Bray Wyatt is one of the most sinister characters on the WWE landscape. He’s been portrayed as a cult leader and as a mad man. He’s been pitted against wrestling biggest heroes, including John Cena, The Undertaker, and Roman Reigns. What’s more, he’s been portrayed as fundamentally different from anyone else on the main roster, often delivering lengthy monologues of cosmic significance. Compare that to his colleagues, who rarely reach beyond calling out their enemies and touting their own greatness. While even main event level acts like Cena, Seth Rollins, and Kevin Owens have been prone to moments of comedy, Wyatt has remained deathly serious on air.
For all of Wyatt’s unique traits and portrayal, his entire history with WWE doesn’t support his current character. Moreover, the man behind the character doesn’t have a personal history that aligns particularly well with the Bray Wyatt gimmick, nor is his current personal life much like the character he portrays.
Being a pro wrestling fan requires a certain level of willful suspension of disbelief. While most fans accept that neither the violence nor the storylines on screen have much basis in reality, we nonetheless tend to give ourselves over to the fantasy while we’re watching a wrestling show. And that’s the space WWE by and large wants its fans in—booing the heels and cheering the faces because we’re letting ourselves believe some wrestlers are genuinely bad people and others are good. When it comes to Bray Wyatt, WWE would rather we not focus on all of the incongruities between his personal life and his character, and even less so on the shifts WWE itself has made in this performer’s career and how he’s treated. This article looks at fifteen things WWE wants us all to forget about Bray Wyatt.
15 15. The New Face Of Fear Has Been Defeated By The Old Face Twice
A key part of Bray Wyatt’s gimmick has been the moniker that he’s “the new face of fear.” It’s a catchy nickname, and nicely encompasses the tradition Wyatt walks in, following the historical likes of guys like Kevin Sullivan and Jake Roberts. Guys like The Undertaker.
While, today, The Undertaker is a well-loved legend, and he’s worked primarily as a face for over a decade, he nonetheless had his origins as a sinister, scary character. First, he was an undead zombie like figure who culminated his run in beating Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship. Later, he was the super ominous leader of the Ministry of Darkness.
It makes sense for Wyatt to have been pitted against The Phenom as a proving ground and establish him as a superior new version of WWE’s arch-villain. The trouble is that Wyatt tends to lose to The Undertaker.
It happened first at WrestleMania 31, where The Undertaker returned to beat Wyatt one-on-one. Then The Wyatts dared challenge The Brothers of Destruction at Survivor Series 2015—a show that commemorated The Undertaker working for WWE for 25 years. The night presented an awesome opportunity for The Wyatts to solidify their new legacy by taking apart the veterans. And yet on that night, The Undertaker and Kane were victorious.
14 14. He’s The Son of Irwin R Schyster
In the 1990s, talented amateur wrestler-turned-pro Mike Rotunda was rebranded as tax man Irwin R. Schyster (not so subtly, IRS for short). The fact that the cartoonish gimmick—which saw him wrestle in suspenders, a shirt, and tie—worked for a period of years is a testament to the man beneath the character who both completely committed to the bit and delivered in the ring.
And he’s Bray Wyatt’s dad.
13 13. He Debuted As Husky Harris
Bray Wyatt debuted on WWE TV under the gimmick of Husky Harris on season two of the NXT kayfabe competition series. He had a gift for gab then, too, touting himself as “the army tank with a Ferrari engine.” The gimmick had its limitations, though. The name itself called attention to his less than optimum physique, besides its alliterative quality making him sound sort of like a joke.
12 12. Randy Orton Put His Character Out Of Action
Today, Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton are embroiled in a main event level storyline on SmackDown. They won the Smackdown Tag Team Championship together, and are now bound for WrestleMania 33 with Wyatt as the reigning WWE Champion and Orton the winner of this year’s Royal Rumble. But their first televised interaction was very, very different.
11 11. He’s Happily Married
While a number of today’s WWE Superstars portray legit professional athletes, whom we assume have their own personal lives, Heck Total Divas and its spinoff, Total Bellas are more or less based on the premise capturing wrestlers away from the ring, and particularly their romantic and sexual entanglements.
10 10. He Started To Turn Face
In spring 2016 Bray Wyatt went to war with the League of Nations. The brief angle was red hot and saw Wyatt momentarily aligned with Roman Reigns, seemingly putting aside their longstanding rivalry in favor of working against a common foe. The jury’s out on whether the storyline was truly meant to culminate in Wyatt being a full-fledged face, but those first few weeks sure looked like it.
9 9. He Was Briefly Wore A Hockey Mask In Developmental
After the Husky Harris gimmick flopped on the main roster, Wyatt returned to developmental and tried on a new character: Axel Mulligan. The name can be traced back. Earlier in developmental he had worked as Alex Rotunda, and Alex is not only an anagram of Alex but adds a violent edge for “axe” appearing in it. Meanwhile, Mulligan payed tribute to Wyatt’s real life grandfather, Blackjack Mulligan.
And the character wore a hockey mask.
8 8. It Took Over Four Years For Him To Win His First Title On The Main Roster
From his debut as Bray Wyatt onward, Wyatt was treated like a pretty big deal on the main roster. He won his first big feud against Kane, and went on to spend his first three WrestleManias wrestling John Cena and The Undertaker, then verbally sparring with The Rock. While he hasn’t always come out on the winning end, he’s otherwise spent quite a bit of time locked in rivalries with top-tier stars and guys who were, at the time, past or future world champions like Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Chris Jericho.
7 7. He Played College Football
Wyatt was a high school athlete, doing well in both amateur wrestling and football. It’s football that he pursued at a higher level first, though. He went to College of the Sequoias and played for two seasons, becoming an All-American by the time he was done. His athletic performance at the junior college earned a scholarship to Division I Troy University in Alabama. He played there for two years.
6 6. He Lost A Title To Corey Graves
While it took Bray Wyatt quite some time to pick up any titles on the main roster, in the Florida Championship Wrestling developmental territory, he racked up two Tag Team Championship reigns with Bo Rotunda.
Today, Wyatt is one of the top singles stars in the entire wrestling world. Meanwhile, Corey Graves is a skinny color commentator with heel leanings.
5 5. He Used To Use The Stunner As A Finisher
Wyatt’s gimmick as Axel Mulligan never made it onto even NXT TV, but from accounts of those who caught it live, he used a finishing maneuver that was quite familiar to wrestling fans—The Stunner, formerly popularized by Stone Cold Steve Austin.
4 4. He Reached Out To a Fan In Need
In February 2016, a Twitter user who identified himself as having Aspergers posted an image of message directed to Bray Wyatt. He cited a life full of bullying and hardships, before citing The Wyatt Family as an inspiration because, like the fan, they’re different from everyone else around them. He wrote that thinking of Bray Wyatt gave him confidence and helped him overcome a period of self harming behaviors.
3 3. He’s A Father Of Two
In a very early incarnation of The Wyatt Family in developmental, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper were pitched as Wyatt’s actual kayfabe sons. The powers that be seemed to wary of how problematic this casting might be. Harper’s over seven years older than Wyatt and clearly looks it; even Rowan is over four years older in real life. On the main roster, the most paternal Wyatt has looked is working with a child who appeared demonically possessed to distract John Cena.
The crux of all this? Wyatt hasn’t been marketed as much of a father figure.
2 2. He’s Never Won At WrestleMania
As WWE likes to market, WrestleMania matters. A win or a loss on a house show, or even a weekly television show may be quickly forgotten, and even the legacy of secondary PPVs tend to have a shelf-life. But WrestleMania is the most watched and most widely archived wrestling show of the year, and if fans remember one event from the whole year, the odds are it will be ‘Mania. Therefore it’s remarkable that a budding star like Wyatt, so consistently booked as a top-level talent has never picked up a win at WrestleMania.
1 1. He’s Brothers With Bo Dallas
In NXT Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt tag teamed together, working under their shared last name—Rotunda.
Bo and Bray are both sons of Mike Rotunda, better known to WWE fans as Irwin R. Schyster, and they’re the grandsons of Blackjack Mulligan. While, in developmental, WWE toyed with the idea of touting their lineage, each man has gone on to his own distinctive identity. Interestingly, both men also debuted on the main roster in largely forgettable runs, went back down to developmental, and uncovered their more distinctive gimmicks before making their returns.
Bo and Bray haven’t meaningfully crossed paths on the main roster, though there does seem to be some internal logic to suggest they might. After all, the pair of heels each try to persuade and inspire followers in ways that are overtly heelish to the fans. While their personas are totally different, between a faux-inspirational speaker and an overt cult leader, one could imagine them overlapping and forming an alliance one day (maybe even revealing their shared heritage). Otherwise, the two could come to an ideological clash that leads to a battle in the ring. It seems like a stretch for now, particularly with Bray holding SmackDown’s top title and Bo fighting just to get air time on Raw, but stranger things have happened in wrestling.
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