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Braun Strowman passed WWE’s ultimate test, and Brock Lesnar awaits

Monday’s Rude Awakening looks at Braun Strowman’s total victory over Roman Reigns, your new United States champ, and the possible emergence of the Broken Hardyz.

We publish a whole lot of content here at Cageside Seats. We’re also [looks around and whispers so the bosses can’t hear] not the only place producing wrestling content on the internet. So, as a service to you on the weekdays, we’ll be producing a wrestling newsletter, "Rude Awakening." Well, it will be a newsletter eventually: for now, it’ll just be part of your experience here at Cageside, collecting the news, recaps, and social moments from the greater wrestling universe daily so you won’t fall behind, with a newsletter format to come.

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Logically, Braun Strowman was always going to beat Roman Reigns at Payback. He’s 6-foot-7 and 385 pounds of impossibly gifted athlete, and he absolutely mauled Reigns in one of the greatest RAW segments of all time that included throwing Reigns into a table full of food, tossing his stretcher off of a loading dock, and flipping over the ambulance trying to take Reigns to the hospital... with his bare hands.

Reigns didn’t show up on television for the next three weeks, and when he arrived at Payback, was still moving slow while his body was taped to all hell. Reigns battled as only he knows how, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Strowman, whose plan of keeping Reigns from fighting at 100 percent worked to perfection.

Logic doesn’t always dictate how we expect things to play out, though. Braun was the aggressor here, and in the wrong for attacking Roman backstage while literally doing his best to kill him. If Roman showed back up and, despite his injuries, powered back for a victory that was right and true, no one would have been truly surprised.

That wasn’t the right call, though: Strowman is the first wrestler to make Reigns look totally mortal — even Brock Lesnar looked like he was going to lose to Reigns at WrestleMania 31 before Seth Rollins and the Money in the Bank briefcase stepped in. Braun as Reigns’ kryptonite, if you’ll excuse the tired but fitting analogy, only works if Reigns actually struggles and actually loses because of him.

Now, Braun can go back to Brock Lesnar, who Strowman already warned was going to be in his sights once he had taken care of Roman Reigns. With Reigns bloody and broken, he’s not going to be in any kind of position to get between Strowman and Lesnar — Reigns needs to recuperate while the superhosses sort things out between themselves.

It feels like SummerSlam is the place for that, with Strowman maybe even winning the Universal Championship. Hey, Lesnar doesn’t need it, and Brock continues to exist as this ever-looming final boss in part because WWE hasn’t had anyone else to fill that void for years. The era of Braun Strowman is here, though, and now, everything has changed.

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