How Bray Wyatt went from Husky Harris to WWE champion
Bray Wyatt is the WWE champion, but he didn't get to this point without a lot of hard work.
Bray Wyatt won the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber, and accomplishing the goal he had when he joined the company in 2009 under its original developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling.
As the grandson of Blackjack Mulligan, the son of Mike “IRS” Rotunda and the nephew of Barry and Kendall Windham, Wyatt came with high expectations for success, but his journey has not been easy.
He had an uphill battle to fight as a larger wrestler, but his athleticism and speed put him in a different league than other superstars who are in the same weight range.
When he was first introduced to the WWE Universe, it was as Husky Harris, and was part of the second season of NXT when the show was more of a reality competition than a separate brand.
He was impressive in all of the physical competitions but fell short in anything which required him to pick up a microphone. He later returned as a member of The Nexus, and he stuck around when CM Punk took over the group from Wade Barrett.
Using the Harris name, he returned to FCW and worked various feuds for another year before the developmental system was rebranded as NXT and given a weekly show.
In April of 2012, he debuted the Bray Wyatt gimmick alongside Eli Cottonwood. Following an unfortunate torn pectoral muscle, Wyatt continued to appear on NXT, forming The Wyatt Family with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan.
The gimmick became hugely popular with the NXT fans because Wyatt had tapped into the type of character we hadn't seen in many years. He mixed supernatural elements with cult-like speeches and unsettling imagery with great success.
The makeover is likely what saved his career because Husky Harris was going nowhere. As Wyatt, he became one of the early standouts in NXT and one of the first to be brought to the main roster after the developmental system was overhauled.
Fans will often criticise WWE for a lack of creativity, but the video packages produced for Wyatt's debut were on a different level in terms of production quality and the use of cryptic images.
Wyatt, Harper and Rowan took the main roster by storm; their characters were a mix of original and familiar, with Wyatt being the charismatic leader.
He worked mostly as a manager for Harper and Rowan during tag team matches for the first few months, but Wyatt eventually started feuding with Kane, who was WWE's only other full-time superstar with a supernatural character.
As time went on, they worked with top stars like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, John Cena and Randy Orton. However, it was the feud against The Shield which turned The Wyatt Family into huge stars.
Their matches against Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose stole every show they were on, proving that WWE doesn't need a title for a storyline to be intriguing and entertaining.
Wyatt went on to feud with Cena for several months, and he did some of his best work during this time. He used a children's choir as a way to show Cena that his fans were beginning to believe in Wyatt more than him – one of his most memorable segments.
WWE tried to split the group apart for some unknown reason, but they were reunited once management realised it had no idea what to do with Harper and Rowan without Wyatt as a leader.
The next couple of years were tough for Wyatt. He lost most of his big pay-per-view matches and no longer seemed like he was destined to rule over the darkest corner of WWE.
His feud with The Undertaker was WWE's opportunity to turn Wyatt into a huge star. The streak was dead, so Taker could have put Wyatt over and given him a bigger boost than any other single win could have given him.
Instead, WWE had Taker win and Wyatt spent the next several months rebuilding himself. When Orton sided with him, things began to change for the backwoods preacher.
Orton and Wyatt's partnership seemed odd at first, but they have been doing some great work in recent months. Having Harper break away from the group will allow him to find his own success, and it will lead to Wyatt eventually becoming a solo act once his union with Orton falls apart.
Winning the WWE title was the culmination of a journey he started eight years ago. The reaction he received after pinning AJ Styles was a show of appreciation from all of the people who believed in his character, even when it looked like WWE didn't.
Wyatt is an incredible talent who can elevate himself and his opponent at the same time. At only 29 years of age, he still has a long career ahead of him, so this is likely just the first of many big wins for The Eater of Worlds.