Everyone’s talking about WrestleMania and rightly so. It’s the biggest event of the year every year and while some of the sizzle of years past is not yet present, it will still be a huge night with lots to discuss.
Probably the biggest newsmaking story heading into the big show is the expected Ronda Rousey/Kurt Angle vs Triple H/Stephanie McMahon match. The other big match is the predicted main-event between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. It will probably be as fun as the first time those two went at it (which was a lot of fun), but will also feature an ending nowhere near as fun.
I think it’s safe to say most WWE fans would be happy seeing that much turn into a triple threat with a certain monster among men being added into the mix. Vince, however, seems determined to close the four year loop that Brock and Roman have been riding so that match will likely stay a singles contest.
So what about Braun?
Back when Ronda Rousey first signed with WWE the talk was that the company was hoping to lure the Rock back for a fight, echoing another WrestleMania 31 moment and turning that into their big star-studded, mainstream media-grabbing match. Rock obviously passed; that match with Erick Rowan was too good a retirement moment to ruin.
Signing Rock had to have been a longshot idea anyway and the buzz was that Braun Strowman was the intended backup plan. That makes sense for a couple reasons, one of which is the giant’s immense popularity.
The other reason adding Braun to that match would have made sense goes back to Survivor Series.
Before Elimination Chamber, where Braun single-handedly defeated the entire gauntlet of superstars (until the end) and before the Royal Rumble, where Bruan manhandled Kane and Brock Lesnar in a fight that would have been at home during the climax of an episode of Power Rangers, there was Survivor Series.
If not, I don’t blame you; there’s been zero mention of it on WWE TV since then. Let me give a little context via wikipedia...
Strowman executed a running powerslam on Orton to eliminate him, leaving Shane as the last member of Team SmackDown. Shane and Angle faced off. As Angle had Shane in the Angle Lock, Triple H turned on Angle and performed the Pedigree on him and then placed Shane on top of him to eliminate Angle. This was a ruse, however, as after Triple H aided Shane to stand up, he performed the Pedigree on Shane to eliminate him and win the match...
If none of that makes sense, don’t worry, it didn’t live and in person either.
It seemed like it was one of those crazy swervy finishes that seems silly, or even stupid, in the moment but makes a little more sense as the story unravels over the next several weeks. Except this time there was no story. There was no unraveling. It was just a crazy swervy finish that seemed stupid because it was.
And yet, it didn’t need to be pointless. All the stars seemed positively aligned for something big to happen as a payoff. It seemed like the perfect set-up for a WrestleMania program. And before you say that kicking off a Mania storyline as far back as Survivor Series is too long, let me remind you of just a few Mania programs that did just that:
The fuse that would explode the Mega Powers was first lit with Hulk Hogan’s leering at Miss Elizabeth during the Survivor Series 1988 main-event.
The first WrestleMania collision between Steve Austin and The Rock kicked off with the Deadly Games Tournament at Survivor Series 1998, where Austin was screwed and Vince’s hand-picked guy—Rock—went on to win.
BikerTaker was literally buried by Vince McMahon and Kane at Survivor Series 2003, setting the stage for the Deadman’s return (against Kane) at WrestleMania 20.
And just a couple years ago Brock Lesnar was pantsed by Goldberg like it was a 1998 Nitro at the 2016 Survivor Series, setting the two brutes on a story that would carry them to WrestleMania 33.
So there’s a precedent here.
What about last year? You had a huge Survivor Series main-event with a finish that put the spotlight on two very specific superstars: Braun Strowman and Triple H; one is an uber-hot babyface primed and ready for a big push, the other is a semi-retired legend who is going to have a marquee WrestleMania match every year.
But—BUT—you can argue that Braun vs Triple H alone was not a big enough program for The Game, at least back in November. Braun was hot, but not as hot as he would grow to be. But then Ronda was signed and everything pointed to a tag-match featuring Ronda Rousey; now you have the star-power, and in the interim Bruan has only gotten hotter. Not to mention he has no clear direction heading into WrestleMania and a Survivor Series finish with Triple H that could tie it all together.
Doesn’t this just seem like the most obvious peanut butter and chocolate pairing ever?
Instead the Survivor Series finish will continue to whither on the vine, no more recalled than any other would-be storyline that have been abruptly dropped based on the capricious whims of WWE’s septuagenarian, Montgomery Burnsian, sleep-deprived owner.
Hopefully WWE finds a place for Bruan Strowman that is befitting his lofty standing with the fan base.
Where would YOU put Braun on the WrestleMania card? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.