Every universe has its own megaboss whose sole mission is to consume, feeding on the energy of others to sustain their own life force. And for this, Marvel has Galactus with Darkseid holding up the mantle for DC.
They also all have their own berserker, who only seek to smash everything in their path to fulfill an evolutionary urge to dominate masking itself as a sense of accomplishment. In DC, that’s Doomsday and for Marvel, Hulk: both engineered (one genetically, the other through the Stan Lee-ification of radiation science) for destruction. Only in the WWE Universe is there a character who stands in for both, an all-consuming force that doesn’t work for sustenance but to calm the giant rage monster inside of them.
Which is to say: there’s only one Brock Lesnar.
From the beginning Brock has been a destroyer. Watching old video of him in OVW feels like watching Big Foot on a rampage dressed as the Loch Ness Monster. Even among that enormous cast of characters –his legendary class included Shelton Benjamin, Randy Orton, Batista and John Cena – Lesnar stood out as special, rapidly making a name for himself after debuting on the main roster by almost singlehandedly annihilating the hardcore division in a singular act of destruction.
He then set his sights on tag teams, running straight through the Hardy Boy(s/z) before beating The Rock for the WWE title at SummerSlam in the first six months of his first run on the main roster. And in between, he found the time to destroy Hulk Hogan from the inside out.
Built for the creative destruction of professional wrestling capitalism, the only things that could stop Brock as a character were untrustworthy associates and apathy. Unfortunately for Brock on the former, and the WWE Universe on the latter, those two things would converge to change Lesnar’s story from one of a Bruno Sammartino-esque run at the top – which would eventually find its way into the hands of John Cena (a fact that Brock seemed somewhat genuinely pissed about – into something closer to the career of Tim Lincecum: a fine fate for most, but largely unbecoming of The Next Big Thing.
The seemingly pointless assassination of Brock Lesnar by the coward Paul Heyman was, in retrospect, a decidedly odd choice to make even with the rather obvious end goal of turning him face. As the evidence clearly shows now, Lesnar is a monster best seen and not heard – unless he has something on the level of “A pile of blood, piss … and vomit” or “It’s going to be ugly(,) people” to say – who can thrive just by pointing him in a direction and having Paul Heyman do the talking for him.
At the time, however, the idea of stars in the WWE had a very different set of standards and practices. Without social media, YouTube video views or the Network, the idealized WWE superstar was one who gave completely of himself for the business, one who existed only to serve the Great Lord and Master McMahon, and was totally willing to spend in the vicinity of 300 days on the road.
Brock Lesnar, for all of his positive attributes, was none of those things. A farmboy by birth, Lesnar hated travel, hated fans (or at least the kind that think the performers “owe” them something because they “pay their salaries”) and hated the grind of working nearly every single day of almost literally every single week.
And because of that, Brock went on a journey. One that led him from the practice fields of the Minnesota Vikings to the streamer-strewn rings of New Japan to the Octagon of UFC. It would take the WWE – and probably Lesnar himself – nearly a decade to figure out how best to use the Beast.
By treating him as what he is – a once-in-a-lifetime sports entertainment attraction – the WWE has been able to help him reach his full potential and recreate what it means to be a star in the WWE. No longer are performers required to have their whole world (or Universe) exists in the WWE. Because of Lesnar, guys like Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Finn Balor and even Stephen Amell are able to come to the show with the understanding that as long as you are entertaining and can get the crowd to feel something, you are welcome.
They are all able to be a thing that becomes a thing, to push the world of professional wrestling to the mainstream as it attached itself to more and more forms of media and entertainment. For all the talk of him providing legitimacy, his realness allows the facade of professional wrestling to be torn down and rebuilt in the image of the world it reflects.
And that, more than anything else, is the Next Big Thing.