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 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.
So, for all the buzz around Wyatt, WWE’s own booking has portrayed him as incapable of besting the previous generation’s face of fear.
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.
From a character at the nexus of white-collar jerk and joke, came one of WWE’s most divergent characters. The Wyatt gimmick is all about darkness and foreboding, everything his father wouldn’t do. While WWE has celebrated familial links in families like the Ortons, the Rhodeses, and the DiBiases, this is one family connection that makes absolutely no sense in kayfabe. For the time being, WWE would rather have you believe that Wyatt materialized from the ether rather than admit he's part of a legacy.
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.
In his initial main roster run, Harris was a lower mid-card guy, backing CM Punk’s version of The Nexus, and largely functioning as cannon fodder for bigger stars to plow through. Getting sent back down to developmental wound up being the best thing for his career. While his first tenure was largely a failure, he subsequently came up with the Bray Wyatt gimmick, honed it under the direction of Dusty Rhodes and Triple H, and wound up with one of the most distinctive characters of his generation.
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.
In the build to WrestleMania XXVII, Randy Orton fought his way through CM Punk’s version of The Nexus, and among the lower ranks was Husky Harris—Bray Wyatt’s original WWE character. Orton punted him in the head en route to taking out all of The Nexus members to get Punk one-on-one. Little did we know how the two men would be so dramatically recast six years in the future.
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.
Bray Wyatt is a throwback in that he’s portrayed as a true villain, dedicated to destruction. So, WWE’s not interested in acknowledging his personal life on any level—let alone the fact that he’s capable of a real-life healthy romantic relationship. The fact is, however, that in 2012—after he had come up with the Wyatt character, but before it had debuted on national TV—he married his sweetheart, Samantha. The two have remained happily together ever since.
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.
Wyatt went out of action due to a real-life calf injury. When he came back a couple months later, he transitioned to a program between his family and The New Day. The face turn—if that’s what it was, was aborted and never mentioned again. Thus, it became a fun bit of trivia and question of “what if” for an angle that never really materialized.
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.
It appeared WWE might have been going for a serial killer character along the lines of Jason from Friday the 13th, and it’s no shock that it came across as a little hokey. Whether management or Wyatt himself thought better of it, they scrapped the costume, though the darker, more villainous undertones of the character were a step toward the gimmick he would end up making famous.
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.
It's a bit baffling to think, then, that it wasn’t until fall 2016—over four years after the character had debuted on main roster television—that he won a championship, finally capturing the tag titles on SmackDown with Randy Orton. He’d go on to make up for lost time, dropping the tag titles, but winning the WWE Championship less than a half a year later. Nonetheless, he spent a long time as one of WWE’s most highly touted talents with no hardware to show for it.
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.
Despite attending college for four years, Wyatt never earned a degree, dropping out to instead start pursuing pro wrestling. His football background nonetheless showed in his explosive speed in the ring, including the signature avalanche to the corner and running senton he used a great deal as Husky Harris, and even to some extent today in his current gimmick.
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.
Unbeknownst to plenty of fans, Graves was an in-ring talent in WWE’s developmental system until head injuries put an end to his wrestling aspirations, and gave way to his broadcasting career. His time as a young prospect overlapped with Wyatt’s. During that time, Graves, teaming with Jake Carter (Big Van Vader’s real life son, who’d never make it past WWE’s developmental system) beat Wyatt’s team to relieve them of their tag titles.
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.
The Stunner has come into more popular use nowadays, with John Cena implementing a springboard version, and Kevin Owens even trying out against Roman Reigns at the 2017 Royal Rumble. Just the same, it’s an iconic enough move associated with an iconic enough star that it would be hard for anyone, let alone a developmental talent, to get over using it as a finisher. Like so many aspects of the Mulligan character, Wyatt left this element of his wrestling repertoire behind before returning to TV.
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.
Though Wyatt often handles his social media in character, he took a step aside in this case to respond via a Tweet of his own. Wyatt wrote, “Life is our greatest gift. Keep your head up, you are never alone.” The moment marked a strange but beautiful interaction between a fan and a world famous wrestler.
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.
But in addition to being happily married in real life, Wyatt has two daughters. There are photos floating around the Internet of Wyatt smiling with the two of them, clearly a proud and happy father in his personal life.
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.
In Wyatt’s WrestleMania debut, he lost to John Cena in a good match. The following year, he faced The Undertaker in The Deadman’s return to the big show after losing at ‘Mania for the very first time a year earlier against Brock Lesnar. The Undertaker got the best of Wyatt, too. For WrestleMania 32, Wyatt was on the fringes as it was unclear if he’d be able to go due to injuries. He wound up in a verbal exchange with The Rock that culminated in The Great One squaring off with Erick Rowan in a lightning quick squash match. While Wyatt didn’t actually lose a match in that last instance, it’s hard to say he didn’t come off on the losing end of the exchange. That's particularly true after John Cena charged the ring to help chase off the Wyatts post-match.
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.