At the peak of his athletic prime, Brock Lesnar ruled over the WWE with an iron fist and was one of the most dominant forces to ever step into a wrestling ring. He isn't quite at that level anymore, but Lesnar's athletic prowess is still evident. Is he the greatest all-around athlete in WWE history, though?
As much as outsiders like to make fun of the WWE and its talent since professional wrestling features predetermined results, it doesn't make the wrestlers any less athletic. The spots done in a particular match are planned, but it takes incredible athleticism in order to pull many of them off.
Lesnar is a perfect example of that.
Like many current WWE superstars, Lesnar had experience in traditional sports such as amateur wrestling and football, so it's tough to deny his athleticism. Not only did he participate in those sports, but he was one of the best amateur wrestlers in the nation and nearly made the Minnesota Vikings' roster after leaving the WWE.
When Lesnar fell just short of his goal of making an NFL team, he moved on to mixed martial arts and became the UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Lesnar is rare in that regard. While most wrestlers have had marginal success in other sports, Lesnar was at the pinnacle of professional wrestling, amateur wrestling and mixed martial arts as well.
A terrible bout with diverticulitis robbed Lesnar of much of his strength, and he clearly wasn't the same fighter afterwards, resulting in his retirement from UFC. His body certainly isn't as chiseled as it once was either, but Lesnar can still do things in the ring in his current state that most wrestlers could never dream of doing.
Someone like Rey Mysterio in his prime was obviously a more dazzling aerial wrestler and pulled off some incredible moves, but Lesnar is 6'3" and 266 pounds, yet he could move as well as someone half his size.
When you take the total package into account, I'm not sure how a case can be made for any wrestler being a better all-around athlete than Lesnar.
When Lesnar was at his best, his forte was the power game. He managed to F5 guys as large as Big Show. Lesnar could do it all, though. He could run the ropes, jump from the floor to the ring apron and even go to the top rope.
Most remember Lesnar's botched shooting star press against Kurt Angle at WrestleMania XIX, but there were other occasions where he executed the move properly. It's incredible to think that a man his size could even come close to doing a move that is normally reserved for cruiserweights.
You could make a case that Kurt Angle is at the same level as Lesnar, since he was an Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling and could do it all in the ring as well. However, I would still give Lesnar the nod.
Angle is significantly smaller and just didn't have the same mix of power, speed and athleticism as Lesnar, although he shouldn't be sold short by any means.
During Lesnar's return to the WWE, his matches with John Cena and Triple H have been much more MMA-esque and his athleticism hasn't been as evident, but he can still do some impressive things.
A spot outside the ring, when Lesnar leaped off the announce table at SummerSlam against Triple H comes to mind. He got some incredible air on his jump.
Lesnar has inevitably fallen off to some degree, but you can't take away what he accomplished during his prime. Lesnar was built to be an unstoppable force and his supreme athleticism dictated that to be the case.
The WWE's superstars still may not receive the credit they deserve in terms of being legitimate athletes, but Lesnar has definitely opened the eyes of many. The next time somebody tells you that professional wrestlers aren't actually athletes, all you need to do is point to Lesnar as your case in point.
If that doesn't confirm that Lesnar is the greatest natural athlete to ever step into a WWE ring, I'm not quite sure what would.