Braun ‘Adam Scherr’ Strowman stands at 6’6 and weighs 343lbs of pure hands. As someone who played football and competed in track & field and wrestling in high school and later played football at a community college level before going on to compete in Strongman competitions at a professional level, Braun is a rarity in which we have a bonafide athlete who also possesses the physique of an archetypal WWE monster. The company essentially have a ‘Brock Lesnar’ on a full-time contract. So why after only one world championship reign does it feel that Braun Strowman has stalled and how does WWE get him back into gear?
Making his debut in August 2015, thrusting himself squarely into the middle of an epic Shield – Wyatt Family feud after aligning himself as ‘The Black Sheep’ of the Wyatt Family alongside Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. He instantly cut a menacing figure with long, wet, dark hair draped over a black vest threatening to come apart as it struggled to contain his behemoth pectorals, complete with cargo trousers and army-style lace-up boots complimented by the eternally creepy and demonic-looking black sheep mask.
He picked up impressive wins in his rookie year, among them a submission victory over Chris Jericho at Night Of Champions and alongside The Wyatt Family in a Tables Elimination match against a team of ‘ECW Originals’ in the Dudley Boyz, Tommy Dreamer and Rhyno at TLC. At Royal Rumble 2016, he competed in the Royal Rumble match (the winner becoming WWE World Heavyweight Champion that year). Entering at number 17, he lasted 18 minutes and made the joint-most amount of eliminations, alongside Roman Reigns, with 5 before being eliminated by Brock Lesnar. Despite being “put over as a monster” in the words of Dave Meltzer, WWE booking logic took over and The Wyatt Family went on a losing streak, seeing them lose to a makeshift team of Big Show, Kane and Ryback at Fastlane in February and were then fed like sheep to wolves at Wrestlemania 32 in an impromptu squash match to The Rock and John Cena.
Following a brand split which saw Braun move to Raw and The Wyatt Family move to Smackdown, Strowman was booked against ‘local competitors’ with the sole aim of building up the monster element of his performance. Over 2017, he continued his ‘Monster Among Men’ persona with dominant displays in the Royal Rumble match again, a feud with Roman Reigns and the often-repeated but always spectacular “collapsing ring with The Big Show after a suplex” spot before an elbow injury sidelined him for two months before returning to continue a feud with Roman Reigns leading to a Fatal Four-Way WWE title match at Summerslam against champion Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe before a one-on-one title match against Brock Lesnar at No Mercy, failing to pick up the win in either match. Strowman also appeared as a member of Team Raw at Survivor Series, coming off victorious and a survivor alongside Triple H.
In 2018, Strowman’s career stepped up a gear when he was booked in another title match, a Triple Threat match against champion Brock Lesnar and Kane at the Royal Rumble. Another losing effort. Strowman then won a tag team battle royale by himself for a title shot against Raw Tag Team Champions Sheamus and Cesaro at Wrestlemania 34.
At the event, Braun picked a child from the audience, Nicholas (son of referee Jack Cone). The duo picked up the win before relinquishing the belts the following evening on Raw. Strowman then won the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia, setting the record for most eliminations with 13. Strowman then entered into a 5-month feud with Kevin Owens, winning the Money in the Bank ladder match halfway through and culminating in a two-minute victory at Summerslam.
Braun tried to cash in his MITB briefcase at that event after Roman Reigns victory but was interrupted pre-match. He did manage to cash in at Hell in a Cell but interference from Brock Lesnar ended the match in a no contest. At Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia, he was granted a title match against Brock Lesnar but was attacked by Special Guest Referee Baron Corbin at the start of the match. Heavily selling the attack from Corbin, Braun was dominated by Lesnar but took five F-5’s before staying down for the three-count.
2019 was an unremarkable year for Braun Strowman, shambling from one meaningless angle to the next and 2020 looked to be going the same way……. then Covid-19 happened. With health and family concerns at the forefront of the decision, Roman Reigns decided he would not be showing up for WWE events until he felt comfortable enough to return and that left a spot available at Wrestlemania 36 for Goldberg’s Universal Title.
Finally, Braun picked up the victory, working that “Goldberg-loses-match” match that you’ve seen a hundred times before. Strowman held on to the Universal Title for four months before dropping it to old stablemate Bray Wyatt at Summerslam at the end of an intriguing feud. Since then, he has regressed to his pre-Championship creative direction of moving from one feud to the next against opponents such as Keith Lee, Sheamus, Otis and Shane McMahon.
So how do we fix Braun? This one four-month reign in the middle of 20 months of absolute mediocrity cannot be his peak, his reign isn’t a thank you for numerous years of loyal service ala Kane or an attempt to tap into an ever-expanding market such as Jinder Mahal and India. First off, send him away. Take him off TV. Whether he goes and makes a movie or just sits at home and heals up old niggling injuries, he needs to go away for 4 to 6 months before making a monster return, pun very much intended, straight into a title picture.
Secondly, he needs to expand his move-set. Nothing majorly complicated. I’m not asking for a 6 foot 6 Daniel Bryan. Add a devastating clothesline, suplexes of different varieties and with the retirement of The Undertaker and Kane & the exit of The Big Show, there’s a gap for a chokeslam specialist. Upgrade that to his finisher and keep his power slam and running power slam as secondary moves. Keep the ragdolling and throwing-around elements as well as they are a big part of his character.
Ditch the Braun Express choo-choo train thing he does. It looks completely ridiculous. If I want to see a big bloke running around crashing into people, I’ll watch the NFL. Thirdly, a heel turn. He isn’t a sympathetic character, he is to be feared and intimidating. He needs to garner Lesnar-like reactions. He needs ‘Ooh’s’, ‘Ahh’s’ and gasps, not cheers.
Dominant displays must be followed up on. Too many times we see him have an excellent Royal Rumble match or win a traditional Survivor Series match and then he’s back to losing to an opponent a foot shorter than him (We all love an underdog story but I can only suspend my disbelief so much. You never saw Undertaker lose to Kofi Kingston, for example.)
A meaningful and credible title reign. He always in the picture but no one ever expects him to win and if he did, it wouldn’t be accepted by the fans as the build-up is never worked to its full advantage. The title reign must last at least 9 months and when it comes to him losing it, he loses a guy of similar stature (Roman Reigns/Brock Lesnar) or with credibility in the bank (Seth Rollins/Kevin Owens) or loses it in a multi-man contest in which he doesn’t lose the pinfall or submission.
Finally, he also needs a massive money-spinning match at Wrestlemania or Summerslam. In 2017, we were teased with a potential Braun Strowman v Triple H angle after Braun took umbrage with his teammate’s actions in the Survivor Series match and grabbed him by the throat and warned him against such shenanigans in the future. Triple H looked genuinely scared and backed down but we never got any sort of payoff to this action. We got Braun Strowman winning the Tag Team titles with a child instead. Give us that match. Give us a domineering, destructive behemoth Braun Strowman against the multi-time Heavyweight World Champion and Hall of Famer Triple H.