Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Braun Strowman Is Mortal, Apparently

Alas, the man what tipped over an ambulance does get hurt
Photo Credit: WWE.com
If you watched Monday Night RAW last night, you noticed that Braun Strowman worked the show in a sling. As fate would have it, the sling wasn't worked, and Strowman has some damage to his elbow that will cause him to miss time, four-to-eight weeks, specifically. So, any creative plans that WWE had for Strowman for Extreme Rules and I Wanna Hold Your Hand Great Balls of Fire will be put on hold and reworked. The Monster Among Men was written out of the story last night when Roman Reigns came out and interrupted his match against Kalisto (in full Dollar Store Drago get-up) to put a hurtin' on the massive mountain of a man.

First thing's first, I'm hoping for a full and speedy recovery for Strowman, who has been the best thing on RAW in a long time, maybe since Daniel Bryan and The Shield were turning the flagship into the best three hours for pure wrestling ever in 2013. Additionally, Strowman HAD to be on the short-list of wrestlers to challenge Brock Lesnar when he makes his first defense of the Universal Championship at That'll Be the Day That I Die Great Balls of Fire. Lesnar had been coasting on fumes for the year or so before WrestleMania, but his match with Bill Goldberg had renewed hopes that his last contracted year with WWE would be hot. A match with Strowman would've gone a long way towards that. A legit real life injury also puts a damper on the invincible aura WWE has built up for Strowman as well, but hey, shit happens.

As for the segment that ejected Strowman from the narrative, I heard a lot of rumblings from suspects both usual and unusual that it wasn't "babyface behavior" from Reigns, which on one hand is technically true, but on the other is such a tired criticism anymore, especially for a dude in Reigns who, like nearly every other WWE-style babyface since Steve Austin doesn't act like a babyface. If it were Sami Zayn or, sigh, Bayley acting in such a manner, I could believe it because their narratives instruct them to act nobly, or at least Zayn's has. I am still burnt up about the way WWE has handled Bayley since bringing her up to RAW.

Reigns, however, on many occasions has been called to straddle the line drawn by crowds in how they react to him. He's not presented as a pure babyface the way his critics insist he is, and in fact, WWE officials have on several occasions insisted that Reigns is already a heel to those who continue to boo him. Worrying about alignments is so 2008 anyway. I'm not trying to defend lazy WWE characterizations, because lord knows the people producing this shit have many flaws. However, I think it's clear the company has done away mostly with characterizing wrestlers on black and white lines, for better or worse. Reigns is now the current avatar of that shift.

And honestly, the big disappointment here is that the Reigns/Strowman feud gets put on hold, because whether anyone wants to admit it or not, Reigns is a huge reason why that feud has been as entertaining as it's been. Reigns has fallen flat for me at times, but it seems the post-Mania stretch has been unusually kind to him. Last year, he had the AJ Styles feud, and the year before, he was yanking watchable matches out of Big Show. Either way, RAW has taken a big blow.