By MICHAEL P. MAYKO firstname.lastname@example.org
BRIDGEPORT – Brock Lesnar’s 6-foot-3, 295-pound frame enabled him to tear through opponents on his way to World Wrestling Entertainment’s most coveted title.
Now, Lesnar wants to take on the entire WWE.
On Monday, he challenged the Stamford-based sports entertainment company – known for Wrestlemania, Monday Night Raw and Smackdown – to a constitutional rights match that could take place in downtown Hartford.
In a suit filed in Bridgeport federal court, Lesnar claims an agreement he signed when he left WWE is standing in the way of his career. The suit was assigned to the Hartford courthouse.
The war arises over a settlement Lesnar signed in order to leave the WWE last year for a failed bid to join the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings. Lesnar was cut during training camp and was not on the list of players the Vikings recently designated to NFL Europe.
“He really wanted to try his hand at football,” said David Bradley Olsen, Lesnar’s Minneapolis-based lawyer. “He gave it his best shot but not having played since high school hurt.”
As a wrestler, Lesnar became an All-American and captured national championships at Bismarck State Junior College in North Dakota and the University of Minnesota.
He signed his first contract with WWE on June 9, 2000, which led to his making at least $1 million a year.
On Aug. 25, 2002, the WWE made him World Heavyweight Champion in a match in which he beat “The Rock,” now star of the movie remakes of “Walking Tall” and “The Longest Yard.”
Lesnar, dubbed “The Next Big Thing,” captured the championship three times. His tearful farewell performance took place last March 14, when he lost to “Goldberg,” a former NFL player.
Olsen pointed out that Lesnar’s final booking contract prohibited him from working for any non-WWE wrestling organization in the United States for a year.
But an April 2004 settlement agreement that Lesnar signed to break that last booking contract prohibits him from appearing, participating in or associating with any professional wrestling, ultimate fighting or any sports entertainment enterprise through June 30, 2010.
“So what it’s saying is he can’t work in his chosen line of profession anywhere in the entire world for the next five years,” said Olsen. “That’s so broad.”
Olsen wants a federal judge to declare the agreement void because it’s “overly broad, unreasonable, oppressive, unfair and inequitable.”
“As a professional athlete, Lesnar has only a limited window of opportunity during which youth and physical conditioning allow him to maximize his potential earnings,” Olsen pointed out in the suit.
“Lesnar is 27 years old and in the prime of his athletic career,” he said. “On June 30, 2010, when the purported restrictions on competition expire, Lesnar will be 33 years old, which for a professional athlete is an age at which many consider retirement due to the physical demands of their chosen operation.”
But, Wade Keller, editor of Pro Wrestling Torch.com ( www.pwtorch.com , believes Lesnar is “dead wrong.”
“The WWE invested a lot of time and money to give him star power and make him a major part of their organization,” Keller said. “He could go to work for a competitor like [Total Nonstop Action Wrestling] or one in Japan, where wrestling is huge and WWE is trying to maintain a following.”
Jerry McDevitt, WWE’s lawyer, said the organization will fight the suit. “We put a ton of money and time into promoting him as a star,” McDevitt said, adding Lesnar agreed to the separation stipulations.
These days, Lesnar is “just doing a lot of hunting and fishing,” said Olsen.
Keller said Lesnar is preparing for his spring marriage to Rena Mero, the former WWE diva and Playboy centerfold known as Sable.
There is Internet gossip that Lesnar will return to the WWE for a May 22 appearance in Minneapolis.
But Gary Davis, a WWE spokesman, denied that.
“I’ll bet if Lesnar agreed to come back under the terms of the contract he had when he left, the WWE would allow it,” Keller said. “But I hear he wants less dates and less travel.”
If that’s the case, Lesnar’s next appearance will be the grudge match in the federal courthouse in Hartford. Assigned as the special referee is former U.S. attorney and current U.S. District Judge Christopher Droney.
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