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Jim Ross Recalls The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar At WWE SummerSlam 2002, Whether He Thought Lesnar Was Ready To Be Champion

September 1, 2022 | Posted by Blake Lovell
The Rock Brock Lesnar SummerSlam 2002 Image Credit: WWE/Peacock

In a recent edition of Grilling JR, Jim Ross discussed fans booing The Rock in his SummerSlam 2002 match with Brock Lesnar, whether he thought Lesnar was ready to be champion, and much more. You can read his comments below.

Jim Ross on fans booing The Rock in his SummerSlam 2002 match with Brock Lesnar: “It’s happened more than once. We remember WrestleMania 20 with Brock, Goldberg, and Austin. Thank god Austin was in that equation, or it could have been even worse. The fans are very sensitive to the standpoint that, ‘We supported you, we bought your shirts and pay-per-views and done everything we could do. Now, you’re bolting on us.’ It’s like getting deserted. It was a tough scenario, and you just have to go with what you’re hearing and seeing. You can’t make something there that isn’t there. So, on that night, Rock the babyface wasn’t there. The fans made him their villain because ‘you’re leaving us, and you hurt my feelings.’ They did a real good job of following the classic [Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels] that preceded them, and I thought that was gonna be a challenging situation. Don’t think that Rock wasn’t aware. He may have been more aware of it than even Lesnar because of his experience, ‘We have our work cut out for us, we have to somehow get this crowd back into it.’ They had their work cut out for them, but they came through, which is certainly a credit to them.”

On whether he thought Lesnar was ready to be champion: “That was discussed significantly. I put the kibosh on bringing him into TV several months before that because I didn’t think he was ready in the ring and could do a better job protecting his adversaries. He was just so big and strong, and he had to figure out how to channel that. I went and sat down with Vince and said, ‘He’s not ready for TV. I’m not so sure he can protect his opponent to the level he needs to, especially in this environment. If I get on the witness stand and some lawyer is questioning me about his training because he hurt their client, I’ve gotta tell the truth.’ I’m not gonna perjure myself in court. The truth, as best I knew it at the time, is he needed a little bit more work. He could do all the offense, but sometimes he got a little excited and he had the ability with his strength and all the attributes that he needed to slow down a step and keep his opponents in mind. Then, on this question, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I think we had to [have Brock win]. We had Rock and knew if somebody was gonna be champion and win it from him, and Lesnar was gonna get anointed, getting anointed by The Rock was gold. In all honesty, was Brock a little green for that role? Probably. But you saw what you had there. I think the consensus was, we can’t wait any longer, but what that the thing to do? I was in his corner, let’s go with it and see what we’ve got. He’s over and people believe in him. Why not give it a shot?”

If using any of the above quotes, please credit Grilling JR with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.