During his most recent run with WWE -- dating back to 2012 -- Brock Lesnar has been, if not always unstoppable, then at least consistently a special attraction. In other words, the company has been very careful to make sure Brock retains an aura that makes him stand out as different from the rest of the heap. He doesn't take part in tacky comedy sketches and he doesn't play a role in storylines that would tarnish his carefully cultivated "badass" image. The fact that he's won championships in pro wrestling, amateur wrestling, and MMA certainly doesn't hurt matters.
Even outside of WWE programming, Lesnar's entire public persona is consistent with his current WWE character. Whether he's making a return to UFC for a one-off fight or doing the occasional ESPN appearance, there appears to be little separation between Brock's no-nonsense character and the man who portrays it -- even if the real life Lesnar prefers to keep a much lower profile than some other Superstars when he's not in the ring.
Still, Brock has been doing this for a long time. And since the beginning of his professional wrestling career back in the year 2000, he's had his share of dark spots. Here are 15 Brock Lesnar moments -- both in and out of character --that WWE would rather you forget.
Many remember Brock Lesnar's initial WWE run for the way he debuted -- as a massive, virtually unstoppable wrestling machine. But, of course, pendulums always swing the other way eventually.
By August 2003, Brock was struggling to get back into the main event picture, and his character was growing increasingly frustrated. He began picking on smaller wrestlers, including the likes of Brian "Spanky" Kendrick and Zach Gowen (more on him later). At one point, he even threw an in-ring tantrum, punctuated by the very out of character verbiage, "I'm Brock Lesnar and I'm special!"
Sure enough, Lesnar would eventually regain his footing. On a September episode of SmackDown, he defeated Kurt Angle in an Iron Man match to capture the WWE title, with a little help from a steel chair. This cheating, entitled version of Lesnar surely garnered some heel heat, but it just doesn't gel with the image of the dominant monster we know today.
Did it seem strange that the recent headlining bout between Lesnar and Goldberg, at 2016's Survivor Series, was over just seconds after it started? If so, consider what happened the last time these two men were scheduled to square off.
Prior to the much hyped WrestleMania XX battle between Brock and Goldberg, reports began circulating that this would be the last match either man would wrestle under their respective WWE contracts. Whether or not either guy actually wanted to be there is up for debate, but the live crowd certainly didn't seem to be on board. If you want to witness the height of awkwardness, simply tune in to this 2004 contest to catch a prolonged staredown and shoving match that seems to go on forever, much to the chagrin of fans in attendance.
Say what you will about Goldberg squashing "The Beast" at Survivor Series but at least it was over before the jeers and "boring" chants could kick in and provided a memorable moment.
Brock Lesnar may come off as soft-spoken in his interviews, but he's never been shy about voicing his opinions, nor in making his disagreements with others known. There were rumors of a backstage fight with Ryback earlier this year, one which reportedly came to blows, though Ryback later denied the fight actually happened.
And in early 2015, there were actually reports of Lesnar getting into a big, backstage argument with no less than Vince McMahon himself. Though the reasons for the argument were unclear, except to the two men themselves, dirt sheets reported that Lesnar left the site of that night's Raw before the show had ended. Internet pundits then subsequently began to doubt whether or not Brock would make his scheduled World Title defense at WrestleMania 31. While they were wrong, and Brock competed as scheduled, the internet wrestling community seems all too willing to believe these sorts of stories.
Truthfully, this may be because Lesnar plays his character so convincingly. But either way, WWE doesn't like it when these types of tales circulate about one of its top guys. You can imagine how upset the WWE was with the recent Lesnar/Jericho blow up making headlines all over the internet.
Though he has been open about it, WWE likely wouldn't want its critics to know about Brock's past struggles with substances while under contract. In his 2012 autobiography, Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival, Lesnar discussed his previous issues with drugs and alcohol, indicating that he relied on dozens of painkillers and copious amounts of vodka at the height of his initial pro wrestling success.
Unfortunately, Brock's story is not unusual and countless other wrestlers have numbed their physical and emotional pain with similar substances. Luckily, he was able to turn his life around and go on to even greater success in both MMA and, eventually, back in the WWE. Though Lesnar's reliance on drugs and alcohol was a dark chapter in his life, it also reaffirms his ability to persevere through even the most daunting challenges.
Last summer, CM Punk received a great deal of flack from some MMA fans for losing his first UFC match to Mickey Gall in just under three minutes. These cynics insisted that Punk's quick loss to Gall was a foregone conclusion -- pro wrestlers don't just decide they want to enter the octagon and then achieve massive success.
Of course, Punk's path eerily mirrors that of fellow wrestler turned-fighter (and Paul Heyman Guy) Brock Lesnar, who made his UFC debut back in 2008 after only a short time competing in MMA. The Beast lost his first match, to Frank Mir, in just 1:30. Though he managed to take his opponent down pretty quickly into the match, Lesnar was caught in a kneebar and was forced to tap out. Still, even though it wasn't a particularly proud moment in his career, Brock rebounded strongly. That November, he beat Randy Couture to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship and, the following July, handily defeated Mir in a long awaited rematch.
Back in 2004, shortly after leaving the WWE to attempt to pursue a career in the NFL, Brock Lesnar was profiled by ESPN Magazine. The story opened up with Lesnar being told by a young lady that her male friend thought he was "cute." Though ESPN's Wayne Drehs was hesitant to reprint all of the response, suffice to say, Brock wasn't flattered. He told the reporter, "I don't like gays. Write that down in your little notebook. I don't like gays." Though he'd later apologize for what he said, the remarks offended more than a few people.
Today, in an era where the WWE is heavily focused on anti-bullying efforts, the company surely don't take kindly to one of its top talents expressing such homophobic sentiments. In a way, Brock is lucky this didn't get out while he was under contract.
This one, of course, wasn't all Brock's fault. The infamous "Plane Ride from Hell" of May 5th, 2002 is something that the WWE would rather have been kept under wraps. During this notorious flight home from one of WWE's European tours, quite a few wrestlers embarrassed the company in significant, public ways; from Goldust, who reportedly sang to his ex-wife Terri, to Michael Hayes and JBL, who reportedly got into a scrap on the flight.
But one of the most discussed incidents that occurred was between Lesnar and "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig. According to this popular story, Hennig allegedly teased Brock by saying that he was a better amateur wrestler than him. After being told by several other wrestlers that he needed to step up to the plate, Lesnar engaged in an impromptu "shoot" match with Hennig, taking him down easily. Though Brock ultimately didn't get punished for succumbing to peer pressure, Hennig was released from his WWE contract soon after.
As a person who is perpetually jacked, Brock Lesnar has always had to deal with the perception of some that he couldn't possibly maintain such an impressive physique through natural means, despite the countless training videos that show him tirelessly performing the kinds of workouts needed to do just that. It didn't help when, in early 2001, Lesnar was arrested for anabolic steroid possession.
After some investigation, the substance in question was found to be a legal supplement and all potential charges were dropped. At the time of the arrest, Brock was being groomed for stardom in former developmental territory, OVW. And, after feeling the effects of several major drug scandals throughout the years, it's safe to say WWE wouldn't have taken too kindly to an actual drug charge. The mere fact that an arrest gets mentioned in conjunction with Brock's name likely makes company brass uneasy enough.
Part of the reason why it was always so exciting to watch Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle face off was because both men were viewed as "legitimate" actual wrestlers who'd succeeded on the amateur level. Angle, of course, was an Olympic gold medalist, while Lesnar was an NCAA Heavyweight Champion. Both men used their shoot skills to enhance the appearance of their worked matches.
And so, the story goes, the two even once had a lengthy, albeit off-screen match that was actually legit. Angle recalls that though Lesnar was much larger than him, the former collegiate stand-out was no match for a bonafide Olympic champion. As Angle tells it, Lesnar couldn't manage to take him down. While the mechanics of pro wrestling are, even in theory, quite a bit different than Greco-Roman style wrestling, you'll never hear the WWE mention this fabled "shoot" match on television. After all, if Brock couldn't manage to take down Angle, how could he remain so dominant over most of the roster?
Speaking of encounters with Kurt Angle, one of the most unfortunate in-ring occurrences of Lesnar's career came when he squared off with the Olympic champion at WrestleMania XIX. Even as Brock Lesnar established himself as a massive powerhouse in the first year of his main roster run, astute fans knew he was more agile than the company was letting on.
Specifically, while competing at OVW, Brock demonstrated his ability to pull off one hell of an impressive shooting star press. At Mania, it seemed the time had finally come for the now-fan favorite to try out the move. Unfortunately, Brock didn't turn quite enough and landed right on his head. The "botch" is difficult to watch for two reasons. First, because it's legitimately scary and could've even ended Lesnar's career. Second, because it shows a vulnerable version of The Beast, very nearly (but not quite) pulling off a move that would've been shown on highlight reels for decades to come. Instead, it makes the blooper reels.
Several years before he became a dominant force in MMA, Brock Lesnar departed from the WWE to try his hand at football. When he failed to make it on to the roster of any NFL teams, he had to try his hand at something else. Before eventually setting his sights on the octagon, the former World Champion attempted to continue to ply his trade inside the squared circle. Since Brock had signed a no-compete agreement prior to his WWE release, he wasn't technically supposed to do this. So when he debuted for New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2005 and won the coveted IWGP championship, WWE went on the defensive suing their former talent for breach of contract.
Eventually, the two sides came to an agreement and the suit was dropped. Shortly thereafter, New Japan stripped Lesnar of the title and crowned a new champion. Although Brock would ultimately lose the title to then-TNA Champion Kurt Angle in a match for New Japan rival, Inoki Genome Federation.
Following Brock Lesnar's brutal beatdown of Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2016, it wasn't just fans who were shocked. In fact, at least one wrestler was convinced that the beating given to Orton went far beyond what the storyline called for.
According to reports, Chris Jericho confronted Lesnar after the show accusing him of taking liberties with Orton during the match. The two got into a physical altercation, which reportedly escalated when Lesnar planted a kiss on Y2J's forehead and said "kiss me back, p***y." Brock held off Jericho's attacks and supposedly continued to taunt him with similar statements. The two were eventually pulled apart by Triple H and Vince McMahon, who assured Jericho that the match had gone on as planned. Though this admittedly isn't quite as offensive as Lesnar's previous ESPN faux pas, it's still not the kind of behavior a publicly traded company wants from its employees.
When it came to establishing the lengths of Brock Lesnar's heel character would go to, this backstage segment undoubtedly served its purpose. But it's pretty certain that the relatively "family friendly" WWE of today wouldn't go parading this footage in front of stockholders.
In the summer of 2003, inspirational wrestler Zach Gowen (who had climbed to the ranks of WWE despite only having one leg) found himself in the crosshairs of The Beast. The two faced off in a one-on-one match, which saw Brock "break" Gowen's only leg. Worse still, a week later, Lesnar pushed a wheelchair-bound Gowen down a flight of stairs. It was brutal to watch, yet did wonderful things for Brock's character. It's also not the kind of thing WWE would likely re-attempt in today's television landscape.
As one of the most recognizable stars in the company's history, it only made sense that UFC wanted Brock Lesnar to be part of its historic 200th Pay-Per-View. Despite being under contract with the WWE, a deal was worked out which allowed Brock to take on Mark Hunt in a winning effort. Shortly after the fight, the celebrated appearance was tainted by an asterisk -- a revelation that the former UFC Heavyweight Champion had tested positive for clomiphene (an estrogen blocker and a banned substance).
This was scandalous not just for UFC, but also for the WWE, as Lesnar was about to main event 2016's SummerSlam against Randy Orton. WWE decided to forge ahead with its plans, but, considering the company's own rigorous Wellness Policy, it wasn't a good look for anyone involved.
WWE may have a staunch corporate policy that disallows intentional blood on its programming, but there's simply no way that all the red stuff in Brock Lesnar's matches comes about accidentally. Sure, his punches could easily pack enough of a wallop to draw blood by grazing an opponent the wrong way. But, more likely, the amount of blood in, say, his SummerSlam 2016 match with Randy Orton was due to a series of stiff shots.
This is to say nothing of Brock's own bleeding. On more than one occasion since his 2012 return to the company, Lesnar has bled during his matches, drawing suspicion that he may have used a blade to cut himself open. Of course, while most other wrestlers wouldn't dare defy the company's policies concerning intentional bloodshed, who would be foolish enough to confront The Beast about what he does in the ring?