In a time of transition, WWE fitted a crown on Brock Lesnar‘s head at the 2003 Royal Rumble to signal his reign over the kingdom.

The Next Big Thing’s victory that January night is a reminder of the power of a Rumble win. It’s a testament to the impact of lasting images. And it’s proof of what steadfast commitment to a new star can accomplish. 

The process of anointing Lesnar began the previous year, well before the 2003 Rumble. 

In 2002, WWE was in need of a fresh centerpiece. The Rock’s Hollywood career was pulling him away. Neck and knee issues slowed Stone Cold Steve Austin.

WWE chose to supplant those household names with an NCAA wrestling champion and freakish powerhouse from Webster, South Dakota.

The company portrayed him as an unstoppable monster. He barreled over Matt Hardy. He smashed Mark Henry and Tommy Dreamer.

Just five months after his Raw debut, audiences watched Lesnar crush Hulk Hogan’s ribs until the legend lay still on the canvas.

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