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WWE Heat Index of the Week: Braun Strowman's injury concerns

Braun Strowman's injury is going to have major implications for the rest of WWE's plans throughout 2017 and possibly into 2018 as well.

WWE Superstar Braun Strowman
Braun Strowman’s not finished with anybody just yet, but he’s certainly out of action for a while

Welcome to the first of a series of weekly articles here at Sportskeeda dubbed WWE Heat Index, wherein the most major talking point of the week is broken down and discussed in more detail than a passing opinion.

For this inaugural edition, there’s no better topic to start off with than Braun Strowman’s injury and the repercussions that will come out as a result of his absence from the roster.

Naturally, any time a WWE Superstar is out of action, it’s a hindrance to the product. It’s never a good thing to be missing talent and have fewer options available to choose from when crafting storylines.

However, this is magnified considerably when the injured star is one of the most prominently featured wrestlers on the show, particularly during a brand split era where the rosters are more dependent upon maintaining a weak balancing act of fewer people to work with.

Save for a temporary slump with WWE clearly not knowing what to do with him for WrestleMania, Strowman’s been gaining momentum for the better part of a year and right now would have been the exact time he would have been reaping the benefits of the hard work he had put in.

Improving on a general spectrum is never a bad thing no matter what result it yields, but many fans are fickle and think in the terms of “what have you done for me lately?”

When a star gains traction and it seems they are poised for a big push, but it doesn’t come to fruition, it almost seems like going back to square one when you’re back in the thick of things, rather than picking up where you left off.

Strowman’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for him in that regard, as the next few weeks were seemingly going to revolve around him as the top star on Monday Night Raw.

The first evidence of this is the Extreme Rules event, which was clearly going to be headlined by Strowman facing Roman Reigns in an Ambulance Match, as that is what WWE has been building toward for several weeks.

Braun Strowman vs Roman Reigns
For all intents and purposes, this was supposed to be our Extreme Rules main event.

At face value, one gimmick match on a random event doesn’t seem like much but keep in mind that this would have been the main event against “The Guy”, according to WWE management.

If the creative team views Roman Reigns as the absolute zenith of Raw, for a wrestler to be in a program with him and to be dominating him is huge, particularly if Strowman were to win that match.

Assuming that were to happen, the logical consequence following Extreme Rules would be that Strowman would seek a Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar, who will defend his title at Great Balls of Fire.

Once more, this would have meant that Strowman would be in the main event of a pay-per-view, but this time, challenging for the top title and facing a special attraction who always gets decent media attention.

It’s doubtful a title change would happen, and there’s even an argument to be made that Strowman may have dodged a bullet if WWE would have booked him to get squashed by Lesnar, which would have severely hurt his credibility. It’s no guarantee, but we’ve seen WWE play the game of building someone up just so they can make the other wrestler look stronger more times in the past than we can count.

Braun Strowman vs Brock Lesnar
This confrontation has been building, but it might have to wait until November at this point.

Nevertheless, Strowman’s injury has disrupted the plans for Extreme Rules, Great Balls of Fire, and potentially SummerSlam, and the rest of the calendar year for WWE.

For someone to have title implications in this capacity around one of the four biggest shows of the year is a monumental shift in programming, as WWE may be forced to book Lesnar in a match with someone at Great Balls of Fire and SummerSlam that they didn’t want to touch until closer to Survivor Series.

As we’ve seen with John Cena’s engagement, altering the plans of nearly the entire WrestleMania card, the way Extreme Rules and Great Balls of Fire pan out will have a direct effect on SummerSlam, which could dictate the path set forth for the rest of 2017 and heading into WrestleMania next year.

For example, if Seth Rollins and Samoa Joe headline Extreme Rules in some sort of gimmick match, there won’t be as much interest in carrying that over into the main event of Great Balls of Fire, nor would anybody care to see yet another match between those two take place at SummerSlam.

Perhaps, if that’s the case, Rollins will be thrust into the title hunt for Great Balls of Fire, which means whoever he was previously scheduled to be feuding with in July and August will have to wait.

Then again, there’s the option of going straight to Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar, as Reigns either needs to start a new feud to give him something to do at Extreme Rules and Great Balls of Fire, or he just sits those events out. Seeing as he’s their top priority on Raw, it’s doubtful WWE will want to just keep him off the next two events entirely, but there isn’t any time to start a new program for Extreme Rules.

Reigns vs Lesnar
Is anybody really interested in seeing this on repeat for weeks again?

If that were to happen and you wanted to look at the situation from the glass half full perspective, it would be beneficial to future plans in three ways:

1) It would skip to the inevitable conclusion of Reigns as champion so fans don’t have to wait 12 months to reach the same point we all know is coming; 

2) It would actually give Raw a Universal Championship to defend on a regular basis since Lesnar isn’t going to be making more than a handful of appearances throughout the year; 

3) It would prevent WrestleMania 34 being built around a rematch that nobody wanted to see several years ago and would still not be behind in 2018.

That is probably an unlikely scenario, though, as WWE is typically stubborn and if they want Reigns vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania, they’ll sacrifice everything leading up to it in order to make it happen. But, with that being said, it’s more likely for them to adjust the plan now with Strowman’s injury than if things were going off without a hitch.

All in all, this is a situation that could have disastrous results for the next few months if not handled properly—not just for Strowman himself, but for the overall product and for the rest of the roster. Yet if WWE is forced to think of alternative solutions and get creative, it could yield some more productive results that can course correct a predetermined track of a few potentially bad months, turning it into something fresh and exciting.

The trick behind it all is how WWE responds to substituting Strowman during his absence and then trying to recapture the magic of his momentum when he’s cleared to return to the ring.

What are your thoughts on Braun Strowman’s injury and the future implications it will cause? How do you want WWE to handle Extreme Rules, Great Balls of Fire and SummerSlam as a response? Tell us what’s on your mind in the comments section below!

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