From a storyline standpoint, Braun Strowman finally conquering Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble would make perfect sense.
But if how WWE has handled him lately is any indication, he will likely fall short of beating The Beast Incarnate yet again.
The writing was on the wall during their face-off on the latest edition of Raw. After Strowman flubbed his lines and came across as awkward with his delivery, Lesnar answered his invitation to brawl, only to circle Strowman around ringside and make his way to the backstage area without getting physical with his foe.
Needless to say, it was a waste of an appearance for both men and failed to get fans excited for their upcoming encounter. Worse yet, it all but confirmed that Strowman isn't winning at the Rumble on Jan. 27, which will be the latest poor booking decision WWE has made with him.
At this time one year ago, there was arguably no one hotter in WWE than Strowman. Every week, fans looked forward to what type of havoc he would wreak and to see whom he would target next.
Whether it was tipping over a production truck or putting Kane through the stage, Strowman had a larger-than-life aura about him that nobody else on the roster did—with the possible exception of Lesnar. He should have been the one to dethrone Lesnar as champion, but WWE was insistent on having Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania 34.
Despite accomplishing quite a bit in the remainder of 2018, Strowman never again reached that same level of popularity and has since been reduced to a shell of his former self.
WWE could have solidified Strowman as the top babyface on Raw last summer by having him cash in his Money in the Bank contract successfully at SummerSlam against Lesnar. That would have been a fitting end to their long-running rivalry—not to mention that it would have spared fans from having to sit through another match of theirs.
Unfortunately, the company opted to run with Reigns instead and ruined any momentum Strowman had by abruptly turning him heel post-SummerSlam. That lasted all of two months before they were forced to transition him back into a babyface role when Reigns announced he would be taking time off to undergo treatment for leukemia.
At Crown Jewel, Strowman and Lesnar did battle one more time to determine who would become the new universal champion, and following a flurry of F5s, Lesnar regained the gold and crushed Strowman's chances of ever shaking the stigma that he can't win when it matters most.
A loss for Strowman at the Royal Rumble isn't set in stone, but there isn't any reason for him to take the title from Lesnar. Yes, defeating the former UFC heavyweight champion would somewhat make up for his many shortcomings against The Beast Incarnate, but sadly, that ship sailed a long time ago.
Simply put, there is no buzz surrounding Strowman, meaning his winning the belt from Brock at the Rumble wouldn't pack as much of a punch as it would have done when he was still receiving raucous reactions from the fans on a consistent basis.
That isn't to say Strowman can't be built back up, but there are other people who deserve to get that elusive victory over Lesnar before him. As for the former Raw tag team champion, he would be better off taking time away from the Universal Championship scene to avoid further damage to his character.
WWE hasn't been entirely at fault for Strowman's descent in recent months. His elbow injury put him on the shelf for several weeks, and he still hasn't been cleared to compete.
That would explain why Lesnar and Strowman didn't come to blows as expected on Raw, but surely the company could have built anticipation for their Rumble match another way. Strowman's absence from Raw over the past two months has also played a factor in his lack of fanfare, and there isn't enough time between now and the Rumble to heat him up.
Strowman has proved to be the latest victim of WWE's questionable booking, and once he inevitably loses to Lesnar at the Rumble, one can only hope that he can find a way to recover and reclaim his spot as Raw's most dominant force.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.