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WNS Column: Brock For Business

Posted By: Richard Hughes on Aug 14, 2014

WNS Column: Brock For Business

One of the best nights to watch WWE programming is the Raw after WrestleMania. That particular show is the start of the new season for the brand and rarely does it ever disappoint. We’ve had an entire crowd turn on every major baby face, debuting faces of anticipated wrestlers such as Goldberg, and match making history setting up the main event for the next WrestleMania. As a wrestling fan, these are the moments that amp us up but also do they fall short because building up a once in a lifetime event seemed to be so “good”, they did it twice. What I have mentioned though are the highlight moments of the show but there’s an entire roster of hungry wrestlers looking to step their game up. Sometimes it’s good to introduce a new face and throw him in the fray to see how things pan out. While in the more current era of things is a broken down bus with a giant Bunny Rabbit sitting on the curb with his face buried in his hands, there is one guy I can recall that made an impact like no other superstar before him and dare I say after him. Hell, even he is a highlight of the Raw after WrestleMania.

 

The night after WrestleMania X8 (Raw, March 2002) during a triple threat hardcore match between three of the hardcore divisions elite garbage can smashing grapplers, a mountain of a man sprung into the ring and bought a dose of destruction onto the than “extreme” individuals: Al Snow, Spike Dudley, and forever Royal Rumble winner, Maven. It came quick and furious as if a tornado came busting through the seams and from ringside, a loud boisterous voice bellowed about from the mad scientist of professional wrestling also known as Paul Heyman. In a hardcore match there was always a winner but for the first time I believe, nobody won the bout. Bodies were strewn about delivered by clotheslines, power bombs, and dropped from what became known as the F-5 courteous of a destructor named Brock Lesnar.

 

For the next few weeks Lesnar would show up randomly and unleash his assault to those least expecting. It wasn’t until he intervened Matt and Jeff, the Hardy Boys, that he would slot right into his first feud. The ever-daring Jeff Hardy would be the first to challenge Lesnar to a match at what would be his first televised match, on pay-per-view, Backlash.  Suffice to say, Jeff was beat by Knockout so brother Matt stepped up to the plate the night after on Raw and suffered the same result. While Brock was dealing with guys who weren’t in his weight class, what he was doing to them only set the example for things to come.

 

The 2002 year for WWE was solid having come out of the Attitude Era and transitioning to Ruthless Aggression. With Brock’s immediate impact, fans began to take notice and Paul Heyman was sure to tell us more about this 6 ft. 3, 286 lb. behemoth he represented. For a man his size, Brock was all muscle and had tremendous athleticism. He was a different breed of wrestler and an NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championship accompanied his school resume.  In addition, he was only 24 years old with the world in the palm of his hands.

 

In June of that year, Brock Lesnar won his first major accolade by defeating Rob Van Dam in the finals of the tenth and final pay-per-event, King of the Ring. Not only did Brock take the crown but also the reward for winning the tournament guaranteed the victor a shot at the WWE Championship at SummerSlam. No matter who Brock beat on, the fans were eating it up and thing’s were tasting sweet as Paul Heyman guided his protégé to the summer spectacular for the richest prize in the industry against one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of boots, The Great One, The Brahma Bull, the WWE Champion, The Rock. By the time the main event came, the crowd had already fully established who they wanted to see win. The Rock was in the middle of his on-again, off-again relationship with Hollywood and there was this monster of an athlete coming to take the reigns of the entire WWE. The Rock did his best to not let the crowd get to him, even playing against their heat to try and hold onto the strap, but when the match was over and the People’s Elbow couldn’t find it’s mark, the bull was grabbed by the horns and a new WWE Champion was crowned.

 

Brock was a force to be reckoned with after that. However, instead of ruling the whole kingdom, Brock would have to represent the blue brand, Smackdown, as his reign began in the midst of it all and a contract angle only allowed Brock to defend the belt on Smackdown that in turn resurrected the Big Gold belt on Raw. In any case, after taking The Rock’s title, he was now taking over his show and for his first championship run feuded with the Undertaker that ended in an excellent Hell in a Cell match at No Mercy. That match can be found on the WWE Network for only $9.99 a month!

 

Underwhelming, Brock would lose to the title to the Big Show at the Survivor Series (I was there!) with Paul Heyman turning on him. This marked Lesnar’s first pinfall loss and also turned him face. From here, Lesnar feuded with Heyman & Show for the latter part of the year and when 2003 rolled around, Brock was able to defeat Show for a spot in the Royal Rumble and go on to win it, eliminating the Undertaker to face Kurt Angle at WrestleMania XIX for the strap. Angle and Lesnar positioned themselves into a dream match on the Grandest Stage of the All as the knockout, drag-out contest pitted two prized amateur wrestlers for the title. Brock Lesnar had a scary moment in the match after botching a Shooting Star Press and if it was anyone else, their career could’ve possibly ended. Brock’s neck saved him from the crash. Lesnar has gone onto saying he doesn’t really remember the end of the match where he became a 2x WWE Champion.

 

During my research for this article, I forgot about the Lesnar/Angle Iron Man match on Smackdown, which is heralded as the greatest bout to ever take place on the show. That match also marked Lesnar’s third and final reign as WWE Champion. Oh, let me not forget to mention that he defeated The Undertaker in a Biker Chain match again at No Mercy. Brock would go into 2004 as the champion but lose the title to Eddie Guerrero at No Way Out due to interference from Goldberg and setting up what would be the last match for both competitors in the WWE, at that time. At least for one of them anyway. Brock and Bill met at WrestleMania XX, got booed out of the building, and individually received a Stone Cold Stunner from guest referee Steve Austin to bounce out from the company for good.

As the Internet age began to blossom, it was no secret to the fans in attendance that Brock was not re-signing for he wanted to pursue other ventures outside the wrestling industry. He missed his family and could not handle the road schedule anymore. Fans can be relentless in their way of coming to terms with situations but Brock didn’t do things for the fans, he was doing it for himself and that was the sour grapes handed out from Lesnar.

 

Brock wanted to give football a try and was ridiculed from the start. However, Lesnar proved not to let the critics get to him and had a great combine at the NFL Combine later that year and was signed to the Minnesota Vikings practice squad. Fate wasn’t particularly good to Brock who would suffer a bad motorcycle accident that left him with a laundry list of injuries but since he’s a freak of nature, his body healed relatively well and he participated in Vikings team workouts and preseason games before getting cut.

 

After declining to join an NFL farm league, Brock went over to Japan and won the IWGP Championship and stuck around in the company from 2005 until 2007 before leaving wrestling again and pursued a different avenue of combat sports, mixed marital arts or simply known as MMA. He began his stint in MMA for the K-1 league Hero’s. Brock trained in Minnesota and was booked for his first fight in June 2007 where he defeated his opponent Min Soo Kim by a submission of strikes in 1:09 of the first round to win his first professional MMA fight. Shit was now real for the former NCAA and WWE champion.

 

During UFC 77, President Dana White announced that Brock Lesnar was coming to the company. If you’re not a fan of UFC, Brock signing with the company was a massive deal because the promotion and sport were beginning a WWF 1992 landside in terms of popularity, relevancy, and financial growth. Brock lost his first fight to Frank Mir via Submission but the buyrates were huge due to Lesnar’s name and also brought in the wrestling fan base thus bringing new eyes to the product. Brock went on to win his second fight in the company and got himself a shot at the Heavyweight championship against veteran MMA fighter and UFC champion, “The Natural” Randy Couture.

 

Brock Lesnar went on to defeat Couture to become the UFC champion. With this accomplishment, Brock was the first athlete to have been an NCAA Division 1 champion, WWE champion, and UFC champion. Brock would go on to avenge his first loss by defeating Frank Mir the second time around and the two would become one of the more interesting rivalries for the heavyweight division which at that time was still trying to re-establish itself. In this time, Brock showed some of his true feelings by flipping off the crowd and scoffing at endorsing a product saying they “won’t pay me nothin’ “. However, Dana White was able to do damage control for Lesnar’s actions and able to sweep it under the rug. Unfortunatley for Lesnar, his reign as champion was short lived due to suffering from a serious illness that would sideline him until further notice. Brock Lesnar would have to get better then re-challenge the Interim Champion. Once again, Brock healed from a serious medical issue to his career, and not only beat Shane Carwin to become the UFC Undisputed champion, but giving Carwin the first loss of his career.

 

While Brock was able to win the belt on two separate occasions now, he does not have much merit in terms of title defenses. At UFC 121, Brock lost to my personal favorite heavyweight in the division, Cain Velasquez. The title fight lasted only one round but there was a moment on that show which made a lasting thought.

 

https://youtu.be/2ZQ0KN7OwlU

 

After this loss, it seemed that Brock’s UFC career might be winding down as soon as it began. He was having a tough time staying healthy, never fully recovering to 100%, and had an intense surgery that removed a 12-inch piece of his colon removed due to his illness. He lost to Alistair “The Reem” Overeem after a vicious kick to his stomach dropped him in the first round for a TKO. After the fight, Brock announced his retirement from MMA. That night, the IWC exploded.

 

Brock Lesnar has done everything he put his mind too. He managed to become a huge superstar through professional wrestling and frankly, I never hated the guy for going out and exploring other ventures. In fact, I think that only made me back him even more because how many people can say that they accomplished what Brock Lesnar has or at least tried. Rumors were rampant that Brock would return to the WWE now that his contract with the UFC was complete. After WrestleMania XXVII (2012), a defeated John Cena went out to a rowdy crowd giving The Rock his props for coming in and defeating him. Chants of “We Want Lesnar” shook the building and it was almost if on que as they died down, the familiar opening squeal of Brock Lesnar’s theme blared through the PA system and from behind the curtain came the Beast.

 

He returned by dropping John Cena with an F-5, the IWC was on biting at the bit. Brock was back to make the pro wrestling business “legit” once again and John Cena was fighting for the WWE flag, as usual. The two would meet at Extreme Rules in a great brawl of a match that saw Lesnar back in a WWE ring after being gone for quite some time. Unfortunately for Lesnar, a John Cena fist wrapped with chain around it gave him a loss in the match. Would Lesnar losing to John Cena be a problem for a guy who was mainly an attraction now do any damage to his character?

The next night a returning Paul Heyman who was now working as his legal representation in a contract angle would represent Lesnar. Demands were made, demands were denied, and Triple H ended up on the end of a “broken arm” thus transitioning into a feud with Lesnar that would lead to SummerSlam followed by a match at WrestleMania 29 (2013) and ending at Extreme Rules. Brock won the feud with the score 2-1.

It was apparent Brock would only be around for the two big shows, WrestleMania and SummerSlam, with the occasional one off Special Event (such as Extreme Rules). He went into SummerSlam that year feuding with CM Punk and had an entertaining No DQ match with the Second City Saint. Brock beat Punk and went back to his cave before making his presence felt again.

At the end of the year, Lesnar came back with Paul Heyman to challenge for the WWE Heavyweight Championship with the idea that he’s went through enough guys to earn his shot. In a re-lived mini feud, Lesnar instead would get the Big Show where the two would meet at the Royal Rumble though it wasn’t much of a contest. Brock laid waste to Show with an onslaught of chair shots before the bell could even be rung.

 

Just as his debut back in 2002 proved up until now, Brock Lesnar remained a dominant force in a WWE ring. It wasn’t like he missed a beat and he wanted a shot at the title but since the main event for WrestleMania XXX had been decided, Paul claimed that Brock would patiently wait a bit more and issue an open contract to anyone who wanted to try and get famous off of Lesnar. The challenge was answered by the the Phenom, the Undertaker. Oh, boy. After all the speculation on-line about Brock/Taker being a potential match on the card, here we have it.

 

The build-up to the match was luke warm at best. They made contact but the promos dragged through the mud and looking back, it was almost as if the Undertaker handed Brock the gun to finish him off. I don’t think that the Undertaker ever claimed why he accepted the challenge. He kinda just did because WrestleMania is where he sends wrestlers to the depths of hell. Ok, maybe it makes sense? All I know is that I wasn’t sold on the build-up but it was happening and I thought, for sure, that this was just going to be a throw away match with the Undertaker going 22-0. Me and everybody else.

 

The time the match came I was nice and situated on my living room sofa. WrestleMania so far had been really good and it seemed everything was hitting on all cylinders. If you listen to the commentary throughout the match, they all came off very somber and weary as if they knew this was it. Well played or foreshadowing? I found it to be boring, taking away from the match, and not leaving me with anticipation of the next move. That job was for Brock and Taker and albeit a little slow in there too, it was a ground based match with false finishes and a slow climb. After the second, F-5 I had it in my mind that a third would come but reversed into a Tombstone and 22 wins. What do you know… that did happen! Only Lesnar kicked out at 2 and when he dropped the Undertaker with the third F-5, it was the slap of the three count that left me suspended in the moment just as the fans in the crowd had been.

 

Holy shit.

 

Paul Heyman’s client, Brock Lesnar, became the 1 in 21-1 and broke the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania.

 

The Internet exploded. Brock shouldn’t have been the one. He doesn’t deserve it. People claimed to never watch again. As a wrestling fan, I didn’t know what to make of it. I don’t know if the Streak should’ve ever been broken, a milestone so regarded in WWE lore that no other superstar will duplicate again because the Streak, at first, just happened organically. There was a certain mystique around it but now it’s over and it belongs to the Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar. Some say Taker was knocked out mid-match, called right then and there, some speculate it was decided on day off with very few knowing. Whatever the case was, Brock Lesnar was special enough to get the nod and defeat the Last Outlaw. It’s not like Brock Lesnar ever had the Undertaker’s number since day one, right?

 

This Sunday Brock will finally have his match for the WWE Heavyweight Championship against John Cena. Brock/Cena 3 if you want to count their first encounter during the Ruthless Aggression era. This article wasn’t meant to go this long but there’s a reason I wrote it the way I did and that’s because Brock Lesnar will continue to be an attraction after he beats John Cena for the title. Should Brock end up on the loosing end of this, everything that he has done up until this point, putting the exclamation point on the Undertaker’s legacy, will be all for nothing. Brock may be in it for Brock but he is a workhorse who has paved his own way and kicked some ass while doing it. If WWE Creative knows how to handle this, Brock winning the belt would be going full circle with Brock’s initial 2002 debut because that debut opened the gates for guys like John Cena, Batista, and Randy Orton. They all came out from the same draft class and it’s a strong class to contend with.

 

Brock Lesnar walks away with the championship and now all hell can break loose. Guys are lining up left and right wanting a shot to dethrone Lesnar because it will indeed make them a name. This is the opportunity to build the stars of tomorrow. Sure, John Cena will still be in the main event and Roman Reigns will continue dealing out Superman Punches and Spears but someone can also sneak through the cracks. Hopefully Daniel Bryan can come back stronger, healthier, and still have that connection with the audience. Maybe Brock defends at Night of Champions or returns for a Survivor Series match but I do have a feeling if Seth Rollins tries to cash in, he’s just going to lose. Even though Cesaro has lost momentum, maybe he starts to pick it back up and chase Lesnar (this is where my Survivor Series idea comes in). Guys can be made without the title in the picture but the booking has to be crisp.

 

Brock Lesnar is best for business. Him winning the title will do nothing but good things for the WWE. Everyone is so focused on NOW, NOW, NOW that they don’t have the patience to see how thing’s develop. The Beast Incarnate is the real deal and a legit threat and this is why he makes complete sense. Brock Lesnar has conquered everything in his life from high school all the way up until now. Maybe this might be Brock’s last hurrah in the WWE. At 37 years old, he might still have some mileage left but he can’t stay complacent. Rumors are already circling that he’ll put back on the 4XL sized gloves for the UFC if Dana will take him back when this WWE deal is up. Brock is going into a second wind of his career and there is no stopping this monster now.

 

Eat. Sleep. Conquer. Repeat.

Vinny Fucci


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