Published on July 2nd, 2016 | by Joey Finnegan0
‘The Beast and His Advocate’
The Inseparable Bond Between Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman
My name is Joey Finnegan, and today I take a turn at the wheel. If you are an avid reader of this site like myself, then you may have read some of my articles before (The Kliq Rules (With An Iron Fist) and The Tragic Tale on How Perry Saturn’s Life Went Downhill After Heroically Stopping a Rape). I truly love the work done here on ProWrestlingStories.com, so I’m honored to be taking part here again!
With the introductions out of the way, let’s take a look at the inseparable bond between ‘The Beast’ Brock Lesnar and his ‘Advocate’ Paul Heyman, from their beginnings to present.
“There he was. Brock Lesnar.
Jeeeesh, he was just so big, so massive, so huge. And he moved like a cat. There’s no way a man that size should be able to move so quickly and with such agility.
The man who would one day become the first individual to win both the WWE and UFC world heavyweight championships was working out his non-televised match with Funaki.
He was also getting some really bad advice from veterans who were obviously threatened by what Lesnar could potentially bring to the table.
“Nikita Koloff got over just being big,” one old school NWA vet told Lesnar. “Be more like Goldberg,” another person suggested. “Someone your size shouldn’t move too much. Look at tapes of Sid when he first started,” advised a third.
Some of the bad advice was clearly intentional. Some of it was based on the fact a lot of people have a hard time accepting change.
Tazz pulled Lesnar aside and advised him to talk with me. Lesnar listened intently, thanked me profusely, and said: “You know, I’m very coachable.
Truer words were never spoken.”
PART ONE: A BEAST IS BORN
Brock Edward Lesnar was born on July 12th, 1977 in Webster, South Dakota. He was raised by Stephanie and Richard Lesnar on a dairy farm. He has two older brothers, Troy and Chad, and a younger sister named Brandi. He attended high school in his hometown, where he played football and competed in amateur wrestling.
The latter pursuit is one that his parents let him begin at five-years-old. He would work his family’s farm, same as everyone else, but he’d never miss wrestling practice. His mother did most of the driving, as his father had a farm to run.
If she wasn’t available, Brock would catch a ride from another family or his coach. However he got there, he had one job to do: win. If he did, his parents would tell him he did a good job. That’s it. No celebration, or any of that. If he lost, there was no crying allowed. He would simply be told to try harder and win next time. There was no settling.
Brock Lesnar was raised to be a winner.
At age 17, in an effort to go after a future that included more than milking cows and sitting on tractors, Brock joined the United States National Guard. He ended up at a desk job when his red-green color blindness was discovered and deemed hazardous due to his desire to work with explosives that were, unfortunately for Brock, coded red and green. He was later fired from his job for failing a computer typing test and went back home to finish high school.
At this point, most people assume that Brock was flooded with offers from college wrestling recruiters, given cars, and under the table money; all that good stuff. Not true. Football was his chosen path when Lesnar came home. He even signed a letter of intent to play with Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota because he didn’t receive any wrestling offers.
He wanted to run the ball. He had speed and was gaining size. Then it happened: a defensive back took his knee out, forcing Brock to get surgery to fix it.
Now, high school wrestling usually starts right after high school football ends. That meant that Brock wasn’t completely healed for the first day of wrestling practice; he was on crutches. His coach also had a tradition for the first practice of every season: he would make his team run six miles.
He called it a “gut check.” This was Brock’s final year we’re talking about, and he considered himself a leader. So, what does he do? He starts moving on his crutches, continuing on and on, until the coach allowed him to stop. Even then, he was disappointed he couldn’t finish.
Guts officially checked. Most people would’ve happily taken the day off, but not Brock.
The soon-to-be Next Big Thing eventually moved on to Bismarck State College, where he won the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) heavyweight championship in his sophomore year. This was a big difference from his freshman year. During that year’s tournament, Brock placed fifth, much to his disappointment. That wasn’t the worst part.
I’ll let Brock tell you the worst part (transcribed from his book, “Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival“):
“Even worse than the fifth-place finish, though, is that I got beat by a pudgy little kid whose name I can’t even remember, and neither can anyone else.
The loss to the pudgy no-name was a major turning point in my life, because there was no way that kid should have been able to beat me. I looked at the guy who won the whole tourney and I knew in my heart I could have beat him for the championship. That killed me, because I never got the chance–the fat kid made sure of that. Sorry I can’t remember your name, but I do want to say thanks.
At that moment I looked inside myself, and I got serious. I vowed to be the biggest, strongest, fastest, meanest SOB I could become.”
For his junior and senior years, Brock made his way to the University of Minnesota on a full wrestling scholarship. There were no pudgy kids to defeat him there. He was now in a NCAA Division I wrestling program, which is about as good as it gets for an amateur wrestler (other than the Olympics). It was at U of M that he met his future WWE colleague Shelton Benjamin.
In the year 2000, after becoming NCAA Division I Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar signed with the WWE. He came with one demand, as shared by Jim Ross in an article he wrote for FOX Sports:
“The only catch was that we needed to also recruit and offer Brock’s Minnesota teammate, Shelton Benjamin, as well,” JR wrote. “Benjamin was an amazing athlete, and signing the South Carolina native was a blessing as he had a solid WWE career, arguably underutilized in the opinion of some. Plus, he made Brock’s transition from the amateurs to the pros much easier.”
The first step was for them both to go to OVW (Ohio Valley Wrestling), which was WWE’s developmental territory at the time. Brock couldn’t go right away, though. He had some amateur wrestling community commitments to handle first.
Once everything was in order, Brock made his way to Louisville, Kentucky, which is where OVW was based out of. He got a two bedroom apartment with Shelton and settled in. Within weeks, the two of them were put into a tag team known as “The Minnesota Stretching Crew.” They also famously competed alongside John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, and Mark Henry (who was sent down to OVW around that time).
Despite the stacked roster, it wouldn’t take Brock too long to move up the ladder. The same goes for the others, of course, but Lesnar debuted the night after WrestleMania X-8 and was in the main event of WrestleMania XIX. For his debut, he jumped the barricade during an episode of Monday Night Raw, and attacked Al Snow, Maven, and Spike Dudley in the middle of their match. As you can see, a familiar face guided the beast on his first rampage…
Watch Brock Lesnar’s WWE debut here: