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10 things you didn’t know about Brock Lesnar
After defeating Triple H at SummerSlam, former WWE Champion Brock Lesnar left WWE because, like Alexander the Great long before him, his victory in the midst of “The Perfect Storm” left him with no more worlds to conquer.
More than a decade after this nigh-unstoppable behemoth cemented his status as “The Next Big Thing,” questions continue to swirl throughout the WWE Universe regarding Lesnar’s path to WWE, his controversial departure from the organization and his jaw-dropping return in 2012. What prompts a child to grow into one of the most feared athletes on the planet? How did Lesnar hone the skills necessary to become the youngest WWE Champion in history in 2002? What continues to drive this juggernaut now that he has re-entered the sports-entertainment realm after departing WWE last summer?
Think you know everything about Brock Lesnar? Delve into this mysterious monster’s past as WWE.com unveils 10 little-known facts about one of the most indomitable forces ever to step inside the squared circle.
Brock Lesnar grew up in Webster, S.D.
He’s been billed from Minneapolis since his WWE debut in 2002, but Brock Lesnar actually grew up on a dairy farm in Webster, a South Dakota city with a current population of less than 2,000. Eager to spend time outdoors in the area that’s described as “A Place for All Seasons,” young Lesnar was known to sleep in his parents’ hayloft and treat his rural surroundings as his own personal jungle gym. Already athletic at a young age by being so physically active and eager to help out on the family farm, Lesnar began amateur wrestling when he was only 5 years old.
Brock Lesnar’s childhood nickname was …
Although it’s probably not the best idea to give Brock Lesnar any type of flippant nickname these days — let alone to his face — one of the behemoth’s childhood friends used to tease Lesnar with a less-than-complimentary moniker.
“I used to call him ‘Broccoli,’ ” Lesnar’s childhood friend, Justin Gaikowski, explains on the WWE DVD “Brock Lesnar: Here Comes the Pain!” “When you’re young, nobody likes to eat broccoli. I’d be like, ‘Hey, Broccoli! You’ve got bad taste!’ ”
Years later, Lesnar would earn himself a much more fitting namesake: “The Next Big Thing.”
Brock Lesnar was recruited by WWE Hall of Famer Gerald Brisco
Like CM Punk, Brock Lesnar was a Superstar who benefited greatly from an association with the calculating founder of the original ECW, Paul Heyman. Before the powerhouse began breaking bones and bruising bodies in WWE, however, the NCAA Division I heavyweight wrestling champion was recruited right out of the University of Minnesota by WWE Hall of Famer Gerald Brisco — a former college roommate of one of Lesnar’s wrestling coaches, J. Robinson.
“The minute Brock Lesnar walked off the mat in St. Louis, Mo., where he won his national championship, I knew this guy would be a long-term guy,” Brisco explains in “Here Comes the Pain.” “Anybody that he steps into the ring with, he can elevate just by his intensity."
Brock Lesnar was a former roommate of “The Gold Standard” Shelton Benjamin
Before making a splash in WWE, Brock Lesnar dominated in WWE’s former developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), in Louisville, Ky. There, Lesnar met up with fellow University of Minnesota alumnus Shelton Benjamin, who was also plucked from the institution’s wrestling mats by Gerald Brisco.
Striking up a kinship as former Golden Gophers, Lesnar and Benjamin shared a two-bedroom apartment. The duo even began tagging together, forming a team known then as The Minnesota Stretching Crew.
Although unconfirmed, we can’t help but think that Lesnar and “The Gold Standard” received some epic care packages from Momma Benjamin.
Before debuting in WWE, Brock Lesnar regularly executed the Shooting Star Press
Uncharacteristically agile and fleet-footed for a man of his size, Brock Lesnar turned heads in OVW by finishing off his opponents with the Shooting Star Press — a maneuver typically performed by more compact competitors like Evan Bourne or Billy Kidman.
Lesnar ultimately perfected more sinister methods for bringing the pain: the skull-rattling F-5 and the arm-snapping Kimura Lock. The 300-pound behemoth, though, memorably launched himself off the ropes in an attempt to punish Kurt Angle with a Shooting Star Press at WrestleMania XIX. Although the move did not hit its target as intended, it’s a WrestleMania moment that is still talked about today.
Brock Lesnar did not win his first televised WWE match by pinfall or submission
Colluding with Paul Heyman and taking WWE by (perfect) storm in spring 2002, Brock Lesnar would have his first official match against Jeff Hardy at that year’s edition of Backlash. After hospitalizing Matt Hardy with a sickening F-5 onto the stage, “The Next Big Thing” utterly brutalized The Charismatic Enigma to the point of complete and total incapacitation as Heyman observed the carnage from ringside.
After being victimized by a ring-shaking succession of powerbombs, Hardy was unable to respond to then-referee Theodore Long. The bout was mercifully called to a stop, with Long awarding the victory to the monstrous juggernaut.
Brock Lesnar nearly played for the Minnesota Vikings
Following his controversial departure from WWE in 2004, Brock Lesnar actively pursued a career in the NFL, and set his sights on hitting the gridiron with the Minnesota Vikings. While preparing for this new endeavor, however, Lesnar was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident on April 19, 2004. A minivan collided with his bike, which was torn into three pieces after the impact.
Suffering a broken jaw, a broken left hand, a bruised pelvis and a severely pulled groin, Lesnar was somehow able to walk away from the scene of the accident. While still recovering from those injuries, Lesnar nevertheless chose to attend an eight-week NFL training camp to prove his mettle to the Vikings brass.
Although the injuries would prevent Lesnar from dominating the NFL, the goliath persevered, going on to make an impact in the mixed martial arts world and, eventually, WWE once again.
The meaning behind Brock Lesnar’s chest tattoo
Brock Lesnar has sported tattoos for the entirety of his in-ring career, but when he brought the pain to UFC in 2008, people immediately took notice of the new ink on his chest: a sword pointed upward at his throat.
Lesnar offered an explanation in his 2011 autobiography “Death Clutch” — which was co-authored by Paul Heyman — stating that the sword on his chest represents the myriad pressures he felt during a dark period in his life after leaving WWE.
“I felt like life was holding a sword right up against my throat, so I went under the ink gun because I never wanted to forget exactly how I felt at that time,” Lesnar wrote. “The tattoo on my chest has so much meaning to me. In some ways, it’s funny, because the period of my life that I’m talking about is a time I so want to forget, but I know I can use this memory as motivation.”
Brock Lesnar battled sumo champion Akebono
Numerous comparisons can be drawn between Brock Lesnar and the massive Big Show. Both Superstars grew up on farms, both have benefited from Paul Heyman’s guidance and both have stepped into the ring with Japanese sumo champion Akebono. Lesnar battled the 500-plus pound sumo wrestler in a one-on-one clash on March 19, 2006, less than one year after The World’s Largest Athlete grappled with Akebono at WrestleMania. Unlike Big Show, though, Lesnar was victorious.
Brock Lesnar refused a Japanese rite of initiation from Antonio Inoki
It’s a rite of passage for American grapplers competing in Japan to receive a slap across the face from WWE Hall of Famer and Japanese legend Antonio Inoki. Although most grapplers in The Land of the Rising Sun view this initiation as an honor, Brock Lesnar made it clear during his brief stint with Inoki’s New Japan Pro Wrestling that he would receive no such smack.
“No one was going to slap me,” Lesnar wrote in “Death Clutch.” Not Inoki. Not anyone. They got the point.”