Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez had a recent meeting and other negotiations with World Wrestling Entertainment and either he or his reps have had talks of late with four of the major groups around the world.
According to WWE sources, Velasquez and his reps had recent talks with the promotion, but it’s not clear if anything will happen. Velasquez has spoken about being very serious about getting into pro wrestling on a regular basis.
Thus far he’s done two matches, both for the AAA promotion based in Mexico. The first was in August at their TripleMania show in Mexico City and the second was at a show on Sept. 15 at the Hulu Theater, which is the smaller building within the Madison Square Garden complex in New York.
Besides WWE and AAA, the most popular promotion on television in Mexico, Velasquez has had talks with both New Japan Pro Wrestling, that country’s biggest promotion, and All Elite Wrestling, the new promotion in the U.S. run by the Khan family, which owns the Jacksonville Jaguars and starts on U.S. national television this week on TNT.
The key to the WWE offer would be building a showdown with Brock Lesnar, the WWE’s highest-paid wrestler, and the 2010 fight where Velasquez beat Lesnar to win the UFC championship.
WWE sources said Velasquez, 37, would likely undergo knee surgery prior to any type of long-term commitment with a pro wrestling company.
His situation is unique in the sense his name and age would likely mean he’d have to be rushed into a spotlight position. But even though he looked spectacular given his level of experience, it usually takes years, and hundreds of matches, before wrestlers appear on the WWE main roster, or are featured in headline matches in any of the major groups. WWE features a number of former MMA fighters on its roster, most notably Bobby Lashley, Shayna Baszler, Matt Riddle and Rezar (Gzim Selmani, who once fought with Bellator). All spent years learning the industry and were younger starting out.
Velasquez has enjoyed his matches with AAA, where he’s performed as a high-flying Luchador, wowing the crowd with acrobatic moves, while wearing a mask. Those within WWE say that they would not be interested in using Velasquez in that manner. From a WWE standpoint, the logical use of Velasquez would be to present him as a serious fighter who can be a rival to Lesnar.
Within wrestling, the belief is that, because the pay scale in AAA is much lower than that of WWE, that in the long run, AAA couldn’t afford him if he wanted to make a career in pro wrestling.
Due to the unique politics of wrestling, the WWE at this point insists on exclusivity. AEW has a working relationship with AAA, and most of its biggest stars appeared on the same show in Mexico City as Velasquez’s debut, including Cody Rhodes, an AEW executive vice president, who was Velasquez’s tag team partner in that match. So an AEW deal would allow him to continue working in Mexico, where he’s a huge star off his UFC fame.
Another issue is that Velasquez is still under contract to the UFC for several more fights. His contract did allow him to do the AAA matches, but it’s also known that the UFC would not allow Velasquez to do anything physical for a show this coming Saturday with Pro Wrestling Revolution, the company that trained him, in San Jose, Calif., that Velasquez is scheduled to be part of. That show features a rare appearance in the U.S. of one of Velasquez’s childhood wrestling idols, El Hijo del Santo, the son of El Santo, a Mexican cultural idol who starred in campy movies during the 50s, 60s and 70s.