WWE: The evolution of Bray Wyatt - from NXT to The Fiend
You can say one thing about Bray Wyatt - or, more specifically, Windham Rotunda - the guy knows how to reinvent himself.
This upcoming August 11, the former WWE Champion will be bringing his latest persona - The Fiend - to SummerSlam in Toronto. There he will be taking on Finn Balor (and possibly even Finn's own alter ego, The Demon), in what should be one of the more... theatrical matches of the night. The entrances for the bout alone should be worth the price of admission.
It's easy to forget that Wyatt has actually only been a professional wrestler for about ten years - he debuted in Florida Championship Wrestling in 2009. Add to the fact that he's only 32, and it's even more astounding - it legitimately feels like he's been around forever.
Part of that is because it seems that early on in his career, he learned that the only way to stay relevant in the sports entertainment business is to adapt, change, and evolve -- and, 'Yowie Wowie', has he.
Without getting too bogged down in the actual history of things, let's take a look at how Wyatt has done exactly that over his career.
But first, we need to take a look at what's come before.
#5 In the beginning...
While both exceptionally creepy and hilariously entertaining at the same time, the Bray Wyatt we see hosting Firefly Funhouse is very different from the one who terrorized the early days of NXT as we know it now. But, where did that Wyatt come from? And who was he before that?
Rotunda's early days in the WWE as Husky Harris (and some other just as unmemorable names) weren't anything significant. You'd be hard-pressed to find any elements of that character in what would eventually become Bray Wyatt - save for Rotunda's natural charisma he brought to even that boring persona.
Instead, the older brother of Bo Dallas would draw inspiration from a little known and underrated character from the early 1990s, Waylon Mercy.
The man who played Mercy, Dan Spivey, drew inspiration of his own from Robert DeNiro's performance as the charismatic maniac Max Cady, from the 1991 film Cape Fear. Wyatt even noted that Spivey himself gave Wyatt his blessing to use elements from the character during a Performance Center visit.
Wyatt is also a third-generation wrestler, and son of WWE and NWA legend Mike Rotunda. Before he was Irwin R. Shyster, however, he was "Captain" Mike Rotunda - first the "captain" of the Varsity Club (a faction of college jock-type wrestlers) and then literally a "captain" of a boat.
Wyatt even drew inspiration from that in an early FCW promo, referencing his "daddy" as a captain of a shrimp boat in Louisiana.
Now that he was the sinister leader of a cult, he just needed a flock to lead.