wrestling / Columns

Bray Wyatt: A Brilliant Mind

August 26, 2023 | Posted by Steve Cook
WWE Smackdown Bray Wyatt Image Credit: WWE

The first time I & many other wrestling fans saw the person known to his friends & family as Windham Rotunda was during Season 2 of WWE’s NXT program. The son of Mike “I.R.S” Rotunda & grandson of Blackjack Mulligan wasn’t exactly leaning into his family’s wrestling heritage. Instead, he was working under the name of Husky Harris. I’d be lying if I told you I remembered much about Husky, other than he was an Army tank with a Ferrari engine. Quite the catchphrase. After Season 2 ended, Harris had a brief run with The Nexus before retreating to developmental obscurity.

Then we started hearing about this new character down in Florida. An offbeat cat by the name of Bray Wyatt. Other than being the same height & weight than Husky Harris, there was little indication that this was the same guy. Bray Wyatt was unlike anybody else that was appearing in FCW or anywhere else at the time, though he reminded some of us old heads of a way too short-lived character during the WWF’s New Generation. Wyatt Family leader Bray definitely had some of those Waylon Mercy vibes, down to the multi-colored shirts.

Bray, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan as the Wyatt Family were a force to be reckoned with. They even got Daniel Bryan to join them for a brief period in time. Bryan’s turn back to the light was an integral moment in his WrestleMania XXX build.

Sure, they lost Daniel Bryan, but the Wyatt Family just kept on trucking into a feud with The Shield that produced some of the best six-man/trios matches in the history of pro wrestling. They also feuded with John Cena during this time, which I prefer to ignore and celebrate the brilliance of the Shield/Wyatts matches.

That’s the thing about Bray Wyatt. He had a brilliant mind, one that saw pro wrestling in a different light than most of us. He had all sorts of ideas to make our so called sport better. Some of them were great. Some of them weren’t so great. You can find articles I wrote here about how some of Bray’s match concepts were complete BS to me. I won’t act like that didn’t happen. Many writers will act like they always thought Bray’s concepts were awesome, and maybe some of them actually did. That’s not me. I’m more of a traditional wrestling mind. Much of the time over the past decade or so, Bray’s concepts and angles didn’t land with me. It wasn’t my bag, but at the same time, I was also happy to accept that it wasn’t my bag. Bray’s stuff was definitely working with some people. He was one of the biggest merchandise sellers for WWE for most of his career, even if I didn’t get The Fiend or the Firefly Funhouse concept. I never blamed WWE for pushing what was working, and The Fiend definitely worked for enough of their audience.

His most recent return is something I’m happy he got to do. Bray got to walk out into arenas with the fans singing his praises. He got to be his real self for a brief period of time, and the people embraced it. I can’t identify with what that had to be like for him, but I think it had to be a great feeling.

Thirty-six is way too young to pass away. Unfortunately, as a wrestling fan I’ve become too accustomed to wrestlers passing away way too young. Sometimes, with hindsight we can see what happened and why that person passed. In this case, not so much. Bray Wyatt had so much left to give, and as far as we know he didn’t have the same vices other wrestlers that passed before their time had.

Unrealized potential. Folks have been saying for years how WWE didn’t know how to book Bray Wyatt to his potential. I don’t disagree. I don’t think WWE knew how to book a character like Bray Wyatt. I’m not sure anybody could have. We will never know the heights Bray Wyatt could have reached.

RIP, Bray. I wish time had been on your side.

article topics :

Bray Wyatt, Steve Cook