Strong people doing strong things. Muddled under a Bible-length explanation of what professional wrestling is – a soap opera, live theater, a stunt show – that’s what it all boils down to in the simplest. That’s also why WWE star Braun Strowman’s 2017 rise has been one of the most entertaining character builds in recent memory on Monday Night RAW.
The 6-foot-8, 385-pound giant has become a fan favorite in the WWE – and with little personality to show for it. Most often, all Strowman musters up is a bear-like yell as he makes an entrance and eyes down his opponent before delivering a disastrous attack. In an era of pro wrestling in which so many stars are adored by fans for a cunning and sharp wit, the WWE has ironically managed to strike gold with a character that does nothing but destroy everything, and everyone, in his sight. No other character development was more exciting and downright entertaining than Strowman’s this year, a no-nonsense behemoth who continued his never-ending year of mayhem by closing out the latest episode of Monday Night RAW by putting veteran big man Kane, who’s remembered as the demonic and unstoppable force in RAW’s late-’90s heyday, through a table after reversing the original monster’s chokeslam attempt – one of the most legendary and effective moves in WWE history.
“It’s about proving he’s the biggest monster in the WWE,” RAW commentator Michael Cole hastily yelled as Strowman continued to go after Kane following their match, which ended in a no-contest.
The two – Strowman, nicknamed “The Monster Among Men” and “The Monster” Kane – main evented last night’s episode of Monday Night RAW to determine who would fight WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble next month. Lesnar is widely considered the WWE’s “final boss” – an unbeatable “beast” who has a proven legitimacy, having held the UFC Heavyweight Championship, and a bullet proof pro wrestling stat sheet, having been the first to ever defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania. What’s to come of the title match at next month’s Royal Rumble is still yet to be explained, following Monday’s draw.
Title opportunity of not, Strowman’s 2017 has been filled with historic moments that have solidified his status as a main event draw, and a feud with Kane just adds another notch in his character’s belt. Throughout the year, the sophomore WWE star continuously laid waste to Roman Reigns, the WWE’s top face, by putting him through an ambulance and out of action for weeks. Strowman went face-to-face with The Undertaker – an opportunity known to be a nod of approval from the WWE. At SummerSlam, Strowman nearly broke Lesnar when he put the reigning WWE Universal Champion through two ringside tables and dumped a third on top of him. He powerslammed The Big Show, one of pro wrestler’s most notorious enforcers, through a steel cage in the main event of Monday Night RAW months after he drove the WCW/WWF veteran so hard onto the mat that the ring collapsed. Then, he ended Survivor Series, one of the WWE’s most pivotal annual shows, with a brief face turn when he attacked Triple H in his first sign of justice and nobility, after the power-hungry WWE authority figure turned on RAW team captain Kurt Angle. Strowman has gone through nearly every star on the Monday Night RAW roster and, seemingly in the blink of an eye, has embraced a dim-witted, “talk-is-cheap” aura and become every WWE fan’s favorite crushing machine.
As characters are constantly being created, built and reworked in the WWE before the audience’s eyes, storylines can often turn stale, especially when predictable. Everyone here knows what’s being written: Strowman will soon bypass Kane and move onto the next multi-hundred-pound muscle head on his way to one day taking the place of an aging Brock Lesnar as the WWE’s most feared force. But finally, almost as if the WWE is acknowledging how boring it is to watch the them slowly build a homegrown main event star, the company unleashed a fury of fun in letting their next big thing run rampant as he becomes the star of the show each week.