When the grappler formerly known as Husky Harris resurfaced in Florida Championship Wrestling, WWE’s then-developmental brand in 2012, he portrayed the mystic leader persona that was formed under the guidance of the legendary Dusty Rhodes. Bray Wyatt had slimmed down from the time that fans saw him as a part of the Nexus and there was much more depth to his character, who soon added a few members to his stable to create the Wyatt family. The following year, Wyatt made his main roster debut with Harper and Rowan by his side, making an impact immediately when he defeated Kane at that year’s Summer Slam.
Bray looked to be the right choice for the character, and the trio that formed the Wyatt family fit perfectly.
Unfortunately, over the next five years, Bray’s ability to cut magnetic promos and make his opponents look good in the ring ultimately was an aspect that hindered rather than helped his status. I’ve discussed it in-depth previously so it’s not necessary to repeat it again, but basically, Wyatt was more or less used to get other people over instead of being booked to get over himself. Management did Wyatt no favors because he was often beaten into powder, with his promos being the only thing that could keep him relevant since he wasn’t given many signature wins. A few of the main examples include the John Cena feud in 2014 when Bray did the job at Wrestlemania. As mentioned previously, Cena was made years before that and he could’ve lost every match for the rest of his career and still be just as over with the audience. Cena is over to the point that he’s cemented himself as a top-tier star regardless of his position on the card. On the flip side, that Wrestlemania match could’ve been a career-defining victory for Bray at that point in time. The relatively short-lived Daniel Bryan feud also didn’t do much for Wyatt’s status in the company. Finally, when Roman Reigns was struggling to get over with the audience or at least avoid the boos from the crowd, he was paired with Bray so that he could look solid in the ring. That feud was designed to benefit Roman, not Wyatt. Even his brief title run in 2017 wasn’t anything that truly made him a bigger star because he only had the belt for a month and was used as a transitional champion.
The scripting of his persona didn’t help either, as the seemingly perfect fit of the Bray, Rowan, and Harper trio was split up on a few different occasions. While Bray was regulated to a glorified enhancement talent, Harper and Rowan more or less floundered. While the Bludgeon Brothers gimmick gave them TV time last year, it was too cartoonish to have any longevity on the Smackdown brand. Bray was paired with Matt Hardy, mostly because neither or them had much direction at the time and they were placeholders when they had a run as tag champions. Granted, it was an entertaining team, but considering that they were thrown together to begin with, it wasn’t as though the pair was a priority on Raw. Perhaps, the most important aspect of the team was that as a comical babyface, the aura that surrounded Wyatt for the majority of his WWE run and was a major piece of the puzzle for the character’s ability to get over with the audience had completely diminished.
That aura is a rare and valuable tool in the sports entertainment industry.
When Matt Hardy took time off to heal some injuries, the team dissolved and Wyatt disappeared from television for nearly six months, something that was necessary if his career was going to be rejuvenated. A few months ago, he resurfaced with segments where he appeared to be the host of a children’s show with cliche catchphrases and animal puppets. Ironically, it was almost a way to mock the comical things Bray had done during his prior stint in the team with Hardy. Since Wyatt has the ability to get over, the segments worked well and generated a curiosity about where it was going in terms of his return to the ring. Eventually, the sinister revelation of “The Fiend” character featured Wyatt wearing a mask made by special effects legend, Tom Savini’s studio. The Fiend’s sudden and mysterious appearances on Raw were memorable spots, including when he attacked Mick Foley to take the hardcore legend’s claw hold as a signature maneuver.
When Wyatt vs. Finn Balor was announced for Summer Slam, the was an anticipation for the bout, which hadn’t been the case for Bray’s matches for the year prior to his absence from TV. The entrance with a lantern that resembled Wyatt’s head and the additions to his theme created a great presentation on pay-per-view. With Finn set to take some time off, the one-sided match was the right decision because it allows for Baylor to get some rest from the grueling WWE schedule and it gives The Fiend a solid win to get a strong start for the new character.
In many ways, WWE brass has a second chance to make Bray Wyatt a money-drawing star.
Make no mistake about it, Wyatt shouldn’t have had to be repackaged, considering that he already had all the skills to be a major star with the original Bray Wyatt gimmick. He can go in the ring and cuts some of the best promos in the company on the mic so the mismanagement of his WWE career prior to this is based on the booking, not the performer. However, the new Fiend persona allowed Wyatt a fresh start and he proved again that a compelling and believable character can still be presented in the modern era.
The most important aspect of all of this is that WWE brass doesn’t miss the boat with Bray again or waste another opportunity to establish him as one of the featured stars of the company. Too often in recent years, there were competitors that didn’t get the chance to be elevated to the next level because their particular push didn’t fit into management’s plans and that’s one of the reasons the promotion lacked legitimate star power in the past few years. In some respects, The Fiend recaptured the aura that management didn’t capitalize on during Bray’s initial run. With the decline of ratings this year, the WWE could use intriguing characters and that’s why Bray Wyatt’s current persona could be a useful asset to the company.
What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.
Until next week
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