Brock Lesnar, wearing a cowboy hat and duster reminiscent of “Jason Goes To Hell” bounty hunter Creighton Duke, has reverted back to his monstrous roots after a brief foray into face country as an affable farmer. As of this writing, Brock’s motivation for turning on Cody Rhodes at the Raw after WrestleMania 39 remains a mystery, but one thing Lesnar has proven time and time again is that, given an opponent he respects, he can put on some of the most memorable matches of all time.
From the streak-ending victory over the Undertaker at WrestleMania 30, to the absolute destruction of John Cena at 2014’s SummerSlam, to the loss of his title to Drew McIntyre in a silent arena at WrestleMania 36, to the introduction of a massive tractor in a match with our Tribal Chief Roman Reigns at SummerSlam 2022, Brock has had countless memorable moments in his pro wrestling career. But what about the matches themselves? Let’s run down the Best of the Beast, the top ten matches of Brock Lesnar.
10. Brock Lesnar vs Eddie Guerrero at No Way Out 2004
One thing that several of the matches on our list will remind readers of is that Brock, for all his size and intimidation and power, is not above losing. When he’s in the ring with an opponent he respects and likes working with, Lesnar is more than happy to sell their offense and put the other man over. One of the first times he pulled that off was in 2004, when he and the late, great Eddie Guerrero put together a program for the ages leading up to a match at No Way Out.
Eddie and Brock had some incredible back-and-forth in promos leading up to the match, but it was their all-timer on February 12 on SmackDown that really took the battle to the next level, as Brock entered the arena with a mariachi band, and Eddie went back and forth with Brock about Eddie’s history with addiction.
The match at No Way Out was simply incredible. Eddie eats so much offense from Brock, in the form of both devastating power moves and, later in the match, more amateur-style takedowns. But in the end, a ref bump during an F-5 led Brock to grab his championship. Before he could attack Eddie, Goldberg (who had also been building a rivalry with Brock at the time) speared Lesnar. Eddie whiffed on a belt shot of his own, and Lesnar went for one last F-5. Guerrero reversed that into a DDT on the championship, and a Frog Splash sealed the victory for Eddie Guerrero, his one and only WWE Championship title.
9. Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker, Hell in a Cell Match at No Mercy 2002
The Undertaker had to appear on this list somewhere. The rivalry between the Beast and the Dead Man is legendary, and not just for the fact that Lesnar is, as Paul Heyman put it, “the one in 21 and 1.” Twelve years prior to that meeting at WrestleMania XXX, ‘Taker and Lesnar met inside Hell in a Cell for the best match the two would ever put together. It was the ninth-ever Hell in a Cell match in WWE and the first featuring The Beast Incarnate. Undertaker, of course, had been featured in five previous HiaC matches including the one every wrestling fan remembers against Mick Foley at King of the Ring 1998.
This was still seven years before the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view was instituted, so the introduction of the Cell into a rivalry meant the feud was too big for a mere ring. This war was no different, as the build to No Mercy involved Lesnar, then the WWE Champion, establishing himself as the Next Big Thing in wrestling. After a debut in April 2002 in which he TKO’d Jeff Hardy, Lesnar went on a tear.
He won King of the Ring over Rob Van Dam. He bear-hugged the life out of Hulk Hogan and tossed him aside, earning the right to face the Rock at SummerSlam, which he did. Then he went on to defeat Matt Hardy, Randy Orton, Triple H, and John Cena. Undertaker saw an opportunity here to stop this up-and-comer in his tracks, but Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar began playing mind games with the Dead Man involving his pregnant wife. A bloody No Contest finish at Unforgiven led the Undertaker to seek revenge (and another shot at the championship) in a match many viewed as The Undertaker’s: Hell in a Cell.
This match took place during Undertaker’s “American Badass” phase, when he frequently came to the ring on a motorcycle and changed his gear to a simple tank top, bandanna, and leather pants. On this night, there was no motorcycle but ‘Taker did wear the cast on his left arm that he’d used as a weapon previously, along with heavy tape on his broken right hand. Brock showed no mercy inside the cell but he was the first to shed blood, busted open against the cage about three minutes into the contest. But it was Brock who did the most damage, taking a steel chair to that broken hand.
Undertaker wasn’t going down easily, hitting several of the strikes he’d transitioned to using as the basis of his offense. At the end of the match, Undertaker hit a Last Ride that Lesnar barely caught the rope break to negate, and ‘Taker’s follow-up Tombstone Piledriver was reversed into one last F-5 to end the horribly bloody contest. Taker, Lesnar, even Heyman were all covered in crimson at the end of that match.
In what became an amazing last shot for the PPV, Brock snatched his championship and ascended to the top of the cell, celebrating atop the structure as the bloodied Undertaker lay in the ring below.
8. Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns at Fastlane 2016
The first of a handful of multi-person matches on our list, Brock’s triple-threat against former Shield members Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns features a great mix of action and brutality. The first half was mostly Lesnar imposing his will on both opponents, tossing Reigns and Ambrose around the ring with German suplexes and knee strikes. Eventually, the pair resorted to a temporary team-up to stand a chance against the Beast.
A two-man powerbomb putting Lesnar through the announce table let the former Shield brothers focus on one another for a good three minutes, and the two put together what amounted to a great singles match in that window. They kept track of the Beast as well, and the duo combined for a second announce table bomb when Lesnar was caught recovering, burying him under the remains of the two shattered tables before resuming their one-on-one brawl.
Somehow, Lesnar managed to unearth himself, taking a spear from Reigns before Ambrose took a steel chair to both Roman and Brock. Unfortunately, Ambrose got a little too thwack-happy and focused on Brock, allowing Roman to hit a Spear on the distracted lunatic and score the pinfall win.
7. Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns (vs Seth Rollins) at WrestleMania 31
Before the triple threat with Ambrose and Reigns, Lesnar was involved with one against a different two-thirds of the Shield, he just didn’t know that going in. Roman versus Brock was one of the more highly-anticipated matches going into WrestleMania 31.
After ten brutal minutes in front of a crowd that had veered into pro-Brock territory, Roman busted Brock open on the ring post, opening up a nasty gash on Lesnar’s forehead. Lesnar, never one to shy away from a crimson mask, recovered and things turned up a notch, with both superstars hitting signature move after signature move. Spears, F-5s, Superman punches, Germans…all culminating in a Superman punch getting reversed into an F-5 that dropped both men. As they lay recovering, the opening riffs of Burn It Down hit and Seth Rollins sprinted down the entry ramp with his Money in the Bank briefcase, looking to take advantage of the war
Roman and Brock spent the last fifteen minutes trying to end. Rollins hit a curb stomp on Brock, but was caught attempting a second. Brock flipped Seth onto his shoulders and was about to hit the F-5 when Roman Reigns appeared in the ring and speared Lesnar just as Rollins wriggled free. Seth hit Reigns with a Curb Stomp and, just under a minute after the bell rang to turn the match into a triple threat, Rollins became the WWE World Heavyweight Champion in what has since become known as the “Heist of the Century.” A fantastic match with an all-time great ending.
6. Brock Lesnar vs Daniel Bryan, Champion vs Champion Match at Survivor Series 2018
Another one of those matches that solidified Brock’s respect for Daniel Bryan and his willingness to put over an opponent, the Champion versus Champion match at 2018’s Survivor Series main evented the card. The match was born from AJ Styles dropping the title to Bryan on the SmackDown prior to the PPV, as Bryan turned heel and WWE likely wanted a different opponent for Lesnar as he’d faced AJ at Survivor Series the previous year. So it wasn’t quite heel versus heel, but it wasn’t two good guys having a respectful wrestling match either.
To his credit, Bryan had a hell of a strategy going into this battle. He taunted Lesnar during Brock’s entrance, and when the bell rang he immediately went for Lesnar’s legs. Bryan worked the taunts like a kid building his special move meter in a video game. Hit and run was the concept – it worked in practice up until Brock got his hands on the smaller Bryan.
It took nearly two minutes but Lesnar caught a leg strike and turned it into a hard lariat, and followed it up with the first of many suplexes. We never got into Suplex City territory despite Brock starting the chant himself, as Bryan somehow managed to recover from several devastating moves and keep fighting the Beast Incarnate. The commentary team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young did a great job putting over their concern for Bryan, conveying concern that the future planet’s champ might not have long on this earth.
Late in the match, Bryan had hope in a ref spot that mirrored the Eddie Guerrero F-5, and he followed it up with a quick kick to Brock’s junk but couldn’t get the pinfall. Bryan then took over, landing a series of Yes Kicks and the arm-trap stomps he continues to use in AEW today. The crowd was alive once again as Bryan stayed on the big man, throwing his body at Lesnar and ripping attacks off where it was almost certain Brock was about to finish things.
Running knees and quick evasion kept Bryan in this match far longer than the beginning of the bout would have implied, but despite a stunning series of running knees and the application of the Yes Lock, Lesnar was able to stand and hit a final F-5 to get the victory. While the ending was never in doubt before the bell, there were several moments during the match where fans believed in Daniel Bryan.
5. Brock Lesnar vs John Cena, Extreme Rules Match at Extreme Rules 2012
A match pitting the “new face of WWE,” as Lesnar was dubbed by John Laurinitis after his return from UFC, against John Cena, the “former” face that ran the place, this brutal Extreme Rules battle was framed as the match Cena had to win after losing to the Rock at WrestleMania. Looking back at these matches, it’s funny how many times WWE has tried to catch the lightning in a bottle they had with Cena – face after face trying to replace the guy who never really left, and who was far and away more beloved than any Romans or Brocks or Theorys they have tried since.
This was Brock’s debut in his MMA-inspired gear, and his first match back after leaving the company for UFC, the NFL, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Cena went for a quick takedown and immediately regretted it, eating a series of mounted punches and elbows and getting busted open less than a minute into the fight. Brock manhandled Cena for the majority of this match, strutting and taunting after tossing his opponent around while covered in Cena’s blood.
Brock captured Cena’s ankles in the padlock and chain Cena wore to the ring, and continued the assault as the Chicago crowd grew exhausted trying to will the hero to victory after the referee was knocked out. Nearly every hope spot Cena attempted was quickly nullified by the Beast, and a win for the returning Lesnar seemed inevitable. A second ref bump meant Cena had a chance to kick out from an F-5, and Lensar lost it after that, attacking the replacement referee and sliding the steel ring steps into the ring. Cena had another comeback, but Lesnar caught him in a kimura and nearly got a submission, but Cena somehow had enough left in the tank to lift the Beast with one arm and slam him onto those steel steps.
A shocking dive from the ring onto Cena left Brock waiting inside the ring for Big Match John to get back in, but Brock’s taunting gave Cena enough time to wrap the chain around his hand and bust Brock’s head open with a strike. An Attitude Adjustment onto the stairs was the finish to this shockingly bloody and brutal matchup.
4. Brock Lesnar vs Kurt Angle, Ironman Match on SmackDown, 9/18/2003
When the Beast Incarnate made his debut, it seemed like WWE was lining up superstars to feed to the Next Big Thing. Kurt Angle shared a history with Brock – both wrestlers were amateur champions, although Kurt continued his training much longer and won Olympic gold in doing so. Angle and Brock had also been involved in a bitter rivalry for Angle’s WWE Championship.
This match had a little bit of everything: ref bumps, chair shots, submissions, pinfalls. Hell, the first point was only awarded after Brock attacked Angle with a steel chair – apparently a dozen chair shots only equals one DQ point. At one point Lesnar had a seemingly insurmountable 5-2 lead with over 14 minutes remaining.
Angle came back after flying up the turnbuckle to hit a superplex on Brock to cut the lead to 2, and then got another point via ankle lock submission with only about four minutes remaining. Kurt would get another submission locked in at the last minute, even after suffering a low blow, but Brock managed to hold out long enough to win 5-4 and recapture the championship.
Even in the early days of SmackDown – the show debuted in 1999 – the idea that half the show would be devoted to one match was absurd. It’s also notable that this was a full hour match, surprising considering WWE isn’t above running a 30- or even 15-minute match and still calling it Iron Man worthy. A popular complaint about this match was that the commercial breaks were jarring in the middle of a match – that point almost seems quaint in retrospect, as nearly every match on every televised wrestling show suffers from one or two ad breaks at minimum!
3. Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman vs Samoa Joe, Fatal Four Way Match at SummerSlam 2017
As a strong proponent of Big E’s “big meaty men slappin’ meat” style of match, this one has some big fellas going at it. Even Roman, the least beefy of these slabs of beef and at the height of his unpopular face run, held his own in this Fatal Four Way. Still, this SummerSlam match is high in our rankings for a reason, and that reason is pacing. Four dudes this large simply shouldn’t be able to run a 20-minute match without things breaking down, but that’s exactly what happened.
Brock won the WWE Universal Championship at Wrestlemania 33 and retained over Samoa Joe at the “Great Balls of Fire” show later in 2017, setting them up for this rematch-turned-assault on the Beast’s championship run.
Joe setting Brock up for a Reigns spear through the corner barricade was an early highlight, and Strowman followed it up with a powerslam through the German announce table. Things didn’t look great for Lesnar early, but he got a chance to recover while the other three participants in the match took turns just destroying one another with attacks. A Joe suicide dive onto Roman, followed by Braun yeeting an announcer’s chair at the pair when they got to their feet, was another in a crazy sequence of violence that continued when Strowman put Brock through the Spanish announce table, sending the Beast on a multicultural tour of lumber that ended only after Braun flipped the English announce table onto Lesnar.
The match wasn’t overlong, didn’t overstay its welcome, and the Barclays Center crowd was into it throughout, cheering Joe and booing Roman, even singing the “Hey, hey, hey, goodbye” song when Brock was strapped to a board and gurneyed out of the arena. Of course, you can’t keep a good Beast down and Braun’s ongoing assault on the other superstars was cut short when the champ returned to the ring to finish the match, hitting an F-5 on the future Tribal Chief to defend his title.
2. Brock Lesnar vs C.M. Punk, No Disqualification Match at SummerSlam 2013
It seems crazy to think this match happened ten years ago, as the careers of both of these men have been wild since this battle, one of the best of both of their careers. Brock was a year into his second run with WWE, having returned from his runs in the NFL, UFC, and whatever else he wanted to succeed at – the man simply doesn’t fail in his endeavors. Punk had been betrayed by former manager Paul Heyman at Money in the Bank earlier in the year.
With that straightforward backdrop, the table was set. The Best vs the Beast. Punk had been manhandled by Brock week after week, and this SummerSlam bout would give the Second City Saint the opportunity to get his revenge on the monstrous Lesnar and the conniving Paul E. all in one go. The match itself is a masterpiece, but the build and the hatred, not only between Punk and Heyman but also between Punk and Brock, really fueled this battle.
The No Disqualification stipulation, in theory, was added in the SummerSlam pre-show to help Punk. His hope was that it would even the odds, allowing Punk’s quickness and intelligence (and maybe a chair or two) to balance out Lesnar’s overwhelming size and strength. To his credit, Punk used that stip to his benefit, going after Brock with the steel ring steps early in the match and laying into Lesnar with chair shots later in the match.
There are sequences that highlight both men’s talents in the ring – Brock’s power is constantly on display, but some great reversals into submissions by both superstars were featured as well. For a No DQ match, this brutal SummerSlam match really played into technique and skill before devolving into straight-up brutality. In the end, it was Paul Heyman’s constant interference, and Punk’s desire for revenge against his former friend, that sealed the victory for the Beast Incarnate.
1. Brock Lesnar vs John Cena vs Seth Rollins, Triple Threat Match at Royal Rumble 2015
Brock Lesnar’s finest match in a WWE ring took place before the 2015 Royal Rumble – and, by contrast, the less we say about that Rumble match the better. Lesnar held the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which he won from John Cena in shockingly violent fashion at SummerSlam in 2014. This match features Seth Rollins during his run as a tool of the Authority, John Cena in his anti-authority phase (his entrance features one of the loudest “John Cena sucks” singalongs in recent memory, thanks to a hot Philly crowd), and Brock Lesnar embracing his part-time role as a force of nature with a championship that he defended when it fit into his schedule. Rollins came to the ring with the Money in the Bank briefcase, which he considered his “Plan B” in case he didn’t win, as well as his backup in the form of Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury.
Lesnar entered the arena with longtime advocate Paul Heyman to (mostly) cheers from the crowd. Right from the start, Brock hit Cena with a pair of German Suplexes as Seth wisely dipped out of the ring. Seth tried to take advantage, but got caught up in an F-5 that was broken up by J&J Security, who ate a double German suplex as a reward. Brock was a blur early in this match, a brutal tornado of German suplexes as he tossed both Rollins and Cena around the ring.
The violent streak continued for a while, as the crowd began to chant “ECW” and Brock decided to switch to submission wrestling with a Kimura lock on Cena, who powered out by lifting Brock with one arm before Rollins flew in from the top of the corner turnbuckle with a knee to both other men. That opening made the match more competitive, with Cena and Rollins getting a bit of offense in before the Beast recovered and went back to playing the role of Uber driver to Suplex City.
The triple threat setup, long abused by WWE as a way to have long one-on-one sequences while the third performer rests in the “wrestling hole” behind the ring, was used to near-perfection on this night. The single opponent matchups were short, and for the most part Lesnar was involved in the majority of the match. There was barely time for any competitor to catch their breath, as constant pinfall attempts meant the third man had to remain diligent or lose their championship opportunity.
And there are so many memorable moments as well – Lesnar snatching Rollins from midair and transitioning him onto his shoulders for an F-5, Brock furiously slamming a monitor onto the ring steps before heading back into the ring and eating a trio of Attitude Adjustments from Cena AND a Rollins Curb stomp, Cena driving Brock into the steel steps and setting Lesnar up on the announce table for Seth to deliver a diving elbow from the turnbuckle. It’s difficult to describe this match without going move by move because everything flows into the next spot so seamlessly.
The explosiveness of the final sequence of this match encapsulates the 21 minutes leading up to it. After EMTs headed ringside to assist Lesnar, who hadn’t been involved in the match since that table spot, Rollins had his Money in the Bank briefcase, ready to strike. An assist by J&J security was foiled by Cena, who stacked both men for an AA before hitting Rollins with one of his own, only for Seth to kick out.
The “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” chants were in full force at this point, and an incredible sequence between Cena and Rollins ended with a Curb Stomp and a Cena kick out at two. Rollins hit a Phoenix Splash as Lesnar appeared in the ring, pulling the smaller man off Cena with a German and then hitting Cena with another, sending John out of the ring. Rollins returned to the ring and took another German but landed on his feet, collected his case, hit Lesnar twice, and set Brock’s head on the case for another Curb Stomp. Somehow, Brock timed his recovery perfectly and snatched Seth mid-stomp, hitting the Architect with an F-5 and bringing this, arguably the best match from all three wrestlers, to a finish.