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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: No Other Result But Strowman Winning The Universal Championship Makes Sense
By The Doc
Sep 21, 2017 - 12:34:45 PM



”The Doc” Chad Matthews has been a featured writer for LOP since 2004. Initially offering detailed recaps and reviews for WWE's top programs, he transitioned to writing columns in 2010. In addition to his discussion-provoking current event pieces, he has written many acclaimed series about WrestleMania, as well as a popular short story chronicle. The Doc has also penned a book, The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment, published in 2013. It has been called “the best wrestling book I have ever read” and holds a worldwide 5-star rating on Amazon, where it peaked at #3 on the wrestling charts.




QUESTION OF THE DAY: I believe that Sunday is a must-win (the title) for Braun Strowman; do you agree or disagree and why?


For underdogs in professional wrestling, reputations are built by the success of their chase to the top and all the inherent obstacles that they must overcome; and a lengthy chase serves only to more deeply invest the audience. For monsters in professional wrestling, conversely, reputations are defined by their dominance in developing into the obstacle that must be overcome; and how quickly they reach the top is proportional to their mystique. Braun Strowman must therefore defeat Brock Lesnar clean in the middle of the ring this Sunday and walk away with the Universal Championship, because any other result would thwart his momentum to varying degrees, going against the law of progression that a Monster Among Men should follow.

Win the title in a glorious battle for the ages over the decade's most dominant entity and he scratches the surface of his ceiling and forces WWE to continue to find ways to showcase his destructive path. Fight to a no contest or a win via disqualification or count out and there unquestionably could be benefit for Strowman, but he would not from that result maximize the potential that he possesses in the immediacy to carry the flagship brand and add another “made” wrestler of this generation to a list that still needs to grow. Of course, a loss would alarmingly maintain the status quo, further influence the sinking attendance and ratings, and miss an opportunity to confirm a new star that could be a bankable commodity from now through the next five years at least.

Braun Strowman is a once-in-a-generation type of talent. He quietly hit his stride during his feud with Sami Zayn, with whom Strowman showed an ability in an early January Last Man Standing Match to find an ideal balance for this day and age, following The Big Show's lead, between being a giant and selling enough for a much smaller opponent to avoid fan fatigue. Against Show, Strowman had his coming out party, displaying a combination of physical gifts that made you wonder how he did not end up on the NFL gridiron as a lineman. His clashes with Roman Reigns were titanic, comic book-come-to-life-type wars that may not have ended with an immediate push to the top spot in the company, but were very important to further building his reputation with a highly critical fanbase. Strowman's mystique was built in the last half of 2016, his skills were developed through the first half of 2017, and the summer of 2017 was the period in which his mystique and skills were married into a complete package of on-screen presentation, culminating in his Summerslam performance. Now, he is reaching the first peak of his career – a higher peak than 99% of his peers will ever be able to replicate – and he should not be just another challenger of the month.

As mentioned on “The Doc Says” podcast this week, imagine if Brock Lesnar circa 2002 had reached Summerslam and been pinned by The Rock or had even lost one of the matches that followed against The Undertaker. WWE needed a new star, had one right there in front of its face, and made the correct call in striking while the iron was hot; it did not drag its feet in confirming The Next Big Thing, and why on earth would they have done so? He was the right guy at the right place at the right time; look at him now. WWE has been resistant to that modus operandi over the past ten years or so, often married to its plan even when an alternative presents itself that could result in a better end-game for everyone. Strowman is the right guy and No Mercy is the right place and time to go all-in with him, but one of the biggest questions of the weekend centers on whether or not WWE can get out of its own way and detach itself from its rumored long-term plan to yet again strike while the iron is hot...and the Strowman-iron is scalding hot.

Some have called No Mercy 2017 “WrestleMania 33.5,” a clever tagline befitting of a Network special with such massive main-events, but one that could ring hollow in the months to come if WWE do not treat it like a WrestleMania through booking results that serve the present and future. The Show of Shows has historically played host to moments that define eras and build long-term main-eventers, but an obsession with the past has clouded WWE's future for years, more so at WrestleMania than at any other event. The so-termed New Era desperately wants to break free from the stranglehold that part-time talents whose legacies were solidified long ago maintain on the WWE product when the lights are on brightest. Incremental, positive change has been happening for years, but there has been a hesitancy on WWE's part toward betting to the biggest extent possible on the New Era's foremost stars. No Mercy emanates from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, home to WrestleMania 21 and six straight Summerslams from 2009 to 2014; there is a similar aura about Sunday's event (Mania 33.5 is fitting), but it feels to me as though Strowman walking out of the City of Angels empty handed would reduce that aura to apathy.

Is the last statement of the preceding paragraph hyperbole? Perhaps, but there comes a time as a wrestling fan when you draw your line in the sand on certain issues, and one particular issue that has gnawed at my patience for years is Brock Lesnar never putting any new stars over. His losses since coming back in 2012 have been to John Cena, Triple H, Undertaker, and Goldberg. WWE apparently complains behind the scenes about not having enough big stars, but simultaneously fails to use many of the stars that it has to help address the source of its complaint. It is not enough to look dominant in the build against Lesnar anymore; he needs to lose to one or more of the current generation’s stars. There is absolutely no reason that makes sense why Lesnar should not put Strowman over on Sunday, especially if Brock’s end game is putting over Reigns, who no longer needs credibility-establishing or enhancing victories to be a star (just smarter booking). God forbid that No Mercy ends with two members of the OVW Class of ’02 standing tall…

At worst, it would seem likely that Strowman’s career trajectory, assuming good health and a fair amount of longevity, will put him on par with Kane someday as a big man who could do things that no big man should be able to do in the ring, but whose stronger pushes were always used to set up someone else going over. His most apt parallel may well be Show, who was never asked to be a Top 5-level star but who regularly was factored into the WWE's Top 10. Both Kane and Big Show could have been more than they were had their booking been carefully protected ala The Undertaker or Lesnar himself, though, and therein lies the central point of today's argument favoring Strowman over Lesnar for the title this Sunday; Braun has shown the potential to one day be remembered in the same conversation as Lesnar and Taker and, when someone like that comes along, you throw out the newer age thought process that wins and losses do not matter and that stars can be inconsistently portrayed and still achieve their highest possible peaks, you modify plans in order to take advantage of the gift from the Wrestling Gods in front of you, and you see what he has at the main-event level.

So, in closing, all I have left to say is, “Go Strowman Go!”

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