I guess the old saying is true. Streaks were, in fact, made to be broken.
Joe DiMaggio eventually went one entire game without notching a hit. The 2007 New England Patriots lost their final game of the season. Serena Williams has been downed in major tournaments. Sure, the 1972 Miami Dolphins went unbeaten, but that franchise has since lost a plethora of contests.
All of that said, there was one streak that pro wrestling fans from all around the world believed would forever remain intact. The Undertaker entered his match versus Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX with a 21-0 record, and many, fans and reporters alike, thought that the WWE would have the legend of the genre remain unbeaten at WrestleMania through the conclusion of his career.
That was not to be the case. Former WWE and UFC World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar pinned The Undertaker on the night of March 6 to end wrestling’s most famous run, a result that left many in attendance stunned. Lesnar may not, when that day comes, retire with a WWE resume close to that belonging to The Undertaker. He has, however, had roles in many memorable moments, so much so that it could be argued that Lesnar’s latest accomplishment is not his most famous.
10. Brock Lesnar Debuts – Monday Night Raw 2002
I, not a reader of wrestling websites at the time, had barely heard of Lesnar when he made his debut the night following WrestleMania X8. With Paul Heyman directing the young man who would be introduced as “The Next Big Thing,” Lesnar put his impressive strength on display while destroying three other WWE Superstars. The trio of powerbombs delivered to Spike Dudley makes the hair on my neck stand up over a decade after the fact.
Lesnar would go on to have one of the best rookie years in WWE history. He won the King of the Ring tournament, he defeated Hulk Hogan on national television, and he beat The Rock at Summerslam to win the WWE Undisputed Championship.
9. Brock Lesnar and The Big Show Break the Ring – Smackdown 2003
Part of what makes pro wrestling so entertaining for so many is the production value that goes into events. The Undertaker, as an example, is one of the greatest characters in pro wrestling history not just because of his in-ring work. His entrance and the music and pyrotechnics associated with ‘Taker have made him a larger-than-life personality and pro wrestling royalty.
So what if the ring was set up to collapse when Lesnar and The Big Show faced off on an episode of SmackDown back in 2003? It still made for an incredible visual. Credit also goes to announcer Michael Cole for making the moment seem all that more real by dropping a bleeped s-bomb on the air.
8. Brock Lesnar Destroys Hulk Hogan – Smackdown 2002
There are times when cynical wrestling fans, myself included, fear that those in charge will not, to steal a phrase from Triple H, do “what’s best for business.” WWE got it all right when setting Lesnar up for his first title run, and part of the setup was having The Next Big Thing take out the biggest name in the history of sports entertainment.
Lesnar finishing opponents off with a bear-bug was not commonplace, yet that is exactly what he did when facing Hulk Hogan. To finish it all off, Lesnar spread some of Hogan’s blood across his own chest, a badge of honor and a haunting image to behold.
7. Brock Lesnar Loses to Kurt Angle – SummerSlam 2003
This will not be the first time that Kurt Angle appears on this list, and it’s for good reason. Angle and Lesnar were two of the best in the business in the early 2000s, and their feud-friendship-feud made for lots of quality television programming and memorable matches.
Lesnar, working as a hired gun of Vince McMahon at the time, went into this match playing the role of challenger. With both guys relatively healthy, they put on a hard-hitting match that far exceeded their WrestleMania XIX encounter (more on that later). In the end, good would triumph over evil, as Angle got Lesnar to tap out to the ankle lock.
6. Brock Lesnar Returns & Hits John Cena with an F-5 – Monday Night Raw 2012
Fans attending the Raw that followed WrestleMania XVIII were upset. Daniel Bryan, their cult hero, had, in their eyes, been badly wronged the night before. To make things worse, John Cena, the man they did not want to see, was cutting a promo inside the ring to close out the show. Rumors had been swirling that Lesnar was in the area, and fans in attendance even began chanting Brock’s name as Cena spoke.
Then, that very recognizable theme music hit.
The arena exploded as Lesnar, who hadn’t performed for WWE since WrestleMania XX, stepped out onto the stage. Lesnar silently made his way into the ring and, without any warning, he nailed Cena with an F-5. Those in the crowd shouted their approval as Lesnar mouthed that he had “waited a long-a– time” for this moment.
5. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle: Iron Man Match – Smackdown 2003
This is, for my money, the best Angle-Lesnar match to ever occur, and one of my favorite ever Iron Man matches. The winner of an Iron Man match is determined by which of the two combatants can score the most falls in 60 minutes of wrestling. Everything, from pins to submissions to disqualifications, counts.
Lesnar had the perfect strategy for a monster heel fighting in an Iron Man match. He brutalized Angle with a steel chair early, and, while Lesnar was DQ’d for his actions, he was able to gain a lead due to Angle being so beaten up. While Angle would fight his way back into the match, he couldn’t close the gap before time expired. Lesnar had avenged his SummerSlam loss, and he was again WWE Champion.
4. Brock Lesnar Beats The Undertaker: Hell in a Cell – No Mercy 2002
Even following what went down at ‘Mania XXX, this remains my favorite Brock Lesnar match, my favorite Hell in a Cell showdown, and one of my favorite ‘Taker matches ever. Lesnar was made to show vulnerability while feuding with The Undertaker, and the two were eventually signed to face off inside of the structure that ‘Taker had made famous in matches against the likes of Shawn Michaels and Mankind.
So many things come to mind when reflecting on this bout. Paul Heyman screaming “We’re losing, Brock!” when Undertaker had an advantage. Lesnar turning a ‘Taker tombstone into a F-5. The young champion then, upon besting the legend, climbing the cage in celebration, a true King Kong moment. I’ve watched this match more times than I can count, and I’ll be doing so again after I finish this piece.
3. Brock Lesnar Beats Kurt Angle – WrestleMania XIX 2003
Wrestling fans were somewhat robbed of what could have been an all-time great main event at WrestleMania XIX. Kurt Angle was very banged up heading into that card, and thus he was limited in what he could do inside the ring. Ironically, it wasn’t Angle who would end up seriously injuring himself during the match.
Lesnar ascended the top rope late into the contest, and, with Angle positioned too far away, Lesnar attempted to hit a shooting star press. He did not fully rotate while in the air, however, and Lesnar nearly broke his neck on the fall. Amazingly, Lesnar would, minutes later, be able to hit Angle with an F-5 for the win.
2. Brock Lesnar Beats The Rock & Wins the WWE Title – SummerSlam 2002
It’s not always a must or even a plus for wrestling results to be kept secret. Anybody watching the product back in the summer of 2002 could see that Lesnar was being built up to win the championship at SummerSlam. He had been booked as a monster and also protected in that he rarely showed weaknesses in matches, and The Rock, the champion at the time, was leaving to jump-start what was to be a successful acting career.
That didn’t make Lesnar’s win any less awesome to behold. Lesnar, following an assist from Paul Heyman, hoisted The Rock up and hit The People’s Champ with an F-5 in the middle of the ring, and Lesnar completed the pin to become the then youngest WWE Champion in history.
1. Brock Lesnar Ends The Streak – WrestleMania XXX 2014
Lesnar has made history in both authentic sports and in sports entertainment, and I’m sure there are some diehard UFC fans out there who will mostly remember Lesnar for what he did in The Octagon. I’m fairly confident that, were he to never fight or wrestle again, we would, 20 years down the road, remember Lesnar for delivering a third F-5 before pinning The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX.
Lesnar ending Taker’s streak caused pin-drop silence inside the SuperDome similar to what one would expect to hear if Drew Brees threw a pick-six that resulted in the New Orleans Saints losing a home Super Bowl game. There were reports of fans leaving the event early in anger. Of all of the stats and records that will be linked with Lesnar, one will forever stand out;
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