WWE switched up the line-up for one of Sunday’s marquee matches last night (May 13) on Raw when Sami Zayn took Braun Strowman’s place in the men’s Money in the Bank ladder match.
The decision came as a bit of surprise. Shortly after announcing Strowman, along with Ricochet, Drew McIntyre & Baron Corbin as the red brand’s entrants in the annual battle for the briefcase, WWE was asking if he would become a two-time winner of Money in the Bank. Swapping in Zayn for the Monster Among Men will definitely give the wrestlers and agents more flexibility in the kind of action they can plan for match. But it also leaves Strowman without a spot on the card - which is weird considering how he’s been consistently pushed as a top star for the past couple years.
Workrate isn’t always a primary consideration for WWE, so many are still questioning why the change. On the post-Raw edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, a couple possibilities were floated, but the real reason is supposedly a creative one.
Dave Meltzer mentioned that the placement of Strowman’s armband “usually means that you’ve got a significant bicep or tricep injury”, and given the history of arm muscle surgeries for the former strongman, that could be a concern. But even when discussing his observational diagnosis, Meltzer doubts it due to the amount of work Braun did in Monday’s main event.
Later, Dave revealed what he says is the real reason:
“The thing is - the Braun Strowman being taken out of the match is part of a longer story that will play out... He’s hurt - he’s clearly hurt, but he’s not hurt enough to be taking time off. That’s not why he’s not in the match, no.”
If that’s not confusing enough, another factor could come from stories about Luke Harper’s situation. A Fightful report covered in today’s Rumor Roundup again brings up the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal from last month’s WrestleMania 35, which Strowman won. Wrestling Observer Newsletter already mentioned some spots Strowman botched in the match, but Sean Ross Sapp adds that Braun injured Ali when eliminating him, landed a stiff kick on Harper, then didn’t think he’d done anything wrong in the aftermath. The report claims there was frustration with the Monster Among Men as a result, but it’s not clear if that was just on Harper’s part, or others backstage.
We’ll have to wait and see whether there’s any injury news, or rumors of heat on Strowman. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for this “longer story”, and look forward to Sami Zayn joining the men’s ladder match in Hartford, Connecticut’s XL Center on May 19.