WWE’s biggest celebrity signee of 2019, Cain Velasquez was released earlier this week as part of the promotion’s latest budget cuts.
Velasquez was introduced to the WWE Universe by Rey Mysterio on the night of the mega SmackDown premiere on FOX; the 2-time UFC Heavyweight Champion took out decade-long rival Brock Lesnar to set up their WWE Title match at Crown Jewel. The title showdown in Saudi Arabia eventually turned out to be Cain’s only televised match in WWE.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports that WWE actually signed Velasquez for three main reasons.
“Velasquez was there for three major reasons. The most obvious one that people can recognize was because Velasquez beat Brock Lesnar on October 23, 2010, to win the UFC heavyweight championship, that Lesnar would avenge his most widely viewed defeat.”
The second reason was that signing Cain would give WWE two big names for Crown Jewel in Cain Velasquez and Tyson Fury.
The third reason for signing Cain was to promote SmackDown as a legitimate sport on FOX. The broadcast network wanted more sports and less entertainment from The Blue Show and Velasquez was the perfect individual to help WWE achieve that goal.
According to Sportskeeda‘s Tom Colohue, although Mysterio was paired up with Velasquez from the very beginning, there was no long-term storyline in place for the fellow Mexicans.
“Rey Mysterio wasn’t there for any long-term storyline with Cain Velasquez, he was there to give an initial boost of popularity by telling Rey Mysterio fans ‘Hey, this guy is good too, you should support him”. One of the reasons he was in that role was because of his longevity and diversity of fandom that he tends to bring in. With that nationality and style of high-flying – he brings in a lot of fans that WWE doesn’t automatically cater to, which is why they always have certain people in the Cruiserweight division, they tried pushing Andrade as the next big Hispanic wrestler.”
Velasquez earned an estimated $5 million for fighting Lesnar at Crown Jewel. Given the gigantic paycheck he received for that match alone, it’s likely that the UFC megastar made the most of his short stint in WWE.