The meteoric rise of Braun Strowman to the top of the WWE’s flagship show Raw can be directly linked to his program with Roman Reigns and the incredible heat The Big Dog draws on a weekly basis.
The fan response that has contributed to his meteoric rise since February is the result of working with Reigns. The second-generation, three-time WWE champion generates molten-hot reactions wherever he goes. Like John Cena before him, Reigns is someone whose mere presence alone demands an electric atmosphere.
Those who despise Reigns and the push he has enjoyed since January 2015 will grasp at straws and attempt to come up with any denial possible to diminish the effect the face of the WWE has had on The Monster Among Men’s run. They will credit Strowman alone for eliciting the raucous reactions or blame an unusually hot storyline for the red-hot WWE Universe.
That is understandable. Blind disdain often leads to an unwillingness to accept the truth.
The truth is that any other Superstar on the WWE roster could be inserted into the same promos, matches and backstage segments and be as successful in that spot as Strowman has been.
That is not at all meant to undermine what the former powerlifter has been able to accomplish. He has proved that he belongs at or near the top of the card based solely on the strength of his performance. Strowman is the quality monster heel the company has been seeking for the last 15 years. He is an unstoppable force and immovable object rolled up in one.
But his rise up the ranks would not have happened as quickly or as seamlessly as it did without Reigns to play off of. Because the former juggernaut of The Shield invites such an engrossing product, Strowman has had the opportunity to work in front of the loudest, most passionate fans in all of the WWE. His intense eruptions of anger and rage have been greeted by fans eager to witness his dismantling of Reigns.
Everything he does is awesome because everything Reigns does is not if one is led to believe the opinions of those jeering fans. He will always receive positive feedback, whereas Reigns will always generate backlash, even if the audience only cares about Strowman specifically because he is working with the former WWE champion.
One look back at December 2016’s Roadblock: End of the Line provides evidence of Strowman’s inability to generate much in the way of interest by himself. His match with Sami Zayn that night was a major disappointment from a fan reaction standpoint given the strength of the story that accompanied it. Had Reigns replaced The Underdog from the Underground on that night, odds are it would have been a different scenario.
Strowman’s contributions to Raw have made for a much more unpredictable, chaotic and wild show. He is an interesting character and looks the part of an ass-kicking professional wrestler. He has more than earned his current reputation and deserves acclaim for her performance in and out of the ring.
He has made the most of an opportunity, and he should be commended for it.
It is an opportunity that exists because of Reigns and his status as the most polarizing star in the industry that he has been able to build momentum in high-profile angles before rabid fans every Monday night.
He has received a monumental push, is headlining pay-per-views and may even compete for the Universal Championship against Brock Lesnar. Vince McMahon may have been enamored with him because of his size and strength, but without his work with Reigns being as well-received as it has been, the likelihood he achieves everything he has to this point is low.
It is imperative to keep that in mind as Payback approaches and fans begin to ask “what’s next for Braun Strowman?”