Beating The Beast: A Gameplan For Defeating Brock Lesnar

Kyle Fowle
Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman (source: WWE)

Simply put, Brock Lesnar is one of the most dominant forces in WWE history. He has an impeccable win-loss record, he’s held titles with an iron grip, he single-handedly changed the career trajectory of John Cena in 2014, and he made his name by beating the holy hell out of Hulk Hogan before sending The Rock right out of WWE in 2002. His career is one defined by main events, championships, and dominant performances. He’s the closest thing WWE has to an untouchable performer.

So, how do you beat him? How can Seth Rollinswho’s looking to win the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 35 on Sunday—beat the seemingly unbeatable “Beast”? Looking back through history, there are two surefire ways to beat Lesnar: Have a Money in the Bank briefcase that you can use to cash-in at a very opportune time (which Rollins doesn’t have this time around) or be Goldberg.

Brock Lesnar, Goldberg (source: WWE)

Unfortunately, those two paths to success are very specific and won’t do Rollins any good come Sunday. So, what else can we glean from Lesnar’s past matches? What weaknesses does he have, and how can they be exploited? Because I love diving deep on wrestling, I went back and watched a ton of Lesnar matches from throughout his career, looking for strategies that worked against “The Beast.” The results are below, a gameplan for Seth Rollins to beat Brock Lesnar and win the Universal Championship on Sunday.

Get in Lesnar’s head

Brock Lesnar has earned every right to be confident. His accolades are plenty, and his build is physically imposing. I mean, the dude literally has a tattoo of a sword on his chest because why not. He’s a monster, and he can be intimidating to step in the ring with. The Rock faced off against Lesnar for the WWE Undisputed Championship in 2002, and during the match, you can tell that The Rock—one of the most braggadocious Superstars of all time—is intimidated. You can read it on his face.

That’s a bad thing. Lesnar preys on that. The best strategy to open a match against Lesnar is to get into his head early. At WrestleMania 31, Roman Reigns stared down Brock during his entire entrance and then during Lillian Garcia’s introductions. That allowed Reigns a brief moment of confidence, a show of ego that would benefit him throughout the match, as he laughed his way through suplexes and knees to the gut.

Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns (source: WWE)

Daniel Bryan got in his head in a different way at Survivor Series last year, full-on trolling and disrespecting “The Beast.” He smiled his way through Brock’s entrance, danced around the ring before the bell rang, and then spent the early part of the match rolling to the outside and taunting Lesnar with his quickness. This strategy has the potential side effect of just pissing Lesnar off, but history shows us that it largely works to get “The Beast” off his game. You don’t want to play into his idea of a match, which is immediately locking up so that he can throw you across the ring. You have to keep your distance and get in his head before getting down to business.

Evade and attack early on

One of Brock Lesnar’s most shocking defeats came at the hands of Goldberg at Survivor Series in 2016. Goldberg defeated Lesnar in less than two minutes, largely because Brock was caught by surprise. He’s so used to just dominating the early part of the match with his ridiculous strength that he didn’t even consider that Goldberg was his equal. So Brock, stunned by the show of strength from Goldberg, gets hit with two quick spears and a jackhammer, and that’s the ball game.

Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan (source: WWE)

That strategy—of going right after Brock—is the exception to the rule. Nobody else is Goldberg, and so nobody else can really go right after “The Beast” if they want to win. A better strategy is to evade his attacks—all things considered, he’s pretty predictable when it comes to offense—and wait for an opening. Daniel Bryan did this last year at Survivor Series. AJ Styles managed to get some control early by doing this at Survivor Series in 2017. CM Punk did too at SummerSlam in 2013. Getting into a brawl with Lesnar simply doesn’t work unless you’re Goldberg and maybe Roman Reigns. Otherwise, it’s best to find ways to quickly strike and cut off Brock before he can send you to Suplex City.

Get him grounded and then move on

All of Brock’s power comes from his legs. Yes, his biceps are gigantic, but his offensive power comes from his legs. It’s all suplexes and knees and F-5s, and he needs to be using his legs to execute all of that. The pure devastation of his simple moveset comes from the power of his lower body, and if you can get him on his knees or flat on his back, you’re well on your way to getting an advantage over him.

At No Way Out in 2004 Eddie Guerrero did this to perfection, on his way to winning the WWE Championship in a 30-minute barnburner. He found ways to keep Brock on the mat, not giving him any room to lock his arms around his waist and start throwing him around the ring. Whether it’s submissions or strikes, you have to keep Brock on the ground as much as possible. If you’re a technical wrestler, you have to out wrestler him. Don’t go power for power; that’s what Brock wants.

Eddie Guerrero (source: WWE)

Go the distance

Brock doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses, but the one obvious one is how winded he gets. That’s not unusual for a big man with a moveset that’s built around power moves, and it certainly is true of Lesnar. It doesn’t take long for him to work up a sweat and turn purple. He’s undoubtedly an incredible athlete, but as the match goes on he tends to become more vulnerable. Brock knows this. It’s why he tries to end every match in the span of just a few minutes, when he’s at the height of his powers. If you can stretch out the match time, you can start to expose Brock’s weaknesses.

I keep going back to Daniel Bryan last year, but that match is maybe the best example of how to fight Brock, even in a losing effort. Bryan taunts Brock early, strikes him in the legs, and then after surviving through a lengthy period of suplexes, he starts in on the submissions when Brock is tired and winded. John Cena’s match against Lesnar from Extreme Rules in 2012 works similarly, with Cena drawing out the match with the use of weapons in order to beat Lesnar down.

John Cena, Brock Lesnar (source: WWE)

This tactic works particularly well for smaller, faster opponents like Seth Rollins. Back when Brock still wrestled on weekly TV, he had some of his most highly-contested bouts against smaller guys like Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero, who could use their stamina and complex moveset to push Brock to the edge of defeat. It didn’t always work—because Brock only needs a single moment to hit an F-5 and win the match—but Rollins will have a good shot at winning the title on Sunday if he can get past Brock’s first flurry of offense and stretch the match past the 10-minute mark. One of Rollins’ best performances was in the RAW gauntlet match last year, so we know he’s got the guts and endurance to last.

Don’t miss your one opportunity

If Seth Rollins does everything above as outlined, he still might lose. But if he capitalizes on the one opportunity he’ll get, then he just might walk out of WrestleMania 35 as the new Universal Champion. Wearing out “The Beast” takes time; you’re not going to beat him in an instant. You have to be patient and observant, and then absolutely relentless when it counts. Roman Reigns did this at WrestleMania 31, somehow living through Lesnar’s ruthless attacks and then taking full advantage of his one moment, where Lesnar hit his head on the ring post and started to bleed. That was a gamechanger and allowed Reigns to connect with three Superman punches and two spears. He might have gotten the win had Rollins not changed the entire shape of that match.

At some point on Sunday, Brock is going to be exposed. He’s going to get frustrated, or too confident, or simply run out of gas. There’s going to be a single moment where Rollins can dig deep, find what he has left, and go right after the Beast and put him away once and for all. If he seizes that moment, the Universal Championship is his, and he can add “Beastslayer” to his list of nicknames.

You can go back and revisit all of these Brock Lesnar matches on the WWE Network. And be on the lookout for even more original features like this on during WrestleMania Week.

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