As a website that intends to pride itself on fresh ideas and giving you the content you didn’t know you wanted, we start here.
The Grap Report.
No professional wrestler is safe. Did you retire ten years ago? You’ve made The Grap Report. Have you only been wrestling for two years? You’ve made The Grap Report. It doesn’t matter if you’re inexperienced. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the difference between a face and a heel. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing it so long that you walk down the street, get withdrawal symptoms and suddenly have the urge to take a bump onto the hood of a car.
The Grap Report will examine all kinds of career trajectories.
For more experienced careers, we’ll see if perhaps they could’ve done more with their career. Maybe they overachieved? The Grap Report will look at someone who’s in their mid to late 30’s and see how they’ve fared thus far, whilst simultaneously looking at what they could do before they hit their twilight years. Then there’s the upstart, the prodigal son or daughter, who has all their best years ahead of them. The world is their oyster. But are they hungry enough? Maybe they hate seafood, like myself, in which case they’re screwed.
These are the opinions of one smarky, marky fan who loves wrestling. So let’s get cracking.
Today, we start with one of the most controversial wrestlers whom the Earth has had the privilege of hosting, Brock Lesnar. Aka Bork Laser aka that guy who I wouldn’t dare say a bad word to, even if there was 100ft of electrified fences separating us. He’d eat them, I’d bolt.
He’s genuinely one of the few larger than life athletes who walks amongst us and has all the credentials to be the baddest man on the planet. Have you not seen the main picture heading the article?
His name is synonymous with combat. It’s known outside of wrestling and one that strikes fear into most men.
He is a legitimate beast (incarnate). About 6″4. Anywhere between 270-290lbs. He wears his pride on his chest, along with a weird-ass sword tattoo…I take that back actually. If for god knows what reason he ever reads this then I’m dead. I love the tattoo. It’s a truly artistic symbol of war and is a representation of contemporary, minimalism in its simplicity. It also looks ridiculous!
At least he’s got a badass one on the back, right?
That tattoo stuck with me when I was a kid. Here was this behemoth of a man, and he was rocking a huge, demonic skull on his spine that wouldn’t look out of place in DOOM. I can’t find any evidence as to why he got this satanic-looking piece of evil carved into his muscular back, but does it really matter? It’s the kind of visual that strikes fear and intimidation into an opponent before the match has even started.
Whereas the sword represented a major negative in his life: as it was post-WWE, he wasn’t allowed to compete anywhere else due to contractual disagreements with his former company, and he’d started to warm to an old-school, wrestler cocktail of drinking heavily and consuming painkillers with booze.
The skull was the beginning of his journey.
March 18th 2002, the night after Wrestlemania 18, he interfered in a hardcore match and absolutely dismantled Maven, Al Snow and tried to maim Spike Dudley. The shock and awe is palpable in the crowd, even in that moment they knew, ‘this guy looks like a monster’.
One of the saddest things is that the modern day wrestling fan is only familiar with Brock Lesnar circa 2012, when he made his return after eight years. It’s fair to say that in the last six years, the general consensus is that Lesnar has slowly declined, in both his wrestling ability and interest for the wrestling business.
I vehemently disagree with both of these statements.
Reason the first, Brock Lesnar has NEVER cared about the wrestling business, even going all the way back to his first run. He’s an entertainer. I’ve seen enough interviews and read enough transcripts to get the idea. He has about as much interest in the lineage of professional wrestling as I do in politics and royalty; absolutely none whatsoever.
He’s all about that dollar-dollar and overcoming new challenges in his life.
Reason the second, his wrestling ability is still very much there. He just unleashes it as and when he wants to. Now here’s where the point of contention rears its ugly head. Brock Lesnar is an absolutely outstanding professional wrestler. Like Kurt Angle, he picked up the business very quickly, due to his amateur wrestling background, and was the proverbial diamond in the rough.
If you’re even so much as a casual wrestling fan, they you’ll already know the legendary list of accomplishments this man has earned in his storied career. But, if you dig a little bit deeper into the rabbit hole, then you unearth some even more surprising statistics.
Note: PWI is Pro Wrestling Illustrated, an admittedly kayfabe magazine, but a publication that has ran for nearly 40 years and has some semblance of credibility.
Lesnar’s list of irrefutable awesomeness
- Big Ten Conference Champion
- NCAA Heavyweight Champion
- UFC Heavyweight Champion
- NJPW Heavyweight Champion
- Multiple time WWE Champion
- PWI Match of the Year in 2003
- PWI Wrestler of the Year in 2002
- PWI #1 Wrestler, out of 500, in 2003
See what I mean?
In his initial run between 2002-2004, Lesnar carried with him a no-nonsense aggression and technical ability that was equalled by nobody in the company; also, he actually spoke too.
It’s hard to believe it now, but he wasn’t always the mute brute. The man took part in his fair share of funny segments, most notably with Kurt Angle. However, once Paul Heyman vacated his side in November 2002, Brock would become an autonomous individual until he left in 2004. Sometimes he could hold his own, but he had a long way to go before he could topple the philosophical stylings of the human lexicon, Scott Steiner.
But after watching that clip, can you believe this is the same guy we’ve been seeing on our TV screens for the last few years?
Hard to believe I know, but I think it works better with Heyman acting as his volatile, well-spoken promoter that could tell you Brock Lesnar was going to fight a roll of selotape, and still make you wanna shell out the cash to see if Brock could get himself out of a…sticky…situation.
In his first run, he won the 2002 King of the Ring, the 2003 Royal Rumble and won the WWE Championship on three occasions. No other titles. Let’s face it, he didn’t need them. He could’ve been WWE Champion for his entire run and it would’ve been justified. He was booked as an unstoppable force with pretty much no immovable object to curtail his dominance.
He had some of the best wrestling matches ever seen: from his classic bout with Eddie Guerrero at No Way Out 2004, to his incredible bloodbath with The Undertaker at No Mercy 2002, to a genuine match of a lifetime with Kurt Angle in their 2003 Iron Match on Smackdown.
He had a wide array of moves. Nope, not just german suplexes; he was at the peak of physical fitness and he moved so spritely that he could easily be mistaken for a 100 metre runner.
Oh, and he was the sturdiest neck ever seen…
Nearly 300lbs, straight onto his head from 10ft in the air. He should’ve been dead. Instead? he got up, finished the match, and walked away with only a concussion. The man literally defied physics.
He was one of the best homegrown talents the WWE has ever produced…
But then he left.
Sick of the year-round schedule, sick of travelling well over 200 days a year and sick of having to do the one thing that Brock Lesnar despises more than anything; talking to people. It’s no secret that Brock is a self-appointed recluse who prefers to keep to himself, so when it dawns on you how much media he was having to do, as arguably the company’s top guy, it’s understandable that he wanted no further part in it.
So off he went. He lost to Goldberg on the grandest stage of them all at Wrestlemania 20. A highly-anticipated bout with incredible hype surrounding it. Having two ferocious gladiators in one ring was so intriguing, more so when Stone Cold Steve Austin was added as a special guest referee.
They stunk the place out. It’s definitely gone down in the annals of Wrestlemania folkore as an all-time dud. Lesnar flipped off the crowd, ate a Stunner, and was presumed to never be seen again in a WWE ring. Bye-bye.
He infamously left to pursue an NFL career, performed a full pre-season with his hometown team, the Minnesota Vikings before being cut before the start of the season. After this, he fought WWE over wrestling elsewhere and he eventually got his own way due to a court ruling. He won New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Heavyweight Championship and enjoyed a good run there.
Then it was UFC. World champion after only four fights, beating some big names along the way. He became, arguably, the biggest box office draw in UFC history and became the king of combat sports.
April 2nd, 2012. The night after Wrestlemania 28. Feels like we’ve come full-circle doesn’t it? Ten years after hitting Spike Dudley with a devastating triple powerbomb, he was back. This time, delivering an F-5 to a mid-card jobber by the name of John Cena.
Lesnar’s second run didn’t start all that well.
He lost to Cena immediately, a stupid decision that was representative of classic Cena booking. Then he beat HHH, lost to HHH and beat him one final time to regain his heat.
So over a year back, and he and Heyman were a big deal, but not a huge deal, thanks in part to two losses already.
But Summerslam 2013 would prove to be the catalyst for his revitalisation.
A one-on-one bout with CM Punk was a huge, star-studded match brimming with hype. It lived up to all of it and more. They delivered, in my opinion, a five-star classic and tore the house down with a brutal war in which Punk just came up short. This would be Brock’s last proper match for a few years.
With two big wins in-a-row, Lesnar now had some momentum.
He’d then return to an old flame by the name of The Big Show. Thanks to a pre-match assault, Lesnar squashed Big Show in just a few minutes at the Royal Rumble.
Next up? The Streak.
Now, I’m not going into too much detail here as it’s been covered to death, but there’s absolutely nothing that can be said to lessen and understate the importance of this night at Wrestlemania 30.
Still the most shocking moment I’ve ever seen in professional wrestling. 21-1.
Brock Lesnar, in the prime of his life, was the chosen one handed the prestigious honour of bringing the illustrious Wrestlemania undefeated streak to an end.
No one in the world had more steam and intrigue like Brock Lesnar has at that point. His previous losses are now undone and forgotten. The Beast is a proposition to be feared, once again boasting believability and has possession of a magical aura that few people could ever hope to achieve.
That loss to Cena, on Brock’s return match, proved to be inconsequential as Brock spent the better part of 20 minutes single-handedly dismantling John Cena in the main event of Summerslam 2014 for the WWE Title. It was a 20-minute squash of the superstar that WWE had paraded as the untouchable, golden boy for the better part of 10 years. This night also saw 16 german suplexes performed on John Cena; a foreshadowing of what Lesnar’s later career would become.
This is the scariest GIF I have ever seen in my entire life.
Lesnar was once again at the top of the mountain.
We began an era that hadn’t been revisited since the Hulk Hogan days of being world champion, whereby the main title wasn’t being defended on TV and PPV on a regular basis. Needless to say it didn’t go down well with fans. Brock was earning a veritable war chest for doing very little.
He retained his title at Night of Champions, a month later, and then put in a Match of the Year candidate at the 2015 Royal Rumble. Who could beat him?
Step forward Roman Reigns. As I’ve said before, The Grap Report will be profiling the big dog down the line, don’t you worry.
A last-minute contract extension meant that the main event of Wrestlemania 31 was no longer the foregone conclusion it was presumed to be. Creating a welcome sense of unpredictability and the hope that the ‘golden boy in training’ wasn’t going to win.
Seth Rollins’ infamous Money in the Bank cash-in interrupted the barnstorming encounter and made history to take the title, but it was Roman who was pinned, not Brock.
The next year would see Brock take a bit more of a backseat after his long title run. His rematch to Seth was gate-crashed by a vengeful Undertaker. A controversial Summerslam finish saw Brock take only his second loss in over two years.
But then they fought in an astoundingly violent and underrated Hell in a Cell Match, that in many ways topped their first one. Seriously, go and watch it if you haven’t already.
His staying out of the limelight continued as he didn’t return until the 2016 Royal Rumble where he was eliminated by the Wyatt Family, although nothing truly came of it.
A huge let-down against Dean Ambrose at Wrestlemania 32 and an ugly, elbow-inspired win against Randy Orton at Summerslam seemed to have wrapped up 2016…
1 minute and 26 seconds. One of the most shocking Survivor Series moments in history. Lesnar laid down for Goldberg. Brock became mortal.
Eventually we had Brock vs Goldberg part II, at Wrestlemania 33. The chance to rewrite the wrongs of the Wrestlemania 20 horror show.
They did. It was the greatest sub-five-minute match you’ll ever see.
Once again, Brock was the champion.
Now it’s safe to say that by 2017, people were very tired of the formulaic ‘Suplex City’ match. WWE’s monstrous booking of Lesnar has conversely been one of WWE’s detriments over the last few years. But at the same time, by having Lesnar end The Streak, it was just an enviable inevitability that was always forthcoming. Who would said no to being booked like a unstoppable titan? I think Heath Slater would like a similar run.
It’s made Brock almost godlike. Unless you’re a 50-year-old man returning for his first match in 12 years, then no-one can beat you. Wrestling logic…flawless isn’t it?
2017 was also no exception.
Samoa Joe? Great Balls of Fire. Booked well. One F-5. Done.
Braun Strowman? No Mercy. Booked well. One F-5. Done.
Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns? Summerslam. Booked well. But still done.
AJ Styles? Survivor Series. An incredible performance. But done. Although this was his greatest ‘wrestling match’ since the CM Punk one waaaaaay back in 2013.
I’ll draw a line under 2017 as his 2018 action will be covered in the next Grap Report, which has already been hinted at. *Wink-wink.*
Whatever you may think about him, Brock Lesnar is a once-in-a-lifetime human being.
Despite having an 8-year hiatus, he’s had a storied career (so far) and has achieved some things that most will never even come close to. He will probably still have some matches over the next few years. If the money’s there, his UFC aspirations die-down; then Brock will have WWE matches.
Yes his style now isn’t that exciting, but he’s proved time and time again that he is; booking won’t let him be.
But whatever happens from this point, he’s been a resounding success. Intimidating tag-lines and monikers, one of the greatest finishing moves of all-time, accomplishments galore, his own style of match I guess? He’s even facilitated the unwanted trope of superhero booking; more so than SuperCena booking.
If you don’t agree with Brock being one of the true greats, then please…say it to his face.