Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: The Strange Tale of Bray Wyatt Pt. 1

This is a kayfabe rundown of the character known as Bray Wyatt. Wyatt was portrayed by
Windham Rotunda, son of Mike Rotunda, brother of Bo Dallas, grandson of Blackjack Mulligan, nephew of Kendall and Barry Windham. He is a third-generation pro-wrestler who seems to approach it as much as performance art as an athletic spectacle. His greatest creation to date is the ever-evolving Bray Wyatt, a project that seems to be over as he has left WWE at least for the time being. Sometimes polarizing, Windham never failed to create a reaction. If Bray Wyatt rises again, at least I will have gotten some of the lore down.

The Backwoods Cult Leader

Bray Wyatt first appeared on WWE’s training ground Florida Championship Wrestling. He appeared in what would become his signature style of a fedora hat, Hawaiian shirt, and scruffy beard. On paper, he sounds like a beach bum but Wyatt always had a sinister feel to him. From the very start, Bray Wyatt had the same feel to him as the character of Max Cady from the 1991 version of Cape Fear. Wyatt was menacing but charismatic, not somebody to be taken lightly even though he did not have as impressive of a physique as traditional wrestlers. He is deceptively fast and opportunistic in the ring.

After FCW was rebranded as NXT, Bray Wyatt became more powerful even as he was injured and prevented from wrestling for a time. He recruited two men who he referred to as his first and second sons. They were Luke Harper and Erick Rowan and the trio was known as The Wyatt Family in the styling of The Manson Family. Wyatt’s sons were undyingly loyal to him. They seemed to be unhinged with not a lot going on upstairs besides whatever Wyatt willed them to do. The Wyatt family became a dominant force with Wyatt as the crown jewel of this filthy, dangerous cult. 

The trio debuted in vignettes on Monday Night Raw that introduced the wider world to Wyatt’s message.

Eater of Worlds

When the Wyatt Family made their actual debut on Raw, it became clear that Bray Wyatt was more than just some backwoods cult leader. His words became increasingly more violent and cryptic, like an evil Jim Morrison. He began to refer to himself as the Eater of Worlds, a sort of proclamation that felt like he was the face of a new cosmic horror. He would often have one of his sons carry a rocking chair to the ring for him so that he could sit and watch them destroy their enemies. He would delight in the mayhem and then swoop in to provide the finishing blow before reveling in the violence. At this point, it did not seem to matter if Wyatt and his family won or lost matches. Rather than lose, they would often get disqualified and brutalize their victims anyway. His victory seemed inevitable and he was having fun getting there. He also kept mentioning Sister Abigail (it was also the name of his finishing move) which was a mystery. If opponents wanted to find him, Wyatt said that they could “Follow the Buzzards”. We all know what attracts buzzards and vultures.

Their first feud was with Kane. The Family debuted with an attack on Kane. They continued to attack wrestlers at random all while imploring Kane to come and find them. Kane reemerged and the trio obliterated the usually dominant demon and made him look helpless. They even defeated him in a ring of fire match. After defeating him, they beat Kane down, and kidnapped him, leading to his disappearance for a time. They next went after the happy-go-lucky Kofi Kingston who they also destroyed. 

It was here that The Wyatt Family received their first resistance in the face of the united front of Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. The two were recognized as some of the greatest skilled wrestlers ever with Byan claiming to be the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) and CM Punk claiming to be the Best in the World. Unfortunately for Bryan, CM Punk became distracted by his own problems with the WWE Authority and left the company. The Wyatt Family preyed on Bryan and beat him down until he agreed to join them. The four members continued their reign of terror but eventually, Bryan had enough of being picked on by Harper and Rowan and broke free of Wyatt’s programming.

Soon after this, the Wyatt Family briefly clashed with the Authority’s The Shield by disrupting the Authority’s designs against Bryan, John Cena, and Sheamus. This showed that the Family was villainous but not aligned with the totalitarian leaders of the company. In fact, they ended up helping Daniel Bryan but that was an incidental side effect of their true mission.

The Whole World In His Hands

The Wyatt Family had targetted John Cena. He was the wholesome, G-Rated face of the company. Super Cena always overcame the odds and lived by the phrases “Hustle Loyalty Respect”, “Never Give Up”, and “Rise Above Hate”. He was the perfect target for the Wyatt Family. By this time, the WWE fans were solidly divided between those who loved Cena and those who hated him. Wyatt wanted Cena to finally unleash his inner darkness and constantly tried to goad him into giving in to being a monster. When that did not work, Wyatt went after one of Cena’s few weak points. He went after the hearts and minds of the kids. The fans were divided but the kids always loved Cena and Cena took that to heart. For example, John Cena has consistently broken records at the Make A Wish Foundation. Wyatt caused people to cheer for him and to sing for him. A real battle for the hearts and minds of the WWE fans. He seemed to have a hypnotic power over his growing cult. Members of the cult signified their support by raising their cell phone flashlights in the darkness, referred to as “fireflies”.

The New Face of Fear

Wyatt announced that he had let his sons, Harper and Rowan go. He claimed to have fixed them and they were now free to roam. This allowed Wyatt to focus more on fixing others like he did Rowan and Harper. His efforts were not successful but he left his mark on everybody he feuded with. At this point, he also began to taunt the Undertaker leading up to a casket match at Wrestlemania. After a hellish battle, Undertaker prevailed and Wyatt faded away for the moment.

It was not long before Wyatt returned but he did not return alone. Harper and Rowan returned to the Family, having had their own feuds and adventures. The Family was also joined by Braun Strowman which gave the Wyatt Family even more muscle.

His next big feud was with the legendary Brothers of Destruction. The Wyatt Family targeted the demon Kane first, with Wyatt claiming that he was far more powerful than Hell’s Favorite Demon. The Wyatt Family defeated Kane, beat him down, and then carried him off to parts unknown. Kane disappeared which brought out Kane’s brother, The Undertaker. Unlike so many others, Wyatt was not afraid of The Deadman. He was happy to pit his forces against the supernatural dangers of the famous zombie sorcerer. Kane reemerged and the Wyatt Family faced The Brothers of Destruction. When the Wyatt Family defeated Kane and the Undertaker, Wyatt demonstrated that he had stolen their powers. He had Kane’s power of fire generation and Undertaker’s control over thunder and lightning. 

Bray Wyatt and his Family continued to feud with other groups. This included facing off with The New Day. It was the power of positivity coming into conflict with the sinister Wyatt Family. The two factions were opposites of each other but neither side was willing to back down. It culminated in a horror movie of a match at the Wyatt compound.

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