Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker
October 20th, 2002
Hell in a Cell
2002 was a transitional time for World Wrestling Entertainment.
Steve Austin had “took his ball and went home” when he quit working for WWE over a proposed storyline match between himself and Brock Lesnar.
The Rock had left, again, to film another movie.
Undertaker was meddling between feuds that were going nowhere.
Mick Foley/Mankind/Cactus Jack/Dude Love was off television and away from WWE.
Hulk Hogan was hot coming off the heels of stealing the show with The Rock at Wrestlemania, only to disappear a few months later off TV.
On March 18th 2002, the day after Wrestlemania 18 in Toronto, Canada the landscape of WWE would be forever altered. A young beast of a man came through the crowd alongside Paul Heyman and destroyed wrestlers Al Snow, Maven, and Spike Dudley in the middle of their match on WWE Monday Night RAW. No one had ever seen this man on television and few had rarely seen a man of that size, strength, and athleticism come in and make such an immediate impact in WWE.
That man was Brock Lesnar, and after that debut, nothing was the same.
Brock Lesnar, five months and eight days after his historic debut on WWE Monday Night RAW, was crowned the WWE Champion. Lesnar went on to defeat one of the greatest wrestlers on all time, The Rock, at Summerslam 2002 to become the youngest WWE champion of all time.
Lesnar’s rapid ascension to the top of the WWE ladder would be met with a man who was billing himself the “biggest dog in the yard”, The Undertaker.
These two combatants would meet for the first time and the pay per view event called “Unforgiven” on September 22nd, 2002. The match would end in a double disqualification without a clear winner. Lesnar would retain the title due to the fact Lesnar could not lose the championship if the match ended in a disqualification.
Lesnar would wind up breaking the Undertaker’s hand (in storyline), and this match was to take place in a “Hell in a Cell” setting. To answer the obvious next question, what is Hell in a Cell? It is a steel cage around the ring to keep both wrestlers inside the cage to finally settle the score.
October 20th, 2002 these two men were locked in a cage and by the end of the night the landscape of wrestling was forever altered.
Lesnar would control the match early on using some of his amateur wrestling background to gain an advantage on Undertaker. Lesnar would make the first pin fall attempt to retain his WWE Championship early in the match to no avail as Undertaker would beat the count and the match would continue. Undertaker would regain control of the match and send Lesnar to the ringside floor, but as Lesnar would reenter the ring, he could regain the advantage by attacking Undertaker’s broken hand.
One thing that really stood out to me was Undertaker’s willingness to show pain in a vocal way. Undertaker had been in WWE for 12 years and to this point no wrestler to this point had made Undertaker feel pain in a way that was so visual for the paying customer to see. With every kick, punch, or move directed towards that broken hand, the audience was able to feel pain with Undertaker and portray Brock Lesnar as a vicious mercenary that could make Undertaker vulnerable inside the ring.
Undertaker would regain control of the match by using the cast on his broken hand as a weapon to neutralize Lesnar. Lesnar was sent to the outside of the ring due to a blow from Undertaker using the cast as a weapon and Lesnar would begin to bleed from the top of his head. Undertaker would continue to control the offense in the match by using the confines of the steel cage and the steel steps as a way to bring the offense to Lesnar. Lesnar would have his face raked across the steel cage and you would see Lesnar with blood dripping down his face looking like a champion who was running on borrowed time.
Brock Lesnar was managed by Paul Hyeman. Paul Heyman is arguably one of the greatest managers of all time. In 2002, Brock Lesnar was still widely regarded as a raw rookie in WWE, Paul Heyman would serve a role as Lesnar’s hype man. The relationship on TV was portrayed as Heyman being the outside the ring mouthpiece to Brock Lesnar’s in ring ruthlessness and it was a match made in heaven. Heyman is a master at getting the crowd to detest him while promoting his clients strength. Heyman was the manager whose neck you wanted to ring because he was so obnoxious in his praise for Lesnar and also did a masterful job at getting Lesnar to look like a ruthless monster. Fans would wish that one day someone who get their hands on Heyman just to shut him up once and for all
In the match between Lesnar and the Undertaker, with every move that Undertaker would dish out to Lesnar, you can hear Heyman scream as if he is about to lose his meal ticket to the top of the WWE.
As Undertaker continues to dominate the course of this match and physically dominate Brock Lesnar in a way that no wrestler had done before by launching Lesnar into the walls of the steel cage and dropping a big leg drop on the ring apron.
Heyman, in an act of desperation, would begin to shout at Undertaker and try to get his hand through the cage in order to stop Undertaker from continuing the onslaught on Lesnar. Undertaker would give Heyman a boot to the face against the wall of the cage to an eruption of cheers from the fans as FINALLY someone was able to shut Paul Heyman up, albeit temporarily. Undertaker would also grab Heyman by the neck tie and ram him face first against the cage in an act that added to the violence in a match that surely was not lacking it.
Lesnar would showcase his superhuman strength to reassert himself as the dominant force in the match. Lesnar was able to lift up the 300 pound Undertaker and ramming him against the steel post of the ring and also slamming him against the steel post of the cage. Lesnar then went to work on the broken hand of the Undertaker. Paul Heyman would slip his client the belt that kept Heymans pants up as a tool to tie up Undertakers broken hand to the wall of the cage. Lesnar would proceed to grab a chair and use the chair to repeatedly deliver blows to Undertaker’s broken hand.
Just how sharks can smell blood in the water, Lesnar would then proceed to attempt to rip the cast off of Undertaker exposing that broken hand to inflict more damage. Lesnar was coming across as if he was a ruthless beast of a man, this would be viewed by fans that if Lesnar could inflict so much pain and punishment to one of the toughest men in WWE history, who would ever be able to stop him?
Undertaker in a last ditch effort hit Lesnar with a low blow which smelled of a boxer at the end of the fight going for that one last big haymaker shot in order to win the fight. Undertaker in another haymaker attempt of a move would dive through the second rope onto Lesnar and also onto the wall of the cage. These moves would only illustrate how much Lesnar had taken out of Undertaker that these were the moves he was going to in order to try and slow down the young champion.
Brock Lesnar is a freak of an athlete, watching him yank the steel steps off the ground and using them as a battering ram against Undertaker’s head was not only an act of physical dominance but also showed the lengths Lesnar was willing to go to retain his championship. Undertaker was busted wide open from the shots from the steel steps, as blood ran down Undertakers face, Lesnar would continue to assault the “biggest dog in the yard”.
Undertaker got off one punch and right after Lesnar countered with a massive spine buster. Lesnar goes for the cover to only get a two count. Undertaker is stumbling around the ring using the ropes to hold him up as he is going off of instinct to try to regain control of this match. Undertaker regains control and goes for one of his signature moves as he attempts to walk the top rope, Lesnar counters the move by throwing him off the ropes.
Lesnar goes for his signature move the “F-5” and as Undertaker counters it into his famous choke slam the crowd erupts. Could Undertaker hit the knock out shot? Could Undertaker have just hit the game winning home run? That was not the case as Lesnar was to kick out. Undertaker has regained control of this match doing a masterful job portraying the old dog that just won’t die.
Undertaker goes for his patented “Last Ride” powebomb on Lesnar which would seal the victory, the crowd explodes again thinking Undertaker has defeated the champion. Undertaker goes for the cover and Lesnar grabs the bottom rope off instinct to escape the cover.
Undertaker signals for the “Tombstone Piledriver” as the post to finally put an end to Brock Lesnar. Brock Lesnar is a feat of sheer athleticism counters the move, hoists Undertaker onto his shoulders and hits a massive “F-5” on Undertaker, and as both men lay there a bloody mess, Brock Lesnar gets the three count and walks out the winner.
Lesnar retains the title after defeating Undertaker in Hell in a Cell with the F-5.
Brock begins to scale the top of the cage towards the roof, as he gets up there standing over a defeated Undertaker, Lesnar raises the championship in a move similar to King Kong on top of the building signaling his dominance over the world.
Brock Lesnar had previously defeated Hulk Hogan, and yes fans cared, but Hogan was not an active wrestler was a recent run of great value other than a classic with Rock at Wrestlemania 18
Brock Lesnar had previously defeated The Rock at Summerslam, however fans were starting to become disenchanted with The Rock for his constant in and out role in WWE. This is evident if you re watched Lesnar vs Rock at Summerslam, you will see that the crowd is booing The Rock and cheering for Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar had not yet had that decisive monster win over a consistent top star until this match when he went into Undertakers signature match, Hell in a Cell, and took the fight right to Undertaker.
Undertaker is the most respected WWE superstar of all time by the fans and the wrestlers alike. To earn the Undertakers respect is a stamp of approval unlike any others. On Smackdown, a few days after this match Undertaker gave Lesnar a show of respect
Brock Lesnar with this match had become a major player in WWE. He would go on to continue to run roughshod through WWE until he lost the title to Big Show at Survivor Series.
Undertaker would take a brief hiatus from WWE only to resurface at Royal Rumble 2003.
There is an old cliché in pro wrestling and it is usually reserved for the champion, “To be the man, you have to beat the man”. However this time it was directed at Brock Lesnar, in order for him to become the man in WWE, he had to defeat the biggest dog in the yard in Undertaker. Undertaker was the man in WWE for over 12 years.
Brock Lesnar became the man, when he defeated the man, Undertaker at No Mercy in 2002.
This match cemented Lesnar as a future cornerstone of WWE, and although the run would come to an end 18 months later as Lesnar abruptly quit WWE to pursue other interests, it was apparent on this night we had witnessed the anointment of the new dominant force.
October 20th, 2002 was the night Brock Lesnar became the man in WWE.