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  Sun, Mar. 14, 2004

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Lesnar itchin' to grab grass and growl

By DON 'Cyrus' CALLIS -- For SLAM! Wrestling

  In what was a major bombshell just days before Wrestlemania XX, Brock Lesnar, arguably the biggest success story of the WWE's recruitment process, announced that he is retiring from wrestling after the event to pursue a career as an NFL football player. Rumors abound that Lesnar, who will make his first public comments on his situation on a morning radio show in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area tomorrow, was hoping to play for his hometown Minnesota Vikings.

However you shake it, this is a huge blow for WWE. The promotion of Lesnar had, with a few exceptions, been quite stellar. You could certainly make an argument that he is by far the best big man in the history of the business.

Lesnar had reportedly been unhappy with the travel schedule he (and everyone else) had been enduring. So much so that it had been reported that he had spent $400,000 (U.S.) on his own airplane to ease the burden (the only other WWE regular with his own plane is Vince McMahon). I can imagine how much this endeared him to the boys.

There have also been reports that Lesnar had been less than happy with his push, which is hard to believe. From the word 'go,' it would be hard to find too many examples of better pushes than the one he received.

The question everyone must be asking by now, however, is: what are his chances? As we all know, Brock was an NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion at the University of Minnesota, and is 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds with almost no body fat. In other words: an athletic and genetic marvel.

All one needs to do is watch how freakishly strong and agile Lesnar is, with impossibly long (and large) arms that would be great for warding off offensive linemen. Lesnar, along with Kurt Angle, is on a different level athletically than everyone else in a company filled with excellent athletes.

What is unclear is how much football Lesnar has actually played. If one is a good enough physical prospect (as he appears to be), is young enough (26) and a quick learner (which he has proven to be), he may well have a chance as an NFL D-lineman.

Even if he rides the proverbial pine, his income might well approach his wrestling level (although this is tough to determine with accuracy), and he would only have to travel roughly every second week for one day (with hotel and rental car paid). Oh, did I mention the season is less than six months long? During the off-season he could be at home and train (two things he likes to do), while the WWE wrestlers are hitting the road (no off-season for wrestlers).

The best part of it is, it is win-win for both WWE and Lesnar. If Lesnar hits it big, the crossover publicity Vince will garner will likely negate any negative aspect of Lesnar leaving. Also, as an NFL star, Lesnar would mean more for a couple of big pay per views, assuming he was allowed to do them.

For Lesnar, if he hits in the NFL, he has a much easier life with likely greater income. If he doesn't, it's not like he couldn't go back to WWE. Make no mistake, he is on the way to becoming one of the all-time greats.

Besides, is it really that different? I always said football was work.


Come join the NHB 5th anniversary party at Garbonzos and see Wrestlemania XX for only five bucks. Great food, prizes and excitement. Tickets available at the CanadInns Fort Garry Express ... Steve Austin and Billy Gunn were involved in an altercation in a Manhattan club this week.

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