Brock Lesnar was a big star during his WWE run, which ran roughly from 2002 through 2004. Brought in straight out of college and groomed in developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), the collegiate champion wrestler had the size, build and athleticism that naturally caught the eye of one Vincent Kennedy McMahon.
Once he made his way to TV, he was given a gigantic push, debuting in March 2002, winning "King of the Ring" in June of the same year and in Aug. at SummerSlam, won his first title over The Rock at just 25-years-old, making him the youngest WWE champion in company history.
His big push didn't necessarily translate into an explosion of pay-per-view (PPV) buys, nor did it mean a major increase in television ratings. It made him a star, no doubt, but nothing on the level of all-time greats like Stone Cold Steve Austin or Hulk Hogan.
Contrast that to his future career in mixed martial arts (MMA). Lesnar's signing with UFC was announced in Oct. 2007 and he made his debut inside the Octagon in Feb. 2008. He's fought just six bouts during his time with the promotion and he's already unquestionably the biggest star in the history of the entire sport.
There is no fighter who has ever sold PPV's as well as Brock. In fact, these days, any time his name is on the card, the event can automatically be counted on to reach at least one million buys.
Why so much success? On top of being naturally charismatic and such an imposing physical specimen, Lesnar credits his time with WWE as the reason he's so marketable with the UFC. Which is amazing when one considers the fact that his last match, at WrestleMania 20 in March 2004, was an absolute disaster and occurred almost four full years before he made his UFC debut.
Amazing. Here's what Lesnar told The Wrestling Press about his incredible success:
"I'm not stupid - without the WWE, the WWE made me a household name and increased my value tenfold before I even pursued the UFC. Could I be where I am today without the WWE? Probably not. Could I be drawing the same numbers that I'm drawing? Probably not. I brought a lot of fans over, a lot of crossover fans that I brought, just from the general public and WWE fans, I believe."
Again, still unbelievable to consider the fact that Lesnar was almost a full four years removed from his last match with WWE before making his debut with the UFC. And, again, that match was one of the biggest disasters in the history of WrestleMania.
Of course, it was expected that quite a few fans would want to see how Lesnar did once the fighting was "as real as it gets." And he did pretty damn well for himself. After losing his first fight, Brock went on to win the heavyweight title just four fights into his career (sounds familiar, doesn't it?).
In other Lesnar news, he recently signed a deal with WWE for promotional purposes, in which he is expected to make some appearances on behalf of the company sometime later this year.
He's also rumored to make his return to UFC in a rubber match against Frank Mir, but again, that's just speculation at this time.