The complete history of the WWE Championship - Part 19
The then-24 year old Lesnar exploded onto the scene on the post WrestleMania X-8 Raw on March 18, 2002. So confident in Lesnar, were WWE that they put the WWE Championship on him at SummerSlam 2002, just five months after his debut on WWE television at the tender age of 25. Lesnar defeated then nine time World Champion, The Rock to win the strap.
Lesnar was the main man; "The Next Big Thing" as it were.
However, Lesnar's first run in WWE would last just two years. He bowed out of WWE and the wrestling business entirely following his loss to Goldberg at WrestleMania XX.
Lesnar, despite his top card status and three reigns as WWE World Champion was unhappy in the company. His biggest gripe was life on the road and the grind of the four match per week schedule. "The Next Big Thing" yearned to spend more time at home on his farm in Minnesota.
A strong Football player in his youth, Lesnar made an implausible attempt to become a pro-Footballer but was eventually cut by his hometown team, The Minnesota Vikings, after several rounds of tryouts.
Lesnar attempted to return to WWE in late 2005, but WWE at that point were unwilling to yield to their former champion's demands for remuneration for a Shawn Michaels style part time schedule. Lesnar had not yet earned the right to dictate terms to WWE and he instead found himself employed by New Japan Pro Wrestling before he really made it big in UFC in 2008, when he defeated the legendary, Randy Couture to become the UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Lesnar became the biggest attraction in combat sports pulling in over a million pay per view buys for his UFC title defences versus Frank Mir, Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez.
When his full time MMA career ended in 2011, Lesnar was able to name his price. WWE acceded to his hefty contract demands and an extremely pared down part time schedule. He made his re-debut on the post WrestleMania 28 Raw, when he floored John Cena and soon became World Champion once more at SummerSlam 2014.
Lesnar has been presented as the biggest star in the company ever since. At time of writing, he was the reigning WWE World Champion, having defeated Kofi Kingston in a matter of seconds on SmackDown's debut on Fox on October 4, 2019.
Expect Lesnar to hold onto that title for a long time to come.
Previous parts in my series can be found here: Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16. part 17 and part 18.
Brock Lesnar (August 17, 2014 - March 29, 2015)
Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE Championship picture with a bang at SummerSlam 2014. He challenged WWE Champion, John Cena for the gold in the show's headline attraction.
Lesnar annihilated Cena in a prolonged one sided squash in which the champion offered very little offence.
The pair collided in a rematch the following month at Night of Champions on September 21, 2014. This time the bout was far more competitive and Lesnar narrowly escaped with the strap when Seth Rollins interfered and caused a disqualification.
Lesnar then disappeared from WWE television for several months, taking the title with him. When he resurfaced, he defended the strap at the 2015 Royal Rumble in an excellent triple threat encounter with Cena and Rollins. Lesnar walked out the champion and put the title on the line in the headline slot of WrestleMania 31 versus Royal Rumble winner, Roman Reigns.
"The Beast" battered Reigns at will in their much hyped collision, until the "Big Dog" began to make a comeback. It was then, that Rollins raced down, cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and walked out of 'Mania as WWE Champion.
Lesnar's seven month reign as WWE Champion was over. It was a long time before Lesnar would hold that belt again. Four years, in fact.