When Braun Strowman made his WWE debut last August, he added a frightening and imposing element to a Wyatt Family faction hell-bent on mass destruction. WWE officials were so impressed with Strowman's size and demeanor that they immediately began cooking up significant program ideas for the new big man on the block.
Unfortunately, injuries to the Wyatts and potential opponents derailed any sustained main event push for the stable, and those ideas were pushed to the back burner. But, as hard as it is to imagine, original plans for Braun Strowman's monster push in 2016 included a WrestleMania match with the Undertaker and a SummerSlam showdown with Brock Lesnar. Online backlash forced WWE to call an audible.
Even Strowman's proposed win in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was called off for Baron Corbin. But despite things fizzling out between the Wyatt Family and the League of Nations, and a program with The New Day that elevated neither group, the WWE remained high on Braun Strowman and were waiting for the right time to push him up the ladder.
They figured that time came in the form of the brand extension draft. The company decided the Wyatt Family had run its course to some degree, drafting Bray and Erick Rowan to SmackDown, while Strowman was sent to RAW. It should be noted that Luke Harper was left out of the draft because of an injury. Harper returned just this past Sunday night during the main event match between Wyatt and Randy Orton at No Mercy.
Harper was originally slated for the RAW brand upon his return, but an injury to Rowan forced the WWE to slide Harper into Rowan's role, continuing his allegiance to the former patriarch of the family. So with all that said, Braun Strowman remains the only former member of the group on the flagship show Monday nights.
Since the brand split, Strowman was repackaged to some degree, though the dominating monster persona remains. Aside from Sin Cara, Braun has faced all enhancement talent, defeating local competitors in short fashion week after week. His "storyline" with Sin Cara spanned two weeks, moving on from him quickly as well. But according to Daily Wrestling News, that is all about to change.
As we saw last week, following his win over another local jobber, Strowman told Byron Saxton that RAW GM Mick Foley better find him some better competition, threatening him in the process. That short promo will finally lead to Strowman getting more significant stories to tell.
It appears that Foley will oblige Strowman's request, booking him in matches with actual RAW superstars that the fan base is familiar with. But the big payoff isn't expected until the end of the year. The goal is to keep Strowman undefeated as a singles star so that whoever ends up beating him will be a made man.
Current discussions pinpoint Samoa Joe as that potential made man, with a call-up to the main roster long overdue. The idea would be that Strowman would continue to win matches, then calling out other superstars until Joe finally answered the call to set up a pay-per-view match. The most likely destination for that match would be Roadblock, RAW's final brand-exclusive show of the calendar year.
Triple H and other top WWE officials want to make sure Samoa Joe is booked strong upon his promotion, and a debut win over a pushed monster like Braun Strowman would accomplish just that. The payoff seems somewhat easy, but its the path to that match that the booking team will have to navigate delicately.
The assumption is that, by moving on from enhancement talent, Strowman will face the next tier of RAW talents like Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Jinder Mahal or Darren Young. The Big Show and Mark Henry could provide an impressive opponent that won't lose anything by putting Braun over, but after that it may be put up or shut up time depending on who else they need or don't need to protect.
Strowman laid the ground work last week by calling out Foley, so Monday night will provide the next steps of a path that might just lead to the much-anticipated debut of Samoa Joe. What's interesting is that by defeating Braun Strowman in his first WWE match, Joe could then be in line for a showdown with Brock Lesnar, per backstage discussions as we reported on earlier Monday. Coincidentally, a spot once earmarked for, yes, Braun Strowman.
[Featured Image by WWE]