Post-Wrestlemania 34 Update: Two months ago, we started following the journey of WWE star Braun Strowman, which had becoming zanier and kookier over the past year. He was flipping over everything in sight and eating random pieces of cake backstage. At Wrestlemania 34, the unthinkable happened. Braun Strowman became the Raw Tag Team Champion with the most unlikely partner: a child. No, this isn't a joke. This is wrestling.
Braun Strowman won the right to go to Wrestlemania to fight The Bar for their tag team titles, but there was a catch: Strowman needed to find a partner. In the upcoming weeks, leading into Wrestlemania, Strowman refused to let the WWE Universe know just who would be teaming with him at the company's biggest event of the year. On the April 2 episode of Raw, Strowman came out disguised as his supposed partner Brains Strowman, which was Braun in nerd glasses and a sleeveless white shirt. But still, no inclination of just who would be teaming with the Monster Among Men.
Wrestlemania 34 finally rolled around, and fans still didn't know anything. The Bar made their entrance to the ring on a Mardis Gras float, shortly followed by Strowman. Before heading to the ring, he pushed the float off the stage, which we all knew was coming. He grabbed a mic and announced his partner was someone watching the event inside the Superdome. Could it be Samoa Joe, Hulk Hogan, Neville, or someone from outside of WWE? Nope, it was a child named Nicholas who he recruited during a trip into the crowd. Even crazier, Strowman and Nicholas went on to win the Raw Tag Team Championships. That's right, Strowman is champion along with a child.
The saga of the walking Looney Tunes character named Braun Strowman continues.
Original Story 2/12/18: Over the last year, the Monster Among Men, Braun Strowman, has taken over the WWE by force. He's beaten is opponents in the ring and backstage, destroyed them with brute power, and most importantly, he's flipped things over using super-human strength. His storyline is reminiscent of the '90s, when some wrestlers had extraordinary abilities, and these stars were feared everywhere. But what sets Strowman apart from these other acts is that he's a walking cartoon character.
When watching WWE, the average fan needs a good amount of suspension of disbelief to buy that what's happening on TV is "real." However, when watching a storyline involving Braun Strowman, you have to prepare yourself for a descent into utter madness. For the past year, Strowman's stories exist in another realm where he has super-human strength, is impervious to pain or harm, and can seamlessly come back from the dead on a whim.
While Strowman spent his first year in WWE as the black sheep of The Wyatt Family, it wasn't until he went solo that things really started getting bizarre and more cartoon-like. Strowman's transition into a Daffy Duck or Wile E. Coyote-esque character can be traced back to April 10, 2017 on WWE's Monday night series Raw. Michael Cole was interviewing Roman Reigns, and Strowman broke up the segment by beating up The Big Dog. The assault was so bad that Reigns was put into an ambulance. Then, the unthinkable happened: Strowman flipped over the ambulance.
The over-the-top moment was certainly polarizing to fans, who have come to expect a certain amount of realism from their main event superstars in the past decade, especially in the Ruthless Aggression Era. WWE was delivering a product that harked back to an older era, combining it with contemporary storytelling. In the aftermath of the the ambulance flip, Strowman went on a tear on Raw. He suplexed Big Show, which caused the ring to collapse; he threw Kalisto--one of the smallest performers in the company--into a dumpster; and he generally just beat people up. This was the start of something special, whether WWE knew just how hilarious this was or not.
Braun Gets Murdered
Things truly started to feel like a live-action cartoon during the terribly named Great Balls of Fire PPV in early July. Strowman and Reigns battled each other in an Ambulance Match, and while Strowman ended up winning, he received the beating of a lifetime from Reigns after the match was said and done.
Strowman was thrown into the back of an ambulance, and Reigns decided to back it into a trailer at high speed, crushing the vehicle with Strowman inside. Surprisingly, the Monster Among Men walked out on his own, refusing help from medics. If fans were to believe what was happening on their TV was real, they all just witnessed an attempted murder.
Much like a bomb exploding in Elmer Fudd's face, Strowman brushed away the metaphorical soot of the backstage car crash in the weeks afterward and had no problem going back to destroying everything in his path. He found himself in the Championship picture for the remainder of the summer; therefore, his animated antics were toned down, and he was just another powerhouse wrestler during those months. Needless to say, he wasn't as fun.
If He Were A '90s Star, He'd Be Sanitation Man
WWE put Strowman back on the right path in October. At this point, Strowman was entertaining, but the best moments from this performer come when he's put in impossible situations where he needs to fight his way out, which always results in something silly happening. At the TLC PPV, Strowman joined The Miz, Curtis Axel, Cesaro, and Sheamus to fight Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Kane in a 5-on-3 Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. Because Strowman is a loose canon and doesn't play well with others, his teammates turned on him and threw him in the back of a garbage truck. That's right, someone tried to kill Braun Strowman--again.
Don't worry, he rose from the dead at the end of October, after being reborn from a garbage truck. The segment, which featured an overly-terrified Miz, Bo Dallas, and Curtis Axel, was comedic gold and quickly reminded everyone how awesome wrestling can be when WWE gets purposefully silly, utlizing its genuinely talented performers.
Fan reaction to this segment was strong, and the creatives behind Raw finally figured out the formula to make Strowman work: Put him in a situation that could only exist in a cartoon, have him flip things over, and then seemingly kill him off, only to have him rise from the grave. Braun Strowman had become Solomon Grundy. It was at this point that WWE went all-in with Strowman flipping things over: first with the Raw announcer stage onto Kane after a brutal fight between the two, and then a semi-truck, after he was fired. Said firing also resulted in one of the weirdest and best moments from Raw, where a rampaging Strowman beat up everyone in his sight in catering, only to stop and eat a giant piece of chocolate cake. More recently, WWE released a video of he and his Mixed Match Challenge partner Alexa Bliss where Strowman used basic physics to try and teach Bliss how to flip over a car.
It's obvious the company knows how to market its giant monster to fans now, moving away from the typical "this guy is big and breaks things" story by adding an out-of-this-world and comedic twist to it. While Strowman's character arc and storyline has its detractors, the majority of WWE's fanbase is enthralled with his tactics, even if he is just flipping things over, week after week.
WWE needs a balance of serious and (good) comedy, and it takes a special kind of performer to pull that off, much like how The New Day does it on Smackdown. The best and most memorable moments in wrestling come from two different reactions: shock and comedy. Everyone remembers AJ Styles debuting at the Royal Rumble because it was a shock, and everyone remembers the time Kurt Angle sprayed milk with a firehose at the Corporation because it was hilarious. However, no one remembers the good promo Timmy Wrestling cut three weeks after it happened because WWE is filled with "good" moments that all get lost in the shuffle.
We're currently living in a storyline and character arc that will be talked about for years because Strowman's antics have been unforgettable. While comedy may not be everyone's cup of tea, it's undeniable that what's happening with Strowman on Raw is some of the most entertaining content to come out of the company in recent years. Even if it breaks away from the more traditional storytelling, the cartoon adventures of Braun Strowman have been a delightful experience thus far. WWE Network, you can start production on that animated Strowman show now.