Former WWE star Braun Strowman joined Busted Open Radio today to talk about Free the Narrative and his post WWE career. Strowman was asked if the word “free” could be best used to describe how he’s feeling post release, and he concurred.

“I think it’s a huge word to be able to describe (me right now),” Strowman said. “Mentally, physically, everything like that. Not being locked into any kind of contracts, being able to pick and choose what I do with my life. I’m 38 years old and finally, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to ask anyone for permission to do anything. And it’s honestly a pretty damn good feeling. To be able to work on this project is just, it was life changing for me to say the least.”

Strowman was asked what was one of the biggest differences between being involved with Free the Narrative compared to his time in WWE. For Strowman, it’s not having to always be on every single moment of the day, compared to when he was with WWE.

“Just having to be on all the time,” Strowman said. “Being under the magnifying scope of the entire world, every step you take, every text you type, every word you say and stuff like that. Finally having a chance to let all that out, all that stuff I’ve been bottling up, being cast into the world of professional wrestling, WWE, sports entertainment, coming from a small town in North Carolina. Being this small town kid, knowing everyone in the community, to being thrown into the deep end of the world pool, swimming with a bunch of sharks and stuff. And then finally having the chance to learn, I learned so much and am so blessed and so fortunate for my opportunity and time with WWE to see the world, and experience so many things and meet my idols, share the squared circle with them and things like that.

“But also, at the same time it was very time consuming. I was living out of a suitcase for a month and a half, two months at a time, pretty much out of six years. At one point in five years, I had slept at a Marriott 765 nights. So being gone, missing out on so many different things, and then falling into the trap that comes with stardom. Thinking that you’re something you’re not. I started turning into a person that I wasn’t, or that wasn’t me, that wasn’t what got me to the dance. I started reading into the hype, I started letting the negativity on social media, the internet, get to me. And it started to consume me from the inside and honestly made me start to hate the wrestling business, which was unbelievable to me because I fell so in love with it, from an outsider coming in, not growing up doing the indie scene. I came in competing in World Strongest Man. That’s how Mark Henry met me and we became such close friends. I caught a lot of flack for that, but if people really knew the story and how hard it was to make a name for myself competing in World’s Strongest Man, traveling around the country on my own dime while I’m working 60, 70 hours a week to try and pay the bills.”

Strowman admitted that, for all the good times he had in WWE, he had found himself becoming someone that he didn’t want to be. Now he’s getting back to who he wants to be, and feels his current work allows fans to see him not as Braun Strowman, but as who he is as Adam Scherr.

“All this crazy stuff happened that turned me into something I didn’t want to be,” Strowman said. “My end time with WWE came out of nowhere to me. It sent me into a bad place, because that was everything I’d ever cared about in my life. I thought it kind of pinnacled for me being a WWE superstar. I said a lot in a lot of interviews that I truly believed God had put me on this earth to be a WWE superstar. And I was starting to lean into some of these bad things and bad traits, and running off people that I cared about and taking my frustrations out on my loved ones. And it all comes spiraling down when you get that phone call and find out your contract has been terminated. I didn’t know what to do. So there was this opportunity to go and I think when people watch this, they’ll see that’s real emotion. Some of it’s acting, but a lot of things that go through me and my character in the Free the Narrative II is real emotion. That’s me letting go of so many burdens that I’ve been carrying. So many negative thoughts, so much bad energy. Being able to just get it out and just basically wipe my hands of a lot of stuff I’ve been carrying for years. And it’s all based around mental health. It’s so cool now that people are more willing and open to talk about mental health and everything.

“I think that’s such a big thing with the Control Your Narrative series in general. We tell stories that talk about all the trials and tribulations that the wrestlers have gone through and what it’s taken to overcome that. Most of that stuff is mental. Even with the physical injuries, there’s such a mental aspect of being able to overcome these things that I finally had an opportunity to portray, let everything out and be me. To show the world Adam. I’ve been this monster and I had this unbelievable career being this monster, this corporate monster that I was made and turned into. But I didn’t always have the opportunities to show Adam, the human side, that I’m a real person. Even though I look gigantic and I am gigantic and I can rip people’s skin off with my bare hands, I’m still a caring, kind human being. And this was the first time I had an opportunity to be 100% creative. No if, ands or buts. What I said, what I wanted to do, it came off and it was so cool to being able to work with some of my closest friends and guys who reached hands out when I had nobody there for me, when I thought I was drowning. To be able to work on this product and film and edit it and make the music, everything all in house together. It was such a team building exercise and everyone at the end of it was like ‘wow.’ We got so caught up in the moment, Mike and I, for our match we were producing and putting together. We watched it back and we didn’t even realize we were doing half the stuff we did. We were so in the moment, and that’s so special about the Narrative. What we’re able to capture is raw, true emotion out of everybody in it.”

Strowman also talked about dealing with social anxiety, something he dealt with even before WWE due to his size, though the fame that came with WWE heightened his struggle. He pointed out that despite his larger than life stature and career, at the end of the day he is human just like everyone else.

“My whole life I’ve always suffered with social anxiety,” Strowman said. “Being larger than nature intended, I always joked that everywhere I walked, before I was anyone, when I walked into a room, you’d hear the mumbles. You’d see the people pointing, and I’d always start to bottle up from that. Going from just being the big guy when I walked into places, ‘who’s this big guy?’, to being this worldwide WWE superstar, the pressure started more to get on me and things like that. Drake Maverick, Rockstar Spud, however you want to call him, he saw it firsthand one time. I think we were in LA and we were waiting for an Uber for dinner, and I got mobbed for autographs and pictures when I came out of the hotel. I literally had a panic attack. I started to tear up, I seized up and I froze. It’s things like that that people don’t realize a lot. As much as we’re portrayed to be these unstoppable monsters and creatures and entities on TV, at the end of the day we still come home. We take our boots off and we’re normal human beings. Carrying a lot of that stress around and not knowing or having an avenue per say to get rid of it. I was bad about taking it out on the people I cared about the most. I would get home and have some time off, then something would happen and I’d get upset about it.”

Another thing Strowman touched on was his overall lack of control in WWE when it came to creative, and how it in some ways drove him insane. While he maintains he is largely grateful for his time in WWE and the opportunities it presented, he admitted the dramatic change it made in his lifestyle as a Strongman competitor wasn’t easy on him.

“There were times I had some control over what I was doing character wise,” Strowman said. “There were other times I didn’t. We all play a part in a play, and it’s my job to go there. And I’d get handed a script, per say, for the day and I tried to make the most of it. There’d be times it was really hard, there’d be times it were really easy. So it was this crazy, emotional roller coaster that a lot of people don’t realize. Behind the scenes, everybody thinks it’s this glitz and glammy, go out and wrestle on Monday Night RAW and PPV’s. Hell, I’ll be honest; that’s what I thought it was as an outsider before I got into the business. Being really thrown in and actually finding out the works and the inside of how the business truly is, but then falling in love with it. I’m talking so in love with it, it’s all I cared about.

“And that’s part of the reason I drove myself insane because I’m so competitive. I’m so OCD about anything that I do in life that I have to be the best. And if I can’t, I try and figure out a way to do it, and there’s certain times when you can’t control aspects of it. They’re out of your hands, per say, you’re not holding the pencil. There were things, at times, where I’d have a hard time wrapping my head around it, coming from a professional sports background. The control was you either picked the stuff up, or you didn’t. So coming from that and trying to learn of doing things a certain way, it was just a lot, all at once. Trying to figure it out as you go, learning everything on the road, being away from my family, friends and the life that I had known. In such a short period of time, everything changed so dramatically.”

These days Strowman says the hardest thing for him is learning to forgive some his behavior towards the people he cares about. Separate from that, his goal is to still put smiles on people’s faces and he plans on doing that by continuing to wrestle, even if it’s not with WWE.

“That was the hardest thing for me, was figuring out how to forgive myself,” Strowman said. “People that I had done wrong by, people I had hurt and upset, they had forgiven me. But I’m still in the process of forgiving myself. And as much as I hated getting that phone call, because I truly, truly love putting my boots on and going out and entertaining people. No matter what the internet says or what your perception of me is, deep down I love putting smiles on people’s faces. At the end of the day that’s it. And I’m going to find another way to do it and I’m going to continue to wrestle. That’s it. I want to leave the world a little better than the way I found it.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Busted Open Radio and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription

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