Braun Strowman’s injury, as it appears, has thrown a spanner in the works as far as WWE’s plans for its next two Monday Night RAW-exclusive pay-per-views are concerned. And the latest rumors on the legitimate elbow injury that would require the “Monster of Men” to undergo surgery suggest a later return date than once thought, and two alternatives in lieu of Strowman for Brock Lesnar’s first Universal Championship defense.
On Monday, it was revealed by WrestleZone and other publications that Braun Strowman was, in fact, legitimately injured at last month’s Payback pay-per-view main event against Roman Reigns. While WWE billed the injury as a rotator cuff issue, that didn’t stop Strowman and Reigns from brawling it out on the European house show circuit. But it was soon reported that Strowman’s injury was actually related to his elbow, and that he would need surgery that could possibly take him out of the ring for four to eight months.
Given this timeline, it’s a sure thing that the Braun Strowman injury will keep him away from Extreme Rules in June. There’s also a solid possibility that he won’t be available for Great Balls of Fire in July. Now, a new report from Dave Meltzer’s subscription-only publication, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter,adds more clarity to Strowman’s likely return timeline, as well as Brock Lesnar’s most likely Universal Championship opponents in Braun’s absence.
According to Meltzer, there are two men WWE has in mind to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship, should Braun Strowman’s injury sideline him up until Great Balls of Fire. With WWE likely saving Roman Reigns for a championship match at the next WrestleMania, it appears that the company is considering Seth Rollins or Finn Balor. Booking Reigns vs. Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire would be a bit too soon, so WWE may go with a short-term feud instead, with either Rollins or Balor chasing after the Universal title for the meantime.
While WWE appears to have a stopgap for Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship feud following the Braun Strowman injury, Meltzer noted that things aren’t quite as clear for Roman Reigns. But the Inquisitr reported earlier this week that the “Big Dog” will be kept busy in the interim with a quick rivalry against Bray Wyatt. This is consistent with what Meltzer had reported – recent European house shows have featured Reigns teaming with former Shield faction-mate Seth Rollins against the unlikely duo of Wyatt and Samoa Joe.
In any case, it would seem that things are largely unresolved on Monday Night RAW, especially following this week’s “directionless” show, as Meltzer described it. This was largely a result of Strowman’s unexpected injury problems, though the coming week’s episode may see more clarity in the red brand’s storylines. So far, the only sure match for the RAW-exclusive Extreme Rules pay-per-view is the tag team championship match, featuring The Hardy Boyz defending their titles against Sheamus and Cesaro.
Although initial reports have suggested that Braun Strowman will be out with injury for about four to eight weeks, Meltzer’s sources suggest that he’ll only be ready to compete at this year’s SummerSlam pay-per-view in August. Cageside Seats wrote that this is possibly the only “positive” that could come out of this, due to SummerSlam being one of WWE’s “big four” pay-per-view shows.
All in all, Braun Strowman’s injury has prompted a slew of questions ahead of WWE’s Extreme Rules and Great Balls of Fire pay-per-views, and even with the reliable Dave Meltzer having cited the possibility of alternate opponents for Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship, such a title feud, as well as Roman Reigns’ rumored Bray Wyatt feud, are only temporary solutions that may be subject to change. But if there’s any consolation to all of this, it’s the possibility that the Strowman injury would allow Braun’s planned match against Lesnar to take place at a much higher-profile show.
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