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  1. #1
    Senior Member 205 Clive's Avatar
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    [KOTC:R1] The More Things Change, The More Braun Stays The Same

    [KOTC:R1] The More Things Change, The More Braun Stays The Same


    Two decades on from the birth of the most infamous cast of characters in professional wrestling history, The McMahon Family has reared its ugly head once again. While these authority figures are known mostly for their wielding of power to the detriment of all that is good in WWE's fictional universe, this particular chapter in the company’s ongoing story is presented with something of a twist.

    Television ratings and arena attendance figures are stagnant or dwindling. Fan frustration is growing louder in social media echo chambers. Even behind the curtain, rumours are spreading of resentment from key employees. All point to a heavy malaise.

    Deciding to make the most out of a worsening situation, Vince et al have acknowledged and accepted that things need to change, and are in the process of giving their dull product a fresh coat of paint.

    Power is being given to the WWE Universe. “You are the authority”, was Triple H’s rallying cry on the December 17th edition of Monday Night Raw. New match-ups were promised also, the hopeful interpretation being that wrestlers often overlooked may benefit from this newfound amiable side to WWE’s on-screen authority figures.

    Evidence has so far shown that a handful of performers have benefited greatly from the opportunity afforded them.

    Finn Balor’s recent time in the spotlight, with a welcomed program against Brock Lesnar, culminated in a believable retelling of the David and Goliath parable. Balor tapped into his rabid followers’ mentality, confronting Vince head on with the possibility that the boss has been sleeping on a potential cash cow in Balor, as was evidenced by his well received run as NXT Champion.

    Mustafa Ali’s potential as a more mainstream star has finally been realised, as his move from lesser received 205 Live to the more critically favoured Smackdown Live (in comparison to Raw) has done wonders for the “babyface vs heel” dynamic on Tuesday nights. Those who had not followed Ali in the Cruiserweight Division are now learning first hand that there is still room in professional wrestling for genuinely heroic characters in a world where it’s more popular to cheer the villains.

    Sticking with the blue brand, Rey Mysterio’s return to the company has come at the right time. Mysterio's in-ring performances against contemporary stars have taken his long term fans back in time to a younger, incredibly more agile incarnation that laughs in the face of the injury ravaged and seemingly unmotivated performer he became towards the end of his initial tenure. So much so, that a pocket of the WWE Universe consider him a viable candidate to challenge Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.

    The above examples have had their own personal reset in some form, but another common trait is their size. With the proverbial brass ring being brought from within the political dens of Titan Towers directly onto our TV screens, these smaller superstars are leaping the highest and latching on with the firmest grip.

    It is ironic, then, that a wrestler whose stature affords him such an easy reach for that same ring, sometimes swung firmly in his direction, is the one struggling for purchase: the Monster Among Men, Braun Strowman.

    The “black sheep” of the Wyatt Family has flirted with superstardom on several occasions throughout his time on the red brand. It admittedly took some time for him to find his feet as the Wyatts’ muscle. However, after a quiet distancing from his stablemates, Strowman blossomed as a singles competitor in the “monster” role. His propensity for chaos was fully realised with standout performances in Survivor Series 2016 and Royal Rumble 2017’s signature matches.

    As a lengthy and exponentially violent feud with Roman Reigns followed, humans were no longer his only victims of choice. Furniture, vehicles, any oversized object within reach, became unforgiving extensions of his already colossal hands, so insatiable was his want to destroy.

    Braun was indestructible. So far so good, as far as character development was concerned. However, upon leaving a path of destruction in his wake on his journey towards to the Universal Championship picture, chinks in his armour began to show.

    As visually stunning as it is, Strowman’s game plan amounts to little more than one tactic: brute force. This singular approach has exposed in him an ignorance of the many variables that could - and often do - arise in a match with such importance behind it. Successful championship challengers throughout history have incorporated brains as well as brawn into their plan of attack, something that is seldom the case with Strowman.

    Brock Lesnar has been Strowman’s foil for all but one of his title opportunities. In these instances, Strowman has failed to consider Lesnar’s MMA background; how sudden The Beast can turn a match on its head. He failed to capitalise on an obvious pinning opportunity, as rage clouded his judgement, when levelling Kane with an unnecessary second powerslam in the triple threat match with Lesnar, otherwise incapacitated at the time, at Royal Rumble 2018. His bizarre decision making, too, when announcing the cash-in of his Money In The Bank briefcase in advance. His call, based solely on the belief that he could beat either Reigns or Lesnar face to face, rather than adopt the element of surprise, had viewers questioning his logic. Especially considering how events unfolded on that Summerslam night.

    This pattern of behaviour shows no sign of changing during a pivotal time in the company's canon. With other wrestlers and management starting over, Braun Strowman is as bull-headed as ever, letting his long standing issues with the ever antagonistic Baron Corbin boil over right before Vince’s eyes, costing him yet another chance at championship glory.

    Strowman’s unwillingness to adapt to and evolve within the changing landscape around him is a deeply rooted flaw in his character; a flaw that will likely see him become, in spite of his overwhelming size and presence, a tiny speck in the rear view mirror of those driving towards their own goals with a much more astute and level headed mind-set.

    The credibility as a main event force that Strowman has obtained, garnered through an initially well paced ascent through the ranks, is in danger of free falling. After this latest chance passing him by, it’s time for Braun to take stock, reassess his modus operandi, and begin afresh on his quest to become a champion.

    Stories have made the rounds of Vince McMahon assuring talent that he wouldn't expect them to do anything on screen that he wouldn't do himself. With that in mind, “Mr McMahon” has performed a rare feat in admitting defeat and pressing the reset button. Is it not then reasonable to assume Braun Strowman could take a look at his own failings and do the same?

  2. #2
    Really enjoy reading you Clive. It's quite an interesting take on the Strowman evolution (or lack thereof) in the past months. To me, it feels like WWE don't finish up the stories they had intended to write in the first place. Just like a tv show getting cancelled because of ratings, leaving the fans on their appetite.
    Let's hope this New Era gets better at finishing stories instead of throwing them away to try something new all the time... Well, not that a garbage truck could keep Braun down!
    Last edited by cathe67; 02-04-2019 at 10:07 AM.

  3. #3
    You know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here
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    Solid work here. As a general rule, I am a fan of a column that gets to its point early and builds on it throughout, specifically when its title suggests a certain topic. So, one thing that stood out about this piece was that it said in the title that it was about Strowman, and then Braun himself did not appear until about half-way through it. So, as a flowing train of thought about WWE, I really enjoyed it, but as a showcase about Braun needing to hit the reset button, I thought it was just okay. Basically, what Drake Maverick does before every 205 Live, I think that's an important piece of the column writing puzzle.
    Author of The WrestleMania Era book series, author of The Doctor's Orders columns on LOP since 2010, LOP Columns Hall of Famer, former host of The Doc Says podcast on LOP Radio (2013-2018), former LOP Raw and WWE PPV Reviewer (2006-2007), and former LOP Smackdown Reviewer (2004-2006)

  4. #4
    I really disagree. Braun has prove to be a very servicable big man, with a lot of momentum only to be gutted by WWE Creative. It’s the same with Ryback who was everyone’s favourite big man in a Long time, then bad booking exposed his weaknesses. These big men have a big event career only to be let down. Imagine someone like Andrea the giant constantly being put in angles such as turning heel for no reason and winning the tag championship with a fan at wrestle mania at the height of his popularity.

  5. #5
    Senior Member 205 Clive's Avatar
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    Cathe67 - thanks for the feedback! Yes it is very possible that the creative team chop and change too much which in effect hurts Braun's character. Too many times has he had to go back to the drawing board.

    Doc - thank you. In hindsight, swapping a few paragraphs here and there might have been enough to bring Braun into the argument quicker. I'll keep this in mind for future work.

    Jacob - I do agree with you, and your point echoes Cathe67's above. However, I was tackling one this from a kayfabe point of view as much as possible. In storyline, I think (and hope!) my point still stands.

  6. #6
    Great character study! I love that it stays in kayfabe an analyzes Braun as a character in conflict, his greatest strength may also be his greatest weakness.

  7. #7
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    I am one of those who have enjoyed every part of Braun Strowmans career once he was done with the jobbers. I think Brauns biggest downfall is WWE not pulling the trigger on him at his most popular and I hope Vince resets his trigger finger because it needs to start getting itchy. Vince is not only guilty of doing this with Strowman and it needs to come to an end.

    Great column. Good luck!

  8. #8
    Mediocrity at it's finest kingzak13's Avatar
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    I like Braun as he is, while true his brute force tactics don't always work, I find it adds to him. the idea of Braun learning that he needs tact as well as his brawn is actually something I am curious to see play out. I highly doubt his star is going to fade, while I doubt it will shine as bright as back in 2017, there is still gonna be plenty of room for Braun going forward.

  9. #9
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    I really enjoyed this, Clive! It was written extremely well, with beautifully-crafted sentences abound (“It is ironic, then, that a wrestler whose stature affords him such an easy reach for that same ring, sometimes swung firmly in his direction, is the one struggling for purchase” being one such shining example). It argued a point clearly, concisely, and steadfastly. It provided tangible support for your points that were structured in a way for fluid reading. The pacing was great; it never felt like you were forced to a word count restriction. You wrote the column in a way that felt you said everything you needed to and had no whiff of cutting words to squeeze in under a maximum nor beefing up the column superfluously.

    I think you flirted with the worlds of kayfabe and behind-the-curtain really well. Your talk of Mustafa Ali and Finn Balor being given more opportunities comfortably straddles both worlds, and though I feel you had more of a leg in the kayfabe pool when talking about Braun, it worked out more than fine.

    That’s not to say it was perfect – if I’m to nitpick a few small things, I think some of the wording in the fifth from last paragraph (the one beginning with “Brock Lesnar has been Strowman’s foil…”) got a little choppy. In the same paragraph, you probably could’ve benefited from breaking a long, comma-laden sentence into couple, as well as straightened up the sentence fragment that closed the paragraph. And getting even stingier, I think the “Evidence has so far shown that a handful of performers have benefited greatly from the opportunity afforded them” line isn’t powerful enough to be a standalone paragraph. Stylistically, I would’ve preferred that snugged up into the paragraph preceding it. And although yours truly is no stud when it comes to column titles, I’ll point to that too. Nothing wrong with the title; it does the job. But it may be a touch stock when compared to how good your entire column is. All that said, these are quibbles that I’m really taking the magnifying glass to, trust me.

    I especially dug how specifically you dove into Braun’s problems – the unwillingness to alter his brute force attack when several instances have proven to sneak by that, for example. The specific examples of Lesnar out-grappling him or the concatenations of the Money in the Bank advantage out-foxing him are exactly what I look for in a column like this. These are why I claim the Strowman section feels heavier on the kayfabe area – which, again, is perfectly fine given that you executed it so well.

    Overall, I’m very impressed with this column. This may be a weird thing to compare to, but I think this is a MAJOR improvement from the last tournament column on which I marked you, which was way back in CSI. Great job, Clive!

  10. #10
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    i like this character study man says a lot of things I agree with.

    Braun is a force of pure instinct, he has next to no sense of timing, tactics or self-preservation - this is a guy that blew out his own shoulder while running at an ambulance door just so he could get his hands on Roman Reigns one more time. This has meant in Championship fights he has been easily manipulated even when he has the power advantage.

    It is why we love him but also his biggest weakness in the ring and to remove that recklessness would be the ruin of the character.

    If they did want to temper him a little but keep the sense of danger I actually think placing him back alongside Bray Wyatt could work, a different dynamic to what they had in the Wyatt Family perhaps but give him someone who can help him focus his rage.

    Outside of that I actually think he could have a really interesting series with some of the more tactically minded wrestlers like Seth Rollins or Samoa Joe, guys who would be obviously overpowered by Braun but could use their mind to set traps and get the better of him. I think it would be a good chance for a true back and forth feud where they both have a chance to getthe better of one another.

  11. #11
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    Good piece here on Braun's struggles with fully realizing his potential. However, it was TEN paragraphs before you started talking about him, and then there were only 10 paragraphs where you did. So looking at that, your column which clearly was written about Braun, as the title suggests, only spent half the time doing what I expected it to do. You spent way too much time getting around to what you actually wanted to discuss.

    However, when you did get there I think you nailed it perfectly. In terms of writing I think this was a major improvement from other things you've written in the past. Braun is a conundrum. Fans seem to love him. The WWE seemed to listen until they didn't, and now the fans seem to love just a little less with each passing week. I don't blame Braun because he's just following the direction he's been given. The question of whether there's anything he could change to mix things up is a good one. Braun likes to use his muscles to flip things over. Honestly, there's not much more to him, but is there really much more to Lesnar?

    I don't know. I like Braun, but that's as far as it goes. He's totally serviceable, but I wouldn't put the weight of MNR on his shoulders.

    Good stuff, and good luck going forward!

  12. #12
    The Brain
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    So many short paragraphs, it’s a bit much! It’s pretty damn sad we need to stalk about Strowman in these terms. Interesting how you’ve broken down Strowman’s strategy in his title matches, that’s nice attention to detail. I look at Strowman’s career though, and it’s hard for me to see that he’s failed on his own terms. Time and time again he was so hot, only to be handed a sudden loss that cut him out at the knees. I guess if you’re dedicated to thinking only in kayfabe the only conclusion is Strowman is actually a huge loser when the chips are down, but again that’s pretty damn sad. Interesting piece Clive, nice to see you pop back in the CF!

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