WWE Ruthless Aggression (Episode 4): The Next Big Thing

WWE Ruthless Aggression (Episode 4): The Next Big Thing

WWE Ruthless Aggression (Episode 4): The Next Big Thing Report by Josh Lopez 

The following is a transcript of WWE Network’s newest series, “WWE Ruthless Aggression.” Please share some of your favorite Ruthless Aggression moments in the comment section. We’ll be highlighting certain comments made by the superstars, producers, and executives from that era and fan perspective from the current members of the WWE Roster.

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Description: Seeking “The Next Big Thing,” WWE finds Brock Lesnar. He becomes an in-ring monster — and a master of Ruthless Aggression behind the scenes. Relive Lesnar’s rise to the top, rivalries with The Rock and Hulk Hogan and his decision to depart WWE for eight years.

Opening Monologue 

Paul Heyman: I think people need to understand that Brock Lesnar was only here for two years. Brock Lesnar started the day after WrestleMania X8 and finished at WrestleMania XX. Brock Lesnar was here for 24 months, that’s it. His first run was that fast. His contributions were enormous. The number of moments that Brock Lesnar offered in those two years, unheard of. But it was only two years.

Recruiting Brock Lesnar/OVW  

Jim Ross: We spotted Brock in college and started recruiting him. We needed new faces. We needed new stars. New stars is what the business thrives on. We got Brock in developmental. We sent him to Louisville.

Jim Cornette: Even if you have top stars now, that doesn’t mean you’re going to have top stars in two or three years. So it’s not like you can just sit and say, okay, I have all the wrestlers I need for the next five or ten years. That’s never going to happen. So I hear I have The NCAA Heavyweight Wrestling Champion coming. Okay, here we go.

Batista: Everything that he did was just fast and powerful. When you get a guy who looks like that and is a freak athlete, but also really understands the psychology, he’s a money maker.

Jim Cornette: Brock, being a freak athlete, one in day practice just because he saw somebody else try it or he saw it on TV or whatever does a Shooting Star Press. This is not good for a huge guy to do something like that all the time. But for The Big Show, boy, you pull out all the stops, that’s great.

WWE Debut 

Paul Heyman: Brock Lesnar had learned all he was going to learn in developmental. And he was tired of developmental money. Brock Lesnar knew he was the biggest box office attraction that WWE was going to have. And Brock Lesnar was tired of waiting. So Brock made a decision. Move me up to the main roster or kiss my ass goodbye. It was a no brainer of a decision. So Brock is working dark matches, which are the matches that take place before the television goes live.

He was getting horrible advice from these veterans that were still hanging on to their jobs as producers. You are too big. You move too fast. Don’t move so fast. Stay still. Stand in the middle of the ring and don’t move. So I got together with Brock and gave him some different advice than what he was receiving. And I asked Vince to watch Brock’s match and Vince loved it. Vince told me he was going to put Brock and Heyman together on screen.

Brain Gewirtz: There were these things called talent rosters. With every talent in developmental, on the main roster, all kind of condensed on one page. The top of every year we would pick three and go, all right, these three people were going to get over and they are going to become stars. Certain people like Brock Lesnar, you just look at them and you go, okay, well, that’s one.

Bruce Prichard: Paul was the perfect mouthpiece for Brock because here’s a big guy that could go out and do all of Paul’s bidding and Paul can flap his gums and do what Paul does best.

The Next Big Thing 

Brian Gewirtz: I remember a lot of consternation going back and forth in the production meeting in terms of whether this guy was ready.

Bruce Prichard: The question became, hey, if not now, when? And why not now? You’re right. He may not be ready, but if it’s not him, who’s it going to be? And there wasn’t anybody else ready to step into that role. We needed new. We needed fresh. And he was new and he was fresh.

Mick Foley: I knew Brock from seeing him around. But until I saw the build up for his match with The Rock at SummerSlam 2002, I don’t think I realized how big this guy could be or how much the momentum had shifted to his side.

.Michael Rapoport: SummerSlam was a turning point for The Rock, whose full time focus shifted to his budding hollywood career. So with The Great One on his way to Tinsel Town, Brock Lesnar was suddenly the top dog in WWE. A shock to everyone except Brock. Brock’s meteoric rise to the top was embraced by the WWE Universe. But outside the ring, Brock really didn’t care much for the constant attention.

Not Craving The Spotlight 

Bruce Prichard: Brock was still young. Gone from OVW and now he’s in the big leagues and he’s the champion. It was a lot, very quickly. I don’t know if Brock appreciated the enormity of it all. I think Brock at the time was looking at the business as a business. And i’m going to be a businessman about it. I’m going to go out and do what I have to do when I have to do it. And i’m going to go home.

Batista: I think he’s fine to keep his walls up and keep everybody away. You know, I think there’s a part of him that likes to be intimidating to people. You know, that may be because he just doesn’t want people getting close to him.

Kurt Angle: Brock is a very private person. To a certain extent, he doesn’t like people.

Bruce Prichard: Not a lot of BS in Brock. You wind him up and Brock goes. And he looks at wrestling as this is how i’m going to be able to afford the life I want to have.

Michael Rapaport: Despite Brock’s as a matter of fact demeanor, he continued to put on an awesome display of power, athleticism and complete domination in the ring. No other rookie had ever dominated the WWE quite like Brock Lesnar. At Survivor Series, Lesnar’s historic run would finally hit an insurmountable obstacle. His mentor and manager, Paul Heyman, turned against Brock, helping Big Show take the title. With Paul Heyman no longer by his side, Lesnar still proved to be a force to be reckoned with. Lesnar added to his sensational rookie season by winning the 2003 Royal Rumble. Earning a shot at the title at WrestleMania XIX.

Here Comes The Pain & WrestleMania XIX 

Kurt Angle: I knew that when Brock got up here to the WWE, it was going to be about him and me because we came from the same sport.

Michael Rapaport: The two most accomplished amateur athletes in WWE history were set to collide in an epic battle on the grand stage. And it seemed destined to set the standard for years to come.

Paul Heyman: Brock Lesnar main eventing WrestleMania meant Brock Lesnar as a WrestleMania main eventer and now we can plan the next ten WrestleMania’s around Brock Lesnar.

Bruce Prichard: It was horrifying. We didn’t know if Brock had broken his neck and wondering, is Brock okay? Get a little bit of movement. Then finally, they took it home.

Paul Heyman: Shooting Star Press was a classic example of Brock could be given bad advice and that bad advice almost cost Brock his entire career.

Brock Becoming More Frustrated With The WWE Lifestyle 

Bruce Prichard: Brock came to us with his concerns. And Brock expressed he wanted to lighten his load. If Brock could have done once a month, I know he would have, but that wasn’t the business at the time. And, you know, you’d get a grumpy Brock some days. You attribute that to he’s young, first time he’s doing a lot of this. And you’ll get used to it, kid, you know. Come on, you’ll get used to it. And for some people, they don’t want to get used to it.

Matt Hardy: This is a tough job. It will wear you down very quickly. Nobody has a schedule like WWE does.

Kurt Angle: He actually bought an airplane so he didn’t have to go to airports anymore. And he would fly that airplane to every city. It was a private plane. That’s how private Brock was. He literally bought an airplane and hired a pilot to fly him around all over the country.

Brian Gewirtz: You could tell. You could tell when someone is enjoying the hell out of themselves backstage and when someone is like let’s just get this over with and move on to the next one kind of thing. And I think, you know, like Brock found himself during that period of time and knew what he liked and what he didn’t like and had no problem saying, all right, i’m going to do what I like until I don’t want to do this anymore and then i’m going to do something else.

Michael Rapaport: In 2004, the grind of being at the top of the mountain in WWE eventually caused Lesnar to hit his breaking point. Not even two years into his WWE career, Brock Lesnar came to a decision that would send shockwaves throughout the entire company.

Leaving WWE & WrestleMania XX

Bruce Prichard: Brock just sat me down and said, hey, i’m quitting. It was that simple. It wasn’t a long explanation. It wasn’t blaming anybody or anything. He had obviously given it thought and had a plan. Do whatever you guys want me to do, but you’re not going to talk me out of it.

Brian Gewirtz: I think there was a lot of different emotions. I think there was surprise, some resentment by some people. We did all this for you and this is how you’re repaying us? Your’e walking away after we did all this for you? i think everyone was shocked by that. But at the same time the signs were there. It’s not like he’d show up every day with a smile and doing a tap dance and being, hey, what can I do today and happy to be here kind of thing. The thing I remember the most about that match was being surprised how the internet reports permeated to the crowd.

Seth Rollins: That was like one of the first times where, you know, the internet and social media had an impact on what you saw on the screen. I remember hearing about it and knowing about it. And then like seeing the audience all on the same page just being like, ugh, they were disgusted with all of it.

Matt Hardy: You’re in New York City where you have the smartest of the smart fans. Goldberg, you’re walking out on us. Brock, you’re walking out on us, so the hell with both of you. You’re not just leaving WWE, you’re leaving me too and they let them have it.

JBL: There’s nothing Brock could have done that night. He could have had the greatest match in the history of wrestling, and the people were still going to chant what they wanted to chant and heckle him and do what they wanted to do.

Brock Lesnar: If you want to get farther ahead in life, you’ve got to stick your neck out. So i’m looking forward to the future. I could really care about the past. What’s done is done and let’s move on and do something different.

The NFL & UFC 

Michael Rapaport: Brock’s first challenge outside of the WWE was a seemingly impossible one. After not playing football for almost a decade, Brock decided to try out for the NFL. And after an impressive showing at the NFL Combine, The Minnesota Vikings invited him to camp. Brock appeared in several preseason games and was so impressive the Vikings had a tough decision to make.

Paul Heyman: Brock Lesnar was the last person cut before the main season. That’s unheard of.

Mark Henry: He ended up saying you know what, football is not what I want to do. I just wanted to give it a try. And his next challenge was MMA.

Kurt Angle: And Brock liked that style because that lifestyle was training at home six months and then going to an event one time to fight. That’s Brock’s cup of tea. That way Brock can stay at home, train, spend time with his family, do his hunting and fishing. And he doesn’t have to deal with the real world.

Dana White: If you look at Lesnar what did, the guy comes over from the WWE and actually becomes the heavyweight champion of the world. It’s literally impossible. Crazy at times. You know how it could be dealing with Brock Lesnar, i’m sure. He has a very unique personality.

Legacy & WWE Return 

Mark Henry: I was really glad that he came back home because a pro wrestler and a pro wrestling champion is who really is.

Bruce Prichard: The Ruthless Aggression Era was a time of creating and a time of creating the future. Brock was someone brand new and he came in with brutality, wrestling fundamentals and he was fresh.

Brian Gewirtz: I think Brock was a major factor in revitalizing WWE post WCW going down because he’s a home grown talent and never seen before until he hit a WWE ring as far as the sports entertainment world. There was just this energy of when that Brock music hits. That you are experiencing it in an arena in 2002 was unlike anything you have ever seen before.

Mick Foley: Nobody made the suspension of disbelief easier than Brock Lesnar.

Checkout Episode 194 of The Hoots Podcast 

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