Brock Lesnar has made a lot of positive contributions to the WWE over the course of his two stints with the company. When he first debuted in 2002, he was hailed as “the Next Big Thing,” something he would live up to in his first couple of years. But following his return in 2012, he took wrestling to a whole other level.
It had been a generation since wrestling had an “attraction,” a wrestler who fans only got to see sporadically, but who had such a larger-than-life presence that it seemed to eclipse anything else happening in the business at the time. Brock Lesnar has that feeling about him, and the aura that he has added to the modern wrestling world is unlike anything that has come since the days of Andre the Giant.
Much like every wrestler who has ever entered the squared circle, Lesnar has both his supporters and his detractors. Lesnar has given a fair bit of ammunition to his haters as well, with a slew of incidents over the years that make wrestling fans question his commitment to the business and to WWE. Lesnar fans will say that his pros heavily outweigh the cons, and it’s tough to disagree with that, but sometimes it’s just more fun to focus on the bad.
15 His Phallic Tattoo
In 2005 ,Brock Lesnar got what is widely referred to as the most phallic tattoo ever. The tattoo consists of a sword that extends from his abdomen up to his upper chest area, and the handle looks as if it is a pair of brass knuckles. Many have commented that it looks like he subtly got a tattoo of a penis on his chest.
In his autobiography, Lesnar described the significance of the tattoo as representing how he felt at the time in 2005 - like he was holding a sword up against his throat.
It’s easy to see why Lesnar might have felt as though a sword was pressed against his throat at the time, having just left the WWE and being in a period of career transition. After getting the tattoo Lesnar, would wrestle sporadically in Japan before deciding to take on the challenge of mixed martial arts.
14 His Football Career
Wrestling fans who missed seeing Lesnar compete inside a wrestling ring probably weren’t overjoyed when it was announced that Lesnar would be going to training camp with the Minnesota Vikings in 2004.
The move was a bit of a surprise, as Lesnar didn’t even play football in college. Brock’s size and athletic ability, however, were enough to convince the Vikings that it might be worth giving him a chance. Lesnar would state on the Stone Cold Steve Austin Podcast years later that he was in over his head at the camp, and that he simply didn’t have enough experience with the game.
The Vikings would cut Lesnar before the start of the season, opting not to bring him onto their team as a defensive tackle. Lesnar did receive offers to play in NFL Europe, but ultimately decided to turn them down. For wrestling fans, or more specifically fans of Brock Lesnar’s wrestling matches, it sort of felt like a bit of an abandonment, similar to what they had recently experienced with the Rock leaving for Hollywood.
Coincidentally, the Minnesota Vikings would sign Lesnar’s WrestleMania 31 opponent Roman Reigns to a contract in 2007, although he never played with the team.
13 The Botched WrestleMania XIX Shooting Star Press
The most prestigious match in all of professionally wrestling is the main event of WrestleMania. Some of the greatest wrestlers in the business have never been able to reach that pinnacle, including CM Punk, which ultimately played a role in his leaving the WWE. So it’s pretty important that you don’t completely botch the finish of the match.
The main event of WrestleMania XIX was Kurt Angle defending the WWE Championship against Brock Lesnar. While whose idea this was is up for some contention the decision was made to attempt a spectacular ending to the match.
When Lesnar was training to make his WWE debut in Ohio Valley Wrestling (the precursor to NXT), he had successfully executed a “shooting star press” move from the top rope - similar to the move that Billy Kidman made famous (now practiced by Matt Sydal, Ricochet, and Son of Havoc). Despite having done the move in OVW, Lesnar had not tried it on the big stage of WWE, meaning successfully executing the move at WrestleMania could create a special moment that would live in WWE highlight films for years. Only he completely botched the move.
Kurt Angle was positioned too far away; Lesnar couldn’t make it out to him and slammed headfirst into the canvass. To try and save face, a dazed Lesnar picked Angle up and gave him an F-5 before pinning him. As Lesnar held up his newly won title to close out WrestleMania, the effects of slamming head first to the mat were obvious; “the lights were on but nobody was home” would have been a good way to describe it.
12 He Married Sable
Sable was one of the biggest female stars of the Attitude Era, and at one time was the most talked-about members of the WWE roster. She was even the cover girl of Playboy for one of their best-selling editions of all time.
Brock Lesnar took Sable off the market in 2006 when they married. The two began dating in 2004 after Sable and her ex-husband Marc Mero divorced.
Sorry wrestling fans, but that bombshell Playboy centerfold is now being guarded by one of the scariest looking human beings that has ever existed. Sable has largely been out of the spotlight since the two were married. The couple has two sons together.
11 The Guy Loves Guns
There is something about a man who looks as scary as Brock Lesnar does using guns for anything that seems off-putting. Lesnar looks like a beast that could tear anything up with his bare hands, so giving him a gun for any purpose just seems unfair.
On the other hand, if Lesnar has you in his targets, you would probably prefer he use a gun and get it over quickly as opposed to him grabbing and throttling you.
Lesnar is a gun and hunting enthusiast, and was even at one point sponsored by Fusion Ammunition. According to an interview with Fusion, Lesnar particularly enjoys hunting deer. What would make this hunting experience a little more even-matched is if the deer had guns and Lesnar was unarmed … but even then I’d still put my money on Lesnar.
10 The Way He Left In 2004
By 2004, the WWE was well past the boom period of the late 90s, and was in the beginning stages of turning stale.
Austin was retired, the Rock had left for Hollywood, and in 2004, Brock Lesnar, who had been hailed as “the Next Big Thing,” was on his way out as well. It wasn’t until just weeks before WrestleMania XX that reports began to swirl that Lesnar was leaving the WWE after his match with Goldberg at the "Granddaddy of Them All."
For many, the news that Lesnar, still only in his mid-20s at the time, was leaving seemed to come out of nowhere. With all the departures that the WWE had seen due to age, injury, or (in the Rock’s case) Hollywood, Lesnar seemed like a guy that would stick around to lead WWE into a new generation.
Triple H would later reveal that there had been some animosity between Brock and the WWE before he left in 2004, and that may have contributed to his decision to leave.
9 He Hit A Fan With A Car Door
A Brock Lesnar match has an aura of realness to it that you don’t get with other wrestlers. A far cry from the normal routine matches from WWE’s ever increasing mid-card majority, a Lesnar match feels different. It does not feel as much like entertainment as it does a live chaotic experience.
The impact of a Lesnar style match has been great for WWE, and has certainly caused many fans to subscribe to the WWE Network. What isn’t great is when that live chaotic experience dives out from the world of entertainment and smacks a fan, which is exactly what happened one night on RAW.
As part of an angle involving Seth Rollins and his J&J Security team, Lesnar destroyed a car with his bare hands. Brock even ripped off a car door and flung it through the air … where it promptly hit a fan. Thankfully, for the WWE the fan was happy to receive some free merchandise and turned down any offers of medical assistance.
Careful when going to see a live Brock Lesnar match…
8 He Broke Jamie Noble's Ribs
Jamie Knoble managed to have a nice in-ring career in WWE despite his size. Knoble’s career came just before WWE developed a more open attitude towards small guys being at the top of the card, but he did well based on some solid ability inside the ring.
After suffering a back injury in a match against Sheamus, Knoble retired and began working in the back as a producer/agent.
After working backstage for many years, Knoble found himself back on-screen again in 2015 as a member of Seth Rollins’ security team J&J Security. Knoble received nice reactions from the live audiences during this time (despite being a bad guy), and it must have felt good for him to be back in front of live WWE audiences again.
What a feel good story it was, until Brock Lesnar broke his ribs.
During Lesnar’s feud with Rollins in the summer of 2015, Lesnar speared Knoble into the barricade, breaking three of Knoble’s ribs for real with the move. Nice way to welcome a guy back to the show!
7 UFC/WWE Negotiations
Things got weird near the end of Lesnar’s second contract with the WWE. After retiring from the UFC and returning to the WWE in 2012, it was unclear if Lesnar was done with mixed martial arts for good or if he planned on returning after his WWE deal was up.
After dealing with diverticulitis, Lesnar was not the same fighter, and perhaps needed years to recover before once again competing in MMA. After spending three years in the WWE many believed his body was once again in a position to be put through the punishment of an MMA training camp.
Lesnar’s contract was set to expire the night after WrestleMania 31, where he was scheduled to face Roman Reigns in the main event. With just weeks to go before the show, Lesnar was still negotiating with both the UFC and WWE, regarding where he would spend the next few years of his career.
Being in the main event of WrestleMania and having no signed contract for afterwards was a problem for the WWE, who were unable to determine a result for the match until they knew Lesnar’s status. Eventually, Lesnar would re-sign with the WWE, but not before putting many wrestling fans through the ringer, worrying that Lesnar would once again leave the business.
6 WrestleMania XX
It should have gone down as a Gorilla Monsoon “Unstoppable Force vs. the Immovable Object” match, but instead Lesnar’s match with Goldberg at WrestleMania XX will go down as one of the biggest fiascos in the history of WWE’s biggest annual event.
Wrestling fans had known for some time that Goldberg would not be appearing for the WWE again after the match, but just weeks before the show it began to be reported that Lesnar would be leaving as well.
Not happy that the WWE was losing two more stars, after having just lost Austin to injury and Rock to Hollywood, the live audience showered the two with boos throughout the match.
5 Heat With John Cena
Apparently, Brock Lesnar despised John Cena and would make disparaging comments about him to Vince McMahon repeatedly. What caused Lesnar to dislike Cena so much is not altogether clear, but John Cena was known to have sloppy in-ring work during the early part of his career.
Cena was not the blue-chip prospect that Brock was, and Triple H once commented that the WWE almost let him go.
4 His UFC Career
While the record books show that Brock Lesnar was a monster success for the UFC in terms of PPV buys, he actually wasn’t that good of a fighter. In fact, he really only had two good fights: one against Heath Herring and another at UFC 100 against Frank Mir. His other fights all left something to be desired.
His UFC debut was a submission loss in the first round to Frank Mir, and then following his defeat of Herring, he beat Randy Couture for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, but that victory was more due to size than ability. Randy Couture would never again fight in the Heavyweight division, opting to spend most of his time in the Light Heavyweight division - a far cry from the 265 lbs. group that Brock Lesnar had to cut weight to compete in.
After avenging his loss to Mir at UFC 100, Lesnar had his bout with diverticulitis and never looked good in the octagon again. Lesnar defeated Shane Carwin only after Carwin tired himself out so much beating up Lesnar in the first round that he was easily submitted in the second fray. Many people argue that the fight should have been stopped in the first round, and Carwin should have been awarded the victory. From there, Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem made easy work of Lesnar, who proved unable to compete with fighters his size that had more experience than he did.
3 Got Mr. Perfect Fired
The infamous “Plane Ride From Hell” incident took place in 2002, Lesnar’s rookie year in the WWE.
The WWE had just finished a tour of Europe and was flying back to the United States when several incidents, many due to alcohol consumption, all happened within the same window of time. One of those incidents involved Brock Lesnar and a veteran wrestler who had only recently made his return to the company, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig.
Hennig and Lesnar decided that an in-flight airplane was a good place for an amateur wrestling competition, and the two went at it until several WWE employees managed to separate them. Hennig was deemed to have been the aggressor and was released. He would never wrestle in WWE again and was found dead early the next year.
2 His Role In Steve Austin Leaving
A Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Brock Lesnar feud could have been big money for the WWE in the early 21st century; only the WWE didn’t see it that way.
The WWE wanted Austin to lose to Brock Lesnar, still a rookie at this point, in an unadvertised match on Monday Night Raw. Austin felt that such a match needed to have much more build-up, especially if someone of his caliber was scheduled to lose. Austin no-showed the episode of Raw and was gone from the WWE for close to a year.
While Lesnar did not play a direct role in the situation, Austin fans can blame the WWE’s desire to push Lesnar at the expense of all others for preventing them from seeing a year of Steve Austin’s career.
1 Breaking The Undertaker’s Streak
To some fans, WrestleMania 30 will always be the year Daniel Bryan defied the odds and won the main event of WrestleMania, but to others it will always be the day that Brock Lesnar broke the Undertaker’s streak.
At the time, the Undertaker was 21-0 at WrestleMania, and it seemed like the streak would never be broken. The Undertaker disposing of a victim at WrestleMania had become to be bigger than the main event, and even though the result of the match was never in question (or so fans thought anyway), watching Taker defeat names like Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Triple H and CM Punk was always one of the most iconic moments of the night.
Many fans presumed that Taker would do the same to Lesnar at WrestleMania 30, but when Lesnar hit Taker with multiple F-5’s and pinned him, a hush fell over the stunned crowd. Lesnar’s music didn’t play right away; instead, only stunned silence could be heard until the numbers “21-1” appeared on screens around the venue.
For the hardcore Undertaker followers, this was complete sacrilege, and something they may never be able to forgive Brock Lesnar for.