Braun Strowman Is One Of WWE’s Biggest Missed Opportunities Ever
Braun Strowman’s tenure with the WWE has come to an abrupt end.
On Wednesday morning, the the company announced the releases of Strowman, Aleister Black, Lana, Ruby Riott, Murphy and Santana Garrett. Needless to say, the news caught much of the WWE Universe and wrestling media by surprise.
Many were especially stunned by the release of Strowman. After all, he was a prominent and top mid-card/main event performer for the better part of the last four years. In July 2019, the longtime fan favorite announced that he had signed a four-year contract with the company.
Strowman’s release comes approximately nine months after he lost the Universal Championship to Bray Wyatt at last year’s SummerSlam pay-per-view. Now that his WWE run is over, it’s hard not to look back and think about all of the “What ifs?”
Sure, Strowman enjoyed more attention, opportunities and television time than most other superstars. But in many ways, the former Wyatt Family member was greatly underused.
Simply put, he should have been a perennial main event star. More specifically, in the same tier as Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar and Daniel Bryan. But WWE’s lackluster booking derailed something that once had limitless potential.
The Promising 2018 Push
WWE tried pushing Strowman as an unstoppable heel throughout most of 2017, but the fans largely sided with him, especially during his feud with the polarizing Reigns. The decision was made to slowly turn him into a babyface, and Strowman was more than over with the fans throughout most of 2018.
Strowman teamed up with a young fan named Nicholas at WrestleMania 34, soundly defeating Cesaro and Sheamus for the Raw Tag Team Championships. They relinquished the titles the next day, paving the way for Strowman to continue a rapidly increasing singles push.
The Monster Among Men won the 50-man Royal Rumble bout at the Greatest Royal Rumble pay-per-view, a strong sign that WWE was ready to make him a main event star. Less than two months later, he emerged victorious in the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match.
At this point, the sky was the limit for Strowman.
Derailing The Giant Push
Not long after he won the Money in the Bank contract, Strowman entered a program with Reigns, who defeated Lesnar at SummerSlam to become the new Universal Champion.
Lesnar, of course, spoiled Strowman’s Money in the Bank cash-in when he interfered in the Universal title match with Reigns. That was a weak booking decision to begin with, and yet WWE found a way to further ruin Strowman’s push.
On the Oct. 22, 2018 episode of Raw, Reigns relinquished the Universal title after revealing that he was battling Leukemia for a second time. WWE then ran a Strowman-Lesnar program for the vacant championship.
Rather than make up for Strowman’s wasted Money in the Bank moment, WWE essentially decided to end his big push at Crown Jewel. Baron Corbin, who was then the acting GM of Monday Night Raw, attacked Strowman before the match. Lesnar soundly defeated Strowman to win the Universal title.
WWE had spent most of 2018 building up Strowman for a potential main event run and major championship reign. And of course, they just had to stop it in favor of giving the title back to Lesnar. The more that stays the same.
Underwhelming Universal Championship Run/Final Months
Reigns was initially scheduled to face Universal Champion Goldberg at WrestleMania 36. But for health and safety reasons amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Reigns removed himself from the match.
WWE penciled in Strowman as Reigns’ replacement. As expected, the former defeated the WWE Hall of Famer to capture his first major championship in WWE. Finally, Strowman’s moment had arrived. Or so we thought.
But for a variety of reasons, Strowman’s 141-day Universal Championship reign felt somewhat uneventful and bland. And again, this was largely due to porous booking.
WWE made the questionable decision to pit him in a feud with Bray Wyatt, who largely received the babyface treatment from fans despite portraying a heel character. Their match at Money in the Bank wasn’t bad by any means, but the storytelling that followed simply lacked creativity and interest.
During their feud, it was pretty obvious that Wyatt would eventually defeat Strowman for the title. They had a not-so-thrilling “Wyatt Swamp Fight” and non-title match in the main event for The Horror Show at Extreme Rules. A month later, he dropped the title to Wyatt at Summerslam, just as most people expected.
Final Months In WWE
Strowman’s WrestleMania match with Shane McMahon exceeded the expectations of many. That said, the buildup for that program was dull and boring. How was Shane calling Strowman “stupid” time and time again supposed to entice the fans? The actual match was the only memorable part of their feud.
It looked like WWE was prepared to give Strowman another main event push when he faced Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley in a triple threat for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania Backlash. Lashley pinned Strowman to retain his title, and it turned out to be Strowman’s final match with the company.
WWE should have stayed with the three-way feud between the trio of stars, but the program will continue with just McIntyre and Lashley. For Strowman, his final WWE feud lacked the proper conclusion in terms of storytelling. The “unfinished business” aspect will always be there.
With an exciting wrestling character, superb in-ring work and strong popularity among the fans, Braun Strowman simply had all the tools to be a perennial main event star and Hall of Fame-caliber talent.
But he was unfortunately the victim of constantly awful and sloppy booking by WWE creative, and the company continuously failed to capitalize on the many chances they had with him. Simply put, it’s inexcusable that he only got to enjoy one world championship reign in the WWE.
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Strowman, who was greatly respected in and out of the ring. But when one door closes, a new one opens, and Strowman should have no problem finding similar or greater success in his next stop.