MATCH #1: Brock Lesnar vs. Hulk Hogan, SmackDown, 8.8.02
They stare each other down and Lesnar is not intimidated by Hogan’s stature in the business. Lesnar’s SummerSlam title shot is on the line here. After some more trying to psyche each other out, Lesnar shoves Hogan down to draw first blood, so to speak. Lesnar continues the attack, assaulting Hogan with strikes and slams. Hogan pops up and delivers a series of right hands. He avoids a charge in the corner and Hogan hits a clothesline for two. Hogan sends Lesnar to the floor and Lesnar looks more angry than hurt. Lesnar grabs Hogan’s leg and slams it off the ring post. Back in the ring Lesnar is back in control. Lesnar drops a series of elbows. The fight spills to the floor and Lesnar rearranges the furniture. That gives Hogan the chance to recover and he whips Lesnar into the post. Back in the ring Hogan is back on the attack, hitting mounted punches in the corner. Lesnar comes out of said corner with a powerbomb. He covers but only gets two. Hogan starts Hulking Up He hits the Big Boot but Lesnar pops right up! Lesnar goes for the F-5 but Hogan slips out and this another Big Boot. Hogan hits the Leg Drop and Lesnar kicks out! He hits another Big Boot and goes off the ropes but Heyman grabs the leg. That gives Lesnar the opening to club Hogan from behind. Lesnar then hits the F-5! He doesn’t cover though and instead picks Hogan up and locks on a bearhug and Hogan passes out at 10:03! Lesnar absolutely dominated that match and this is one of the cleanest losses in Hogan’s career. Kudos to Hogan for making Lesnar look like a monster. The match wasn’t great per se, but it was very much the right match to have.
MATCH #2: WWE Championship Match – Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock, SummerSlam, 8.25.02
Rock has been the Champion since 7.21.02, and this is his first defense. The Champ charges into the ring and they trade some hands. Lesnar grabs Rock and hits a huge belly-to-belly suplex for a near-fall. That’s an awesome opening. Lesnar continues working on Rock, focusing on his back. Heyman gets some cheap shots in whenever he can, of course. They fight on the floor and Lesnar is dominant. Back in the ring Lesnar hits a belly-to-belly suplex for two. Every time Rock tries to make a comeback Lesnar cuts him off with fury. Finally Rock avoids a charge in the corner and Lesnar’s shoulder hits the post. Rock hits a back suplex and both men are down. Both men kip up at the same time. That’s awesome. Rock needs several clotheslines to knock Lesnar down. He hits a DDT for two. Rock goes for the Sharpshooter so Heyman jumps on the apron and Rock knocks him down. The persistent Rock uses a dragon screw leg whip to take Lesnar down and he puts on the Sharpshooter. The crowd has turned on the Rock in a very noticeable way. Heyman gets on the apron again and drops a chair in the ring. Rock flips Heyman into the ring and goes for a Rock Bottom. That gives Lesnar the chance to club Rock from behind. Lesnar grabs the chair and hits Rock right in the rib cage. He then locks on a bearhug, just like he did to Hogan. Rock fights out of it and when Heyman distracts the referee again Rock hits a low blow! That’s awesome, and the crowd boos. Lesnar forces Rock back into a corner and drives his shoulder into the ribs. Rock explodes out of the corner with a clothesline and unleashes a series of right hands, sending Lesnar to the floor. He goes to the floor as well and catapults Lesnar head-first into the steel post. Rock brings Heyman up to the announce table and delivers the Rock Bottom! Back in the ring Rock hits the Rock Bottom! Lesnar kicks out! Lesnar comes back and hits a Rock Bottom of his own for a near-fall! Both men get back to their feet and Rock hits a spinebuster. Rock goes for the People’s Elbow but Lesnar pops up! Lesnar drills Rock with a clothesline and then tries the F-5 but Rock slips out. A series of reversals ends with Lesnar hitting the F-5 for real this time and he gets the pin and wins his first World Title at 15:58. While I think people recognize how important this match is for Brock’s career, I don’t think people give this match enough credit for rocking as much as it did. These two had ridiculous chemistry and they did a bunch of cool spots. The beginning was hot, the ending was great, and everything they did in the middle just worked.
MATCH #3: Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Championship – Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker, No Mercy, 10.20.02
Lesnar has been the champion since 8.25.02 and this is his second defense. Michael Cole reveals that entrance order is the champion’s prerogative, so now you have an answer for anytime someone asks “why are the champions coming out first?” Undertaker has a cast on his broken hand. Both men are cautious of each other, and Lesnar strikes first blood when he powerslams Undertaker for two. Undertaker comes back as Tazz explains that Undertaker had his hand numbed before the match. Lesnar briefly tries to go out the door but realizes it’s padlocked. Back in the ring he goes to work on the hand, and Undertaker screams so we establish that he feels pain in the hand. Even so he comes back on the champion with a punch to the face, and then another shot to the head. The cut on Lesnar’s forehead has been reopened. They fight out on the floor and Undertaker throws Lesnar around and scrapes his face across the cell. Falls do count anywhere, for those keeping score at home.
Undertaker climbs to the top rope and hits a sort of knee to the head while Lesnar lies prone on the apron. He kicks Heyman down and throws Lesnar hard into the steps. He goes back to Heyman and grabs him by the tie and busts open his head. Lesnar comes charging and Undertaker moves, so Heyman takes the impact. Lesnar comes back by hitting a flapjack into the cage, and then ramming Undertaker’s back into the ring post. Heyman takes off his belt and gives it to Lesnar to use as a weapon. He uses it to tie Undertaker’s hand to the cage and then abuses it with a steel chair, and keeps hitting him until the belt breaks! Then he tries to rip the cast off, so Undertaker fights back with a bunch of punches with his broken hand. Lesnar FINALLY gets the cast all the way off. He sets Undertaker up on the top rope and then climbs up with him, and uses the ceiling for leverage to kick the challenger in the face a couple of times. Undertaker comes back with a low blow and shoves him down. He| hits en elbow off the top and gets a two count. He knocks Lesnar off the apron and the back of his head cracks against the support beam. He’s bleeding from the back of his head now too, while Heyman screams “Brock we’re losing!” That’s great. Undertaker tries a tope but Lesnar moves. Undertaker recovers and tries to grab the steel steps but he can’t because of his hand. It’s nice to see him finally sell that broken hand. Lesnar comes back with a big clothesline, and then he is able to use the steel steps and bashes Undertaker in the face. Undertaker is GUSHING blood at this point, easily the worst blade job I’ve ever seen in WWE, at least until Eddie in 2004.
Back in the ring Undertaker fights back with his broken hand. Lesnar responds with a spinebuster. When Cole says that blood is “literally pouring from his head,” it may be the first instance of a WWE commentator using the term “literally” correctly. Undertaker continues to punch with his broken hand, and Cole justifies it by saying he just doesn’t feel pain anymore. He goes up for Old School but Lesnar pulls him off the ropes. Lesnar tries the F5 but Undertaker slips out and delivers a chokeslam, with the broken hand. Undertaker goes for the Last Ride but Lesnar runs him into the corner and drives his shoulder into the gut. He goes up for mounted punches, and Undertaker predictably hits the Last Ride. When he covers Lesnar the blood is dripping off his head into Lesnar’s mouth. That’s disgusting. Lesnar grabs the ropes to avoid getting pinned. The crowd bought that. Undertaker tries the Tombstone but Lesnar reverses it and throws Undertaker into a fireman’s carry and hits the F5 to retain the title at 27:18. If you read my review of the match you’ll see how often I noted Undertaker using his broken hand as offense. If you take that stuff out of this match there would be nothing I didn’t like about it. It was sick and brutal had all kinds of cool spots and gore. I still think it’s a great match but if Undertaker had found different things to do besides throw right hands and maybe use his other hand for the chokeslam, it would be rated higher.
MATCH #4: WWE Championship Match – Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle, WrestleMania XIX, 3.30.03
Angle has been the Champion since 12.15.02, and this is his third defense. Lesnar has his ribs taped up. They take it right down to the mat and I expect them to spend a lot of time there. Lesnar asserts his power advantage because they are so evenly matched as mat technicians. Angle goes after the ribs, which is definitely good strategy. Lesnar scores the first near-fall with a nice powerslam. Angle comes back with a release German Suplex but Lesnar pops right up and hammers away on the Champion. Lesnar tries to follow up but Angle rolls to the floor, and then catches him with kicks coming back in the ring. Angle can’t keep the advantage though and Lesnar press slams him for fun. The momentum continues to shift between these two highly skilled athletes. Angle German Suplexes Lesnar into the buckles and takes control. He focuses on the ribs, trying to take Lesnar’s air away. Angle uses various suplexes and submission holds to wear Lesnar down. Lesnar tries to come back but Angle cuts him off and hits a belly-to-belly suplex. Angle knocks Lesnar to the floor but quickly brings him back inside. He charges right into a spinebuster and both men are down. Back on their feet Lesnar unleashes a flurry of offense. Lesnar hits a nice overhead belly-to-belly suplex and then another one for a two-count. He tries a third but Angle reverses to rolling German Suplexes. Angle goes for the Angle Slam but Lesnar reverses to an F-5, and Angle counters that into the Ankle Lock. Lesnar tries to escape so Angle turns it into a half crab and Lesnar makes it to the ropes. Angle charges in and Lesnar backdrops him to the floor! Back in the ring Angle ducks a clothesline and hits a huge release German Suplex for a near-fall. The straps come down and Angle hits an Angle Slam for two! Angle goes for another one but Lesnar counters with an inside cradle for two. Lesnar then connects on the F-5! Lesnar covers and Angle kicks out! Angle grabs the Ankle Lock and Lesnar once again reaches the ropes. Lesnar tries an F-5 but Angle gets a cradle for two. Angle tries the Angle Slam but Lesnar counters with another F-5! Lesnar goes up top and actually tries the Shooting Star Press and it looks great, but Angle was too far away and Lesnar spiked himself on the way down. A normal sized neck would have probably been broken by that. Angle covers for two. He tries to follow up but Lesnar picks him up for another F-5 and that’s enough to get the pin and win the title at 21:07. That was a different style than WrestleMania main events are accustomed to and I appreciated the difference. They did a lot of mat wrestling and both guys were believable in their attacks and their selling. If the Shooting Star Press had connected and been the finish this would be an all-time classic. Lesnar looks legitimately out of it, and he’s lucky that’s all that happened to him. They shake hands and embrace after the match, which actually makes sense in this context.
MATCH #5: Stretcher Match for the WWE Championship – Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show, Judgment Day, 5.18.03
Lesnar has been the Champion since 3.30.03, and this is his second defense. The way to win this match is to put your opponent on a stretcher and wheel him across a yellow line up by the entrance. This is the first stretcher match in WWE since Andre the Giant versus Killer Khan in 1981. Lesnar charges the ring and takes it to his challenger, hitting him repeatedly with a backboard, sending Show to the floor. Outside the ring Show fights back by using his size and strength. Show tries to slam Lesnar into the ring post but Lesnar slips out and shoves Show into it instead. Lesnar then runs the stretcher into Show’s face. Show gets mad at picks Lesnar up and drops him down on the stretcher. Tazz misuses the word irony. No surprise there. Back in the ring Lesnar drives shoulders into Show’s midsection. Show comes back with the Chokeslam! He follows up with a legdrop. Show tries to push Lesnar over the line and can’t do it, so instead he hits a clothesline. Lesnar fights back and hits Show with the backboard repeatedly and then chokes him with some electrical cords. He tries to drag Show over the line but the cords are stuck so he can’t do it. Cole then correctly uses the word irony, so suck it Tazz. Lesnar jumps on a piece of the set and swings a kick into Show’s face, and then levels him with a Spear. He bodyslams Show on the stretcher. They fight back up by the ring and Show rams Lesnar’s back into the ring post. Tazz busts out his “picks apart your body which picks apart your career” catchphrase. I hate him so much. Show throws Lesnar back in the ring and tries to follow him in but Lesnar knocks him off the apron and onto the stretcher. Lesnar goes backstage and then Rey Mysterio’s music hits. Mysterio hits a 619 but then gets clobbered with a clothesline. Lesnar makes his way back out driving a forklift! The distraction allows Mysterio to put Show in a sleeper. Show slams him down but Lesnar jumps off the forklift with a cross body block. The crowd is going nuts and Lesnar is on fire. Lesnar drives shoulders into Show’s midsection and then this a vertical suplex. For real. Lesnar hits the F-5 and both men are down. Lesnar gets up and puts Show on a stretcher on a pallet on a forklift. He drives the forklift past the yellow line to get the win at 15:27. That has to be Show’s best singles match ever. They just beat the crap out of each other and it was brutal and intense. The Mysterio interference was a little weird but they wanted something to occupy the crowd while Lesnar was getting the fork lift. Lesnar is a freak in the ring.
MATCH #6: WWE Championship Match – Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show, SmackDown, 6.12.03
Lesnar has been the Champion since 3.30.03, and this is his third defense. He attacks right away and the brawl is on. Show cuts him off with a clothesline for a one-count. They continue brawling and the fight quickly spills to the floor. Show whips Lesnar into the steps. Back in the ring Lesnar fights up but Show cuts him off with a side suplex for a two-count. Show locks on a half crab and Lesnar reaches the ropes. Lesnar comes back with a release German Suplex. He goes for the F-5 but he can’t hold Show up. Both men get back to their feet and Show clobbers Lesnar with a clothesline. Show goes for the Chokeslam but Lesnar slips out, so Show hits the Big Boot and a Legdrop instead. How that doesn’t end the match I’ll never know. Show hits a Chokeslam but it only gets two! He goes for another one but tries to accentuate it by going to the top rope. Lesnar stops him and goes up to hit the biggest superplex of all-time, and the ring literally implodes! The crowd is going nuts. Both men are laid out and the match is a no-contest at around 8:00. That was going along well, with intensity and brutality from both guys. They are natural opponents, and the finish while inconclusive, was a true OMG moment and a very memorable one.