Braun Strowman has returned to Monday Night Raw, bringing a new look with him that is helping redefine his work.
After his run with the universal championship came to an end in August, Strowman set two new goals for himself: providing people a reason to watch every week and inspiring those who do.
Throughout the pandemic, traveling considerably less than he normally would if WWE were on tour, Strowman has capitalized upon that additional time by reshaping his body.
“I want my body transformation to give hope to people,” says Adam Scherr, who is easily identifiable as the 6' 8" Strowman. “I challenge everyone out there to start by setting little goals for yourself, and then achieving them. After a while, those turn into big goals.”
After debuting in WWE at 385 pounds, then wrestling the majority of his career at 370, Strowman has trimmed down and tightened up his look.
“In the morning, I’m bouncing around 335 pounds,” Strowman says. “I’m drinking two gallons of water a day, and so I usually put on another 10–15 pounds by the end of each day. My goal is to stay at this weight and continue to step everything up, and then I am going to step on a bodybuilding stage. I want to prove to the whole world that when you put your mind to something, and you don’t give up on yourself, the world isn’t going to give up on you.”
Strowman is back in action this week on Raw. Following his title run on SmackDown, he suggested that a move back to Raw would be an opportunity for him to spark further interest in WWE’s signature weekly show.
“The third hour of Raw sometimes falls off with ratings, so I pitched an idea to bring ‘The Monster Among Men’ to Raw Underground in the third hour,” Strowman says. “It’s so easy now to watch parts of the show on social media after it happens, but my goal is to get people to watch our live product. That’s a huge factor why I went to Raw, which is where I first made a name for myself.
“For me, being a WWE superstar is like a candlelight, and there is so much I want to accomplish before it burns out. So I’m bringing my absolute best to Raw. This is a big time for me, and it’s a chance for me to make a mark and win that one world title that has eluded me.”
Strowman first debuted on Raw five years ago, in August 2015, and he has established himself as an integral piece of WWE. The return to Monday nights ignited a memory from one of his first tours in the company, where he was able to work closely with the Undertaker.
“I always say that Big Show is my wrestling dad, and I know Undertaker won’t like this, but ’Taker is my wrestling grandpa,” Strowman says. “It’s unfathomable how much ’Taker has shared with me, and it makes me think of when I first started on Raw.”
At that point, Strowman was still integrating his way into the Wyatt Family on the main roster, which was especially difficult to do in the ring with only a half-dozen matches in his career. He was tagging with Luke Harper, who is now doing incredible work as Mr. Brodie Lee in AEW, on a tour in Mexico, when he was equally surprised and terrified to learn they would be working with the Undertaker and Kane.
“We do a double shot during a tour in Mexico, and the very first night, it’s me and Harper against the Brothers of Destruction in front of 17,000 people,” Strowman says. “We’re sharing the ring with icons, and I was so nervous that the hair on my arms stood up.
“We asked before the match how it was going to go, and they said they’d talk to us later. The whole night goes by, we never talk. Ten minutes before the match, Taker goes, ‘We’ll talk later.’ At this point, I don’t know anything. I’m just terrified.”
On a loaded card that included Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt, the New Day, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Chris Jericho, fans at the Coliseo Yucatán were delighted to see Undertaker and Kane reunite to defeat Strowman and Harper.
“It was so special to be in the ring when the Undertaker’s music played, and seeing him walk to the ring, that’s a moment I’ll never forget,” Strowman says. “I remember being in such awe. Then we had the match, and thanks to ’Taker and Kane, we tore the house down. In the back, it was one of the most satisfying feelings, knowing we did what we were supposed to do for that crowd. That’s the responsibility we have in WWE, and that’s why I don’t get too involved with booking or creative. I just want to do the best I possibly can for WWE.”
There have been multiple instances in wrestling history of talent who did not want to lose their championship, sometimes for very valid reasons. But Strowman had no issue dropping the belt to Wyatt at SummerSlam or putting over longtime rival Roman Reigns a week later at Payback, instead shifting his focus to what he can do to help the company in his time on screen.
“I knew I’d have to eventually drop it, so my goal was making the most of the time that I had it,” Strowman says. “It started as a result of some last-minute changes that forced me into that role, but I was ready for it. I worked very hard to make the most of the opportunity I was given, and I was lucky to work with the people I did that stepped up during my title run.”
Strowman was thrown into a universal championship match against Goldberg at WrestleMania 36 after Roman Reigns stepped away from WWE for personal reasons, and he held the belt from April right through the summer.
“A lot of people have asked me, ‘Does it bother you that you were Plan B at WrestleMania?’ ” Strowman says. “No, it doesn’t bother me. I stepped up for WWE when they needed someone. It’s my job to do what they need me to do. There are never hard feelings about booking or anything like that. I do what I need to do in order to make this the best story possible. I want to be someone that is always dependable and can strap the company on my back. That’s through my wrestling, and I also want to do things that giants have never done before in the ring. As a giant, I want to show I can be articulate and passionate about what I do.”
Strowman now approaches the Survivor Series pay-per-view, which has consistently featured him at his best in five-on-five elimination matches, and he hopes people are eagerly anticipating more destruction at this year’s event.
“Survivor Series, that’s my element,” Strowman says. “More bodies in the ring to chuck around means I can do more damage. When you tell the monster it’s time to eat, he’s going to eat.”
As Strowman seeks to add a run with the WWE Championship to his wrestling portfolio, he will be doing so with a refined look. He wants to be unlike any giant ever before in WWE, and, long-term, he is working to cement his own identity in an industry that holds on tightly to its legends.
“I know what’s at stake,” Strowman says. “I am walking in the footsteps of greatness. There is a legacy of big men in WWE, like Andre the Giant, Undertaker, Big Show, Kane, Mark Henry. It’s a huge responsibility, and I’m honored to do it. That’s my responsibility and that’s my passion, and I want to leave a legacy of my own. That’s why I am in the shape I’m in, that’s why I am back on Raw. I want to be remembered as someone that people tuned in week after week to see wreak havoc.
“I am still grasping the fact that I have done something in this life that has caused people to care about me. For this poor little country boy that grew up with almost nothing, I never in a million years envisioned being in a position like I am now. I’m extremely grateful for it, and I want to share that inspiration right back with everyone watching.”