This past Saturday WWE’s Extreme Rules event saw Bray Wyatt return to the roster. Wyatt worked for the company for well over a decade before being released in 2021 along with many others. In his time with the company he accomplished quite a bit; feuds with stars like John Cena, The Undertaker, and Roman Reigns, as well as being a multi-time World Champion. Despite this, he never quite reached his apex in WWE. Somehow everything Wyatt did would get screwed up to some degree, even when he managed to get over. Let’s look at some of the different ways they’ve managed to fumble him. This way we can understand how best to handle the character.
What is Next for Bray Wyatt in WWE
Step 1: Direction
I think everyone, from people who are fans of Bray to people who aren’t are asking the same thing. Bray Wyatt’s return was hyped up for weeks with vignettes and (not so) hidden QR codes. Then Bray Wyatt returned at Extreme Rules to a massive reaction from the crowd. This is all well and good, and made fans of Bray Wyatt very happy, but what on Earth does he do now?
We’ve seen in the past what can happen to Wyatt when he has no direction on TV. The latter half of the 2010s showed us. He’s no 5-star general in the ring, and while he has a wide vocabulary his promos tend to ramble on for far too long if he has nothing to actually talk about. Simply put, without something to do and a reason to do it, Bray Wyatt becomes a very boring and meaningless character. He has an incredible knack for speaking for long periods of time without saying anything of any real meaning.
A Tale of Two Feuds
To further solidify the point let’s compare two of Wyatt’s feuds from around the same time period. His feud with John Cena from early 2014, and his feud with Roman Reigns in mid-2015. While not spectacular by any means, his feud with John Cena got his character and motivation across on TV, regardless as to how nonsensical it was. His motivation for why he hated Cena was made clear to us in his promos. He wanted to somehow taint John Cena’s legacy as a hero, and make him do something evil. An odd premise for a wrestling match, but at least it had a purpose.
His feud with Roman Reigns on the other hand was completely undecipherable, which is probably why you’re currently struggling to remember it. Mid-2015 saw a different Bray Wyatt return, one that was immediately shoehorned into a feud with Roman Reigns. Roman was struggling severely as a babyface at the time and needed a heel to feud with, and that heel was apparently to be Bray. The problem with this obviously being that the two had no real on-screen reason to hate each other. Wyatt just randomly showed up and attacked Roman with no discernible reason. You’d be forgiven then, for thinking they’d explain this in his promos.
They didn’t. For about 2 months Bray Wyatt cut incoherent, meaningless promos that didn’t even begin to explain why he hated Roman Reigns. Even Edge and Booker T feuded over a shampoo commercial at one point. They had some pretty decent matches together, but at the end of the day, nobody remembers them. Why? Because they were pointless. Simply put, Bray Wyatt NEEDS direction, and he needs it at almost all times.
I mean just listen to this promo of Wyatt trying to explain why he attacked Roman, and see if you can decipher what he’s saying beyond “you beat me in a match, and I don’t like you.”
Creepy is Okay, Occult isn’t
You can count on one hand the amount of “supernatural” acts in pro wrestling that have actually gotten over and worked for a long period of time, and basically, every one of them is from before the last 20 years. Simply put, giving wrestling characters mystical powers is silly and most people do not like it. To be clear, this doesn’t mean horror-like elements can’t be part of a character. Basically, every monster heel is going to have that, and this is the way it should be.
When Bray first debuted with the Wyatt Family, they were an interesting act in the first half-year or so of their debut. Feuds with Bryan Danielson (then Daniel Bryan) The Shield, and even John Cena helped them get over fast, but what really helped them was their portrayal. Bray Wyatt wasn’t some mystical being who wore a mask, he was a cult leader. He was a normal man who had no other power than the power of persuasion. He had followers who were big, ugly, scary men who would beat people up just because he wanted them to.
Why the Fiend was Everything Wrong with Bray Wyatt
SummerSlam of 2018 saw one of many a Bray Wyatt return, when he debuted his latest alter-ego, “The Fiend”. At the time, everything about the character was new and fresh. The presentation, the entrance, even Wyatt’s in-ring style seemed to be more aggressive. It was even kinda cool in the beginning, adding a fresh coat of paint to an old and tired character. It wouldn’t be long, however, before all this would be proven to be false hope.
Before too long, the character was subject to several creative changes. First off, every time that the character came out, the lights in the arena would turn red for some unknown reason, supposedly due to the Fiend having magic red superpowers I guess. He would also recruit Alexa Bliss, something that would end up crippling Alexa as a performer for a very long time. With the exception of Bryan Danielson and maybe Goldberg, nobody benefitted from feuding with the Fiend. Every time The Fiend had a program with anybody, inevitably both the Fiend and whoever he feuded with came out the other end looking worse.
If WWE wants to avoid Bray becoming a joke again, they should consider avoiding things like this.
Stick to His Strengths
I don’t think anyone will be shocked to hear that Bray Wyatt isn’t exactly Jon Moxley in the ring. It’s even something I’ve touched on before in my “What Remains of Windham Rotunda” story, which you can read here. He’s fine when paired with the right opponent sure, but he’s not going to be having any all-time classic matches. This is fine, not everybody has to be a generational talent all across the board to make money and get over. Bray has managed to get over despite his shortcomings many times, and likely has the talent to do so again. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his weaknesses though, and these should be avoided at all costs. His biggest weakness easily has to be his in-ring work.
A Bray Wyatt return means that we will obviously be watching some Bray Wyatt matches in the future. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing if we avoid the things that made his matches so bad before. Firstly some of the in-ring gimmicks should be done away with. Maggots projected on the ring, red lights and goofy moves like neck snaps aren’t gonna help his work, it just adds another layer of bad to it. Neither is putting him in the ring with people like the Miz.
Guys like AJ Styles and Edge are well-known for their ability in structuring matches around their opponent. If Edge can walk Dominik Mysterio through a Monday Night Raw main event, he can surely have a decent, short PPV match with Bray Wyatt.
Just look at this tag match from the post-WrestleMania Raw from 2016 to see how Wyatt can be decent given the right environment.
A Bray Wyatt return to WWE is a good thing to be sure. He’s a star with a lot of fans, and is a character who wouldn’t really work anywhere else but WWE. There have even been reports that IMPACT and AAA showed interest, but at the end of the day, WWE is his true home, and the only place where he’ll be allowed to fully do what he wants and thrive. It’s easy to envision big things in his future, but only time will tell if the company can finally make him work, or if they’ll drop the ball on him yet again.
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