The Braun Strowman-sized hole in WWE Raw's heart will be filled just in time for a marquee matchup at a marquee event.
A hunt for the Universal Championship, the pursuit of revenge and the discovery of a new enemy will highlight the powerhouse's return once he recovers from elbow surgery. And that comeback can't happen soon enough.
Strowman was easily the best part of Raw each week. The Monster Among Men spent the past few months terrorizing the red brand's roster, becoming its most entertaining entity.
But a bad wing halted his moment in a hurry.
He suddenly had to scamper back into his den to heal. Roman Reigns cracked a steel chair against Strowman's body as a means to write the big man off TV.
Reports surfaced that Strowman was dealing with an elbow issue and needed surgery. WWE confirmed the news on its official website, noting that he could miss up to six months of action.
Strowman promised to improve upon his return. "This surgery is just a minor speed bump. I will return bigger, stronger, faster and even more dangerous than ever," he posted on Instagram.
When will we get to see that upgraded version of Strowman? What lies ahead for him when he's back to flinging human beings through the air? Read on for projections about Strowman's return.
When Will The Monster Be Back?
The six months WWE told us we would be without Strowman may not a real number.
Dave Meltzer noted on Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Alex Pawlowski of Fightful) that the reported recovery timeline isn't legitimate. Apparently, he's expected to be back after closer to two months away from the ring.
That would open the door for him to charge back just in time for one of WWE's biggest events of the year—SummerSlam.
Ahead of the August 20 pay-per-view, Strowman can charge back onto the stage with hate in his eyes. His surprise arrival on Raw will be a major moment.
Expect WWE to play up Strowman's superman nature as he returns far earlier than the reported timeline.
Braun vs. The Beast
Brock Lesnar is clearly the best opponent for Strowman when he's back. The former Wyatt Family member can get his vengeance on Reigns later; a money match at SummerSlam has to come first.
The Monster Among Men vs. The Beast Incarnate was a bout WWE looked to be building toward before the latter went under the knife.
Strowman's roll saw him wipe out Kalisto, destroy a ring while battling Big Show and conquered Reigns at the Payback PPV. That victory over The Big Dog seemed to be a precursor to a clash with Lesnar, as WrestleView pointed out:
Before that, the two behemoths shared a tense moment on Raw.
On the first Raw after WrestleMania 32, Strowman confronted the universal champ. He told him he would eventually get his attention and glared the predator down as fans chanted "Braun! Braun!"
Count on WWE heading back in that direction in time for SummerSlam.
Strowman's size and power make him a natural fit opposite Lesnar. Mike Mooneyham of the Post and Courier wrote: "While both Finn Balor and Seth Rollins have been in the mix for possible title matches with Lesnar, neither currently have the matchup appeal with Lesnar that Strowman has."
Balor or Rollins may get their crack at The Conqueror at Great Balls of Fire, but under the brighter lights of SummerSlam, it will be Strowman's turn.
As smart as it would be to crown Strowman universal champion and allow him to stomp his way to the top of the WrestleMania 34 card, the more likely scenario is that Reigns challenges Lesnar at The Show of Shows.
WWE has long treated Reigns as its top priority, elevating and showcasing him like no one else. A rematch between him and The Beast Incarnate would allow him to gain another major victory and claim the WWE crown whether his detractors like it or not.
That will mean Strowman will be unable to snatch the gold from Lesnar's grip. And when he moves on to pay Reigns back for injuring him, The Big Dog will be the Last Man Standing.
And as Reigns marches toward the WrestleMania marquee, Strowman will go back to his destructive ways.
Look for him to squash midcarders, destroy objects and put a hurting on the wandering Elias Samson at one point.
To highlight Strowman outside of the universal title picture, bet on WWE pointing him in the direction of the Intercontinental Championship. The Monster Among Men can exist on a different plane than Reigns that way. The Big Dog can have his hero-rising tale while Strowman puts a stranglehold on the IC title for well over a year.
Read more Pro Wrestling news on BleacherReport.com