Brock Lesnar sleeps face down, on a cold wooden floor. He wakes the instant a sun beam taps him through the window. Then he does sixty push-ups without hesitation.
Waking up in push-up position is one of the inherent benefits of sleeping face down on the floor, but not his primary reasoning.
“Comfort is for whiners,” he explains.
My day with Brock Lesnar would reward me with countless gems such as this. For one day I saw behind the curtain of the most dangerous man on the planet, and on this day his suplexed his way into my heart like few people ever could. Consider me a proud resident of Suplex City.
I pulled up to his barracks on this brisk Tuesday in early spring. It’s a farmhouse, really, nestled in the outskirts of Saskatchewan, Canada. But he insisted I refer to it as his “barracks” upon greeting me out in the driveway, wearing Affliction sweatpants and clenching a can of tomato juice.
“Nice Honda!” he laughs, while poking my chest with his cucumber-sized index finger. “Come on, I’ll show you the barracks. You can leave the car out here.”
Observing the Beast Incarnate in his natural setting was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’ve been a fan of Brock Lesnar, the television character, since his very first snarl on WWE programming back in 2002. I’ve seen him throw a one-legged man down a flight of stairs. I looked on as he defeated Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania while freshly concussed. I watched him win the UFC Heavyweight Title and then tell the 1.6 million viewers he was heading home to copulate with his wife. His portrayal of an animal-man has been as authentic and riveting as anything else in recent memory.
To meet Brock Lesnar, the human being, was something I just had to experience firsthand. Was it all an act? Can a person walking amongst the rest of us really be as savage and remorseless as this?
“This is my blood wall,” Lesnar explained, as we entered the sprawling first room of his barracks, barren except for the crimson-smeared wall face where another person might normally hang a flat screen TV.
“The right side is blood from everyone I’ve ever made bleed. The left side is my own blood from every time someone else has made me bleed.”
“I make a point not to shower after fights, so I can come here and keep track and…basically, the point is, there’s a lot more blood on the right side. Pretty cool, huh?”
It’s no act.
After showing me his blood wall, Lesnar proceeded to go about his day as he normally would, tossing me little footnotes here and there. He was under the impression that this was all for a feature in Der Spielgel, the popular German news magazine. At no point did he question my credentials.
“Anything to support the Germans,” he said.
We took a quick hike to his grazing field, where his hired farmhands breed Shorthorn cattle. He ponders for three-to-five minutes before calling over to his farmhand and pointing at his cow of choice. This will be the cow he eats today.
His butcher is summoned and the cow is portioned into Brock’s meals for the day. He throws a monolithic slab onto the hibachi-style grill in his backyard, in preparation for his first of three breakfasts.
“I’m not used to guests, you’ll have to forgive me,” he says. “Are you hungry?”
Before I could answer, Lesnar yelled and pointed and so went another cow.
I had always assumed that Brock Lesnar owned a four-wheeler. In reality, he owns 17 of them. He collects four-wheelers like Jay Leno collects classic cars. He keeps them scattered around his property, though, rather than parked neatly in a garage.
“You never know when you’ll need a hog,” he says.
His post-breakfast tradition is hopping on a four-wheeler and speeding around his soccer field-length backyard. He welcomed me to pick one out and take it for a spin myself, on the condition that we play a game of four-wheeler chicken from opposing sides of the field. It was hard to tell if he was joking from the inflection of his voice. I elected to pass on the offer and hang back. I still had a long way to go in digesting that breakfast, and foresaw no good coming from “riding a hog” alongside my 300-pound host.
I popped a squat on a patio chair and watched Lesnar as he careened full-speed from end to end in that sprawling field; back and forth, back and forth, with an expressionless countenance. It was not unlike an Olympic swimmer doing laps. The scene was hypnotic and bone-chilling in equal measure.
After nearly half an hour, he steered up the field in my direction and pulled up to the edge of the patio. A light smile appeared finally on his sweat-drenched face, and he killed the engine as to better be heard.
“Man, I am starving,” he said. “Let’s eat.”
We sat for another round of steak, during which he slang playful swear words at me for claiming I was still full from earlier. It was funny for the first dozen or so.
Once he was finished, he led me on a quick tour of the rest of the house. The home contains 11 rooms, with little to no artwork or furniture. Free weights and punching bags were sprinkled throughout, with each room seemingly still fresh with workout musk.
“This is where the magic happens,” he said, at just about every open doorway we passed.
We arrived at the end of the upstairs hallways, to the only room with his noteworthy belongings: championship gold.
NCAA Division I Championship, Big Ten Conference Championship, NJCAA All-American and National Championships, North Dakota State University Heavyweight Championship, New Japan Heavyweight Championship, Ohio Valley Wrestling Tag Team Championship, WWE World Heavyweight Championship, King of the Ring trophy, and numerous plagues from various organizations – the lot of them sitting in a big pile in the middle of the room, along with a collection of loose change and crumpled dollar bills of varying worth.
“When I get home I just throw whatever I have in that pile,” Lesnar tells me. “I can’t keep track of all that crap.”
Brock’s philosophy towards working out actually made a lot of sense.
“I try to imagine that I have a clone, and I have to fight him. How jacked I would have to be.”
He tells me this before breaking away for an hour-long intensive workout, a daily routine he wouldn’t skip to attend his “mother’s own funeral.” Understandable.
Lesnar offered to let me observe his workout, but admitted “that’d be pretty weird for both of us.” I opted to reunite with my patio chair out back for the hour.
The weather outside was still, and from my post right outside the house I could hear Lesnar’s verbalizations pretty clearly from the upstairs windows. Lots of grunting and shouting, as expected, once the workout hit a stride fifteen minutes in.
Soon enough, the wordless grunting evolved into chants and apparent heated conversations with himself and with imaginary opponents; battle cries, threats…graphic depictions of violent acts. The most colorful language my ears have ever heard.
At certain points I considered running up to see if he was okay. At others I felt I should get in my car and bolt from the scene.
But there I sat, for the entire hour. Precisely 60 minutes from the start, Lesnar came outside to retrieve me.
“I kept it pretty light today,” he said, holding a blender full of protein shake.
“You ever been hunting?”
We hopped in Lesnar’s Jeep, which is plastered with giant Jimmy John’s logos on the hood, sides, and also on the spare tire latched onto the back. I couldn’t resist the urge to ask him how often he eats their sandwiches.
“I don’t eat sandwiches,” he replied.
I kind of saw that response coming. Still, hearing Brock Lesnar say the word “sandwiches” was as pure a delight as one could experience in this lifetime.
Brock and I cruised down a long stretch of winding roads, towards a forest he assured me had “too many animals.” He slid a CD into the player, and cranked the volume as high as the speakers would allow. It played his WWE entrance music. The corner of Lesnar’s mouth curled up and his breathing intensified noticeably. His eyes gazed ahead and his fists gripped the wheel to the point he nearly broke through it.
When the song ended, he took the CD out and put it back into its case. The rest of the trip was taken in silence.
Eventually we arrived at our destination. For the purposes of not incriminating Mr. Lesnar or myself by association, I will skip over the particulars of our hunting experience. It was not until we got there that I noticed Brock didn’t pack any guns or knives. But I can say with some confidence that our trip was successful, by any hunter or West African lion’s standards. The images I did see that day are ones I can never unsee, and have given me sporadic daytime terrors ever since.
As we started on our drive back, he played the CD one more time, as his bloodstained fingertips drummed along to the beat on the dashboard.
We took a scenic route on our return trip, allowing us more quality time to get acquainted. I took this opportunity to ask Lesnar a handful of questions as they popped in my mind; about life on the road, his likes and dislikes, and some favorite memories from his career.
Eventually the conversation expanded to the world beyond Brock Lesnar. I caught Lesnar in a seemingly rare state of vulnerability, and I was not about to let this chance pass by.
“I exist to hit people,” said Lesnar. “But I realize not every person needs to be hit.”
“In another life I could have been a pediatric dentist, or a professional juggler. Maybe even a notary.”
“Sometimes I wish I never got these stupid tattoos on my back.”
Suddenly Lesnar pulled the Jeep to the side of the road, got out and did one hundred jumping jacks in quick succession. He then hocked a loogie and shot it towards the pavement. He got back in the Jeep and we sped away.
“Now, do you want to hear the hardest I ever hit a guy?” asked Lesnar, refocused and grinning.
In no time at all, the image I had conjured of a juggling Brock Lesnar turned to one of him throwing haymakers into eye sockets, and order had been restored to the universe. This man existed to hit people, it’s true. And we should all be thankful for the fact.
We arrived back at the barracks as the sun was setting in the Saskatchewan sky. Brock quickly hosed himself off, and a dullish red stream of water cascaded down the driveway.
“The Voice is starting pretty soon,” he said. “Let’s hurry up and finish those cows.”
It had been a long day of shocks and surprises, with many lessons to be learned. This was the lesson that will stay with me once my subconscious has cleansed itself of all the others:
Brock Lesnar is a human being; a colossal, menacing, and habitually sadistic human being – but a human being nonetheless. And just like the rest of us, he is immune to the occasional bout of introspection, the savory pleasures of a good steak, or the charms of network television singing competitions.
So after sitting down to our final meal of the day, and forcing down what would be the last beef I would crave for a very long time, I watched The Voice with Brock Lesnar. We sat legs crossed on the floor of his main living room, where a projector lowered from the ceiling and displayed the images atop the wall of blood.
“I got a feeling in my gut, man,” said Lesnar, “this is Team Christina’s year.”
For the show’s full two hours, we remained in place. We watched as this bevy of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed aspiring vocalists left their sweat and tears on that stage, with a faint icing of old blood across them all. To my right sat Brock Edward Lesnar, the most legitimate badass on God’s green earth, loving every second of it.
Sometimes life is stranger than kayfabe.
Our day together had drawn to an unfortunate close. I collected my things and began towards my car. “Nice Honda,” I laughed to myself, as the memories came flooding back and my eyes became watery. I poked my own chest with three fingers, in an effort to recreate the feeling of Brock’s single phalange.
Just as I buckled my seatbelt and prepared for departure, I saw Brock shuffling out of the barracks and flagging me down. I rolled down my window and tried to mask my excitement as I prepared for one more moment with the Next Big Thing.
“Hey, man…” he said, perched against my driver’s side door. “This is for you.”
Brock handed me the CD we had listened to on our hunting trip. He then reached out and cupped the side of my face, gave it a light slap, and went on his way.
I waited until he we went back inside. I smiled widely and let out a hearty sigh.
“Here comes the pain, indeed,” I said to myself.
With a heavy heart, I drove away from his property and began the long journey home. I put the CD into the player, maxed out the volume, and let Lesnar’s music wash over me one last time. I gripped the steering wheel and narrowed my eyes on the road ahead.
Once the song ended, I took the CD out and put it back into its case. The rest of the trip was taken in silence.