I will not be writing a RAW review this week. Instead, I will be writing my reaction to Brock Lesnar’s return to WWE.
It’s been eight years since Brock Lesnar has been in a WWE ring. When I wrote my WWE WrestleMania: The Worst Moments in History slideshow for Bleacher Report, of the 82 comments, a great deal told me that the Lesnar/Goldberg match from WrestleMania XX deserved to be on this list. In retrospect, while the match was not was what it could have been, I thought it was a passable match, and created a memorable moment for all involved.
Brock left WWE following that match to try his hand at the NFL. Once that route fell through, Brock went to All Japan Pro Wrestling and was wildly successful there. He won the IWGP title. He is also recognized as the IGF IWGP Champion as well. His last pro wrestling match was June 27th, 2007 against Kurt Angle in a IWGP Champion vs. TNA World Champion match.
Immediately after, Brock started his career in MMA. His first fight was against Min-Soo Kim for the Dynamite!! USA promotion. He won by TKO in the 1st round.
Dana White and the UFC came calling soon after, and he met Frank Mir in his UFC debut on Feb. 2, 2008. Although Brock was dominating the fight, he got caught in a kneebar that ended his night. Brock would get his revenge soon enough.
Brock would fight again at UFC 87. He defeated Pride FC veteran Heath Herring via decision. According to Heath Herring’s official Facebook profile in a note titled “6 Months To Rest”, Herring is said to have suffered a broken orbital bone from the first punch of the fight. After his impressive win, Brock was signed to fight UFC legend and Hall of Famer Randy Couture. It was also for the UFC Heavyweight title.
A large number of people take issue with Brock getting a title shot that early in his career. Yet, what people don’t realize is that Lesnar was UFC’s biggest draw at that point. Not only that, but this early in his MMA career, Lesnar was a beast. He was a very fast heavyweight that was also stronger than anyone else in the division. In addition, he was very close to being undefeated, and his only loss at this point was a former UFC Champion in Frank Mir. Lesnar was damned impressive, and it shows the ignorance people have to MMA to simply disregard what Lesnar accomplished in such a short time in the sport.
Keep in mind that Lesnar was also a bona fide athlete before getting involved in WWE. He was the 2000 NCAA Champion. He was an amazing 106-5 over four years in collegiate wrestling.
On November 15, 2008 at UFC 91, Lesnar defeated Couture at 3:07 of the 2nd round by TKO to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Lesnar rocked Couture and pounced on him to finish the fight. It was the culmination and easily the highlight of Brock’s career to this point. His record stood at 3-1 and he was now a champion in MMA.
Lesnar’s next fight was a rematch against the only man to defeat him at this point in his career, the Interim Champion Frank Mir. This was a heated affair that got personal through various media outlets. At UFC 100, the two men would settle the score.
Lesnar would dominate Mir for the entire fight and implemented a gameplan that was perfect for neutralizing Mir. Lesnar spent the entire second round pounding Mir’s face into mush. The fight was mercifully stopped at 1:48 in the second round. Afterwards, Brock got in Mir’s face, dissed UFC’s sponsor, Bud Light, flipped off the crowd, and told Joe Rogan he was going to mount his wife (former WWE Diva, Sable) in celebration of his win. This outburst cemented his place as one of the most hated fighters in UFC.
It was after this fight that Brock took an extended leave due to mononucleosis. After further diagnosis, it was revealed that Lesnar was suffering from diverticulitis. It was such a serious case that fecal matter was leaking into his abdomen. A doctor revealed that based on the damage to his system, he had been suffering for about a year. Lesnar would have surgery and sit on the sidelines for over a year.
As Lesnar mended, Shane Carwin defeated Frank Mir in an Interim title fight. The winner of this fight would meet Lesnar at UFC 116 to unify the titles (as Lesnar had never lost the title). Carwin up to this time was a monster brawler who finished all his fights early in the 1st round. He almost finished Lesnar in the 1st round of this fight, but somehow Brock fought through the adversity and held on to force a second round. It was the longest fight of Carwin’s career and it showed as he looked completely gassed coming out for the decisive second round. Brock would submit Carwin to unify the titles, and raise his MMA record to an impressive 5-1.
Another contender came forward in the form of Mex-American, Cain Velasquez. In what was Brock’s worst showing, Velasquez decimated Brock to win the UFC Heavyweight title.
It was also revealed around this time that Lesnar was fighting another bout of diverticulitis. He had surgery on May 27th, 2011 where a 12 inch piece of his colon was removed. He pulled out of a fight with Junior Dos Santos, and it was later announced that he would face UFC newcomer, Allister Overeem.
At UFC 141, Overeem, defeated Brock after targeting Lesnar’s midsection for most of the fight. A liver kick is what essentially ended the fight as Lesnar crumpled to the mat as Overeem swarmed him and ended the fight in the first round. After the fight, a humbled Lesnar announced his retirement from UFC.
As the news sunk in regarding his retirement, people downed his MMA career. Pundits stated he was handed fights rather than earning them. People really attempted to downplay just what Lesnar had accomplished in such a short time in MMA.
He won the UFC Heavyweight title from a Hall of Famer. He showed tremendous heart by battling back and submitting Shane Carwin. He compiled a 5-3 record despite the fact he nearly died from a serious and life threatening ailment that would have crippled normal people. He came back from two major surgeries. And, he propelled MMA as a whole to the next level whether people want to believe that or not.
Almost immediately after his retirement, wrestling fans began clamoring for his return. Some even thought he would come back as early as the Royal Rumble. It was not to be as the Pay Per View came and went without a sighting of “The Next Big Thing”.
My own thoughts were that UFC wouldn’t let Lesnar out of his contract to allow him to go back to WWE. I figured Dana White would keep Lesnar under the terms of the contract. I did not think he would come back so soon, if at all. For once, I was happy I was wrong.
The rumors started around WrestleMania week, and I still didn’t pay much attention to them until Dana White started tweeting about it.
“Good luck to my man @TheRock tonight!!! I will be watching the @WWE plus all the rumors of nights event sound like it’s gonna be crazy! :)”
Needless to say, I sparked my interest. I figured he would get involved in the Main Event of Mania. But, nothing happened.
Brock Lesnar has returned to the place that helped build him up. In a moment I will cherish forever, he interrupted yet another tame John Cena promo and hoisted him up for the F-5, his finisher that helped him capture three WWE Championships. It was a wonderful moment the fuses together the recent past of WWE right before Cena’s rise to the present.
Brock Lesnar has always been a guy that gets people talking. Whether it was the way he flipped off UFC fans or landing on his head at WrestleMania XIX, people have always reacted to what Lesnar does. There will be people that hate him just for who he is. There will be people who will get angry because he has no interest in being a full time guy at this point in his life or career. There are people that just won’t get he would rather hunt in Canada, spend time with his family, and be left alone than being a typical WWE guy on the road.
The thing is, Lesnar has earned a lighter schedule. He’s fought men, and defeated legends both in UFC and WWE. The man is an amazing athlete whether people give him credit for what he accomplished in his life or not. Lesnar is the type of an elite, once in a lifetime warrior that can create interest in a product that people have been turning away from week after week.
I welcome the return of Brock Lesnar. I can not wait to see where this goes. “Here Comes the Pain” once again…