WWE’s Braun Strowman: ‘I feel it is my responsibility to perform for my fans globally’

Braun Strowman with the WWE Universal Championship   | Photo Credit: Chris Garrison

Sports-entertainment company WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) caused a furore earlier last month in the USA when it was deemed an essential business, and allowed to resume live production, despite the coronavirus pandemic forcing several other major sports such as football, basketball, tennis. etc to be called off.

Despite some of the wrestling stars choosing not to participate in the events (that are now being recorded without a live audience), the telecasts have continued smoothly over the last month, with WWE stating that their broadcast of WrestleMania 2020 ranked among the most-watched digital programs ever in the history of the business.

Now, with the next big special, Money In The Bank 2020 set to be telecast on May 11, all focus is on WWE Universal Champion Braun Strowman who will face off against Bray Wyatt for the former’s title. Talking to us over a Zoom call from the US ahead of the much-anticipated special, Strowman talks about headlining the big event, how WWE has successfully managed to navigate the pandemic using ‘unbelievable’ security measures, and looking forward to welcoming the new normal in sporting entertainment.

Ahead of ‘Money In The Bank, how does a pro-wrestler exercise and stay in shape, amidst a pandemic like this?

I’ve just kept on training and being ready for the fights by doing stuff at home, finding things to use around the house, along with a few weights. I live by a lake, so I go for jogs in the woods and even kayak sometimes, so that helps me stay fit. I also have a few close friends who have set up personal gyms at their houses where we ensure social distancing and the utmost levels of hygiene are followed. It is tough to not be able to use public gyms or go out to train, so we have all had to think outside the box.

Unlike other sports athletes/ performers, how and why did you decide to keep participating in WWE?

A lot of it boils down to the fact that I’m single and live alone — while many others have young children and families with them — so I’m able to take certain risks. Having said that, the WWE has taken unbelievable precautions to ensure that all the safety guidelines are met, everything is sanitary, head counts are taken in and out of the building, tests are done and so on, in these crazy times.

As scary as it sounds, I think of it as my responsibility to perform and put on a show for fans globally. Everyone else — all other professional sporting and entertainment entities — gave up on their fans, and stopped their telecasts. But we have kept going, and gone above and beyond the curve when it comes to sports entertainment. Fans have something to watch and enjoy at home now, and I’m honoured to be able to do that.

Yes, we have got flak for this, but I can honestly say that I have never not felt safe, while at work.

But how different is to perform in a ring with nobody around you? So much of the excitement and thrill in a WWE event comes from vibing off the fans’ cheers..

I’ll admit it is definitely harder to get fired up, and things hurt a whole lot more when you don’t have support cheering you on (laughs). But I’ve been able to flip that switch, you know? When the music starts, the performer, the monster in me comes out — and irrespective of the fact that there’s 100, 000 people or nobody around me — I give it my all. I always keep in mind that there are millions of people watching at home, and I don’t want to disappoint them.

Strowman admits that it’s harder to ‘get fired up inside the ring’ without fans cheering them on

Strowman admits that it’s harder to ‘get fired up inside the ring’ without fans cheering them on  

Talk to us about facing Bray Wyatt: you guys go back a long way and are friends —how do you prepare to face someone like that?

It’s scary facing Wyatt, because I know him better than anyone else and he could say the same of me. We are very close, which makes it so easy for him to get inside my head as he has done many times earlier. He has multiple personalities and any of them could come out at any time; Bray’s crazy! It’s not just physical with him; there’s a psychological war going on always.

You enjoy huge fandom in India; any plans to visit the country again after the pandemic is over?

I remember coming to cities like Hyderabad and Mumbai in 2018 and meeting Salman Khan; it was awesome! The fans in India are unbelievable and bring so much energy to the stadium, as they are really passionate about WWE. I really miss that energy, the crowds, the fire that lights up inside me when everyone screams their heads off — I can’t wait for the pandemic to end and for the world to open up again.

Watch ‘WWE Specials: Money in the Bank 2020’ live and exclusive in India on May 11 2020 from 04:30 am (IST) on SONY TEN 1 & SONY TEN 1 HD (English), SONY TEN 3 SD & SONY TEN 3 HD (Hindi) channels

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 6:59:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/wwes-braun-strowman-i-feel-it-is-my-responsibility-to-perform-for-my-fans-globally/article31544990.ece

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