Posts Tagged ‘Why I Love Pro-Wrestling’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: The Strange Tale of Bray Wyatt Pt. 2

August 15, 2022

Possessed By Sister Abigail

Braun Strowman broke free of the cult and Rowan was banished after too many failures. Bray Wyatt found a new member in The Viper Randy Orton. The devious Orton pledged himself to the Wyatt Family leading to success. However, at the first opportunity, Orton betrayed Wyatt after eliminating Luke Harper. Orton went to the Wyatt compound and he burned it down, making special care to violate the grave of Sister Abigail. Sister Abigail had been the source of Wyatt’s power. He went to the compound and smeared its ashes on his body. It was revealed that Sister Abigail was a demon and Wyatt took her completely into his body, becoming possessed. He faced Orton in an otherworldly “House of Horrors” and defeated the snake. Wyatt remained in an unstable state with Sister Abigail within him.

The Wyatt/Abigail amalgam soon picked a fight with the heroic Finn Balor. The feud with the dangerous and violent new Bray Wyatt forced Finn to fight fire with fire. Finn drew on his own demon persona, a choice he was always reluctant to make,  to fight Wyatt. The Demon handily beat Wyatt leaving Wyatt fanatical and bitter. He kept saying that Balor could not possibly beat him without The Demon, playing on Balor’s personal pride. Balor responded that he was an ordinary man who could do extraordinary things and faced Wyatt again without The Demon. Balor was able to defeat Wyatt by himself, sending Wyatt further into his spiral. 

Samael

Bray Wyatt next clashed with Matt Hardy with Wyatt having the upper hand early on in their feud. Wyatt’s defeat of Hardy was so brutal that it re-awakened a version of the Broken Matt personality now known as “Woken” Matt Hardy. Hardy himself was knowledgeable about the supernatural as he was possessed by the soul called ZENITH which had existed since 7 A.D. only recently making Hardy its host, giving him “broken brilliance”. That connection helped Hardy beat Wyatt in a Final Deletion match, meant to eliminate whoever lost. Hardy won and then pushed Wyatt into the Lake of Reincarnation on the Hardy compound. Wyatt vanished.

Wyatt surprisingly returned to assist Matt Hardy instead of harming him. Wyatt’s reincarnation had purged the succubus Sister Abigail from him and left him clean and good for the first time in a long time. At that point, ZENITH and Hardy helped rehabilitate Bray Wyatt who welcomed the ancient spirit of Samael within him. Now a good guy, Bray formed a successful team with Hardy known as the Deleter of Worlds. They won the tag team titles together and everything was great until Broken Matt quietly disappeared.

The Firefly Fun House and the Fiend

Something was very wrong with Bray Wyatt. He had vanished for quite some time when troubling vignettes started to appear on television. Bray reappeared in a red sweater in segments of what could only be described as his version of a children’s show. He was accompanied by several puppet characters a la Pee Wee’s Playhouse or Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. He was constantly smiling and unceasingly positive as he talked about rediscovering himself. It would have all been very pleasant except that there was a dark edge underneath it all. Nobody knew what to think of these strange interruptions  Bray seemed unstable and it became increasingly obvious that the puppet characters were pieces of his past, his very soul. Mercy the Buzzard, Ramblin’ Rabbit, Abby the Witch, and Huskus the Pig were all his past that was still a part of them.

The “good” news according to Bray was that he had found a way to focus his darkness in order to protect his happy new world. This so-called focus seemed to result in a sharp division of Wyatt’s character. Bray Wyatt, the host of the Firefly Fun House, could be happy, weird, and teach kids lessons. His other side, The Fiend soon emerged and it did not seem to be a protector. The Fiend seemed to be a predator, single-mindedly brutalizing whoever it could get its hands on. The grotesque monster seemed set on the domination of the WWE just like the prior incarnations of Bray Wyatt. This time he was unstoppable and he implored the WWE fans to “Let Him In”.

Eventually, the loveable and playful Bray Wyatt also started to wrestle. He did not want to dominate, he was always trying to “help”. The biggest example of this is his match with John Cena at Wrestlemania. The two of them had clashed before but Cena was not prepared for the new Bray Wyatt. The Fiend was something Cena could understand. Cena never backed down from a fight and had slain more than his share of monsters. However, this time Wyatt attacked John’s mind and soul, pulling him into the extradimensional Firefly Fun House and walking through Cena’s psyche blended with his own. The attack and victory were existential and it took quite some time for Cena to recover.

Passing on The Madness

Wyatt then moved on to feud with Braun Strownman, a monster of a man who had once been his follower. Wyatt attempted to get into Strowman’s head, calling the past back up to show their connection and Wyatt’s superiority. He did not pull him into the Fun House but it was very similar. Strowman had grown as a monster among men and he shook off Wyatt’s influence.   When that plan did not work, Wyatt even summoned his Eater of Worlds persona from the past to fight Strowman in a swamp. It was time to unleash The Fiend. The monster attacked Alexa Bliss, somebody Strowman had befriended and shown affection for. The Fiend kept involving Bliss, forcing Strowman to step in. Braun and The Fiend fought tooth and nail with The Fiend winning Strowman’s championship belt.

Following this, The Fiend whisked Alexa Bliss away and she began to take on a more insane appearance and demeanor. She began to appear on the Firefly Fun House alongside Bray, fully part of his world. She also took on elements of The Fiend but her power source seemed to be a mysterious doll named Lilly.

The Fiend and Bray Wyatt reignited their feud with Randy Orton which quickly became extremely violent. Eventually, the two faced each other and Orton set The Fiend on fire, banishing The Fiend. Alexa Bliss haunted Orton in the meantime until a charred version of The Fiend returned to protect her from Orton. However, it was a trap. Alexa used her powers to weaken The Fiend so Orton could finish him off. Bray Wyatt appeared one more time to say how excited he was for a fresh start and then he never showed up again.

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

August 1, 2022

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.

WILPW: Another Summer of Punk

August 23, 2021

Almost seven years ago, I wrote about CM Punk. I was going through a difficult time as a fan. My emotions were still raw from Phil Brooks walking out on pro-wrestling as I wrote that blog post a mere ten months after Punk left. I had struggled because Punk had been my favorite at the time and I felt like I resonated on a similar wavelength with the guy. He was a comic book geek, a pro-wrestling geek, and just seemed to be very creative. As I wrote before, a lot of things came to light when Brooks was ready to talk about it. It was clear to me that he had suffered from burnout and physical ailments that caused his love of pro-wrestling to die. I did not realize how hard I took that.

Shortly after I last posted on the subject, I found more out from Punk’s own words. He walked out for a lot of reasons. The first and foremost reason was his health. He was suffering from broken ribs, injured knees, and multiple concussions. This was before the WWE’s current concussion protocol which is allegedly better at protecting against this. Looking back you could definitely tell a lot of this from his performance near the end of his WWE run. He looked tired and broken down at the time. He was also feeling frustrated by the way his career was going. He felt like WWE was holding him back. He was having a crisis of faith caused by all of his frustrations with creative control of his character and not being compensated for his sacrifices.

Punk and his friend Colt Cabana were sued for Punk’s statements against the WWE on Colt’s podcast. They were cleared of all liability. The lawsuit caused a falling out between the two friends. At the same time, I felt like I was struggling to find my own love of pro-wrestling again. I discovered NXT, a breath of fresh air in the WWE product. I began to search for content from other companies. In 2015, I started watching Lucha Underground and I was in love again. I began to see clips from Mexico and Japan and the indies in the United States. Slowly, my love for the product came back.

When All Elite Wrestling premiered, I was excited. I was well-studied on the independents that birthed the company. I finally gave up on watching WWE when they failed to sever ties with Saudi Arabia, sheltered sexual abusers, and kept killing the careers of performers I loved. Meanwhile, AEW had its problems (mostly Chris Jericho for me) but it was creatively fulfilling for performers. The company truly embraced the three-ring circus element of good pro-wrestling. There is something for everyone. I am a big fan of the goofy weirdos but also the amazing technical skill. As my love of the business reignites, I need to write about this company (and MLW).

On Friday, August 20, 2021, a hole in my fandom heart was repaired when CM Punk returned to pro-wrestling in the middle of an All Elite Wrestling ring. They teased it for weeks, they hyped up their audience, and I tuned in to watch live for the first time in a long while. They wasted no time and Punk came out right away. There were tears in his eyes as he looked out and smiled and my own heart swelled watching him be happy. He had found his love again. I am excited to see where it goes but that moment was worth it. Pro-wrestling is a strange business and it has its ups and downs but sometimes there are very pure moments worth getting happy over.


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