Bray Wyatt Will Go Down As One Of The Greatest “What If” Stories Pro Wrestling Has Ever Known

Credited for having one of the most innovative minds in modern sports entertainment, the loss of Bray Wyatt will always leave fans wondering what else he might have come up with

Bray Wyatt
Credit: @KhalidM62926885, Twitter, Screenshot

Credited as one of the most innovative minds in sports entertainment, the loss of Bray Wyatt will always leave fans wondering what else he might have come up with.

When the lantern flickered out on the far-too-short life of Windham Rotunda, professional wrestling lost one of the most brilliant minds of the modern era. Known worldwide as WWE Superstar Bray Wyatt, his air of mystery and childlike charm made him watchable. But his powerful presence is what made him undeniable.

Born from wrestling roots, it was clear that Bray Wyatt understood the industry from the start. His size notwithstanding, he was able to keep up with more athletic competitors due to his use of psychology. And that translated into how evolved as an overall performer, as well. Even at the beginning of his career and during his time in NXT, he would tinker with his character, adding and taking away different elements.

However, it appeared for a while that stardom just wasn’t going to happen for Rotunda. Despite having a famous father and a pristine pedigree, he didn’t exactly look the part. Battling weight issues and the nearly unshakable moniker of ‘Husky Harris’ (which most certainly had to be a rib), he did what he proved to do best:

He reinvented himself. In a big way. And that sort of became the theme of his career.

Bray Wyatt
Source: @KhalidM62926885, Twitter, Screenshot

Portraying the kooky, backwoods witch doctor known as Bray Wyatt, he channeled his inner Max Cady and led the WWE Universe to its very own version of Cape Fear. The character was almost instantly over. Even though he was a heel, fans would light up their phones and sing his song. It was as if the same trance his character purported to put on other wrestlers was actually transfixing the audience.

That, in a nutshell, summed up how he was able to capture the fans’ imagination. In much the same way, he tantalized and confused ‘The Universe’ with his Fiend\split personality gimmick. He basically took Blue’s Clues and mixed it with a Gwar concert. And it worked; It captured the people’s imagination. 

The merchandise sales prove it.

That’s true genius. To take something that seems ludicrous and make it lucrative. All while wearing an impish grin on your face. That was Bray Wyatt.

It seemed as if he had so many ways that he could just draw us in, whether it was his inside jokes or the clever visual clues he would leave behind in his final incarnation. He gave us a sense of wonderment, of speculation. What would he do next?

And that’s what makes Bray Wyatt’s death so quantify, at least in terms of his wrestling career.

Of course, the loss of Windham Rotunda – the man – far outweighs the character or his performance. First and foremost, this was a husband, father, brother, and son. He was a friend and a mentor. The world that’s watching can never know the true sickness and sadness that those who loved him know today.

But if you simply break it down to what goes on in a 20×20 ring or on a big screen TV? Bray Wyatt’s death is a staggering blow to wrestling’s current, creative renaissance. Just as the age of storytelling appears to be upon us, one of its greatest poets has fallen… without finishing the final stroke of his pen.

Perhaps more than any of his contemporaries, Wyatt understood the full definition of the term ‘sports entertainment’. He attempted to marry the two as much as he possibly could, in a symphony of mystery and mayhem. He kept us wanting more. Now? We will never know what he had planned next.

That’s the shame of losing someone so talented, so young. You spend the rest of your life saying “What if?” every time you hear their name or see their face. You imagine what it might be like if that star were still around and shining brightly.

It’s likely the way the world will look at Bray Wyatt, as well. He will always be remembered fondly, and the memories he left behind as a performer were instant classics. But we’ll always wonder what that Mad Hatter had plotted next. 

Maybe it’s fitting that the mysterious, eccentric character disappears, just like the man who portrayed it. Maybe it was meant to be that Bray Wyatt’s greatest fame will come as part of an enigma: A beautiful mind, with thoughts that will remain his secrets forever. And with all the rest of us left here… still just guessing.

Bray Wyatt
Source: @_PWChronicle, Twitter, Screenshot

Ryan Boman is the author of the 2023 book, ‘Pop Music & Peanut Butter‘ and a freelance writer whose previous work has appeared at SB Nation, The Miami Herald, Fansided, and Yardbarker. He has covered professional wrestling since 1999.

Ryan K Boman is a freelance writer and author of 'Pop Music & Peanut Butter: A Collection of Essays... More about Ryan Boman

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