Brock Lesnar "The Next Big Thing"

Brock Lesnar will no doubt play a huge part in the WWE's future, judging by his impact thus far.

Brock Lesnar was raised on a farm in Webster, South Dakota. He took up weightlifting in grade school, and got into amateur wrestling in high school. His senior year, he recorded an undefeated record of 33-0. Up next for Lesnar was college, and he chose the small Bismarck Junior College in North Dakota over other prospects. Lesnar immediately made a name for himself, winning the heavyweight division in the North Dakota State University's annual Bison Open Tournament in 1997. Lesnar, representing Bismarck in the tournament, defeated Brent Boeschans from the University of Minnesota, which was an upset given what a powerhouse the University of Minnesota was in the amateur wrestling world. The next year, Lesnar again won the Bison Open, and also became the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) wrestling champion in the heavyweight division. Lesnar's life would change however when Bismarck Junior College was forced to cut its wrestling program due to financial reasons after the 1997-98 season. Lesnar was quickly recruited by the University of Minnesota, and transferred schools in order to continue his wrestling career. He'd amassed an impressive 56-3 record in two years with Bismarck.

It didn't take Lesnar long to make a name for himself as a Minnesota Gopher. He went 24-1 his first year in Minnesota, his only loss coming against Trent Hynek from the University of Minnesota's rival, Iowa State. He also won the Big Ten title for Minnesota, ending Iowa State's 25-year winning streak at that tournament. Iowa State would get revenge at the NCAA tournament however. Lesnar lost in the finals by 3-2 decision to Stephen Neal of Cal State-Bakersfield, enabling Iowa State to win the tournament overall. Despite a successful season (Big Ten title, runner-up at NCAA tournament, All American), Lesnar wasn't satisfied. He wanted the NCAA title.

Brock Lesnar (Minnesota) vs. Leslie Apedoe (VMI) in the semifinals of the 1999 NCAA tournament (heavyweight (285 pound) division), March 19, 1999, Penn State University. Photo by Penn State University.

In 2000, Lesnar continued to impress. He posted a 26-1 record (his sole loss came against Wes Hand from Iowa State) and was ranked #1 in the Big Ten. He went on to the NCAA tournament where he dominated the opposition en route to realizing a dream and becoming the NCAA Heavyweight Champion. Ironically enough, he defeated Iowa State's Wes Hand in the finals of the tournament.

Lesnar graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2000, ending a stellar amateur wrestling career. He'd gone 50-2 in two years in Minnesota, making him 106-5 overall in four years of college. He won the NCAA heavyweight title, and was a two-time All American. Brock was courted by several NFL football teams after graduation and was invited to tryout camps. But he'd watched Kurt Angle rise to fame from the amateur wrestling ranks to WWE (then the WWF) and opted to follow in Angle's footsteps. Brock signed a developmental contract with WWE and was assigned to the Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) developmental territory in Louisville, Kentucky for training. He spent two years with OVW under the guidance of Jim Cornette, and upped his weight to 295 chiseled pounds (he'd wrestled at 285 as an amateur). Brock became a standout at OVW events because of his size, as well as his athletic ability (he was able to perform a Shooting Star Press). He developed the team of The Minnesota Stretching Crew with Shelton Benjamin, and the two were OVW Tag Team Champions. "However long it takes me to make TV, it really doesn’t matter to me," Lesnar told W.I.N. Magazine in a 2000 interview. "I’m enjoying my job. The money is very good and I’m content with it. But, obviously my number one goal is to become WWF champion.”

Lesnar (top centre) and the University of Minnesota wrestling team, which placed 2nd in the 1999 NCAA tournament, Penn State University. Photo by Penn State University.

On March 18, 2002, after having spent the previous few months working dark matches on WWE events, Lesnar made his WWE television debut on a live edition of Raw. With "agent" Paul Heyman by his side, Lesnar interrupted a Hardcore Title match and destroyed Spike Dudley, Al Snow and Maven in the process. He displayed the power and agility that OVW fans had become accustomed to seeing. He also showcased an impressive finisher, a fireman's carry into a spinning facebuster. In the weeks following his debut, he performed the move against the likes of Matt and Jeff Hardy, Diamond Dallas Page, and even Rikishi.

Despite comparisons to Bill Goldberg due to his size and strength, not to mention the incredible push WWE has given him, Brock Lesnar is creating his own legacy. He plans to climb the ladder all the way to the WWE Title.

Vs The Rock for WWE Championship (Summerslam 2002)

Brock Lesnar Vs Hulk Hogan (WWE Smackdown 8th August 2002)

Brock Lesnar article (August 2002) Tribute

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