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31 Days of Wrestling (12/7/17): Fatal Four-Way for the Universal Championship


Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match a day for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2017 produced for us.

Today, we will be looking at what was arguably the biggest and most violent WWE main event program of the year.

What happens when you put together a Beast, a Big Dog, a Destroyer, and a Monster (Among Men)  in the same ring at the same time?

Quite simply, the hottest championship program of the summer in what was considered a dream match in its own right: Brock Lesnar defending his championship against Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, and Braun Strowman in a Fatal Four-Way Match for the Universal Championship. In the one year anniversary since the championship's official debut at the previous year's SummerSlam, there was simply no better way to put the title in the spotlight than a match of this magnitude.

Image result for strowman lesnar joe reigns

This bout was a culmination of two separate rivalries that took place at the same time period. On one end, you had Samoa Joe's pursuit of Brock Lesnar's championship ever since winning a Fatal Five-Way Extreme Rules match to determine a new number one contender. On the other side of the coin, you had the personal blood feud between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman, both of which have continued to find ways to end each other's career. While Brock merely survived Samoa Joe's championship challenge at Great Balls of Fire, it wouldn't be long for the Samoan Submission Machine to once again challenge the Beast Incarnate, citing being very close to winning the title as his main argument. That was, until both Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns called dibs on Lesnar's championship given that there was no definite number one contender.

At that point, it was elementary: given the volatile situation, RAW GM Kurt Angle made the demolition fest between the four competitors for the Universal Championship official at SummerSlam.

Image result for lesnar strowman

And this was truly every bit of a real life kaiju battle come to life, with all these volatile elements coming together. And once they did, the crowd went unglued, as all of the chaos brought about by two separate rivalries synced together to become one beautiful disaster film come to life.

While it was a match truly fitting for a SummerSlam main event, one sight would remain forever etched in the memories of those in attendance: that of Braun Strowman monster-handling Lesnar, giving him two consecutive running powerslams through announce tables, followed by a flip of a third announce table to the Beast Incarnate's lifeless body, taking him out for most of the match. No matter how much WWE continued to advertise Lesnar as this ultimate fighting machine, it was clear as day: Lesnar's human vulnerabilities are showing, which has become somewhat of a theme for the entirety of 2017.

Brock would eventually come back into the match and secure a win over Reigns via an F5, but it was clear: Lesnar barely survived.

Image result for summerslam universal championship

This match was quite a testament to what 2017 was all about: the chaos, destruction, and dominance shown by WWE's established forces. Braun remains a monster sensation within the ranks of WWE, Joe continues to be a main event presence since his main roster debut early in the year, Roman Reigns continues to be Roman Reigns, and by that extension, Brock Lesnar remains Brock Lesnar.  SummerSlam 2017 was the culmination of all the destruction caused by these individuals, multiplied by spades.

But the most glaring point to note is that 2017 is the year Brock Lesnar barely survived his encounters despite being known as the "Ultimate Fighting Machine." Look back at how he fared against the likes of Goldberg, Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman, and AJ Styles. He may be dominant, but he barely survived his encounters by the end of the match, which may very well be an indicative sign that Brock's time as an invincible force could be close to an end.


Just to add, it's interesting to see how despite many fans' presumptions towards Vince McMahon's supposed love for big men and the shift in change to technical ability from the relatively smaller competitors, all these four men delivered in a big way, proving that there will always be room for monsters in the world of pro wrestling. Braun should be the guy that would have been the odd one out in this day and age, but he found a great way to flourish in this new era in professional wrestling, and that should be commended.

There really is nothing like absolute chaos in a wrestling ring.


*****

31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2017.

Read our previous entries:

#1: The Okada/Omega Trilogy
#2: Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 33)
#3: The Mae Young Classic Finals
#4: Billy Suede vs. Jake De Leon (Wrevolution X 2017)
#5: WarGames
#6: Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Dark (Ultima Lucha Tres)

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