Bray Wyatt is a unique figure on the WWE roster. When people complain about the booking, trajectory and prospects of the “Eater of Worlds,” his win-loss record rarely figures in the various analysis by the fans. Rather, they are far more concerned with the strength of his mystique, and how seriously he can be taken as a threat.
Bray Wyatt seldom actually wrestles — he is and always has been a “presence” on WWE rosters throughout his three-year career on mainstream TV. Fans were, quite rightly, up in arms when the grand entrance of the Wyatts at WrestleMania 32 was dampened and trampled upon by The Rock, who utterly eviscerated The Wyatt Family on the mic before beating Erick Rowan in 10 seconds.
It was an appalling burial that failed to help a single talent. Being run down and cut down to size on the mic is a perfectly fine thing to happen to a supernatural, intimidating presence on the roster, so long as the person doing the sneering gets put in their place when it comes to in-ring action.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the ongoing farrago between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt. It isn’t often these days that WWE manages to get non-wrestling segments right or to successfully use them. In the case of Bray Wyatt, however, it worked wonderfully well. Seeing Randy Orton follow the cult leader’s bizarre treasure hunts backstage was compelling television, and viewers really got the impression that the impenetrable mind of the Apex Predator was beginning to suffer under the strain of the Wyatts.
Astute viewers might remember how well this worked just before the brand extension, when the usually self-assured, happy-go-lucky New Day were taken to their limits and pressured into ditching their exuberance and flippancy when they finally caught the attention of the Wyatts. Unfortunately, that promising feud was cut short when the draft pulled the two factions apart.
Since then, Wyatt has been an excellent presence on SmackDown. When Dolph Ziggler was in the running to face Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Championship, the roadblock presented by Wyatt was engrossing. Most fans assumed that Ziggler would overcome him, but scoring significant points in his psychological warfare, screwing with peoples’ lives just because he could, was some superb cementing of Bray Wyatt’s purpose on the blue brand. Sure, he didn’t win any of his matches, but he made sure the wrestlers trying to reach the top didn’t do so without a few bruises.
Wyatt was achieving much the same thing when it came to Randy Orton’s quest to topple Brock Lesnar. But since Randy Orton’s shocking “turn” on Kane last week on SmackDown, and the following outright confirmation that he has joined the “family,” things aren’t looking good for Bray.
Where have we seen this before? It was only a couple of years ago that a rising star by the name of Daniel Bryan “joined” the Wyatt Family after enduring months of being pummeled and obstructed by them. And how did that turn out? After a mere two weeks in their thrall, Daniel Bryan running-kneed the lot of them into oblivion and gloated about how he successfully manipulated them.
If it was obvious to everyone watching that Daniel Bryan, who all those years ago had been roundly beaten and bruised by the backwoods cult, was playing some sort of game with them. It is quite telling that almost everybody who witnessed Randy Orton turning on Kane and “joining” the Wyatts that this was some sort of short-term power play and long-term “endgame.” Though it was compelling, when “The Viper” eventually reveals himself to be an infiltrating mole, Bray Wyatt is going to look incredibly stupid for falling for it.
There are some wrestlers who lose their stock from losing match after match. Bray Wyatt is one of the rare wrestlers who doesn’t. Rather, he is an intimidating, mind-gaming presence whose whole aura is reliant on him successfully putting a chill down the spine of everybody he encounters. It is that element that shouldn’t be messed with, rather than his win/loss record. So, how stupid and unimposing is he going to look when Randy Orton outwits him?