Interviews

WWE's Braun Strowman on 'SummerSlam,' Recovering From a Shattered Elbow, and His Love of Chipotle

The "Monster Among Men" talks about his meteoric rise in the WWE, and how he manages to stay in shape.

Braun Strowman
Courtesy WWE

Chances are, if you've been on the Internet in the past few months, you've seen this video:

Yes, that's a man single-handedly lifting an ambulance. And that man's name is Braun Strowman, the "Monster Among Men."

Strowman originally joined the WWE as part of the Wyatt Family stable before becoming a singles competitor in 2016, and he has since made his presence known to the entire WWE Universe—especially Roman Reigns. Strowman will finally have his chance at the WWE Universal Championship when he faces Brock Lesnar, Reigns, and Samoa Joe for the title at SummerSlam this month.

We had a chance to talk to Strowman about SummerSlam, the legacy of giants in the WWE, and how he manages to stay in shape.

What was your reaction when you found out you were going to be part of the headliner event for SummerSlam?

I was just very excited. Just another platform for me to go out there and show the world that I deserve—and I've earned—the spot that I'm in, and that I'm capable of running with the big dogs. No pun intended on that. And being the main event of SummerSlam and showing the world that I deserve, and I'm supposed to be there.

I know you originally had a career as a strongman. You won the Arnold Amateur Championships about five years ago. I know you said in the past that you loved being a strongman, so what made you decide to transition to wrestling?

A lot of it had to do with...strongman gives you a lot of trophies, and it was hard to support myself, and feed myself. You can't eat trophies, dude. Financially, it was a big step for me to want to come to the WWE—and who didn't grow up at some point in their life and want to be a WWE superstar?

So given the opportunity, you'd be almost stupid to not at least check it out and give it a shot. The opportunity was brought to me, and I liked the idea, and I fell in love with it. I eat, sleep, breathe wrestling now. And, well, if it doesn't show that I do, then why am I in the main event of SummerSlam?

You originally made a name for yourself as a member of the Wyatt Family, and then you moved onto Raw as a singles wrestler, and you've been doing that for about a year now. Did that transition take any getting used to?

At first, it's a little nervousness because the veil's been pulled off. I'm the least-experienced wrestler on the WWE roster when it comes to years in the industry. And that was...I did my parts here and there with the Wyatt Family with what I was capable and comfortable with doing.

And I knew that little bit of a veil was being lifted off of me, and now all eyes are gonna be on me. So it was up to me to keep from stinking the joint up. I didn't have an opportunity off or if I didn't know what was going on, or something got messed up, I could tag out. Now, it was sink or swim. And they put me at the deep end of the pool, kicked me in the butt, and I feel like I've done a pretty good job of keeping my head above water.

Giants have a very storied history in the WWE, including superstars like Undertaker, Big Show—with whom you fought—and, of course, Andre the Giant. And you'd said you were nervous when you started as a singles wrestler. How do you feel about following that kind of legacy of the giants? Is that something you ever think about?

Without a doubt. And in this era with the giants, you know, we're a dying breed when it comes to sports entertainment. If you take a look at the whole roster from top to bottom, Big Show and I are it. We've got a couple guys that are tall; there aren't any more big guys. But when you talk big guys, those larger-than-life characters made WWE what WWE is. When they walk into a room, they control the room.

And I'm looking forward to continuing that legacy—not only continuing that legacy, but playing up even to another level of work ethic and showing the world that just because I'm a giant doesn't mean that I'm gonna be a cumbersome and fumbling idiot around the ring. I'm gonna get in there and do things that're gonna make you go, "Holy cow! This guy's not supposed to be able to do this. How is it happening?" And I feel like I've done a pretty good job of that so far. I'm just gonna continue to punch the bar.

When I was telling some of my friends that I was interviewing Braun Strowman, even those who don't know wrestling said, "Oh, that's the ambulance guy!"

[laughs]

Do you mind being typecast in that sort of role, knowing that people might just know you for one big event like flipping over the ambulance? Does that ever bother you?

It really doesn't matter. In today's day and age, any exposure you can get is good exposure. So if 500,000 people only know me because I flipped over an ambulance and that's what they saw on YouTube, so be it. That's still 500,000 more people that know who I am, where it's just Joe Blow that's walking down the street. So I'll take any exposure that I can get. Any publicity. And that's just how it is today.

How do you manage to stay in shape despite being on the road so often? I know the WWE superstars are on the road around 200 days a year.

It's a lot of planning. I don't know. Some of the guys go really, really crazy about it. Luckily for me, I've been gifted with, I guess, monster genetics and all that. My genetics and youth factor mean I don't have to be meticulous with my eating, counting calories. I kinda just eat when I'm hungry. I know what I'm supposed to eat, and I try to stick to that as much as I can. But I guess, basically where it pays off is that I work hard in the gym. I get in there and I do my cardio. I work out and it's...I bust my butt.

And I posted on Instagram the other day joking around, showing off my ass, and stuff like that. And I don't have the greatest, craziest diet and I tell people, you don't have to eat lettuce and water to keep in shape. You have to put the work in, and it's just that's it. I mean, I go to the gym every day when I'm on the road. It doesn't matter if I have a last-minute dinner and I stay till my Fatal 4 Way at SummerSlam, I'm gonna get my workout in before I go to the building. That's just how it is. That's my deal. That's what I do. And I guess the proof's in the pudding. It's paying off.

As far as diet goes, you're saying that you make sure not to eat unhealthy foods, but you don't necessarily count calories or anything like that.

Now I don't...I'll stop at, say, Whole Foods or a grocery store, and I'll buy a couple of rotisserie chickens and eat those throughout the day. My guilty pleasure's Chipotle. I eat Chipotle probably way more than I should. But it's quick, it's easy, it tastes good, and I can get the calories and the proteins and stuff that I need to get in there. And it's tough, because like you said, we're on the go, go, go. I live out of a suitcase 200-plus days a year. So it's a lot of flying into the town we get to. Usually the very first thing I do is make a Vitamin Shoppe stop and load up with some proteins and snack bars. I like to call them bodyguard treats: Things that I can eat on the road at night and not feel guilty about eating. And then, here and there, finding something that's open.

That's the hardest thing: By the time we get a shower, cleaned up after a wrestling night, it's 11 p.m. before we get on the road. And I mean, there's not a whole lot of options. So either get something earlier, eat something awful, or you just don't eat at all and wait till the morning and eat a huge breakfast.

A few months ago you suffered a shattered elbow. What was the recovery process like? How did you recover so quickly?

I'll tell you, it couldn't have been worse timing, especially when I found out that I had to have surgery. I kind of freaked out and started breaking and flipping over stuff in the training room. I wasn't really happy about it. For one thing, I feel like I shouldn't get hurt. I've never been hurt really in my entire life and I'm like "Why? How?" I just kind of wanted to start thinking about "I'm the big, bad monster. I'm not supposed to get hurt." And well, I get things happening, and some stuff is out of my hands. I don't have any control over it. So I have to give huge props to WWE for taking care of me, literally, because I was in London when I got hurt.

They flew me back to Birmingham, AL, to the No.1 ortho in the country. They got in there, got everything cleaned up, sewn back together. Our awesome medical staff at the WWE Performance Center are in Orlando. I spent two days with them for a couple of weeks, and then went to one [session] a day. I just stayed on top of the rehab—stretching, getting the strength back at all these different massages, grafting. I had a lot of agony just dealing with and fighting through the pain, and just sucking it up because I wanted to be back. I was missing out.

I love doing what I do, and having to sit at home and watch Monday Night Raw pissed me off. It made me work harder and harder to get my elbow back, to get back into the ring, and do what I do best. And that's kicking hind end!

SummerSlam will stream live around the world Sunday, August 20 at 7pm ET on WWE Network.

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