The start of a new year in sports entertainment provides an opportunity to look back at the previous 12 months and separate the good from the bad. And when it comes to which feuds were the best of 2017 in WWE, it's important not to overlook Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe.
Despite its brief shelf life, which included a month-long solo program for the universal title through WWE Great Balls of Fire in July and continued to a fatal four-way match at SummerSlam, Lesnar-Joe may have been heavyweight pro wrestling at its finest.
Much of what made the intense feud so memorable was the interactions between Joe and Lesnar advocate Paul Heyman. But the overall physicality and stiff nature of the matches proved just as entertaining.
Prior interviews with former opponents, including Dean Ambrose, have gone a long way in creating a perception that Lesnar can be difficult to work with when it comes to planning matches. Joe, who was ashared his experience.
"I think when you are dealing with Brock Lesnar, you have to show up ready to deal with Brock Lesnar," Joe told CBS Sports. "Brock is the type of guy who is not going to give you an inch. If you are going to get anything from him, you have to take it and he's going to dare you to take it.
"Brock is a guy who kind of feeds off of emotion, and if you come out and you're flat and you're not putting out what he is putting out, he's going to eat you alive. That has never been an issue with me."
Joe, 38, is promoting the new No. 13 edition of the Boom Studios' WWE comic book series that debuts Jan. 17. He co-wrote the short story titled "Undrafted" with Michael Kingston, which chronicle's Joe's real-life journey from NXT to the WWE's main roster in 2017.
When it comes to working with Lesnar, Joe compared the experience to preparing for a real fight. And considering both Joe's background in training mixed martial arts and authentic nature of his tough guy heel character, it's a default setting that wasn't foreign to him.
"Anybody who has wanted me to go out there and pull some emotion out and act like we are going to get down, that's what I specialize in," Joe said. "That's fine. That's something that I do and that's something that I've done over the breath of my career. With Brock Lesnar, regardless of who he is, it was going to be no different.
"And Brock knew that and Brock understands that now. If we are going to be in the ring together, Brock knows we are coming for a fight. I mean that literally and figuratively. There is no pulling anything with Brock. If you show signs of weakness, he's an apex predator and he's going to pounce on it and he's going to attack and overwhelm."
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Joe, who is currently sidelined by a right foot injury suffered on the Jan. 8 episode of Raw, said working with Lesnar creates a certain level of pressure which challenges you to be at your very best.
"You have to know how to deal with it when you are in there with Brock," Joe said. "He is a person who is going to accept nothing but the very best and if you don't bring the very best, he'll have no problems doing everything he can to absolutely wipe you out."