Every time Brock Lesnar wrestles at SummerSlam, it’s a big deal. Whether a world title is on the line or not, a Brock Lesnar match is big enough to main event WWE’s biggest party of the summer, which The Beast has proven by closing out the event on four separate occasions over the course of more than a decade. This year, Lesnar faces Randy Orton in his first official match since WrestleMania 32. Coming off of the controversy surrounding his victory over Mark Hunt at UFC 200, the Brock Lesnar brand could use a solid performance against The Viper at WWE SummerSlam 2016 to officially move on from the scandal.
While SummerSlam usually has a multi-match main event card, Lesnar has been in the final bout three of the last four years. With unproven names like Finn Balor and Dolph Ziggler involved in the world title matches, it seems likely that WWE will go with the cross-branded Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton to close the show this year. It was the first match that WWE announced for SummerSlam 2016. Paul Heyman will be in Lesnar’s corner, just as he has been in all but one of Lesnar’s six SummerSlam appearances.
As a member of the Monday Night Raw roster after the WWE Draft and subsequent brand extension, Lesnar will be eligible to challenge for the WWE Universal Championship down the line. A win at SummerSlam 2016 against Randy Orton would likely make Lesnar the No. 1 contender for the Universal Championship at Clash of the Champions in September, Hell in a Cell in October, or Survivor Series in November. With an overall record of 4-2, how will Brock Lesnar’s history at WWE SummerSlam inform predictions for this year’s event?
SummerSlam 2002: Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock
Brock Lesnar’s first appearance is still considered one of the most important SummerSlam matches of all time. Having made the transition from Ohio Valley Wrestling to WWE less than a year before this match, Lesnar became the youngest WWE Champion in history when he defeated The Rock for the WWE Undisputed Championship in 2002. As Dwayne Johnson transitioned from WWE Superstar to Hollywood actor, the WWE torch was passed from Rock to Brock.
SummerSlam 2003: Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle
Shortly after Lesnar’s victory at SummerSlam 2002, the WWE Undisputed Championship simply became the WWE Championship once again, as Eric Bischoff brought the World Heavyweight Championship back to the Raw brand. By SummerSlam 2003, Kurt Angle had become the WWE Champion, and Brock Lesnar was less than a year away from his decade-long hiatus from WWE. While it wouldn’t happen at SummerSlam, Lesnar would eventually defeat Angle for the title, having one last reign before going on to IWPG, the Minnesota Vikings, and, of course, the UFC. However, Kurt Angle got the win in this match against Lesnar at SummerSlam, a feat no one else would accomplish for twelve years.
SummerSlam 2012: Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H
Having just returned to professional wrestling the day after WrestleMania 28, Brock Lesnar was giving WWE COO Triple H a major headache with his kayfabe contract demands. The way Brock and Hunter decided to settle their differences was in the ring at SummerSlam. Upon his return, Brock Lesnar was booked to look very strong. After destroying John Cena at Extreme Rules, he forced Triple H to tap out at SummerSlam.
SummerSlam 2013: Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk
Lesnar’s program with Triple H lasted beyond WrestleMania 29 before Paul Heyman directed the Anomaly’s rage towards his former associate, CM Punk. The Straight Edge Superstar’s historic title reign had ended in January, and he parted ways with Heyman after he lost to The Undertaker at Mania. The father of ECW announced on the SummerSlam Kick-Off Show that the match would be contested under No Disqualification rules. Heyman took advantage of the stipulation by breaking up a pinfall and submission that may have given Punk the win over Lesnar. While Punk was distracted by his former manager, Lesnar used multiple steel chair shots and his patented F-5 to get the win.
SummerSlam 2014: Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena
After Lesnar’s presence in the WWE began to seem less dominant, they turned things up for his return at SummerSlam 2014. Without defeating anyone, he was named the No. 1 contender for John Cena’s WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Their main event match was arguably the most one-sided world title match in SummerSlam history. While Cena did get in enough offense to perform the Attitude Adjustment and put Lesnar in the STF submission, Lesnar’s 16 German suplexes and dual F-5s were enough for him to take the title from Cena.
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SummerSlam 2015: Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker
Brock Lesnar made WWE history when he ended The Undertaker’s winning streak at WrestleMania 30. While Taker moved on to face Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania 31, Lesnar lost the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that he had won at SummerSlam 2014 when Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank contract during Lesnar’s title match against Roman Reigns. When The Undertaker caused Lesnar to lose his rematch against Rollins at Battleground in July, Lesnar vs. Undertaker was booked for SummerSlam. In one of Lesnar’s two losses at the event, The Undertaker took advantage of confusion between the referee and the timekeeper to hit Brock with a low blow. The Dead Man put Lesnar in his Hell’s Gate submission hold, and Brock was forced to tap out.
SummerSlam 2016: Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Orton
Brock Lesnar’s opponent for this year’s SummerSlam event came completely out of left field. While Orton and Lesnar may have made the transition from OVW to WWE around the same time, their paths rarely crossed throughout their careers. In fact, SummerSlam 2016 will be the first time these two have competed against one another on a PPV-style card. While Lesnar hasn’t wrestled since facing Dean Ambrose at WrestleMania 32, The Viper hasn’t competed at a major WWE event in over nine months.
While Lesnar’s presence at UFC 200 immediately gave serious exposure to his upcoming match with Randy Orton, The Viper’s comments at WWE Battleground as part of Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel added some much-needed fuel to the Lesnar vs. Orton fire. Since that time, both Lesnar and Orton has crossed brand lines, each attacking the other on their home turf. While Randy Orton may be one of the top talents on SmackDown Live, he isn’t likely to get a clean win over Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Unless some sort of outside interference gives Orton the opportunity to hit Lesnar with the RKO Outta Nowhere, the WWE Universe can expect Brock to improve his SummerSlam record to 5-2 after his match with Randy.
Where To Watch
WWE SummerSlam 2016 is set for Sunday, August 21. It will air exclusively on the WWE Network at 7 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Central. The SummerSlam Kick-Off Show will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern/4 p.m. Central.
[Image via WWE]