Is This the Best Version of Brock Lesnar in WWE Ever?
The Beast Incarnate's return to the company in 2012 following an eight-year absence was such a breath of fresh air and everything he was involved in felt must-see. Although that still rings true today, a lot of what WWE did with him in the middle of his run was repetitive and did little to make the product more interesting.
It was essentially the same formula over and over again, with Lesnar winning a majority of his matches, losing on occasion, leaving for a few months and coming back to regain world championship gold. As a part-timer, his infrequent appearances hurt each of his reigns and his shtick with Paul Heyman—while classic—grew stale over time.
That has been far from the case since The Beast resurfaced at SummerSlam 2021 sporting a new look and an all-new attitude. His long-running rivalry with Roman Reigns, set to culminate at WrestleMania 38, has been some of his strongest storytelling in years and has constantly left viewers wondering what's next.
Regardless of what the future holds for him beyond The Show of Shows, it's important for fans to enjoy this wildly entertaining chapter of his career while it lasts.
A case can be made for why this is the best Brock Lesnar we've ever seen in WWE, and the following are five reasons why.
Brought Back with a Purpose as Part of a Compelling Long-Term Storyline
Lesnar's last appearance for WWE ahead of his most recent return was at WrestleMania 36 where he lost the WWE Championship to Drew McIntyre in the main event of Night 2.
Unfortunately, the match suffered from an awful atmosphere inside an empty Performance Center, but it was a key victory for the Scot nonetheless and a fine sendoff for Lesnar from WWE TV.
There was no reason for him to be brought back at any point during the ThunderDome era due to the lack of live crowds and there not being anything storyline-wise for him to do. That year-and-a-half break from WWE programming proved to be the best thing that could have happened to him.
Of course, absence makes the heart fonder, and that was true for The Beast.
Fans were sick of seeing him featured in the world title picture so often from 2017 through 2020, and while that hasn't changed, it makes more sense now than ever before given his ties to Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman.
It's a simple yet captivating storyline that has played out perfectly over the last six months. Lesnar teased that Heyman was working with him the entire time, and after Reigns fired Heyman as his special counsel in December, the two briefly reunited for Royal Rumble season only for Heyman to turn on The Beast again.
Reigns vs. Lesnar isn't exactly a fresh WrestleMania main event, but it makes sense given everything that has transpired since SummerSlam. This latest renewal of their rivalry has undoubtedly been their best.
His Matches Feel More Must-See
As previously noted, Lesnar has always had an aura about him any time he has entered an arena, regardless of whether the match is one fans are looking forward to or not. He comes across as infinitely more special than virtually anyone else in the company because of how he's portrayed, but that doesn't automatically make every match of his the most thrilling.
Prior to his SummerSlam return, a majority of The Beast's bouts had a sense of sameness about them. However, he's wrestled a total of five televised matches since then and each one of them has stood out for one reason or another.
His first bout back against Roman Reigns at Crown Jewel was built up beautifully and ended up being an above-average contest because the outcome was genuinely predictable. They were supposed to run it back at Day 1 before Reigns had to pull out of the pay-per-view for COVID-related reasons, but the Fatal 5-Way Lesnar took part in instead was a blast.
At the Royal Rumble, he pulled double duty by battling Bobby Lashley in a long-awaited dream match and then entering the men's Royal Rumble at No. 30 to win the whole thing. His involvement in the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber match was also exciting because it marked his debut in the structure, even though he made quick work of his opponents.
His upcoming clash with Reigns at WrestleMania will be their third on The Grandest Stage of Them All, but with the roles reversed this time around, it's a much stronger dynamic. They aren't guaranteed to have outstanding chemistry, but based on their storyline so far, they shouldn't have an issue delivering the goods.
Appearances Are Much More Frequent Than Before
With Lesnar appearing on WWE TV more often than not during his latest run, it may be more appropriate to call him a quarter-timer as opposed to a part-timer.
He showed up on most editions of SmackDown leading up to his initial encounter with Reigns at Crown Jewel in October. He was then "suspended" in storyline for attacking on-air official Adam Pearce before being reinstated by mid-December.
The Conqueror has been a regular on Raw and SmackDown since then, even pulling double duty by appearing on both brands some weeks. That's in addition to the appearance he made at WWE's Madison Square Garden house show last week and wrestling on almost every PPV.
One would think The Beast's increased presence on the program would lead to him feeling overexposed or less of an attraction, but that has yet to be the case. He's still receiving raucous reactions from every crowd he appears in front of, likely because the audience is aware he's here to stay for the foreseeable future.
It wouldn't at all hurt Lesnar to compete on at least one episode of Raw and SmackDown before WrestleMania to pop a rating and switch things up, but even if not, it's been nice for fans to be able to see so much of him lately and for The Beast to make every appearance matter.
Done the Honors When Necessary and Been Booked to Look More Vulnerable
Once Lesnar broke The Undertaker's storied streak at WrestleMania 30, he was extremely protected from that point forward and won at every turn. It only added to his aura and made him feel unstoppable, but the payoff with a 49-year-old Goldberg beating him in 90 seconds at Survivor Series 2016 arguably wasn't worth it.
The former MMA fighter maintained his winning ways throughout his reigns as WWE and universal champion and was booked to lose on only four occasions between 2017 and 2020: once to Roman Reigns, once to Drew McIntyre and twice to Seth Rollins.
In the seven months he's been back in WWE, he's already lost twice to the likes of Reigns and Bobby Lashley.
It would have been easy for the company to not waste any time and put the belt back on him in shocking fashion at Crown Jewel against Reigns, but thankfully it resisted that urge. Him pinning Big E to win the WWE Championship at Day 1 didn't do anyone any favors at the time, but it did benefit Lashley to be able to defeat The Beast (albeit with help from Reigns) at the Royal Rumble four weeks later.
All signs point to Lesnar and Reigns finally wrapping up their seven-year saga at WrestleMania with The Tribal Chief winning decisively. He has gotten the better of The Beast on a handful of occasions (including at MSG last weekend), and it hasn't hurt his level of credibility in the slightest.
Proving He Doesn't Need a Mouthpiece and Is Brimming with Personality
The highlight of this remarkable run for Lesnar is that he's stepped up his mic game tremendously. Save for a four-week stretch when he was reunited with Heyman, he's been doing all of his own promos since SummerSlam and they've all been exceptional.
Fans who didn't catch certain segments from his first stint with WWE or his UFC tenure likely had no idea he's downright hilarious. That's become apparent any time he's picked up a mic in recent months and traded verbal jabs with Heyman, Reigns, Lashley or anyone else.
His interactions with Sami Zayn and Austin Theory have been especially entertaining, mostly because it's a different side to him we've rarely seen before on WWE TV. He's still as menacing as he always was, so it's not as if his comedy and quirky one-liners have made him any less of a force to be reckoned with.
Cowboy Brock, as fans have come to call him, has been a revelation. He hadn't been a full-fledged babyface at all in the last decade until August 2021, so he's had the freedom to expand his horizons and have fun within the confines of his character.
His beard-and-ponytail combo along with his updated wardrobe have helped separate this version of Lesnar from every other iteration that preceded it. He's been a joy to watch on screen and has done more to reinvent himself this past year than anyone could have imagined.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.