Today, we look at an individual who garners a little more respect than Reigns does, which is possibly the understatement of the year. In less than three years on WWE's main roster, Braun Strowman has gone from one-note mass of flavourless humanity to the most compelling and fascinating performer on any of the brands. The Strowman we see today is extraordinary, even if it took us a bit of time before we saw what he could potentially be.
The question here is simple: should Braun Strowman be the face of WWE? Does "The Monster Among Men" have what it takes to pick up the ball that has been passed down from champions that defined the eras before his time?
To put it mildly, WWE could do a lot worse than letting Strowman carry that ball for some length of time. There are many reasons why beastly Braun should be the one that gets the biggest spotlight shone his way. Here are 10 of them...
10. For God's Sake, Just Look At Him
Guys that look like Braun Strowman don't just fall out of the sky. Billed at 6'8 and a whopping 385 pounds, Strowman is more than just staggering numbers. That stated weight is distributed into that 6'8 frame in such a way that he's just so imposing. His arms are bigger than a cruiserweight's leg. You could hold WrestleMania 35 on his torso.
Outside of his gargantuan structure are his menacing eyes. His wide-eyed glare, complete with gritted teeth, lends him a level of scariness that he could maintain, even if he were five inches shorter or 100 pounds lighter - or both. Some big men in wrestling don't have the gravitas needed to impose on a stare alone, but Strowman certainly does.
9. He Fills The Monster Void Perfectly
Big Show is 46 years old and has been eyeing retirement for some time. Kane is 51 and on the verge of transitioning into a political career. Undertaker is 53 and has, respectfully, seen better days. These three legends have occupied WWE space for decades, mostly because of their own levels of talent and greatness, but at least partially because there hasn't been a giant since that could match up with them.
As stated before, guys that look like Strowman are rare, and ones that can connect with crowds like Strowman does are even less common. The members of that storied trio will have to accept their respective sunsets sooner or later, which can be made a bit easier by the fact that WWE finally has a monster capable of building a similar legacy.
8. He Delivers Dialogue Convincingly
This is a big one in latter-day WWE, because we've seen the difficulties that even the most talented performers have had reading the scripts that they're given. From throwing out juvenile insults to the not-so-subtle hard-pressing of buzzwords, very few WWE performers are capable of bringing genuine life to something that was written for them.
Meanwhile, Strowman more than holds his own in that department. While at times he's given some hacky comic lines to recite, Strowman's natural growl, and his ability to project menace makes his words easier to get behind. Never does Strowman come off as hesitant or stilted, but rather he seems to believe his own forceful words. As a monster that oozes intensity, he has to power to colour in WWE's atmosphere.
7. He Can Make A Potentially Dumb Idea Work
During Strowman's rivalry with Elias, there was a skit on Monday Night Raw in which Strowman sat on the entrance stage with a colossal double bass. The internal alarms of cynical viewers (I'm one of them) began beeping, as a nagging fear began to creep in. We thought, "Is WWE going to ruin a good thing in Strowman by saddling him with bad comedy?"
It turns out that the comic piece actually did work well (especially when he broke the instrument across Elias' back). Thus far, Strowman's demonstrated the ability to deliver with comic premises that others may have failed at, whether it's dressing as his own twin brother, or plucking a 10-year-old out of the stands to be his tag team partner. Strowman's unflappable demeanour and menacing projection only coat his super-heavyweight frame with Teflon, because nothing harmful sticks to him.
6. Crowds Have More Than Warmed Up To Him
Ah yes, one of the most important parts of the Strowman argument: people love him! Whenever the primal scream that begins his theme music blasts through the arena, there's an instantaneous response from the fans. It may not draw reactions as loud as Austin's glass breaking or Rock's "If ya smelllllll", but as far as modern wrestlers are concerned, it's the best signal to noise going today.
It's funny looking back at Strowman just two years ago when he was split from the Wyatts and was on his own squashing nameless jobbers (and James Ellsworth) on Raw for a stretch. He was viewed as a heavily-limited waste of time back in the summer of 2016, whereas today he's one of the most popular wrestlers in the company. That's some serious turnaround.
5. Chaos And Destruction Never Get Old
A vital part of Strowman's formula for greatness has been his ability to act as a human tsunami. While WWE has been keen over the year to put over its brawnier wrestlers by *talking* about their strength, they've gone the extra mile and had Strowman demonstrate his inhuman power in a series of true OMG! moments.
Obviously, many of Strowman's feats of ungodly strength have come with the aid of special effects, like tipping an ambulance over, holding Elias' car back, or breaking a ring as a result of Superplexing Big Show. It's a bit more convincing for Strowman to do these things than, say, Seth Rollins or Finn Balor, for instance. Strowman at least looks the part of some deranged Paul Bunyan figure from folklore, so if you're going to have somebody go all "Hulk-Smash" on the scenery, he's the guy. And people love watching it happen, so yeah, push the guy that looks like he *could* believably do those things.
4. Fans Love The Idea Of Braun Killing The Heel
Theodore Long's tenure as SmackDown general manager birthed some paint-by-numbers cliches. One of those cliches would come when some heel would have him at his wits end, and Long would respond by booking him to go, "one-on-one with da Undatakuh, playa!" The trope lived because the idea of Undertaker mauling some unlikable fiend was rather fun.
Same goes for Strowman. Whether it's Elias or The Miz or whoever, situate one of them inside the ring, let them do their heel shtick, then hit Braun's music. Thousands of fans are instantly rejoicing at the very idea of said villain "getting these hands" in just a matter of moments. If this version of Strowman were on SmackDown in 2005, and Long were telling JBL that he was about to go one-on-one with Braun (playa), the fans would be just as thrilled.
3. He's Much Improved In The Ring
For the heavy premium put on the in-ring product by some fans these days (you know the ones: "It's not five stars unless Uncle Dave says it is!"), wrestlers are scrutinized a little more by armchair critics. You know, the ones who say that Roman Reigns can't wrestle, even though his resume matches have been rated highly by the very Dave Meltzer that they deify (writer's note: I love Meltzer's work too, but geez, rate your own matches).
Strowman had barely had any in-ring experience at the time of his 2015 call-up and, frankly, it was apparent. His call-up had more to do with his look than anything, but he eventually complimented his freakish appearance with ring work that is quite impressive. Matches with Reigns and Big Show have shown how far he's come as an athletic mauler. He may never be a "workrate god", but he doesn't have to be: his timing and awareness are extremely on point, and he works well with virtually any wrestler.
2. He Stands Out From The Pack
People will flock to something that is unique and different. In a landscape of bruisers and muscleheads thirty years ago, men like Bret Hart, Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, and Dynamite Kid all stood out on the merit of their world-class ring mastery. Today, there are so many wrestlers lauded for their science and thrilling performances, and quite a few have been signed into WWE's fold, that it may be harder to stand out necessarily for those skills.
While Strowman probably wouldn't have been lost in the shuffle in the time of Hulkamania and Macho Madness, he stands out even more today. WWE has tailored their product to include so many independent and international standouts, and here's Braun, looking like the red car in a lot full of blue ones. There's nobody in WWE quite like Braun Strowman, in more than one sense. That's one hell of a marketing advantage.
1. He's The Best Choice Of Conqueror Against Brock Lesnar
It seems as though Reigns is the Luger to Lesnar's Flair, unable to get the job done against the long-standing champion. Some, like Meltzer, have argued that Reigns has been thoroughly killed off after losses at WrestleMania and Greatest Royal Rumble. That begs the question as to who *does* get that nod to knock Brock Lesnar off of WWE's Everest.
While popular babyfaces like Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and Finn Balor would all be augmented by that sort of feather in the cap, there's no better choice than Strowman. For Lesnar to be "killed off", so to speak, he needs to be thoroughly beaten in such a way that fans truly believe it. Strowman in his current form (he's in a better place now than when he lost to Lesnar at No Mercy) has the momentum and the immovable presence required to make a defeat of Lesnar feel monumental. If and when Strowman delivers that critical Powerslam, it's almost certain that an arena full of fans would be counting along with the referee's hand.