STAMFORD, Conn. -- Wrestling star Brock Lesnar was billed as "The Next Big Thing," but after a failed bid to play professional football he says he's banned from performing anywhere in the world until he's past his prime.
Lesnar, 28, has a lawsuit pending in federal court in Hartford
challenging an agreement he reached with World Wrestling
Entertainment, his former employer, that restricts him from working
in sports entertainment until 2010.
The restrictions apply to many of the areas to which a 6-foot-3,
nearly 300-pound man might aspire, from wrestling to ultimate
"Lesnar now desires to work and earn a living in the only occupation for which he has been trained and which he knows,
professional wrestling, and/or the occupation for which his
physical gifts and training as an amateur wrestler make him
particularly well suited, professional combat sports," Lesnar's
attorneys wrote in his lawsuit.
The ban stems from an agreement Lesnar reached with
Stamford-based WWE in 2004 so he could try out for the National
Football League. Lesnar, who won an NCAA heavyweight wrestling title at the University of Minnesota, was cut by the Minnesota Vikings in August 2004.
Lesnar contends in court papers that the agreement is
unreasonably broad and unfair and prevents him from earning a
living anywhere. His attorneys want the judge to declare the
settlement unenforceable, arguing it is not reasonably tailored to
protect WWE's legitimate business interests.
WWE says Lesnar pinned himself to the mat by agreeing to the restrictions. The company says it competes around the world and made a substantial investment in promoting Lesnar, a college standout and a world heavyweight champion in the scripted world of
Lesnar, who made more than $1 million annually, was touted as a
potential replacement for stars such as "The Rock."
"He didn't have two nickels to rub together before he met the
WWE," said Jerry McDevitt, WWE's attorney. "He's basically asking
a judge to rewrite his settlement agreement. We don't think we've
been dealt fairly by this man from day one."
Like a WWE match, the plot surrounding the lawsuit has thickened
since it was filed last year. Lesnar's side smells a conspiracy,
arguing that WWE is waging a campaign of harassment and
intimidation by trying to depose his attorney.
Sensing danger, Lesnar's side attempted to body block the move
to let WWE question his attorney. A hearing was planned Friday, but
the fight was postponed until next month.
McDevitt would not discuss why he wanted to depose Lesnar's
attorney, other than to say the attorney wrote the terms of the
agreement in question.
WWE -- famous for putting on matches in which wrestlers talk
trash and slam chairs off each other's heads -- says Lesnar hurt his
own prospects with improper conduct.
"Among other things, Lesnar, in his last match as a
professional wrestler with WWE, made vulgar, derogatory and
disparaging hand gestures to the crowd in Madison Square Garden on
March 14, 2004, at 'Wrestlemania XX,' " WWE wrote in court papers.
Talking trash himself, McDevitt called Lesnar a "prima donna"
who wanted his own private plane when he tried to come back to work
for WWE after his failed NFL bid.
Lesnar has performed in Japan despite the restrictions, WWE
Lesnar's attorneys and his agent, Ed Hitchcock, could not be
reached for comment Thursday. Telephone messages were left for