Lesnar now back in the WWE, though, UFC fans seem to be taking notice, and with Lesnar competing in UFC-style trunks with sponsors on them, it will likely appeal to non-wrestling fans even more.
As long as it isn’t something that bothers the WWE’s own sponsors, there really isn’t a downside to allowing Lesnar to promote his sponsors. Not only did it allow the company to lock him up and create an intriguing storyline with Cena, but the more realistic the product seems, the better.
Regardless of how big of a deal this whole situation is made out to be, all most people are going to be worried about at Extreme Rules is Lesnar vs. Cena. The ads may persist after that, but eventually, nobody will even notice them.