Big Bad Braun
by Travis Voeltz
At Wrestlemania 12, two now considered legends and WWE Hall of Famers, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, put on an over 60-minute wrestling clinic in their iron-man main event. While this match now is widely considered among Wrestlemania’s best, in 1996 having two men with the physical stature of Michaels and Hart main-event a Wrestlemania was quite a departure from previous Wrestlemania shows—then headlined by big men like Hulk Hogan, who stood at 6’8, Diesel at 6’10, and not to forget, Andre the Giant. After men the size of Michaels and Hart showed the world that you didn’t have to be a giant to captivate a crowd, the wrestling scene seemed to slowly change from what used to be the land of the giants, into physically smaller wrestlers. In the last decade, where with the exception of a few legends like the Undertaker and Kane, most of those that have made a lasting splash have been smaller, more athletic types of wrestlers. The main event scene has been filled with types who won matches based on wrestling moves and clever tactics, rather than using sheer size and power. While Fin Balor, AJ Styles, and Seth Rollins are three of today’s wrestling’s biggest attractions, their size in comparison to those of the past certainly isn’t the biggest.
In decades past, wrestling was filled with extremely large men. Young and old fans alike would stand in awe as these large villains and fan favorites would parade down to the ring, before showing feats of amazing power to their unlucky opponents. Who could forget the awesome sight of seeing Andre the Giant standing next to a much smaller reporter or photographer? I can remember seeing Andre wrap his hands around the entire neck of “Mr. Baseball: Bob Uecker at Wrestlemania IV. Part of the allure for many fans through the years was the appeal of characters larger than life, both size and in personality. However, with the dawn of the “Reality Era” in wrestling and society as a whole, the physical make-up of wrestlers seemed also to have changed.
According to several news stories in recent years, not only has Mick Foley lost a lot of weight, but mankind as a whole has gotten smaller in stature. Cambridge University experts say humans are past their peak and that modern-day people are 10 percent smaller and shorter than their hunter-gatherer ancestors. Whether it’s agricultural advances, or wrestlers living far healthier and safer lifestyles than those that came before, wrestling has again followed society and produced a smaller cast of characters. Now, while many fans have grown accustomed to the smaller athlete, others have clamored for a monster to come along. Someone who doesn’t have to rely on a lot of chain wrestling…someone who ccould use their size and power—like the larger wrestlers we had once been used to…someone who doesn’t need to depend on deep move sets. Enter: Braun Strowman.
Weighing 375 lbs., this winner of the 2010 Monsters of the Midland Strongman Competition, 2011 Summer Fest Strongest Man, Winner of the 2011 NAS US Amateur National Championship, and winner of the 2012 Arnold Amateur Strongman World Championships, Strowman debuted on Monday Night Raw on August 24th, 2015 in a BIG way. Making his presence immediately known as the black sheep of the Wyatt Family, Strowman quickly turned heads as an impressive force that the WWE as a whole was going to have to deal with. With a devastating reverse chokeslam facebuster, he has laid waste to everything and everyone that crossed his path. With the brand extension, Strowman found himself without his family, as the rest of the Wyatt Family drafted to Smackdown Live. While some may have sunk on their own, this monster swam by unleashing his size and strength on those that dared stand in front of him; case in point, Sami Zayn.
Zayn a veteran of the independent scene, NXT standout, and someone that many consider this era’s version of Bret Hart, has shown considerable guts in standing up to Strowman. However while his heart shown has been big, thus far it hasn’t been enough to best the biggness of Braun Strowman. As we near the Royal Rumble, Strowman has got to be considered one of the favorites to win this year’s event. The path of destruction Strowman has been paving is one that hasn’t been seen for awhile on the world-wide stage of the WWE. Fans of all ages, and his opponents too, have stood in awe of his awesome physical presence. On a roster, and even in a society, where the average human is smaller than years past, Strowman stands out as physically above the average. This monster made his intentions known on the recent Monday Night Raw when he interrupted a stare down between Goldberg and Roman Reigns. While the old guard in Goldberg, and the new guard in Reigns are large in their own right, Strowman towered over both men! It took a combined spear from both Goldberg and Reigns to get the giant off his feet.
Is a Rumble win in the cards for Strowman, leading to a championship match at Wrestlemania? Or perhaps a showdown with a legendary dead man is on the horizon. Braun Strowman may very well be on his way to being the next big thing in the WWE, in more than one category. Will his dominate style eventually win over the fans and make him the next guy? Strowman stands at 6’8—the same height of a former WWE giant slayer who was once the guy in the WWE. I for one will be watching with big eyes, to see just what Big Bad Braun has to offer.