Superstar Breakdown: Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt. One of the most bizarre people on the WWE roster right now. And I don’t mean that because of his gimmick and his promos, the latter of which is so over-the-top that it makes you wonder what kind of drugs the writing staff are on when they put them together. Bray Wyatt is also a man that has truly suffered from abysmal booking and nonsensical feuds that haven’t done him any favours.
There was a time when a lot of people thought that Wyatt as having the potential to become the next Undertaker. Now, he’d be lucky if he’d even be in the same conversation with Kane in terms of memorable big men.
Below we’ll look into why that has become the case.
Few people have a more unique look as Bray Wyatt. He was completely bland and uninteresting when he was the short-haired and clean-shaven Husky Harris.
But by growing out his beard and his hair, he managed to distinguish himself from the rest of the roster in a major way. The main fashion sense of today is all about short hair and minimal facial hair (just as Triple H and the Undertaker). Through his face alone, Wyatt stands out and draws attention to himself, which is a major asset.
In terms of wrestling attire, Wyatt shuns traditional wrestling attire and instead favours pants and a tank top. This works for him because it conceals his gut (which didn’t do him any favours when he wrestled in trunks years ago), and also help him become more easily identifiable. If you’re watching WWE in the stands and can’t make out who is in the ring, Wyatt’s unique look helps him out in that regard.
Finally, Wyatt has one of the best entrances in WWE right now. The ominous and creepy music that plays as he enters an arena is outstanding, and the darkened arena gives him a more disturbing feel.
Add to this the element of his lantern and the thousands of cameras recording his entrance on any given night and you have a truly mystifying entrance (although one has to admit that Michael Cole saying, “and the fireflies…are out...for Bray Wyatt” every night does more harm than good during an otherwise fun entrance).
Despite being one of the heavier wrestlers on the RAW roster, Bray Wyatt is incredibly quick and agile in the ring. He runs very quickly and can pull off high-speed moves with ease, including his Sister Abigail finisher. Wyatt’s general wrestling style is a combination of a few power moves, a lot of brawling, and some high-speed manoeuvres here and there.
Though Wyatt is not to be considered a ‘grappler’ in the same vein as someone like Daniel Bryan or Finn Balor, Wyatt is more of a WWE-style entertainer. That isn’t a bad thing, per se; it’s just that his style is more favourable to someone that’s meant to entertain through storytelling and in-ring drama as opposed to being an in-ring technician.
But being an entertainer in this respect actually works for Bray; his style makes him very popular among fans, especially those that are more interested in seeing signature moves than a scientific grappling contest.
Also, Bray has earned extra points for being capable of doing that creepy spider walk thing. Though it hasn’t been presented as an especially terrifying thing (which is how WWE have booked the Undertaker and Kane’s zombie sit-up), it’s still fun to see on a regular basis.
Promo skills & charisma
This is arguably the area in which Bray Wyatt shines brightest. Wyatt has ample charisma and has demonstrated he can control an audience with little effort. Wyatt’s entrance alone is enough to make thousands of fans start recording, creating a visual symbol of his own popularity.
Though he has been booked as a heel for almost his entire main roster run, Wyatt still retains considerable popularity among fans. It’s clear that many fans still love his character, entrance, and personality in general, making him a key player in WWE’s long-term future.
In terms of promos, Bray Wyatt is one of the best speakers in the entire company. His voice is unique and engaging, and he can change his octaves and tone in seconds.
One minute Wyatt can be laughing and mocking his opponent, and seconds later he can be speaking softly about the kinds of violence he plans on dishing out on said opponent in entirely different tone. This ability makes him one of the best speakers in the company, which is very important in WWE as they tend to be a promo-heavy promotion.
The content and nature of his promos and video messages themselves are also unique. Bray tends to speak in unusual terms, and a casual observer could be forgiven for accusing Bray of speaking utter nonsense. However, there appears to be some underlying message in Wyatt’s cryptic promos, which makes them all the more engaging.
However, in spite of all of these assets, Wyatt’s success in WWE has been mixed, at best. This has been due to…
Wyatt has suffered immensely from bad booking and questionable creative decisions over the years. Despite being one of the most popular wrestlers during his early run (just listen to the reaction he got when he and his Family faced the Shield), WWE has suffered from multiple devastating losses in high-profile situations that have damaged his persona in a major way.
While one could make the argument that since Wyatt is a long-term asset and WWE can book him better in the future, he’s suffering right now and could’ve made WWE much more money had he been booked far more consistently since 2014.
Wyatt’s first high-profile loss was to John Cena at WrestleMania XXX. At this time, Cena was a fully-entrenched legend whose image wouldn’t have been affected by a win or a loss in any way. Wyatt, however, was a rising star in dire need of proving his worth and backing up his promos with actions. Yet despite this being a good match, it was Cena who won and not Wyatt. Why? Because, Cena wins, LOL.
Things proceeded to get periodically worse for Wyatt as things went on. Despite regaining some momentum in a feud with Dean Ambrose and later regaining his win over Cena, Bray had already lost some of the lustre surrounding his image.
This was worsened when Eric Rowan and Luke Harper were split from Bray without explanation or justification. Suddenly, it was no longer possible for Bray to have great multi-man matches because he was now on his own.
2015 was not that much better for Wyatt, as he was placed in a feud with the Undertaker. When this happened, it became critical for Wyatt to win. After all, ‘Taker had lost his precious Streak, was on the downside of his career, and like Cena, wouldn’t have been affected by another high-profile loss in any way.
Wyatt, on the other hand, was once again positioned as a younger wrestler that really needed a win to prove he wasn’t full of hot air and could back up his words with concrete action.
But WWE overlooked sensible booking, character progression and common sense in favour of ‘creating a moment’ involving Bray doing his spider walk and ‘Taker doing his zombie sit-up. ‘Taker won – despite not needing yet another WrestleMania win at such a point in his career – and Wyatt lost again, further proving that he was all bark and no bite.
By this point, it became obvious that Bray Wyatt and sensible writing wouldn’t be put in the same breath ever again. Wyatt – who was still monstrously popular and had many fans yearning to see him succeed – became fodder for older stars.
He and Luke Harper both lost to Brock Lesnar at Roadblock 2016, lost to Kane…KANE!... at Backlash 2016, and both he and Harper were demolished at the hands of an injured John Cena and the Rock (a.k.a. the non-wrestler with big muscles) at WrestleMania 32.
It was crystal clear by this point that Bray Wyatt was no longer a serious wrestler and was now a joke. Not even winning the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber 2017 could save him. the writers seem to have forgotten how to properly book a monster and have turned the supernatural Bray Wyatt into just another guy who happens to be slightly more eloquent than most of his colleagues.
When the Wrestling Observer Newsletter releases its awards for 2017, I am fairly certain that Bray Wyatt will be part of whichever match gets voted Worst Worked Match of the Year. Whether it’s the House of Horrors ‘match’ or the abysmal ‘maggots in the ring’ match at WrestleMania 33, Bray Wyatt will have the dubious distinction of having been booked worse than any other wrestler in the past five years to have held the WWE Championship.
Even Jinder Mahal has enjoyed better booking because at least he wins matches and rarely goes back-and-forth with his opponents like Bray does.
Bray Wyatt could’ve been presented as a 21st-century version of the Undertaker, complete with ominous entrance, engaging promos, and mystifying ring presence. And yet here he is trading wins and losses with every opponent and is booked to lose to an injured man and a Hollywood film star on the biggest wrestling show of the year.
One cannot help but wonder if he really sees any hope in his future given how his past has gone and how things are going for him at present.
Final Grade: B
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