Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar: Ranking Every 1-on-1 Match Between ‘The Tribal Chief’ and ‘The Beast’ Ahead of Their Last Man Standing Match at WWE SummerSlam

It’s been more than seven years since Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar first squared off in a WWE ring. And this storied rivalry will finally (supposedly anyway) come to an end at the 2022 edition of SummerSlam as these two future Hall of Famers go at it one last time in a Last Man Standing Match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.

Like it or not, the rivalry between Reigns and Lesnar has defined this generation in WWE. Just as Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant (or Randy Savage, if you prefer, which I do) defined the Golden Era. Just as Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart defined the New Generation Era. Or how Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock defined the Attitude Era. And how John Cena vs. Randy Orton defined the Ruthless Aggression and PG Eras.

Has every match between Reigns and Lesnar been an instant classic? Absolutely not. But while some haven’t lived up to the hype, each has unquestionably had a big fight feel. SummerSlam will mark the seventh time the two have squared off on pay-per-view, at least in a one-on-one fashion. And, yes, we are counting the famous run-in that we’ll get to shortly.

What we’re not counting in our rankings here is the two times Reigns and Lesnar tussled in multi-man matches. There was the Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose Triple Threat No. 1 Contender’s Match at the 2016 edition of WWE Fastlane, which Reigns won in a decent bout.

And then there was the epic Fatal 4-Way for the Universal title at the 2017 edition of WWE SummerSlam featuring Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Samoa Joe, and Braun Strowman, which would probably take the No. 1 spot on our list if we included it. But we’re not, so it won’t. Lesnar won that match, by the way.

So let’s get to the bouts we are including, starting with their first encounter following that Fatal 4-Way.

6. WrestleMania 34: WWE Universal Championship Match

Remember the 2014 edition of SummerSlam when Brock Lesnar squashed John Cena? Yeah, this Universal Championship Match at WrestleMania 34 between Lesnar and Roman Reigns was essentially a carbon copy of that.

Just their second one-on-one match, this main-event bout was nothing more than a glorified squash. While Reigns got in a bit of offense, this was the F-5 show as Brock hit Roman with six of them as the New Orleans crowd voiced its displeasure throughout this 15-minute affair.

WWE was clearly trying to build sympathy for Reigns as a babyface, but nobody was having it. This was the match after which Lesnar threw the Universal title at Vince McMahon when he got backstage. Trust us, Brock, you weren’t the only one who was upset.

5. SummerSlam 2018: WWE Universal Championship Match

The first SummerSlam in 15 years without John Cena, the 2018 edition of WWE’s summer spectacular featured a WrestleMania rematch between Reigns and Lesnar for the Universal Championship.

Money in the Bank briefcase holder Braun Strowman sat at ringside throughout the match as he’d vowed to cash in on the winner. And there was too much focus on him during this sloppy affair. While certainly not as one-sided as their WrestleMania encounter, this bout never got the time to get going.

In a rushed six-minute affair, Reigns and Lesnar traded signature moves before Brock turned his focus to Braun, attacking the big man before throwing his briefcase up the entrance ramp. Roman took advantage, hit a spear, and ended Lesnar’s title reign at 504 days.

4. 2018 Greatest Royal Rumble: Steel Cage Match for the WWE Universal Championship

Of the three one-on-one matches between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar in 2018, the best took place at the Greatest Royal Rumble, WWE’s inaugural event in Saudi Arabia.

Contested in a steel cage, this Universal title bout took place just weeks after their WrestleMania match. As it goes with the vast majority of Lesnar matches, this was another short encounter, clocking in at just over nine minutes. And while not perfect by any stretch, the pacing of this match was far superior to their other two bouts that year.

After another physical battle, the end saw Reigns spear Lesnar through one of the cage walls. And while it was clear that Roman’s feet touched the ground first (oops), Brock was awarded the victory. The controversial finish set up the match at SummerSlam a few months later.

3. WrestleMania 38: Winner Takes All Match for the WWE Universal Championship and WWE Championship

Billed as “The Biggest WrestleMania Match of All Time,” this Winner Takes All Match for the WWE Universal Championship and WWE Championship between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar certainly wasn’t that.

While my initial review for this WrestleMania 38 encounter wasn’t that great, I must admit it was better when I watched it again for these rankings. Was it the epic battle we were promised? Certainly not. And I never expected it to be. But it told a good story and allowed Reigns to pick up the definitive victory in the long-running rivalry he desperately needed.

Sure, Heyman got involved a bit, and we got a ref bump. But for the most part, this was a clean victory for Roman.

2. 2021 Crown Jewel: WWE Universal Championship Match

The 2021 edition of WWE Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia served as the setting for Brock Lesnar’s first match since his loss to Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania 36 about 18 months earlier. And his first match as a babyface in approximately six years, giving this Universal title bout a different feel.

Lesnar had returned to WWE a couple of months earlier following Reigns’ victory over John Cena, Roman’s true passing-of-the-torch moment. Naturally, whose side Paul Heyman would be on played heavily into the build toward the title match at Crown Jewel. And it certainly played into the match as well.

The finish left a bit to be desired with The Usos’ involvement, and the “we knew it was coming” ref bump, but the overall storytelling of the match was solid. Sure, the signature maneuvers were there as always, but there was more to this match than any of their 2018 encounters.

With the ref down, Heyman tossed the title into the ring and screamed, “You know what to do with it!” But his throw was perfect as it landed between Reigns and Lesnar, leaving fans to wonder for whom it was intended. Brock won the tussle over the belt but ultimately lost the match after The Usos interfered.

1. WrestleMania 31: WWE Championship Match

Okay, so this WrestleMania 31 bout for the WWE Championship between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar technically turned into a Triple Threat Match when Seth Rollins legendarily cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. But as this started as a one-on-one encounter, we’re including it here. And before Rollins entered the picture, this was an extremely physical affair.

At times, this looked like another Cena-type beatdown from Brock, which included the birth of “Suplex City.” But the beautiful part was how Reigns sold it, infuriating “The Beast” by literally laughing off the beating.

If this had been a legit, unscripted fight, it’s almost as if Roman was utilizing the “rope-a-dope” strategy employed by Muhammad Ali on George Foreman at “The Rumble in the Jungle.” When Lesnar wore himself out, Reigns took advantage and bloodied the champion before hitting a trio of Superman Punches and a pair of spears.

Brock countered with an F-5, and it was about this time that Rollins hit the ring and did his thing to steal the title. That will always be the defining moment of the match, and that’s okay as it was a true WrestleMania moment.

But never forget Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar put on a hell of a show before that took place.

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