I love me some Braun Strowman. Ever since he debuted as part of the Wyatt family, the guy had my attention, as well as most of the WWE Universe. The last member of the family to appear on the main roster after Bray, Luke Harper and Eric Rowan (get well soon), Strowman became much more than part of the team or the powerhouse in a faction that already had some seriously strong guys in it. He stood out – literally, with his sheer size, frame, strength and loud, booming voice. It was no surprise then that once free from the Wyatts, he became a popular star in his own right, and considering the guy hasn’t been on the main roaster for too long, and that’s some feat. His recent Money in the Bank win has cemented his place among the best on the card and it’s fair to say he is a main event talent.
However, it would be incorrect to say that Strowman ‘got over’ with the fan base organically, although at first, I did think his push was fan-driven due to the great reactions he got week in, week out. When I think of a wrestler, who has been pushed organically, or for a better phrase; by the crowd and not the bookers, we need look no further than Daniel Bryan. His push was down to the fans and his own passion – make no mistake. He was never earmarked as a top talent who would be holding top titles. His push and ascension to the top was driven in part by his popularity with the audience. The same cannot be said for Strowman who has always been destined for big things. One look at the guy tells you how impressive he is, but credit where it’s due, he’s worked damn hard to get to that top level and WWE Universal Championship match elite. He’s over with the fans; we love his style and impact and even though he’s ploughed through another crowd favourite in Kevin Owens, his momentum and popularity haven’t taken that much of a hit with the WWE Universe.
Then we come to his heel turn. Now, I’m not going to insist that his popularity with the fans should’ve been kept on the same course and the face pops he was getting should’ve meant he must be kept as the good guy being cheered every week. No, I actually agree with the WWE here and I think he should be a heel. Is it to do with trying to get Roman Reigns over? Possibly, but there’s a much bigger picture here that some need to look at and appreciate. Braun Strowman is still in the early days as a singles star and I’ve said on many an occasion that some of the best baby faces only succeed when they’ve started out as heels. The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, The Undertaker, Triple H etc. the list goes on. All started out as heels before making the inevitable face turn down the line. That’s why I believe Strowman’s alliance with the excellent pairing of Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre bodes well for the future.
Has this been to give Roman Reigns an opponent for a few months heading into 2019? I say yes, and to be fair, Braun Strowman strikes me as a legit challenge for Reigns, who seems to enjoy facing off against someone who is bigger, stronger and more powerful in his approach. Brock Lesnar had that too, but Lesnar wasn’t that involved week to week, nor did he excite many fans with his strong, yet limited, move set. Strowman is more entertaining and more unpredictable. Throw in the reuniting of the Shield, and I believe the Reigns/Strowman feud has an extra layer and new dynamic. I honestly don’t care if Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose screw Strowman out of his title match come Hell in a Cell. That’s not me being a Reigns fanboy, more someone who wants to see this feud go on and see the growth and journey of Strowman continue. Will he be that man who loses out to the numbers game when the Hounds of Justice rally to protect the gold? Will he forever be thwarted, no matter how much more bigger and stronger he is? Perhaps that’s the whole point behind what WWE are doing now.
Has the Roman Reigns title reign come at a bad time? Perhaps, as the main story-lines on Monday Night Raw and the booking seems to focus on the Shield rather than the gold – which is another column for another time. Then again, perhaps the reason for Braun Strowman’s alliance with Ziggler & McIntyre is purely to address the Rollins/Ambrose concerns going into Hell in a Cell. Perhaps Strowman isn’t as silly as some think and he’s calculated the risk and weighed up his options before going after the Big Dog. Do I think Strowman should be WWE Universal Champion? Yes, I do. But not yet. I’ve a feeling this whole story-line has got some ways to go, probably into the Royal Rumble where the strong bonds that bind these groups together may begin to fracture. For now, let’s just enjoy Strowman in this role and revel in the destruction he causes. It’s a damn shame that Kevin Owens had to be a casualty in the Strowman rise, but who knows what the future holds? Perhaps the one who betrays the Monster won’t be a Hound of Justice, nor one of his two allies, but a former champion who feels lost in the wilderness and needs to re-assert his authority in the WWE. Perhaps all of this; the Shield reuniting, Braun Strowman, Ziggler and McIntyre are all foils, all filler until one Kevin Owens rises to the top once more. I’d be happy with that.