March 13, 2004
Brock rocks then walks
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
With just 24 hours until Wrestlemania XX begins at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the backstage drama is reaching fever pitch. The big headline?
Brock Lesnar leaving WWE.
After just two years in the major leagues of pro wrestling, Lesnar apparently told company management he's had enough of the grappling game and wants out as soon as possible. He's still set to fight Bill Goldberg at the pay-per-view tomorrow but it looks like that will be the end of the road (at least for the foreseeable future) for the man once dubbed the Next Big Thing.
Stories have been floating around for months about Lesnar's frustration with the WWE regime.
The gruelling travel schedule was said to be getting him down and he was less than impressed with the idea of being bulldozed by The Undertaker in a post-'Mania feud.
But Lesnar solved those problems by buying a private jet to ease travel stress and booking some time off after 'Mania to rest and refresh his character.
It wasn't enough. On Tuesday morning, Lesnar reportedly walked into the Smackdown production meeting and announced he was hanging up his tights for good.
WWE is yet to make an official announcement but the split is said to be as amicable as it could be, under the circumstances.
It does throw a spanner in the 'Mania plans since Goldberg also will be wrestling his final match at the show.
The original idea was for Lesnar to win, seeing as he was going to be continuing with the company, but WWE will probably centre the match around guest referee Steve Austin instead.
After his WWE tenure ends, Lesnar, who received offers to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Washington Redskins back when he was an NCAA wrestling champion in 2000, has expressed interest in making a move to the NFL.
As for Goldberg, he'll be heading to Alberta to finish principal photography on his latest movie, Santa's Slay, near Wetaskiwin.
Wrestlemania won't be all goodbyes, however. Another last-minute development is the unexpected return of Percy Pringle, a.k.a. Paul Bearer. WWE reached an agreement with Pringle to reprise his role as The Undertaker's henchman as part of the hokey (but fun) rising-dead angle.
There was actually talk of running the 'Taker match as the main event but WWE is now leaning towards closing the pay-per-view with the Raw brand offering of Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H.
By putting the three-way on after the more hyped non-title tilts, it'll emphasize the importance of the world championship to fans and conveniently give golden boy Triple H the big main-event payday.
Funny how things work out that way ...