By Justin Barrasso
September 20, 2017

Braun Strowman’s prediction for his match against WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar at No Mercy this Sunday is clear.

“You’re going to see a new Universal champion crowned when I hold the title over my head,” said Strowman. “I want to be the best at everything that I do in life, and there is only one first place.”

Courtesy of WWE

While so many of the men and women in the business admit they always dreamed of wrestling in the WWE and that their dream was to headline a WrestleMania, Strowman revealed his story was quite different.

“WWE approached me,” said Strowman. “I began traveling around the world in World’s Strongest Man, and, in 2012, WWE contacted me.”

Although Strowman is currently one of the most popular names on the roster, he did not factor into any significant plans for this past year’s WrestleMania, as he was placed on the pre-show in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The 6-8 Strowman, who is 34-year-old Adam Scherr, took the path less traveled on his road to WWE.

Strowman graduated from high school in 2001, where he played offensive tackle for Bandys High School in Catawba, North Carolina. He ultimately chose to play semi-pro football in lieu of staying in college, working nights as a bouncer at a Charlotte nightclub and during the day as a mechanic.

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Strowman was not completely foreign to wrestling. He grew up as a Hulk Hogan fan, and remained devoted through high school.

“I was really passionate about wrestling as a younger child,” said Strowman. “I was a Hulkamaniac as a kid, then I liked Stone Cold when I was in high school. Pardon my French, but he was a bad ass. He was Stone Cold.”

A key piece of Strowman’s ascension from Wyatt Family member to the top of the card is his work with The Big Show. Strowman and Show have main-evented Raw on three separate occasions since February, showing off their skills chain wrestling, busting the ring in an extremely memorable spot, and most recently with Strowman sending Show through a steel cage.

“That was magic,” said Strowman. “What we did in those matches is something I don’t think you’ll ever see again. To see two guys who are over 6-foot-6 and over 350 pounds apiece do what we did? There are no guys like us that can do that. I’ll hold those matches near and dear to my heart for the rest of my career.

Strowman is heralded on WWE commentary as a “Monster Among Men”, and he plays the role with realism and legitimacy. Yet Strowman is also full of personality, which is rarely seen on Raw, yet was on full display when asked for his reaction to being included in the upcoming WWE 2K18 video game.

“Just to be in a video game is cool,” said Strowman. “And the fact that they were able to capture my beauty and get it into the game, and show off my muscles, my moves, and my athleticism, how can I not be happy with that?”

Professional wrestlers constantly fight with whether or not to reveal their true personalities–or stay in character–on social media. Strowman noted that he found the right balance, dedicating one forum to his character and another to his personal interests.

“Twitter is my character,” said Strowman. “Instagram is for Adam.”

Despite the upcoming match on Sunday against Lesnar, Strowman’s WWE run has largely been built battling Roman Reigns. The two are close off-camera, and share a dynamic chemistry when working together.

“Roman’s work ethic is just like mine,” said Strowman. “We go out every night, we give 100 percent of what we have to go, we put our bodies on the line and we know that, at the end of the night, we’re going to have you on your feet, you’re going to be hoarse, and you’ll be going crazy because we did our job entertaining you. From top to bottom, we’re the best athletes in the world.”

Strowman underwent surgery on his right elbow in May. That injury altered the plans for SummerSlam, which was originally slated to have the Strowman-Lesnar title match in the main event, but Strowman noted that he is back to full strength in the ring and in the gym.

“Six weeks after my surgery, I benched 455 for eight [reps],” said Strowman. “I don’t do a whole lot of heavy squatting stuff anymore because my legs give out really fast and that slows me down in the ring. Mainly, a lot of the stuff I do now is just maintenance. I can’t do the crazy, heavy lifting on top of all the banging around and the travel eventually wears on you, so I just try to look good in the ring.

“We do this 300 days a year, and it’s a lot on the body, but I am grateful to represent the WWE. This company has given me so many things, and I’ve gone around the world because of them, it’s an honor to be here. You’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to listen, and you’ve got to be tough.”

Strowman was asked, if forced to wrestle any animal in the world, which would he choose?

“The silverback gorilla,” said Strowman. “Without a doubt, that has to be the baddest creature on the face of this earth next to me.”

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Strowman also offered some advice to MMA headliner Conor McGregor

“McGregor might make it on 205 Live,” said Strowman, before warning, “but he doesn’t want to step in the ring with me.”

Strowman took a moment to send his best wishes for a quick recovery to the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, who Strowman has known for over a decade courtesy of his friendship with Charlotte Flair. It is a small world, Strowman noted, when your father is one of the most famous wrestlers in the world.

“I went to a small college right down the road from Charlotte Flair, so we’ve been friends for a long time,” said Strowman. “Being able to mesh back together in our professional careers is really cool.

“Ric is a man I’ve looked up to for a long time. I’ve listened and learned from Ric.  Send a positive thought to him as he fights through this.”

As for his dream match, Strowman chose one of Flair’s contemporaries and fellow wrestling legend, the “Eighth Wonder of the World” Andre the Giant.

“Me vs. Andre,” said Strowman. “That would be a battle of the giants.”

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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