Falls Count Anywhere Universal Championship Match
Braun Strowman (c) versus “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Braun Strowman will once again have to defend his Universal Championship against his former stablemate, leader, and friend. Only this time, there will be no swamp-laden trips down memory lane. Tonight, Strowman must face-off with The Fiend in what is sure to be a uniquely psychological falls count anywhere match.
The Road to SummerSlam
The last time these two competitors tangoed was at Extreme Rules: Horror Show in the aptly named “Swamp Match.” Strowman was subjected to the psychological horror of reliving his past (no thanks!), being bitten by a snake, and having his unrequited crush appear to him like a siren, luring him to an (almost) watery grave.
After presumably drowning in the Wyatt Family swamp, we didn’t see Strowman for several weeks. Bray Wyatt was pleased by the results of the swamp fight, but he seemed to know that the battle was not over - it was The Fiend’s turn now. But how to lure “The Monster” out of the swamp (it is organic after all)? It turns out all The Fiend needed to do was violently attack Alexa Bliss unprovoked to get Strowman’s attention.
But his time in the swamp changed Strowman. He didn’t return to SmackDown to save Bliss. He came for one thing and one thing only: to face the Fiend. He claimed that “The Monster” had finally been unleashed and no one -not Alexa Bliss, not Bray Wyatt and, certainly not the WWE Universe - were prepared for that.
The Fiend seemed nonplussed by this threat, while Alexa was both hurt and furious at her friend, claiming “this isn’t the Braun I know.” Alexa took her displeasure to Braun and confronted him in the ring living up to the proverb “though she be but little, she is fierce.” Unfortunately for her, this “new” Braun had no qualms about picking up his one-time partner and tossing her in the ring like garbage. This prompted The Fiend to appear, but whether that was to save Alexa or to play more mind games with Braun remains unclear.
Of course, we couldn’t possibly have a go-home show without a little confrontation and on the SmackDown before SummerSlam! Braun, fed up with Wyatt’s actions, chased him throughout the ThunderDome, ultimately beating him so severely that he ended up in an ambulance. An ambulance from HELL! With Superman-style flair, The Fiend emerged from a smoking vehicle with a smile on his face and a determined glint in his maniacal eyes.
What’s at Stake?
This is once again a moment for Braun to prove to the WWE Universe that he is in fact a “monster” and not just a random big boy pretending to be a choo-choo train. If he defeats Wyatt - especially as The Fiend - he will become one of the most formidable foes on the roster - and not just because of his size. His size plus an evil (perhaps magically inclined) demeanor would be a disaster for the roster. Of course, if he loses, he doesn’t lose that much. He’s still a big strong giant, and losing to The Fiend isn’t exactly uncommon. Like others before him, he can claim temporary insanity and go back to the fun-loving giant he was before.
But what does The Fiend want? He seemed delighted to hear that the monster had been unleashed...almost as if this was his plan all along. Lose control, lose the title. But maybe it’s more than that. If the Fiend bests The Monster, perhaps he can once again exert his dominance over him. Between the trip down memory lane for Strowman and his interactions with Alexa, The Fiend seems kind of lonely and it never hurts to have spooky friends by your side! It seems like this is precisely what he wanted to happen when he pushed him in the swamp. (Swamp of Indoctrination anyone?) Of course, if The Fiend loses we’ll be in classic “Bray Wyatt should’ve won that territory” with a stunted character and direction.
And Alexa? Well, Alexa seems very confused about her feelings and her place in this feud. On the one hand, she’s been friends with Braun for years and is disappointed and hurt by his biting words. On the other, she is totally enamored with The Fiend, drawn to him like - dare I say it - a moth to a flame. It is unclear what The Fiend wants with Alexa at this point. Is she just a pawn to get to Braun, or does he miss having a stable rule by his side? Will he use Alexa to distract Braun long enough to win the title, or was she just a mechanism to get him to the dance? Perhaps she won’t show up at all.
If she does, however, I hope she gets a little more agency in this feud. I like what she has been doing as I think it makes sense canonically for Braun, and it challenges her as a performer, but Alexa is too strong of a character to be a pawn. If she’s going bad, let her go full-blown evil. We may no longer need a Sister Abigail, but who says we can’t have a Fiendess?
Tune into SummerSlam tonight at 7E/6C on the WWE Network to see how this one plays out and don’t forget to check back in here at Cageside Seats for all your up to date coverage!
Who will win?
This poll is closed
"The Fiend" Bray Wyatt