Let’s be honest. You probably knew exactly what Tweet was referenced in the headline before you even opened this article. Braun Strowman set wrestling Twitter ablaze when he congratulated himself and Omos for their very well received match at WWE Crown Jewel this past November.
Had that simply been all he had done, it probably wouldn’t have garnered the attention that it did. However, Strowman took it a step further by stomping all over wrestlers who rely more on their high flying athletic maneuvers as opposed to the more “Hulk Smash” way of doing things - essentially saying that no one cares about these “flippy flippers” and “floppy floppers.”
The Tweet was sent in jest, according to Strowman, as a way to rile up the internet wrestling community. Well, mission accomplished good sir.
What the Tweet also accomplished, was set in motion the events that led to Strowman and his now tag team partner Ricochet returning to WrestleMania. The former United States, Intercontinental, and North American Champion was one of the many people to respond to Strowman’s Tweet:
“I know you’re not one for big thinking,” said Ricochet. “You’re looking way too far into the future because if you keep looking past these ‘flippy flippers,’ your words not mine, it might come back to bite you.”
It wasn’t long at all before Strowman’s words were used against him in the run up to crowning a SmackDown Cup Champion. The Monster Among Men ended up falling victim to the king of the flippy flippers, Ricochet himself, in the finals. And thus a level of, on-screen, respect was earned and slowly but surely a partnership was formed.
Cageside Seats had a chance to catch up with both Braun Strowman and Ricochet at the WrestleMania Press Junket this week. With both men admitting, that Strowman’s Tweet was really the start of something special.
“I think it definitely helped throw fuel on the fire to get the rocket ship moving,” Strowman said. “Honestly, man, that’s the cool thing with WWE... You never know what’s gonna happen on a day-to-day basis. And literally one thing like that can change the whole outlook of everything. Whether that tweet is what made it happen or not, who cares? We’re at WrestleMania. If me being a d***head... Oh I shouldn’t say that... me being a pecker head and stirring the pot on the internet leads to a WrestleMania match. Guess what? I’m gonna do it again in a couple weeks.”
Behind the scenes, Strowman has the utmost respect for Ricochet and his fellow flippy floppers. But the public took a couple of typed out sentences, ran wild with them and suddenly Strowman was painted as a villain.
Even Ricochet’s response didn’t help the matter much, because people reading it online did not know that his retort was also in jest.
“That’s kind of how Braun and I talk to each other normally. You know what I mean? Not just Braun and I, but you know, the guys. We like to give each other crap and bust each other’s balls,” Ricochet said, with many in the back just viewing it as Braun being Braun. “I think all the fans were trying to pit us against each other more than anything. But I think at the end of the day, everyone was just trying to have some fun with it.”
Ricochet wasn’t trying to knock the fans for responding the way they did either. In fact, he thanked them for continuing to throw gas on the fire. Saying without their reaction, the storyline most likely never would have made it TV. And a new tag team may never have been born, even if it should have been a long time ago.
“Braun and I, we’ve been friends for so long and honestly, I don’t know why we haven’t thought about becoming a team together earlier because it’s kind of a no-brainer to be honest with you. With our styles, that’s kind of a no-brainer. But yeah, I mean, maybe, maybe not. Say he didn’t make that tweet, who knows where we would’ve been?”
For Ricochet, this weekend marks his first WrestleMania appearance, since his first one. The last time WWE fans saw King perform on the Grandest Stage of the All was back in 2019. That year he and Aleister Black, now known as Malakai Black in AEW, unsuccessfully competed for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania 35.
Even heading into WrestleMania 38 in Dallas last year, Ricochet seemed to be in a prime position to make the card as the reigning Intercontinental Champion. He ended up defending his Title against Angel Garza and Humberto Carrillo on WrestleMania SmackDown instead - missing out on the main card for the third year in a row.
.@KingRicochet defends the #ICTitle against @humberto_wwe and @AngelGarzaWwe! #SmackDown #WrestleMania pic.twitter.com/SPI3CJc2dd— WWE (@WWE) April 2, 2022
Thinking back to his first WrestleMania experience, Ricochet recalled something one WWE Hall of Famer told him before the show.
“I talked to Edge at my first one at MetLife. And Edge, the first day he was like, just remember when you walk out there, he goes, look at everything. Look at the lights, look at the people, look at your feet. Look at the ground, look at the air, look at everything and just take it all in. He’s like, because you never know if you’re gonna get another one,” Ricochet remembered.
“To be back on the card, to be back on WrestleMania again, it’s just like that first one that I did. It’s not something that I’m gonna take for granted when I walk out there. I’m gonna look at everything. I’m gonna look at all the people, I’m gonna look at the lights, I’m gonna look at the ground, I’m gonna look at my feet. You know what I mean? I’m gonna look at the stage, I’m gonna look at the ring, I’m gonna look up in the sky, whatever I need to look and just take it all in. Because again, and not just for WrestleMania and not just in wrestling, but I think that in life you have to stop and smell the proverbial roses.”
Both Ricochet and Strowman are on the same page when it comes to this year’s WrestleMania. They are going to use this showcase match to live up to it’s name. An opportunity to showcase what they can do under the brightest lights, and make sure that they never miss out on another WrestleMania.
“It’s not even just us,” Strowman said. “You look at like Viking Raiders. This is their first opportunity on the main card at WrestleMania. So many of these guys work tirelessly day in, day out for years. And now it’s so awesome to see them getting their moment. I’m really looking forward to like, we’re breaking character right here, right now, but looking forward to being able to get in there because I know how hard all these guys work. I’ve seen Otis and Gable and Ivar and Erik and the Street Profits, everybody bust their ass day in and day out. I’ve seen ‘em in the PC. I’ve seen ‘em in the gym and it’s so great that not only myself and Ricochet, this new tag team that’s really organically growing with the crowd and getting over, getting an opportunity at WrestleMania, seeing all them have an opportunity too at WrestleMania, is so great.”
Now wrestling fans and critics aren’t always on the same page when it comes to the product, but many of us looked at this match, and similarly at the women’s showcase, when they were booked and questioned their purpose on the show.
I’ll admit it. I was someone who wrote negatively about these matches on this very website. Now it wasn’t that I believed the talent didn’t earn or deserve a spot on the show. Actually, it was quite the opposite. My gripe is that many of these very talented individuals didn’t have a better spot on card.
Neither match has any real stakes attached to it. There also wasn’t much of a discernible build for either the men’s or women’s showcases, save for a few qualifying matches.
But at the end of the day, none of that matters for the performers. Shawn Michaels said it best at his NXT: Stand and Deliver Press Conference on Thursday. WrestleMania spots are very valuable. And guys like Braun Strowman, aren’t above taking a booking like this one.
#NXTStandAndDeliver could be the last time several talents perform on an #WWENXT PLE.— Rick Ucchino (@RickUcchino) March 30, 2023
I asked Shawn Michaels today how he feels, as a mentor, when talent he’s been so close with are nearing a main roster call up. @cagesideseats pic.twitter.com/s00feHUXGa
“You always have the internet critics that are gonna throw their shade at whatever they can just because that’s just what people like to do. And hey... It’s your opinion. Voice it. At the end of the day, it’s WrestleMania. And whether people want to think we’re just being thrown on there to get thrown a bone, who cares? I’ll take that bone. It’s WrestleMania. This is an opportunity for us to go out there and carve our names into granite of history. And I can promise you one thing, I feel bad for whoever has to follow us Saturday, I’m telling you straight up, don’t blink, we’re gonna steal the show.”
When you look at the collection of talent in the Men’s Showcase Match at WrestleMania, there’s no doubt that all eight men could go out there and put on an absolute barn burner.
There may not be a more entertaining team in the entire company than the Alpha Academy. Gable is a five tool player and his comedic flare alongside Otìsè makes them an incredibly versatile asset that can be inserted anywhere on a given card.
No team may be more, dare I say it, vicious than the Viking Raiders. I mean these boys hit hard. And we all know how special the Street Profits are, both collectively and on their own.
But there’s something about the dynamic of Strowman and Ricochet that just jumps out at you. Almost like it’s leaping right out the pages of a comic book. And for good reason.
These real life super athletes aren’t looking back the legends of the past like Diesel and Shawn Michaels to drawn their inspiration. Nope, they’re looking directly at Stan Lee and Kevin Fiege.
“We literally are watching these Marvel movies and all these Avengers and stuff like that and stealing stuff from there and not even really stealing, just making ‘em real. So that’s the cool thing when you look at us, we’re the closest thing to real life Marvel characters that you can get and you walk in the ring and then the bell rings. And then look what we can do with, like I said, the athletic ability that he has, the power that I have, mixing it together, using him as a weapon. Literally I tell him, just get rigid for me. I’ll do the rest.”
One such move that Strowman and Ricochet have taken straight out of the Marvel playbook, is the fastball special. A combo maneuver from the X-Men where Colossus, a mountain of a man who can transform his body into solid steel, grabbed a hold of fan favorite Wolverine and chucked him into battle.
“That’s kind of something we do. Whether that’s in the ring or out of the ring, he tends to throw me around,” Ricochet said. “Our inspiration comes from all over, but we try to take inspiration from things that we grew up watching. You know, obviously superheroes were a big part of our lives as children, and they’re a big part of our lives now, especially. And if we are able to be the superheroes for the kids watching, if we’re able to be the Spider-Man’s and the Colossus and the incredible Hulk’s for the kids watching, that’s what we want to portray. I mean, not portray, but that’s what we want to be. We want to be the superheroes for these kids.”
Strowman and Ricochet say to make sure you tune in to WrestleMania this Saturday, because they’ve been working a number of new super combos and plan to unleash them at WrestleMania.
Make sure to check our interview double feature with Braun Strowman and Ricochet in the video at the top of the page. You can follow Rick Ucchino on Twitter and subscribe to the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast Channel for more of his work.