The start of WWE Smackdown airing on Fox was also the start of multiple storylines about pro wrestlers fighting people from the combat sports world, and now Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez and Braun Strowman vs. Tyson Fury are set for WWE’s biggest show of the month.
A recent Daily Mail interview revealed that WWE had its eyes on a different shoot fighter earlier this year: unified WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr. However, Ruiz decided to focus on his next big fight, a rematch with Anthony Joshua, rather than step into the wrestling ring.
The boxer told the Mail that after he won his title in June of this year, WWE “invited me to go over there and check it out. But you know what, boxing is my life so this is the only thing I know how to do besides being with my family. I’m going to stick to boxing and accomplish more and maybe down the line we’ll look for something else to do.”
If one assumes that WWE was looking for a boxer vs. wrestler showdown for the upcoming Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia, then it looks like Ruiz may have been the company’s first choice to through hands with Braun Strowman, which could have resulted in a fairly different rivalry from Fury vs. Strowman.