SummerSlam 2002 – Brock Lesnar becomes “The Next Big Thing”

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The WWE was red hot in the summer of 2002. Shawn Michaels returned to the ring after being four years away with a back injury. Rey Mysterio debuted with the WWE, and the WWE was building new stars, such as John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, and Brock Lesnar.

Brock Lesnar dominated the summer of 2002. He debuted during a Hardcore Match the night after WrestleMania 18 and took out everyone. From then on, accompanied by Paul Heyman, he was built up as “The Next Big Thing,” and that’s what Brock Lesnar was. Lesnar would take out the likes of superstars The Hardy Boyz, Rob Van Dam, and Hulk Hogan.

WWE was marketing Lesnar to be their next top guy; Lesnar would win the King of the Ring Tournament and get an Undisputed Championship match at SummerSlam. His opponent would be The Rock. At the time, The Rock was slowly transitioning into Hollywood to break into the movie business. The WWE was moving out of the Attitude Era, known for its edgy and controversial content, and into the Ruthless Aggression Era. This era was characterized by a focus on athleticism and competition, with The Rock leaving and Stone Cold Steve Austin walking out of the company. WWE needed to build new superstars, which they wanted to do, and they did with Brock Lesnar.

As the match drew near, the anticipation was palpable. The crowd was on the edge of their seats, excitement filling the arena. They were firmly behind Brock Lesnar, their cheers echoing through the stadium, while The Rock, knowing he was soon to be off to film another movie, was met with a chorus of boos. The atmosphere was charged with electricity, and it was evident that The Rock was feeling the heat of the ‘Rocky sucks’ chants.

The match took a dramatic turn when, with a thunderous F-5, Brock Lesnar emerged victorious over The Rock. The audience was left in a state of shock and awe at this unexpected outcome. At just 25, Lesnar became the youngest WWE Champion, solidifying his status as ‘The Next Big Thing.’ This record would stand until Randy Orton’s historic win at SummerSlam 2004 in Toronto.

A little-known fact about this match: WWE planned to have Lesnar win with help from Paul Heyman, but Rock thought It would be best for him to lose clean to give Lesnar the most momentum possible and start his time as a main eventer the right way.

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