Brock Lesnar recently signed a two-year contract extension and has returned to WWE television to begin his Road to WrestleMania, where it seems he'll probably face Triple H.
When you look back at Lesnar's WWE career, it's frankly astonishing how much he achieved in such a short period of time.
His debut was on the Raw after WrestleMania X8, and he first left the organization after WrestleMania XX, having accomplished more in two years than most accomplish in an career.
Add all of his post-WWE accomplishments, and Brock Lesnar has one spectacular resume.
Here are the 20 most important matches of Lesnar's career thus far.
Upon his debut, Lesnar made a good deal of impact by brutally attacking various jobbers and midcard performers, but his first real feud was with the Hardy Boyz.
Matt and Jeff Hardy were beloved by the WWE audience, so it got Lesnar instant heat when he demolished them both.
The feud culminated with a match at Judgement Day, which saw the two Hardyz take on the team of Lesnar and his manager Paul Heyman.
Heyman didn't do much other than make the pin after Lesnar did the damage.
There were many who were no doubt offended that the Hardy Boyz were fed to Lesnar as a first meal, but it was a great way to set up Brock as the monster heel he would go on to play so well.
At the time, people probably didn’t think much of the feud between Brock Lesnar and John Cena.
Brock was hot off of winning the WWE championship in the main event of WrestleMania, and he wasn’t about to lose it to John Cena in his first foray into the world title scene.
This is the match that really set Cena on the path to mega-stardom, and it was Brock’s first pay-per-view title defense as the company’s top babyface. For two relative newcomers, the match was pretty damn good.
The King of the Ring was a tournament won by some of the industry’s greatest icons, such as Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Brock Lesnar was the last man to use the King of the Ring to springboard to the top of the wrestling world.
The match itself wasn’t spectacular; it was over in about six minutes, and Lesnar was still finding his groove.
Regardless, this was an important stepping stone for the Next Big Thing.
Clearly, this bout wasn’t put on the list for being a technical masterpiece, but it was one of the more important story points in Brock’s career.
Angle and Lesnar were both babyfaces and had a friendly rivalry running due to their similar athletic abilities.
Lesnar wasn’t a bad babyface, but he’s a 6”4’ monster of a man; he was most literally born to be a heel.
WWE realized this and made the switch in dramatic fashion; while Angle, the special guest referee, began arguing with McMahon over dirty tactics, Lesnar pounced on him and delivered a vicious beating to his now-former friend.
It was the beginning of the heel run that would last until his last match as a full-time performer, and it has continued upon his return last year.
This match is far more significant to the career of the late, great Eddie Guerrero than it is to Lesnar, but Lesnar’s loss proved just how important he was to the company.
Guerrero had been in the industry for nearly 20 years and had hung around the midcard for most of his time in the WWE.
With one victory over Brock Lesnar, even with interference from Goldberg, Guerrero felt like a real champion.
He spent the vast majority of his career being put over, but Lesnar proved he could do the same for others when he legitimized Guerrero as a main event star.
The feud between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar essentially raged for the entirety of 2003, beginning in January and culminating in November at the Survivor Series pay-per-view.
Lesnar led a team of big men against Angle’s babyface team misfits in a five-on-five traditional Survivor Series match.
Although John Cena and Chris Benoit were the ones to benefit most from the match, Lesnar was able to eliminate his nemesis after an F-5.
Traditional Survivor Series matches have been integrated into some of the all-time great wrestling rivalries, including Rock vs. Austin and Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels, and leading a team into Survivor Series was one more step toward Lesnar literally having “done it all.”
The tagline for WrestleMania XX was “Where it all begins…Again.” Unfortunately for the WWE and its fans, this was the end for Brock Lesnar.
This matched marked the end of Brock Lesnar’s two-year career as a full-time WWE Superstar, and anticipation was high. This was a dream match.
Unfortunately, word leaked that both Goldberg and Lesnar would be leaving the organization after their faceoff, and the crowd ate them both up as a result.
Maybe they were thrown off by the crowd, maybe they had both stopped caring, but either way, this was an underwhelming performance by two superstars of such overwhelming stature.
This was a key match for Brock Lesnar, but certainly not one of his better ones.
With the exception of Kurt Angle, Big Show may just be Brock Lesnar’s greatest opponent.
Their rivalry's most famous moment came during the main event of an episode of SmackDown in June of 2003. The match ended after Lesnar did the unthinkable; he superplexed the behemoth Big Show off of the top rope.
In one of the most shocking spots in SmackDown history, the impact caused the ring to collapse instantly.
WWE tried to recreate the moment during Big Show’s feud with Mark Henry, but it just wasn’t the same.
Perhaps the biggest moment of Chris Benoit's WWE career at the time was when he made Brock Lesnar tap out to his Crippler Crossface at Survivor Series.
That big moment led to a huge match when Benoit took on Lesnar for the WWE championship on the December 4 edition of SmackDown in what would be one of the best TV matches of the year.
Chris Benoit was one of the best wrestlers of all time, but this wasn't a one-man show, and Lesnar wasn't carried; he, a relative newcomer that was able to keep pace with one of the industry's most talented veterans.
When Brock Lesnar was in his prime, he was SmackDown’s top star while Triple H was the man on Raw. In those days, the brand split was much more rigid, and it was all but inconceivable that the two would clash in their respective roles.
Almost 10 years later and Brock Lesnar had created a career path for himself that led him away from professional wrestling, while Triple H had become an industry icon and amassed some serious backstage power.
Triple H was the WWE; Brock Lesnar was a beast from another dimension.
Bret Hart will disagree with me, but the two would have a great match at SummerSlam last year that ended with Lesnar recovering from a second pedigree to lock the Kimura lock onto Triple H and make the Cerebral Assassin tap out.
Brock Lesnar was in the WWE for a little less than nine months before he ran into the Big Show. He had already accomplished almost all he could as a heel, so the time had come to make his character more sympathetic and turn him babyface.
Lesnar had just come off on the winning end of a program with the Undertaker and was on his way to defying adversity again after he lifted Big Show on his shoulders and gave him a huge F-5.
However, after a betrayal by Paul Heyman, Lesnar plummeted from being on top of the world to being lost in the chaos of the WWE.
This was a significant match for Brock for two reasons. Firstly, because giving Big Show an F-5 is one of the most memorable moments of his career, and secondly, because it marked his transition from monster heel to top babyface.
Vengeance 2003 saw a Triple Threat match for Lesnar's WWE championship that featured his two greatest enemies, Kurt Angle and Big Show.
The three of them put on a fantastic match that told its story well; Lesnar and Angle were friendly but fierce rivals, and Big Show was simply there to cause pain and win the match.
Lesnar lost his WWE championship to Kurt Angle, and the feud between the two would become considerably less amiable. Although Angle was the victor, it was clear that Lesnar was the star.
Lesnar was always billed as “The Next Big Thing,” but only after he dismantled Hulk Hogan did we begin to realize that it wasn’t just a moniker; it was the truth. He was being built as the next huge star.
Brock and Hogan faced off a few weeks before Lesnar's title match with The Rock at SummerSlam. The match ended when Lesnar locked Hogan in a bear hug that would make him pass out.
After the bout, Lesnar beat down Hogan with a steel chair and smeared his blood all over his chest.
The image was powerful, and the wheels were in motion for Lesnar to become the hottest thing in the industry.
“Royal Rumble Winner” is perhaps one of the most exceptional distinctions a superstar can achieve, as it signifies a big spotlight during WrestleMania season and indicates the company has much faith in you.
In 2003, Brock Lesnar joined yet another elite class of superstars when he tossed the Undertaker over the top rope to become the winner of the 16th Royal Rumble.
Lesnar defeated Big Show earlier in the night to secure a spot in the Rumble and entered at No. 29. He was in there for less than 10 minutes but eliminated four superstars in that time.
The 2003 Royal Rumble win was one of the most impressive notches on Lesnar’s already-opulent belt.
On September 18, 2003, Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle had the third-ever 60-minute Iron Man match for the WWE championship.
The two told a strong story with Lesnar using the ultra heelish tactic of dismantling Angle with a chair, getting himself disqualified but crippling the Olympic Hero for the rest of the match.
This night kicked off Lesnar’s final reign as WWE champion and was a tremendous achievement for both athletes that put them in a league with Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Rock and Triple H.
Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE after a near 10-year absence and immediately made an impact by taking out the company’s stop star, John Cena.
Lesnar is an incredible athlete, but he hadn’t wrestled in years, is now 35 and had a physique that was a little doughier than that of his first run. Despite all that, he proved that he can still excel in the world of professional wrestling.
Some have been puzzled by the booking of the match; having him lose in his return bout was a little strange, as was the decision to have such a huge match at Extreme Rules.
Either way, with his performance at Extreme Rules last year, Brock Lesnar proved he’s not a nostalgia act, nor is he just an insubstantial box-office draw. He showed that he’s still a terrific performer.
For five months, Brock Lesnar had dominated all competition in the world of professional wrestling; then he ran into the Undertaker.
The Deadman had seen all the biggest names in the industry come and go, and now it was Lesnar’s time to face the WWE’s greatest measuring stick.
How did he stack up? Pretty well, you could say.
The feud between the two culminated with a Hell in a Cell match at No Mercy 2002, which Lesnar won.
Brock had already destroyed Hulkamania and beaten The Rock, but after this there was zero doubt that WWE were serious about Lesnar being “The Next Big Thing.”
On Saturday, August 24, 2002, The Rock was the WWE’s undisputed champion and held the record for being the youngest man to ever hold the WWE championship.
By Monday, August 26, two days later, Rock had neither. Rock’s championship was taken and his record broken by Brock Lesnar, who is still the youngest star to ever hold the WWE championship to this day.
Lesnar didn’t have many years of experience under his belt, but these two put on an exciting match. The Rock should be given props, too, for putting over such a new talent in such a big way.
SummerSlam 2002 was a huge night for Lesnar. He was on WWE television for less than six months and had already won the industry's most coveted title.
When Brock Lesnar left the WWE in 2004, he was scoffed at for leaving a company that had given him everything.
He was laughed at by those same people when he failed to achieve his NFL dream and got cut from the Minnesota Vikings team.
In November of 2008, Brock Lesnar got the last laugh when he defeated Randy Couture to become the UFC champion.
Lesnar could have very well become an industry gag; someone who left for greener pastures that he never got to. However, with this victory he proved that he is a seriously multi-talented athlete, and with the UFC championship, he validated his post-WWE career.
There are three reasons why this is the most important match in Brock Lesnar’s career.
Firstly, he and Kurt Angle put on a terrific match, one of the best main events in the history of WrestleMania, and arguably the best of a night where they had competition from Jericho, Michaels, Rock and Austin.
Secondly, I’ve mentioned the various elite classes of superstars that Lesnar had joined, but the top spot a performer can get in this industry is the main event of WrestleMania.
In less than a year on television, Brock Lesnar reached that spot.
Thirdly, this was the night that Brock Lesnar stopped being the Next Big Thing and became WWE’s Big Thing.