Remember when: The night Brock first tasted championship gold

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August 09, 2012

In the annals of sports-entertainment, few calls are as inexcusably underrated as the way in which Michael Cole closed out SummerSlam 2002.

“Brock Lesnar has defeated The Rock! Brock Lesnar is champion!” Cole announced after the bell had rung, signaling the end of the Undisputed WWE Championship bout between two former NCAA national champions. (HYPE VIDEO | FULL MATCH)

At age 25, Lesnar toppled The Great One to become the youngest WWE Champion in history. The barrel-chested rookie from the woods of Minnesota couldn't have asked for a better way to notch the glorious achievement. That night, the frenzied Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum hosted a WWE Universe of split allegiances, though if a crowd favorite had to be chosen, let it be known that the chants of "Let's Go, Lesnar" and "Rocky Sucks" significantly drowned out the cries of "Rocky, Rocky."

Having already cruised to victory in the King of the Ring tournament and dealt Hulk Hogan a decisive loss within the first six months of his WWE career, “The Next Big Thing” rolled into SummerSlam with monster truck force. Though he was then, as he is now, tied at the hip to Paul Heyman, the WWE Universe was so in awe of Lesnar’s destructive energy that a significant portion of the crowd in New York couldn’t help but to root for him, even as he opposed the much beloved Most Electrifying Man in All of Entertainment.

Chris Jericho, who competed that night against Ric Flair and held the same Undisputed WWE Championship earlier in the year, vividly remembers how raucous the Long Island, N.Y., crowd was for the Lesnar-Rock match.

“This was before the ‘Let’s go, Cena’/’Cena Sucks’-type thing where it becomes more of a sports event and people are just cheering for who they like, not necessarily cheering the good guy or booing the bad guy,” Jericho said. “This time, it was like going to a Super Bowl and some fans are fans of the [New York] Giants, some are fans of the [New England] Patriots, and whoever’s doing well, they’re cheering for. It was a really special moment.”

Lesnar’s victory over The Rock wasn't easy, but in the end, the winner was academic. It was the young monster with the gold title strapped around his waist.

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