At Extreme Rules 2020, the main event of Braun Strowman vs. Bray Wyatt didn’t have a tough act to follow. All the Universal Champ and his ex-mentor had to do was to put on a match less embarrassing than that night’s Mysterio-Rollins match – a match where the object was to pluck out your opponent’s eyeball.
But despite the pay-per-view’s tag line, this match was anything but horrorshow, if you pony my slovos.
The match begins with Braun driving his SUV to an impossibly foggy stretch of woods. There, Bray Wyatt sits in his old rocking chair. After a brief stare-down, Bray performs one of his cheap parlor tricks, turning out all the lights.
When all those things turn back on, Bray is gone, marking Mysterious Bray disappearance #1.
Like the fans watching at home, Braun is just begging for some violence, so he takes out his aggressions on Bray Wyatt’s rocking chair.
Now it’s just Braun alone with the many wild beasts of the woods. Well, not real beasts, just stock footage of beasts. But they show up on camera all the same, and Braun is put on edge.
There’s a vulture…
…a wild boar…
…a… bunny rabbit? Sure, why not. But see, it’s symbolic: these are all real-life versions of Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Funhouse puppets.
Strowman is then attacked by two hooded men dressed as former WWE Superstars Luke Harper and Erick Rowan (the latter of whom having just been released at the start of the pandemic).
Braun fends off the bargain basement Bludgeon Brothers before getting hit with a shovel by another former Wyatt Family member…
…Braun Strowman. I think the symbolism here is that Braun is wearing a sheep mask, suggesting that Sister Abigail is Shari Lewis.
It’s a good thing WWE hadn’t released Strowman, too, otherwise he couldn’t have done this cameo.
After recovering from Braun Strowman loss of consciousness #1, the champ is chained up in a shack filled with such horrors as…
…an old Fisher Price car…
…and a jar of spare eyeballs from the Eye For An Eye match. Party City must have had a bulk discount that week.
But before he can escape, Braun must endure the greatest horror of all: a Bray Wyatt promo.
I hope you all held on to your old Bray Wyatt bingo cards!
“Together, we could be like ghawhds! We will rule this place, they will bow to us! [laughing] Oh how they will bow! And as societies crumble and governments fall, there we will be, ruling like was prophesized [sic]!”
One thing you might not expect from a Bray Wyatt promo is imagery lifted wholesale from Get Out.
Then comes Sister Abigail with a big ol’ snake that bites Braun, leading to Braun Strowman loss of consciousness #2.
Braun wakes up by a fire and is soon attacked by the fake Wyatts yet again…
…plus some third guy no one’s ever seen before or since. Braun easily disposes of the Wyatt Squad and kicks the new guy into the fire.
And he laughs and laughs. I can’t blame him – it was pretty funny watching this guy flail around, especially with all those camera cuts (18 in twelve seconds, to be exact). Did Kevin Dunn join the Wyatt Family, too?
Just then, a voice beckons Braun.
It’s Jim Ross, yelling that bah gawd, that man has a family.
It’s Alexa Bliss, his old Mixed Match Challenge tag team partner, luring Braun to the dock with promises of a permanent Team LittleBig reunion. Braun should realize that this is just another trick conjured up by Bray Wyatt. After all, why is Alexa Bliss dressed up like an old widow?
While Braun stands around and stares, he’s blindsided by Mysterious Bray re-appearance #1.
Twelve minutes into the match, and the two opponents finally interact physically.
Strowman quickly chokeslams Wyatt onto a crash pad…
…which turns into a boat. Not a dilapidated boat, mind you.
The boat then scoots away on its own…
…only to come right back, without Wyatt (Mysterious Bray disappearance #2)
Braun inspects the boat and gets blindsided again by Wyatt (Mysterious Bray re-appearance #2)
This time, Wyatt drowns Strowman in the lily pad-infested water. Unlike a Monet painting, though, this pond is also swarming with alligators. At least that’s the impression WWE is trying to subliminally convey with all these unrelated shots of gators.
After 24 seconds and a staggering 27 camera cuts, it’s all over for Braun.
Or is it? A disoriented Braun emerges seconds later and takes a breather on the dock. Soon, the Monster Among Men is soon staring right up at Bray’s taint.
Bray beats down Braun with an axe handle and incessant flashes of Wyatt Family photo shoots. “AAAAAHHHH!” yells Bray, before telling Braun his favorite Taylor Swift song.
But Braun boots Bray into the water, from which he doesn’t resurface. (Mysterious Bray disappearance #3)
In an astounding display of hubris, WWE puts their copyright notice on screen to indicate that the match and the pay-per-view are over, when Bray Wyatt has already magically re-appeared twice in the past five minutes alone. But surely this is the end?
No! Combining horror movies’ love of false finishes with wrestling’s love of false finishes, the Eater of Worlds makes Mysterious Bray re-appearance #3. Bray pops out of the water, gives Strowman the mandible claw, and pulls him back into the water, where they both disappear. (Mysterious Bray disappearance #4)
Strowman struggles to stay afloat in the pond water (which we’ve already seen is only knee-deep) before sinking to the bottom. And so he died. Good thing his title wasn’t on the line.
The water then bubbles and turns red, paving the way for Mysterious Bray re-appearance #4. This time as The Fiend, Wyatt laughs evilly to close the show for realsies.
A lake that reincarnates people into different gimmicks? A night fight at a wrestler’s personal backwoods compound? Boats? If there were even a hint of humor in this self-important cinematic bout, I’d swear I was watching a Broken Matt Hardy match.