Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Reigns vs. Braun: A Match History, Part 1

I've really been loving all of the Roman Reigns/Braun Strowman feud, and am really excited for their upcoming match at Payback. I thought it might be a fun idea to go back and look at all the times these two crossed paths, leading up to the Payback match (which is sadly happening in the bay area, on a weekend I'll be visiting my sister in Phoenix).

1. Braun Strowman/Luke Harper/Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns/Dean Ambrose/Chris Jericho (Night of Champions 9/20/15)

ER: Some rando in a flak jacket jumps into the ring right when they're about to announce the mystery opponent (Jericho), Bray was really great with a "Is that your guy!?" reaction to the babyfaces. Dean was trying to hold back laughter and that's probably not what they wanted, but I'm amused. Michael Cole is in full desperation "What a moment!" selling Jericho's participation. JBL mentions Jericho working for "Riki Tenryu" as a junior heavyweight. Announce crew killing it. Match itself was plenty of fun. I had never seen Strowman before and he was a kick. I'm kind of a sucker for big lugs and this guy is pretty mammoth. Really impressed me standing next to Harper. That is a two man team I wouldn't mind seeing more of. I loved Strowman's finisher as it really looked like he was squeezing the life out of Jericho. Jericho's legs dangling was a great visual, like fucking Darth Vader choking out a dude. Luke Harper is so damn good, he really should have been given the ball. These teams work together nicely and it always just serves to piss me off that they broke up both teams as we could still be in the middle of awesome trios, with some new members being added or cycled out.

2. Braun Strowman/Luke Harper/Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns/Randy Orton/Dean Ambrose (Raw 10/5/15)

ER: A match that could have been much better, but was plagued by some sloppy performances (Orton in particular), some guys getting in the way (more guys altering their "run path" than normal), but a really terrific early Braun performance. Braun is definitely the best thing about this, as the faces regularly team up on him to try to take him off his feet. There's a fun early sequence where Orton dropkicks him, then Reigns/Ambrose do a double shoulderblock to knock him through the ropes to the floor. Later, as the match is breaking down, he eats a dive from Dean, then a superman punch, then Ambrose leaps onto his back from the apron; Braun stands up with Dean on his back, then runs him over the rail and into the timekeeper's area. Ambrose took some big bumps off lariats throughout, there were some nice cut off spots (really liked Reigns setting up the spear but getting punched in the back of the head by Bray), Braun also takes a great post bump, Harper times a superkick *perfectly* on Reigns, and the match ended up being really "house show" fun.

3. Braun Strowman/Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns/Randy Orton (Smackdown 10/6/15, Aired 10/8/15)

ER: A continuation of the "how do you even take Braun off his feet!?" story. Orton and Bray match up nicely but briefly, with Bray stiffing the hell out of him while Orton is draped on the ring apron, blistering his back with a clubbing shot and hitting a yakuza kick to the temple. Orton basically disappears from the match after that, as we get an extended run of Braun/Roman. Roman hits a bunch of lariats to try to knock him down, then goes for a samoan drop which Braun escapes from with a heavy back elbow. Roman manages to kind of trap Braun in the ropes, and begins wailing on him, hits a great kick to the chest and then hits the superman punch to knock Braun to the floor, and Roman follows by attacking Bray and hitting the drive by on Braun. Bray ends things quickly by lobbing a chair at Roman, getting the DQ. Not actually sure where Orton went as everybody just forgot about him, but this was more fun.

4. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns (Raw 10/12/15)

ER: Watching all of these back to back really highlights how often JBL talks about Bill Kazmaier and Jeep Swenson when talking about Braun, and how he always acts like he's coming up with those names on the spot. "The more I think about it, the more Braun reminds me of Jeep Swenson...except I don't think Swenson had the athleticism of Strowman," JBL says for the 4th Braun match in a row. It's like a decade ago when I was chapter skipping through the Lesnar DVD and realized every Brock entrance started with Tazz going "Well...Here comes the pain!" in the exact same way. And this match didn't not work, but it didn't totally work. They repeat a lot of stuff from their prior week Smackdown tag showdown, and there were a couple clunky spots in the middle of really great spots. It's weird as in his Night of Champions match, and that Raw trios up above, Braun does a lot of offense, but in these last two matches he's basically in the Giant Gonzalez or Zeus role of taking all offense, and just staggering around in place without going down. And Braun isn't really great at staggering around, he's way better at explosive short burst offense. Braun does lock on a nice cravate (that kind of kills the crowd for a bit), and the ending is great with him taking a huge backwards bump over the announce table, spilling nastily to the floor and getting counted out. The bump was really wild and pretty unexpected, but the match weirdly felt like a step back.

We'll get to Parts 2 and 3 before Payback on 4/30!

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