(Originally Posted Jul 2018)
I was a big defender of Brock Lesnar for a long while, I liked the idea of the title not being on every Pay-Per-View and a champion that felt genuinely unbeatable. However in the last year or so, it’s become pretty hard to defend.
Now, a Brock Lesnar match is not so much a treat and more just something you have to sit through (with a meer 3 matches in 2018 so far), and having him holding the Universal Championship has made the belt the single least important thing in the entire WWE; but that’s not to say Lesnar hasn’t had his fair share of great matches.
Sure, he had plenty of great matches in his original ’02-’04 run, but I want to talk about the phase of his career that people knock, so with the announcement that he will be defending his title at Summerslam (maybe), I’m going to talk about some of Lesnar’s best matches that have taken place after his WWE return in 2012.
vs AJ Styles – Survivor Series 2017
To think that this match was originally going to be Lesnar vs Jinder Mahal…
Starting off with the most recent match on this list, Lesnar vs Styles was the match we were all hoping it would be. Going into the match, no-one believed that Styles was going to beat Lesnar here, but goddamn that wonderful man if he didn’t make us all believe for a brief moment.
This match started with Lesnar trying to do his usual boring formula, but Styles forcing him to up his game. Styles knows how to bump with the best of them and he used that to great effect here, and it made his slow comeback really entertaining. The match ended at a fever pitch, with Styles having the beast on the ropes on multiple occasions, and while it did only take one F-5 for Lesnar to put Styles down, you felt like he only just scraped the win.
Now yes, you have to give a lot of credit to Styles when you talk about how great this match was. Styles is unquestionably one of the best wrestlers in world right now, and he put a hell of a lot of work in to make this match something special; but Lesnar’s contribution should not be discounted. I mentioned earlier how Lesnar really upped his game for this match and I stand by that, not to mention that Styles’ comeback wouldn’t have worked were it not for Lesnar being the perfect monster opponent for him to fight against.
vs Goldberg – Wrestlemania 33
This match was a car crash; but sometimes car crashes are fun to watch.
So what if this match was only 5 minutes long? Can you honestly say you wanted it to be longer? To put on an entertaining match, these two had to destroy each other and that’s exactly what they did. It was signature move after signature move and by God it got me pumped watching it. In this era of technical masterminds and amazing in ring action, we often forget how fun it can be to watch two jacked up dudes try to kill each other for our entertainment.
Not much else to say about this match, but I couldn’t have asked for more.
vs The Undertaker – Hell In A Cell 2015
While their match at Wrestlemania 30 will go down in history for obvious reasons, the match itself wasn’t anything to shout about. This match however, was fantastic.
After the aforementioned Mania match and a further good but confusing match at Summerslam, I can’t say I was expecting a whole lot from their grand finale, even if it was to take place inside Hell In A Cell; but boy did these two prove me wrong. In this match, Undertaker went harder than he’d gone in a good couple years and Lesnar responded in kind.
Within the first 5 minutes, both men had been busted open and it only got more insane from there, with both men going at each other like you would expect age-old blood rivals to. The match also told a great story, with Undertaker desperately trying to prove that he can still go, and Lesnar proving that his Streak ending win at Wrestlemania wasn’t a fluke.
The pace didn’t slow either, including one point where the doctors came to check on Undertaker, and Lesnar threw them to one side to keep beating on him, in a moment that I honestly still don’t know if it was planned or not. With the match finally building to a climax involving the ring padding getting ripped up – which is a very rare spot to see in WWE – Lesnar got the win, with both men looking like they’d gone through hell. Brilliant.
vs John Cena – Extreme Rules 2012
This was Lesnar’s big return match, he hadn’t been in the WWE since 2004, and in the time he’d been away, he’d won both UFC & IWGP heavyweight championships…let’s have him lose to John Cena!
Jokes aside, this decision didn’t really make much sense to me, while I understand Cena was coming off the back of the biggest loss in his career to The Rock, surely it would’ve served the story better for their eventual rematch if he’d kept losing, and really bottomed out like they claimed he did a year later.
Regardless of the result, the match was undeniably a great one. With the two men using the Extreme Rules stipulation to its full effect, and while Cena’s comebacks were often pretty contrived and formulaic, the style that the two worked in this match made it feel much more organic and exciting and set a pretty high bar for Brock Lesnar matches going forward.
vs John Cena – Summerslam 2014
Two years later, the two men would clash again, and this time, things would go down very differently.
The WWE landscape had changes a lot since 2012, Daniel Bryan had just vacated the WWE championship due to injury, and Cena won it pretty much by default. So when he was faced up against the one in 21 and 1 at Summerslam 2014, everyone was pretty sure things would go down the same way it had two years prior; and how wrong we were.
Lesnar DOMINATED Cena, in a match that was completely unprecedented at the time. I remember watching this match with a live internet chat, and the entire time Lesnar was beating Cena down everyone was waiting. Waiting for the inevitable comeback where Cena pops up, wins out of nowhere and strolls off into the sunset smiling away; but it never happened.
The beast incarnate just kept on beating Cena down until eventually that was it, Lesnar was WWE Champion. It was such a shock at the time to see this formula that had been established as the standard for nearly decade to be completely shattered in just 15 minutes. While this “Suplex City” formula would eventually become the borefest that it is today, at the time it was like nothing we’d ever seen, and created a lot of intrigue into where everything would go.
vs Roman Reigns – Wrestlemania 31
This is the reason I was so annoyed with Lesnar vs Reigns this year, because we’ve seen them do so much better, and this match is proof of that.
This was a match that everyone was dreading going into it, but towards the end everyone was on their feet, and that was before Rollins entered the picture. I don’t know what it was that was lacking this year, but for this match something between these two guys just clicked. Reigns did use the Cena template a bit, kicking out of a lot, leading Lesnar to get more frustrated and vicious.
The story told was a very good one aswell, with Lesnar still seeming unstoppable until by some fluke of nature, Reigns was able to bust Lesnar open, and from that moment on Lesnar began fighting like a wounded animal, taking every chance he good to strike, as Reigns slowly got more and more offence in.
While this match will be remembered mostly for Seth Rollins swooping in with the Heist of the Century™, it’s important that we don’t forget the match that preceded it, since it was one of the best of both men’s careers.
vs John Cena & Seth Rollins – Royal Rumble 2015
And now, we finish our John Cena trilogy with the best of the bunch, and the addition of Seth Rollins.
This match was everything a Triple Threat match should be: fast, action packed and full of excitement. With Cena vs Lesnar 4 set for Royal Rumble 2015, it was looking to be another pointless and boring match, but at the last-minute, Seth Rollins was slotted into the match as well; and it was just the shot in the arm this match needed.
Rollins was able to run circles around both men and forced them to up their game and quicken their pace to keep up. While it was never in doubt that Lesnar was walking away with the title, this match allowed that thought to fade away and it dragged you into the action, and there were certain point where part of me believed any of the men could win.
While Lesnar did spend a large chunk of the match taking a nap on the outside of the ring, the match wouldn’t have been as exciting as it was without his presence. Every time it looked like Cena or Rollins was about to pick up a win, Lesnar would appear and lay waste to everyone, until finally one mistake by Rollins allowed Lesnar to pick up the ring and retain the title after an exhilarating match.
vs CM Punk – Summerslam 2013
This is without a doubt, my favourite Brock Lesnar match of all time.
The match uses a similar formula to that of Lesnar vs Styles, but there are a couple of added layers to it. First is that of Paul Heyman, the whole idea of this story was that Heyman had turned on Punk after years of friendship and Punk was out for revenge, this meant there was a lot of Heyman getting involved and interfering the benefit of Lesnar.
There was also the no disqualification stipulation, which allowed for the two men to go nuts when it came to destroying each other in the match; Punk especially used weapons to his benefit, as he slowly wore the beast down. Also, it was genuinely hard to tell who was going to win, at this point in time, Lesnar had already taken major losses to both Cena & Triple H, so he wasn’t the unstoppable monster he is today, which means everyone was genuinely invested in every nearfall and fully behind Punk when it came to hope spots.
Lesnar would eventually win the match thanks to Punk being too obsessed with getting his own back on Heyman, and the storyline would sadly peter out after this match, but it doesn’t take away from the fantastic match these two men put on that night, and that’s what makes it the best Brock Lesnar match since 2012.
And that’s it! I know saying nice things about Brock Lesnar isn’t very popular in the wrestling landscape right now so I hope you’ve enjoyed.
As always please share this around and follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo; and finally, make sure to come back on Saturday for Episode 2 of The Strong Style Podcast!