During a recent appearance on the Tetragrammaton podcast, famous old school wrestling manager Paul Heyman revealed that Vince McMahon didn’t really like Brock Lesnar’s 2002 ‘The Next Big Thing’ moniker.
Here’s what Heyman had to say about how Brock started on WWF TV:
“So I went to Vince and I said, Taz brought me Brock Lesnar. ‘Oh, yeah. Keep an eye on him. I’m wondering what you think of him’.
‘I’ll tell you two things. Number one, I think he’s the next big thing and number two, we are screwing this up’.
‘How are we screwing this up?’. I started telling him what the advice was and he goes ‘Oh, God damn Paul. Get involved in this right now’.
I said ‘You want me to produce him?’. ‘Yeah, you take over. He’s yours’.
‘Okay’. So I started lining up his matches. Here’s what I want you to do and here’s how I want you to display it.
I put together a couple of matches of his. It was two that week and I think maybe two the next.
The opponents were the same, Spike Dudley and Funaki because I knew they would make him look like what he needed to look like.
The night before Mania, Vince comes to me and he says ‘I’m not going to put you with Benoit’. I’m like, thank God I’m not on television.
I didn’t want to go back on TV. I was like, okay, that’s great. Thank you. All right, I found peace in my ability to pull out of the public eye.
He says ‘I’m going to put you with Brock Lesnar’ and I just said, Bingo. Okay, money. Oh, my God.
You just gave me a completely new life because I knew, oh my god, you want me to talk for this guy? Okay, this is the easiest job in the world.
The decision was made to start him the day after Mania and let his first Mania be in the main event a year later and that was supposed to be for the title, but we fast tracked that.
We got the title on him by SummerSlam. We were just moving and Dwayne Johnson was going off to Hollywood, so the timing was perfect for us and Steve Austin had left.
So it was, wow, we were going to anoint the next big thing. So the first promo that I did with him, I called Brock ‘The Next Big Thing’.
We’re on the jet that night and Vince turned to me and he goes ‘What did you call him?’.
I said, ‘I called him The Next Big Thing. Brock Lesnar’ and he said, ‘That’s terrible. Why would you call him that?’.
‘Well, because he’s the next big thing’.
‘Terrible name. Why would you stick that on him? Oh, God, people are gonna vomit all over that’.
Thank God by the next week, there were signs in the crowd, The Next Big Thing, and it caught on.”
Brock Lesnar first joined the World Wrestling Federation in 2002 after WrestleMania X-8 and quickly made a name for himself, when he became the 2002 King of the Ring and then the youngest WWE Champion of all time, before winning the 2003 Royal Rumble match and regaining his championship in the main event of WrestleMania XIX.
‘The Next Big Thing’ got out of his WWE contract and left the company after WrestleMania XX in 2004, and then went on to win the UFC World Heavyweight Championship in 2010, but eventually returned to WWE in 2012 and has been working several dates a year as a part-timer / special attraction ever since.
WATCH: Sable (Brock Lesnar’s Wife) Strips At WWF Fully Loaded 1998: