Even though Brock Lesnar has not been a professional wrestler for years now, it is no secret that much of Lesnarâ€™s popularity began from his initial success as a collegiate wrestler, which then in turn exploded when he became a main event player in World Wrestling Entertainment.
With just days to go before his UFC Heavyweight Title defense against Cain Valesquez at UFC 1221 in Anaheim, California, it is the perfect time to highlight â€œThe Next Big Thingâ€™sâ€ WWE career, so that we can see where came from, which directly led to where he is now.
Lesnar signed his first WWE contract in 2000, fresh out of the University of Minnesota. He was assigned to Ohio Valley Wrestling and was paired with his former college roommate/teammate/coach Shelton Benjamin to form The Minnesota Wrecking Crew. The pair was wildly successful as a team, winning Ohio Valleyâ€™s Tag Team Championship three times.
The night after WrestleMania X8, Lesnar debuted on WWE television, taking out four or five guys in rapid succession. He was wisely paired with Paul Heyman as his on-air manager, who also helped Lesnar out behind the scenes as well. Lesnar got the proverbial rocket strapped to his back upon his television debut. He dominated everyone he stepped in the ring with, won the King of the Ring in June 2002 and beat both Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan that summer en route to winning the WWE Unified World Championship from The Rock at SummerSlam in August 2002, only five months after his televised debut. He remained undefeated up until that victory.
From there Lesnar would have a long run with the legendary Undertaker before transitioning into a feud with the near 500 lbs. Big Show. It was this feud where he was able to show his freakish strength, as he would lift and throw Big Show around and make it look easy. Lesnar lost his WWE Championship to Big Show during that feud and took some time off to heal some injuries.
When he came back he began the feud everyone was waiting to see â€“ the battle of amateur wrestling athletes against Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle. Lesnar and Angle main evented WrestleMania XIX in 2003 in a fantastic match that showed a new breed of athlete was in charge. Lesnar completely screwed a shooting star press in that match but luckily wasnâ€™t seriously injured and still managed to pull out the victory and his second WWE Championship.
He spent the rest of 2003 feuding with Angle, Undertaker and Big Show. He won his third WWE Championship in a phenomenal 60 minute Iron Man match on free TV in September 2003 over Angle. By this point he had became aligned with Heyman once again on television as a villain. He led the heaviest 5-man team in WWE history against Angleâ€™s team at Survivor Series â€™03.
By early 2004 he finished a run against Bob Holly, a man who he legitimately broke the neck of back in 2004. Normally the good guy looking for revenge wins these type of stories but in Brockâ€™s case the evil destroyer won out.
This led into a feud with a fellow unstoppable monster Bill Goldberg. The two big men were destined to cross to paths in WWE, which built to a colossal collision at WrestleMania XX. It was common fairly knowledge that this would be Goldbergâ€™s last WWE match as his one year contract was set to expire. Unfortunately weeks before the show word leaked that it would also be Lesnarâ€™s last WWE match as well, as he gave the company his notice in order to pursue his other dream of being a NFL football player. The Internet-savvy wrestling fans and the jaded New York crowd were already aware that this was both menâ€™s swan songs, and promptly turned on the match completely.
Lesnarâ€™s foray into pro football ended quickly when he was hired by the Minnesota Vikings before the 2004 season, only to be cut just weeks before the regular season was about to begin. After that he tried his hand as a professional wrestler in Japan, where he won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, but realized that it wasnâ€™t just WWE, but pro wrestling in general he no longer enjoyed.
He finally found his calling in 2007 when he entered the mixed martial arts world, and he hasnâ€™t looked back since. He defeated the gigantic Minn Soo Kim in just over a minuteâ€™s time. Then as legitimate rookie in the MMA business he was signed the UFC and in his fourth professional fight he won the promotionâ€™s Heavyweight Championship.
Even though he is no longer associated with pro wrestling there is no denying the impact he made in the short time he was a part of it.
Tags: Bob holly, Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, shelton benjamin, the big show, UFC, undertaker, WWE