Braun Strowman is a tale of a missed opportunity due to one man’s obsession with making Roman Reigns a star. Strowman made his debut as the new Wyatt Family member in 2015, though his career in the company didn’t really take off until WWE decided to break up the Wyatt Family entirely. The former WWE Universal Champion was pushed as the latest unstoppable monster in the company, but Strowman actually stood out from previous attempts due to his incredible strength. It also helped that the company was booking the former Wyatt Family member incredibly well. He was put over strong in the 2016 Royal Rumble by eliminating five men. He kept beating opponents left and right, but moments of him flipping over trucks or tearing apart a car with his bare hands is what got the “Monster Among Men” over. Strowman was a perfect balance of a larger-than-life character that stood past monsters that the company tried to push.
What got Strowman over even more was his feud with Roman Reigns, most notably his Ambulance Match at the first-and-only, Great Balls of Fire pay-per-view. It wasn’t just the great match itself that amazed audiences, but the strong segment of Reigns attempting vehicular homicide by ramming an ambulance into another truck while Strowman was still inside. The “Monster Among Men” managed to walk away with ease. Strowman’s popularity would continue to grow, and it finally seemed that the company had another star on its hands. However, that all changed during his world title feud with Roman Reigns, where creative decided to effectively turn him heel for no good reason. It became The Shield vs. The Dogs of War, which had little fanfare. Ultimately, that rivalry ended when Strowman failed his Money in the Bank cash-in attempt due to Brock Lesnar in a Hell in a Cell match. The “Beast Incarnate” interfered and the bout was ruled a no-contest. Let’s pretend a match that’s been defined as a no holds barred, no disqualification bout can end in a no-contest. However, the key to this feud was the ill-advised heel turn of the former WWE star. Strowman was the most over wrestler on the roster at the time. Certainly, moreover than Reigns.
The heel turn came out of nowhere and was completely unnecessary. This felt like a move designed to get fans behind the then WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. A short time later, Reigns was forced to relinquish his belt and go on hiatus due to his leukemia returning. Strowman turned babyface shortly thereafter, attacking Dolph Ziggler following their loss to The Shield. However, the damage had already been done. WWE’s quick flip flopping of Strowman’s character confused the audience. It’s bad enough that he went heel in the first place, but it was clear that the only reason they turned him again was due to Roman Reigns being forced to leave the company. Prior to the turn, Strowman could’ve easily taken over as the top guy, but fans had no reason to side with Strowman even though he ditched Ziggler and McIntyre. WWE seems to have this thing of randomly turning babyfaces and heels without any sort of motivation behind it. Why should the fans reinvest in the “Monster Among Men” when he turned their backs on them a month prior? Character development is crucial. Imagine during the Stone Cold vs. Vince McMahon feud, the former decided out-of-the-blue to turn heel and side with Vince McMahon? There was no motivation behind his actions other than the script demanded him to do so. Then, Austin randomly turns back into a babyface and its never explained why he went heel in the first place.
Audiences couldn’t connect with Strowman because the company failed to give them a reason to. WWE tried to make him a top star following that moment, but it was too late at this point. Strowman had lost most of his luster. He stopped doing what mainly got him over in the first place and he became just another big guy on the roster. It didn’t help that his matches were incredibly lackluster. His bout with Goldberg was forgettable and his rivalry with Wyatt effectively erased a lot of the momentum that he had. Was Strowman beyond repair? No, and the company could’ve rebuilt him again if they just went back to the monster, they were building in the first place. However, it was clear that WWE didn’t have much interest in pushing Strowman as a top star again. It appeared that were investing time into Strowman again with his match against Shance McMahon at WrestleMania 37 and the great triple threat bout the following month, but Strowman’s run failed because creative killed his momentum. Braun Strowman had all the tools in the world to be the next big thing, but Vince McMahon’s insistence on one man being the top star ruined his chances on ever reaching that level.