I have not been shy in proclaiming my undying love for this match these past few weeks. I am a total mark for big, tough wrestlers doing big tough wrestler stuff. It’s all down to personal preference but I will usually pop for a skilled big man over a skilled smaller guy, with a few obvious exceptions.
With that in mind, I think it’s fair to say that this match contains four big men that are some degree of skilled. Brock Lesnar is….Brock Lesnar. We all know what he’s about by now. Reigns is the lightning rod of the group. Whilst we all love to boo him due to how badly he has been pushed down our throats, I don’t think many would argue about his in ring skills. He’s not the most consistent in the world but he’s had some excellent matches over the past few years and they’ve not been carry jobs. Samoa Joe has finally come to WWE and is thriving more than he has since his initial Kurt Angle feud in TNA Wrestling. And then there’s Braun Strowman. This guy has been a revelation this year in every way. Firstly, he has improved markedly as a performer. There has been no more improved performer in wrestling over the last 12 months with the possible exception of Juice Robinson over in NJPW. No longer does he look like a clueless hoss. This is a man who understands his role and plays it to perfection both physically and in terms of his dominant charisma and attitude. Also worth mentioning is the booking of Braun since the brand split. We love to rag on WWE’s booking (And they often deserve it) but this has been a masterclass in how to push a young performer organically and credibly in to the main event. Is there anyone there who thinks Braun is out of place now at the top of the card?
Speaking of the booking, it’s been pretty on the nose for this match and it has the feeling (Albeit, likely by luck more than foresight) that it’s been building for months. These guys have history between them on TV and PPV and the word organic is again one that should be used. They don’t feel forced together. Clearly they realise that they stumbled on to something excellent with the way Lesnar vs Joe was built last month. We weren’t presented with heels and faces. We were presented with two men with clashing agendas and it was up to the audience who they wanted to back. With lesser performers this could lead to confusion and sitting on hands. Not so here, and the additions of Reigns and Strowman feed in to that same philosophy. Reigns will obviously be roundly booed in Brooklyn and at our Hooked On parties but expect the other three to have their backers (Full disclosure: This writer will firmly be behind Strowman, despite my long term love of Lesnar and Joe.). The booking, the aura of these guys and the setting all points to a very good match if four big dudes beating the living tar out of each other appeals to your sensibilities. If you thought the Avengers Assembling did a number on New York City, just you wait until these four are set loose. It’s going to make whatever Thanos has in mind next Summer look like a WeeLC rematch.
The key question is, who will win and it’s a very tough question. My personal hypothesis is that this match was put together when it seemed Brock would be having an Autumn fight in UFC with Jon Jones and they wanted the belt off him without losing clean. Now that fight likely won’t happen until after Wrestlemania next year, things are less clear. Will Brock/Heyman leave the company as hinted recently on Raw? It would certainly be a plausible way to write in Brock’s annual late Summer/Autumn break from TV. And if they do that, they will be able to get the Universal Champion back on Raw on a regular basis. But it’s all guesswork isn’t it? Brock could just as easily win and vanish in to the sunset anyway.
For my money, I think Brock is losing the belt. I think he gets it back in due course but for now I have a hunch they want that big, red strap on TV more regularly. So the question is, who dethrones him? It’s not a question I can answer with any great confidence. I’m not sure Joe is ‘that guy’ (But then I didn’t think he was ‘that guy’ that would win June’s Fatal Five Way Number One Contender match either…) and I think they’ll be saving Reigns' next ahem, reign, for something more meaningful around April time. By process of elimination that leaves my boy Braun Strowman. A choice that will delight some and make others groan. As I say, I don’t predict it with any degree of confidence to be frank, but I’m writing this column so I can’t really sit on the fence can I? I believe Braun Strowman will walk out of Brooklyn with the Universal Championship. More importantly though, I am giddy about how fun this match will be in execution. A truly worthy main event for SummerSlam.
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