Armchair Creative: Reviving Braun Strowman

Did WWE destroy its resident monster?

Matthew Rago, Editor-in-Chief

This time last year, Braun Strowman seemed to be teetering on the precipice of greatness. Once the fourth member of an expiring Wyatt Family faction, Braun rebranded himself as a destructive force seldom seen on WWE television. His acts of destruction were captivating and, quite frankly, a much-needed injection of adrenaline into a stale WWE product. Strowman quickly shed the label of expendable big man and made himself an integral part of WWE television. Then Vince McMahon got his hands on him. 

Criticism of Vince McMahon’s booking tactics is well-documented. He stubbornly pushes his favorite superstars at the expense of wrestlers who organically get over with the fans. By the time McMahon identifies such a connection, the popularity has waned enough for McMahon to retrospectively justify his original decision. It’s become a vicious cycle. 

Nevertheless, WWE continues to place Strowman in high-profile matches, only to have him lose clean whenever the lights shine brightest. His inability to beat top competition has shifted public perception, perhaps irreparably so. WWE fans are a fickle group, unforgiving once they identify that their emotional investment will garner no return. As so many promising superstars can attest to, once a sense of indifference or, God forbid, contempt develops, it becomes almost impossible to coerce a reception towards a wrestler’s future efforts. However, should WWE make a concerted effort to present Braun Strowman as a legitimate main event talent, they can still salvage a unique (if not somewhat damaged) character.

First, WWE should focus on re-establishing Strowman as a dominant heel with a thirst for violence. Strowman was at his best when he was brutalizing his opponents with impressive feats of strength and sheer blunt force. Whether he was driving the Big Show through a steel cage or overturning an ambulance tending to a wounded Roman Reigns, Strowman’s willingness to stretch the boundaries of a sanitized product left viewers stunned and fascinated. An untimely face turn neutered Strowman, forcing him to adopt a more agreeable and amiable temperament. Reinventing Strowman as a monster heel is essential to reviving his character.

To begin, WWE must book Strowman to have a strong showing at Survivor Series. However, considering how WWE has already used the traditional five-on-five Survivor Series contest to showcase Strowman as a brute force, they should opt against recycling that formula. Instead, Strowman should dominate his competition, only to be blindsided by an overzealous babyface desperate to escape punishment. Strowman’s quest for revenge can serve as a catalyst for the aforementioned heel turn, perhaps even laying the foundation for a rare double turn.  

Using the same logic, Strowman should fall short of winning the 2020 Royal Rumble. Once again, Strowman dominates the field, only to be thwarted by an overachieving face. The next few weeks should be dedicated to Strowman relentlessly seeking revenge, terrorizing a popular midcard babyface such as Chad Gable. A mini-feud concluded by a semi-competitive squash match would set up Strowman for a renewed push.

In the interim, WWE should add elements to Strowman’s character. Have Strowman stalk his rivals, appearing backstage at the most inopportune times with an intention to batter. Perhaps partner Strowman with a conniving manager who can negotiate on his behalf. A secondary finisher would also do him wonders. WWE’s options with Strowman are endless, though smart booking would see the WWE creative team explore the most unconventional avenues.

Elimination Chamber (EC) should be the event that catapults Strowman back into the main event scene. Whoever emerges victorious from the Royal Rumble will theoretically challenge the Universal Champion from Raw, assuming the Universal Title doesn’t move to Smackdown during the upcoming draft. That would leave the Smackdown champion absent of a challenger at Wrestlemania. It’s imperative that Strowman has a dominant showing at EC, perhaps entering first and outlasting the entire field. In an ideal world, Strowman would go on to face and defeat either Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar, his two kryptonites, at Wrestlemania.

Strowman’s ascent to the top of the mountain is long overdue. WWE management sabotaged one of their most popular acts for the sake of revisiting the well one too many times, subsequently derailing Strowman’s credibility in the process. Once WWE decides to expand its comfort zone and entrust Strowman with the responsibility of spearheading its product, WWE will have a main event player for years to come.