Brock’s career in his own words

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WWE SmackDown
August 29, 2002

Brock Lesnar def. Matt Hardy

Brock’s first match as the WWE Champion sees him re-kindle his first rivalry against Matt Hardy. Lesnar just looks right with that Undisputed Title. Michael Cole says that Brock Lesnar represents WWE’s “animalistic future,” so get ready to hear that about Brock for the next 3 months. Matt Hardy got this match because he annoyed Stephanie McMahon, who I’m told is a babyface? The second verse is the same as the first, as Matt Hardy gets murdered at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. Hardy gets some offense in, but this was a clear showcase for Brock. An interesting note is that there does seem to be a pro-Lesnar audience, even though it’s much smaller than it was at Summerslam. F-5 gets the win for Brock. **1/2

On this same episode of SmackDown, The Undertaker signed on the dotted line for Stephanie McMahon’s SmackDown brand. This was a big signing for Stephanie McMahon’s SmackDown brand, as The Undertaker was drafted to Raw in the 2002 Draft. He would have a solid run on Raw, beating Stone Cold Steve Austin at Backlash before winning the WWE Championship from Hulk Hogan the next month at Judgment Day. He would hold the title for two months before losing the title at Vengeance to the Rock, never getting a rematch for the title. After turning face because ‘Merica, he would beat the Un-American Test at Summerslam before showing up on SmackDown. He beat Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit in the finals of a show-long #1 Contender Gauntlet to get a WWE Title match at Unforgiven.

Unforgiven 2002
WWE Championship
Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker goes to a double disqualification

After about six months, the WWE Championship would no longer be Undisputed. Triple H wanted to feel like a big boy too, so he was given the Big Gold Belt and sent on his merry way. But that’s a story for the Triple H retrospective that I will never, EVER do. The video package for this match is cool, as it highlights what these men were doing in the past 10 years. The Undertaker was building his legacy in the WWE, while Brock Lesnar was growing up and becoming the man who was about to become a major part of it.

We get home video of Brock Lesnar at wrestling meets. One is from December 15, 1994, the day after Undertaker wrestled Tatanka at a WWF Superstars taping. Another is from January 21, 1995, the day before Taker beat IRS at the 1995 Royal Rumble. A third is from February 3, 1996, the same day Taker beat Goldust on WWF’s first tour of India. We then see the build for this match, set to Adrenaline by Gavin Rossdale. Brock hit Taker with a chair in the back, before touching his wife Sara’s pregnant belly. And yes, this is Throat Tattoo Sara.

No motorcycle for Undertaker tonight. He must really be here to kick an asshole’s ass. Undertaker overpowers Brock, sending him out of the ring on a lock-up. He takes Brock to the movies to see Old School, before a Heyman distraction gives Brock the upper hand. Taker throws some soupbones, but Lesnar cuts him off with a powerslam. Lesnar is working the ribs, using the Bearhug of Doom. More “Let’s Go Lesnar” chants, albeit faint ones. Taker breaks the hold and uses his status as the Best Pure Striker in WWE history to throw some body shots to send Brock to the floor. Heyman takes the ref so Brock can drill Taker with the WWE Title. Taker is lacerated as Brock works over the wound, but Taker fights back and bullrushes Brock in the corner. A Taker chokeslam gets broken out of, but a big boot gives Taker a 2 count. Snake eyes and another big boot scores a nearfall.

Taker sends Lesnar into the referee before scoring with the Chokeslam. No ref, so Matt Hardy runs in and takes a Last Ride. To be clear, Hardy somehow ended up in a loose alignment with Lesnar and Heyman in the three weeks since the first match in this review. Lesnar hits a Main Event Spinebuster for a slow two count. Big jumping DDT from Taker gets 2, before Brock slips out of a Tombstone attempt and bumps the ref again. Heyman tosses Lesnar a chair, but Taker counters with a pinpoint big boot. Taker obliterates Lesnar with the chair, making Lesnar bleed for the first time. Taker hits a big boot and a leg drop, causing Hulk Hogan to wake up in a cold sweat somewhere in Tampa, Florida. Taker and Lesnar both shove the ref out of the way to brawl with each other, so the ref throws the match out. See folks, having a lame finish to a PPV main event isn’t new with WWE. Taker hits a chokeslam to the tune of BULLSHIT chants. They brawl into the aisle before Taker throws Lesnar through the stage as we fade to black. This was shaping up to be another good main event for Brock, until that limp finish took it down a notch. Still, these two work very well together, which is a good sign for Brock. ***1/2

In his book, Brock revealed that Undertaker was his favorite opponent to work with at this time.

“Another reason I liked working with Taker is that it was so much easier for me to bump around the ring for his moves. He was a lot bigger than I was, and the fans not only loved his character, but they believed he was a legitimate badass. Bumping for a guy bigger than me is always going to be easier than bumping around all night long for the Hardy Boyz. It’s just a different-style match. With the Hardys, you have to build and build and build until it’s time to take that bump. With Taker, he’s so big, you can just was going to make it look good. There was also that mystique the Undertaker had. He was going to be the first person to really hand Brock Lesnar an ass kicking, so he was going to make it look good. I had no problem with that. As long as people were going to pay to see us go at it, I was happy.”

The Undertaker tried to take out his frustrations on Matt Hardy in a Falls Count Anywhere match, but instead, he had his hand broken by Lesnar. Later that night, Stephanie McMahon (of Stephanie McMahon’s SmackDown brand) would announce that despite the injury, Undertaker would still wrestle in the rematch at No Mercy…inside Hell in a Cell! Now it may be surprising, but Hell in a Cell was still a big deal in 2002. This was only the ninth Cell match ever. It was the second one of 2002, after Triple H and Chris Jericho had one at Judgment Day 2002 that could only be described as the Cell match no one remembers happening.

The feud escalated when Lesnar and Heyman brought out a woman named Tracy, who accused the Undertaker of having an affair with her. Things were bad for Taker going into No Mercy, but they could’ve been worse. His brother got accused of murder and necrophilia a couple days later.

Jesus, WWE in 2002 was weird and largely bad. Anyway, Hell in a Cell!

No Mercy 2002
WWE Championship
Hell In A Cell
Brock Lesnar def. The Undertaker

No bike again? What the fuck Taker, I thought you were a biker? Undertaker is coming into this match with a big cast on his broken hand, a cast he was allowed to wear by Stephanie McMahon (of Stephanie McMahon’s SmackDown brand) that gives a +10 to his striking ability. We see that as Taker nails a body shot on Brock. Brock tries to work over the arm, but Taker gets a couple shots in with the cast as Paul Heyman freaks out on the outside. Taker is in complete control after some more cast shots and even bloodies up Heyman on the outside with a big boot to the cage. Taker sends Brock into the loudest set of stairs I’ve ever heard. He goes to do more damage to Heyman, but that allows Brock to get control by sending Taker into the cage.

Brock ties Taker’s arm up with a belt, and kills Taker’s hand with a chair as Heyman tells Taker that “he’s gonna die tonight!” Brock goes to rip the cast off, but Taker throws wild strikes to get him away. Lesnar eventually gets the cast off and works the arm. Brock puts Taker on the top rope and hangs off the top of the cell to give the boots to Taker. Heyman is bleeding hard for someone just standing on the floor. Taker knocks Lesnar to the mat, then hits an elbow drop (with the bad arm) for a nearfall. A big boot sends Lesnar off the apron into the cage, and Taker follows with a Davey Richards-esque tope, in that it completely misses Brock. Brock sends Taker into the cage, then drills Taker with the loud ass stairs before just launching them over the ring. OH GOD TAKER SPRUNG A LEAK. Taker gets a second wind and starts laying in shots (with the bad arm) to Brock, before getting sent off the top while going for Old School. F-5 countered into a chokeslam (with the mega-broken hand) for a nearfall. Taker’s face is covered in blood like it’s warpaint. Swinging DDT gets 2. Last Ride, but Lesnar drives Taker into the corner with shoulders. Lesnar goes up for the ten punch spot, but Taker gets the Last Ride. Brock gets the ropes though, so Taker goes for the Tombstone, but Brock reverses it and pops Taker up into an F-5 for the win. Post match, Brock climbs to the top of the Cell to raise the belt high as we fade to black.

First, allow me to nitpick. Taker sold the arm well until the cast came off. After that, it just stopped being an issue. Michael Cole and Taz tried to cover it up by saying that the adrenaline was numbing the pain, but with the broken hand being the whole build for the match, that hurt the match for me. Luckily, everything else in this match ruled. These two beat the living hell out of each other. It felt vicious and dangerous. Everyone bled, including Heyman. And in the end, Lesnar got put over clean in the middle. This was a star-making performance here, and credit to Undertaker for doing a convincing job for him too. ****1/4

“That Hell-in-a-Cell match against The Undertaker was my favorite match in WWE. That night, everything just clicked the right way. Taker was on his game, and I was ready to go. People were convinced The Undertaker was either going to beat Brock Lesnar, or get his own ass beat pretty good. This wouldn’t be just another monthly pay-per-view main event. This was going to be something special. And it was.”

Hogan. Rock. Undertaker. Brock Lesnar was on a path of dominance, and his next stop was in Madison Square Garden for the Survivor Series. He was set for another epic encounter. However, as ever in the WWE, plans changed. But that’s a story for the next chapter of the Brockumentary. What are your memories of this legendary Hell in a Cell match? Let me know on Twitter, @SuitWilliams.