Brock Lesnar is one of the most recognizable faces in wrestling today. That’s true whether we’re talking about his badass beat down style, or just what he actually looks like. He’s got bigger traps than have any business on a human being, and a full back tattoo to boot. This combination of his alpha-est of alpha males look and his MMA-based style make him one of the most feared wrestlers the industry has ever seen.
Lesnar broke into professional wrestling in the early 2000s after being a college star in amateur wrestling, even winning the national collegiate championship. Kurt Angle had just made everyone acutely aware of the great technical wrestling that can come from amateur wrestlers making the jump, and Lesnar followed suit, quickly lighting the wrestling world on fire. Unfortunately, he didn’t stay in the business for very long, leaving in 2004 to pursue an NFL and later UFC career.
He came back to WWE in 2012, and though he’s only been a part-time performer, his matches are often the most hyped for any pay-per-view he appears on. But understandably, leaving for nearly 10 years and being immediately pushed back to the main event scene when he returned despite only wrestling part-time makes him a bit of a controversial figure in the fans' eyes. But what do his fellow wrestlers think about him?
There’s a lot to love about wrestling Lesnar, especially the fact that his matches are hyped to no end, but his hard-hitting style certainly isn’t for everyone. And so, here’s 8 wrestlers who loved working with Lesnar, and 7 who hated it.
15 Love – Kurt Angle
We already briefly mentioned how both Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar were top amateur wrestlers before coming to professional wrestling. As such, you would only expect that the two either had immense respect for each other, or were intense rivals. Turns out it’s a little bit of both. When the two feuded, there was so much intensity as each man was trying to prove they were better than the other. They even agreed to a shoot wrestling match after an episode of SmackDown had gone off the air to see who the better amateur wrestler was.
Luckily this did not result in actual animosity between the two, and each looks back on their matches with each other as some of the best in their career. Kurt Angle professes that few other wrestlers could bring out the absolute best in him like Brock Lesnar could. And with speculation running about that Angle might return to WWE, the thought of one last rematch between the two is on everyone’s mind at least a little bit.
14 Hate – Randy Orton
By the end of their SummerSlam bout, Randy Orton was simply on the receiving end of a brutal beating, including having his head busted open the hard way. And reportedly, according to Orton himself, the whole thing including the bleeding was planned, and Orton was even promised Lesnar knew how to do it safely. What fans might not know is how that last part sort of fell out of place.
The elbow shot that did bust Orton open, and indeed many of Lesnar’s strikes in the ensuing beat down, were very stiff shots that even legitimately took Orton out of action for a few weeks. In the very same interview where he talks about it all, he admits that his philosophy as far as getting injured in the ring is “we all knew what we were getting into in this business,” so at the very least, he still respects Lesnar for all he’s done. But still, he’s not shy to say that he was more than pissed off to lose time for something he was promised would be safe.
13 Love – Batista
The Beast and The Animal were never both on the main roster of WWE for very long. From 2002 to 2004, they were there together, but went opposite ways when the brand split started, with Lesnar being a dominant force on SmackDown while Batista tore up RAW with the Evolution stable. There was a chance for a match to happen when Batista returned in 2014, but of course Batista was mostly a complete waste during his short, ill-fated return, leaving Batista vs. Lesnar as a great match that never happened. Except they actually have wrestled before.
The two came up together in WWE’s developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling and indeed wrestled each other there. And it really speaks to how much Batista loved wrestling him that he still fondly remembers matches from his time in developmental. The only thing is that back then, they were simply Batista and Lesnar. It would have been amazing to see The Animal vs. The Beast.
12 Hate – The Big Show
One of the few wrestlers to have wrestled Lesnar both in his original run and in his return, Big Show doesn’t seem to have liked wrestler Lesnar at either point in his career. In his original 2002-2004 run, some of Lesnar’s most iconic matches were against The World’s Largest Athlete, including his first pinfall loss after Paul Heyman turned on him and the famous spot where Lesnar superplexed Big Show, collapsing the entire ring. But still, there was no love lost between the two, and things didn’t get any better when Lesnar returned.
They’ve had a few matches at special events, but the most high profile one was a match at Royal Rumble 2014 which started with Lesnar attacking Big Show with a steel chair. And you can tell just by watching that the chair shots were unbelievably stiff. Supposedly you can even see Big Show at one point mouth “man, this is bulls***”. Yeah, I don’t think the two’s relationship has gotten better.
11 Love – The Rock
What makes The Rock such a good legendary figure in WWE is that unlike Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, or John Cena (and sometimes even Steve Austin), The Rock doesn’t have a history of backstage politicking and refusing to lose. More than any top performer in the company’s history, The Rock was more than happy to lay down for up and coming talents to give them the rub to instantly kick off their careers in the best way possible. And one of the biggest names he did so for was Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar won the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Rock at SummerSlam 2002, and Dwayne Johnson has never looked back since. Indeed he rarely has a bad word to say about any fellow wrestler, but especially in regards to Brock Lesnar. He has no regrets about doing the job for him and thinks the world of The Beast Incarnate. And so iconic was the match that it’s one of the few instances where the reason nobody wants a rematch is because the story behind it simply works better without one.
10 Hate – John Cena
From one legend who passed the torch to Lesnar, to one who came up along with him. Unfortunately, this matchup didn’t fare so well. Unlike Lesnar’s rivalry with Angle which remained professional, the competition between two upcoming stars got ugly, with real vitriol between the two backstage. Go back and watch some of their matches from 2003 and it’s hard not to come away thinking that Lesnar was phoning it in to sabotage the match. Reportedly this was to fuel Cena’s reputation as a clumsy worker.
And things didn’t get any better when Lesnar returned. Lesnar’s first match after coming back in 2012 was against John Cena. Lesnar was slated to lose, which he was fine with as long as Cena sold the beating he received during the match well. But after their Extreme Rules match was over, Cena got up and addressed the crowd with a heartfelt promo, which was seen as Cena burying Lesnar by no-selling the brutal match.
The sheer number of matches they had in Brock’s run as WWE World Heavyweight Champion leads one to believe the tensions have cooled at least a little bit since then, but it’s undeniable that they’ve almost always been on the wrong foot with each other.
9 Love – Roman Reigns
Wrestling fans talk a lot about Roman Reigns being pushed to the moon both way too soon in his career and ahead of other wrestlers who arguably are far more deserving of it. The rejection of Reigns as a top babyface really cemented itself when Reigns won the 2015 Royal Rumble to go on to face Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar may not have been the WrestleMania main event fans had been hoping to see in 2015, but it ended up being a surprisingly good match that the Samoan still remembers fondly.
When Roman Reigns talks about the match in interviews, the main takeaway is usually that Reigns thought the program with Lesnar taught him a lot about how to be a better worker in the ring. He even says it helped him with his promo skills since he got to work so closely with one of the best talkers in wrestling history, Paul Heyman. And while he’s still not quite good enough to endear himself to the fans, we’d be lying to ourselves not to admit that, yeah, he has been getting better. It’s mainly his booking that most fans have a gripe with anyway.
8 Hate – Dean Ambrose
Dean Ambrose had a match with Lesnar at WrestleMania 32, but this ended up being almost the exact opposite of the Reigns vs Lesnar match the year before. Where Reigns vs Lesnar was a compelling match nobody expected, Ambrose vs Lesnar was an exciting prospect that turned into a complete stinker. And Ambrose has not been shy to place the blame for that squarely on Brock.
In an infamous appearance on the Stone Cold Podcast, Ambrose spoke candidly about his match with Lesnar. He accused Lesnar of not having his heart in the match and phoning it in. He just didn’t care all that much for the program. To be fair, it’s easy to see why, as almost the entire buildup to WrestleMania was a huge disappointment. But still, taking it easy for a match at the biggest wrestling event of the year isn’t a great idea, and the resentment from the Lunatic Fringe is perfectly understandable.
7 Love – Seth Rollins
Just in case you were curious where the other member of The Shield stood on Lesnar, here you go. Seth Rollins has had multiple run-ins with Lesnar, though only one of them was actually a full match. But all three of his encounters with Lesnar have been standout moments. Their triple threat along with John Cena was a match of the year contender and Rollins cashing in at the end of WrestleMania 31 was one of the most memorable moments in the past decade.
Their third encounter was admittedly only to set up a Lesnar vs Undertaker feud, but in the buildup to it, Rollins talked candidly about how each of his moments with Lesnar to that point had been a classic, and was excited to work with him again. It would be nice to see them finally have a proper singles match together, and based on Rollins' respect and admiration for Lesnar, there’s a good chance it could actually happen.
6 Hate – Bob Holly
Bob Holly’s match with Brock Lesnar back in his original run with the company is one of the more infamous ones. The two were having a perfectly decent match until it came time for a powerbomb that went horribly awry. Holly didn’t pull himself up properly to get ready to land on him back, which caused Lesnar to drop him straight on his head, breaking his neck. It was even long rumored that Holly was intentionally sandbagging the powerbomb since he had a bit of a reputation for hazing rookies.
While the sandbagging theory has been thoroughly refuted by everyone involved, it still couldn’t have been fun to break your neck in a match with Lesnar. Holly assures listeners to his interviews that Lesnar simply lost his grip, but he still seems incredibly annoyed by it. When he says “Even if I went limp, he could still easily lift a 200 lb guy,” it’s hard not to think it’s a subtle jab at Lesnar for dropping him.
5 Love – Shinsuke Nakamura
This one will surprise a lot of people, because most wrestling fans might not even know that Nakamura vs. Lesnar already happened. After Lesnar was cut from the NFL after the pre-season, Lesnar returned to wrestling in 2005 in New Japan Pro Wrestling, and even won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in his debut match. Despite injunctions from WWE relating to his no-compete clause, he defended the belt until being stripped of it due to visa issues. And one of his defenses was against Shinsuke Nakamura.
So how do we know Nakamura loved the match? Well with him nearing the end of his run in NXT and inevitably making his main roster debut soon, Nakamura has made it apparent that the man he most wants to wrestle is Lesnar. Yeah, I’d say pushing for a rematch is a good sign that he enjoyed wrestling Lesnar. And be honest, who wouldn’t want to see The Beast Incarnate and The King of Strong Style headline a pay-per-view?
4 Hate – Matt Hardy
One of Brock Lesnar’s first feuds ever in WWE was with The Hardy Boyz, Matt and Jeff. It was an effective way to introduce him as a monster by having him ruthlessly attack one of the most over duos ever. But apparently, there was a little bit of real heat, especially with Matt. In a shoot interview, Matt Hardy tells of how he was annoyed by Lesnar getting a little bit cocky backstage despite being new blood, and hit him with a hard chair shot in one of their matches to try to put him in his place.
It actually turned out better than you might think from just hearing that. The two went at each other more intensely during their next matches, but it actually made them gain a lot of respect for each other. Especially on Lesnar’s end as he had to respect Hardy refusing to back down from a guy looks like he could literally kill someone with just his stare.
3 Love – CM Punk
CM Punk is not an easy guy to get along with. Then again, neither is Lesnar. Which is why it’s quite shocking to realize that they have absolute respect for each other. For all the wrestlers CM Punk has talked smack about after walking out of WWE, or even when he was still with the company, he has never had a bad word to say about Brock Lesnar. He may not have liked the circumstances around him facing Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2013, but that was always a beef with management, not the man himself.
Punk and Lesnar put on one of the best matches of that year, which both still look back on fondly. They remained friends after Punk walked out and joined UFC, with Brock offering any help he could to get Punk ready. Obviously that didn’t work out as well, but no less.
2 Hate – Goldberg
Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar was a dream match that every WWE fan was clamoring for. Until it actually happened. What should have been one of the most hard-hitting matches in WWE history instead turned into arguably the worst WrestleMania match ever. This was mostly because both Goldberg and Lesnar were set to leave the company after their WrestleMania XX match. And supposedly, there was also some real heat between the two.
Bill Goldberg himself is the first to admit that he wasn’t in the right mindset in his 2003-2004 run in WWE, and that he wasn’t an easy guy to get along with. So frustrations between Goldberg and Lesnar just compounded upon both of their apathy for a match that the crowd booed out of the building before it even started. The two are on good terms now after some time away, but their temporary contempt for each other, however short it was, left its mark on WWE history.
1 Love – The Undertaker
This is a very interesting one because Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker have no love lost for each other outside the ring. According to Lesnar, a mutual friend of the two told Lesnar about things The Undertaker had said about him that he didn’t take kindly to. It’s easy for the two to feud so intensely because they actually do have some beef between them. But it’s all good, because the two are professional enough with each other to set it all aside and make magic in the squared circle.
Both back in his original run and in his return where he broke The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak, neither has a bad thing to say about the other’s work within the ropes. Their WrestleMania match may have been lackluster due to Undertaker suffering a concussion, but their feud culminating at SummerSlam and Hell in a Cell was one of the most compelling stories of 2015. It doesn’t hurt that Undertaker is actually a huge MMA fan, so working a harder style with a former UFC star had to be something he loved doing.