I think I was slightly spoiled when I became interested again in wrestling after a decade of abstinence. Daniel Bryan’s David vs Goliath storyline was enrapturing, The Shield and The Wyatts were duking it out and The Authority had yet to turn stale. To add to that, CM Punk was still a part of the company.
One of the talents who grabbed my attention, after I had absentmindedly switched to Raw on Sky during a particularly nasty hangover, was Bray Wyatt. Here was a guy who could turn a hokey gimmick and an unfetching hat into a dominating presence, able to master the microphone and hang with the best of them in the ring. His match with Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble 2014 has to be one of the best of this decade already.
Following his victory over Bryan, Wyatt turned his attentions to John Cena in an equally fascinating feud. Playing the devil on Cena’s shoulder, The Eater of Worlds was at his best, constantly tempting Fruity Pebbles to put aside his ethics to best him. The rivalry peaked at Payback 2014 when Wyatt lost a hellacious Last Man Standing match, left crumpled and battered after being tossed through stage equipment.
And he hasn’t been the same since.
Since then, Wyatt and his family have gone on to compete in many forgettable feuds with momentum-crushing defeats in the majority. A stopgap rivalry with Roman Reigns turned into a dynasty, eventually doing no favours for either man. He was also embroiled in a feud with Dean Ambrose that left me, if I’m quite honest, never wanting them to ever wrestle each other ever again. His short spat with The Undertaker was never given much time to develop, which resulted in a perfunctory match at Wrestlemania 31 and a pointless tag team charade at Survivor Series.
Wyatt’s gimmick is one that will burn very brightly before fizzling out. As effective as it may be, the cult leader schtick isn’t also that original within WWE. Dan Spivey, wrestling as Waylon Mercy, did it back in the mid-90’s when the wrestling company wasn’t under threat from pandas and is the main inspiration behind Wyatt’s character. Mercy’s character was short-lived, perhaps because it was too soon for a transitional WWE audience, but mainly because there’s only so far it could be taken.
Bray Wyatt is in danger of going the same way soon if he doesn’t have some championship gold to legitimise himself.
Constantly billed as someone to be afraid of, it’s become hard to take Wyatt seriously. His singles matches are often treats when they do happen, as rare as they seem to be as of late, but when all you have at the back of your mind is that he’s probably going to be buried, it’s a task to stay invested.
His stable’s constant losses don’t do much to help his cause, either. They’ve fallen far from the heady days of Elimination Chamber 2014 when they put on a Match of the Year candidate as they are constantly suffering embarrassing losses. They are being booked completely the wrong way; surely a cult is supposed to grow and take over? WWE could have a Ministry of Darkness 2.0 on their hands, but they are in danger of creating a missed opportunity if The Wyatt Family don’t break the status quo.
The perfect way to push Bray to becoming a main eventer and the new Undertaker everyone so desperately wants him to be? Give him the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Whether it’s just for a short time or for a period of months, Wyatt’s reign as the face of the company would be essential viewing. Think of all that mystery and presence finally being backed up by a belt, it would catapult him to the next level and fill out a seriously thinning main event roster. WWE can’t depend on John Cena for the next decade, so they need to blood the new elite fast. It shouldn’t just always be the ex-members of The Shield that headline every PPV when injuries permit.
If Bray Wyatt doesn’t earn gold this year, WWE shouldn’t be ashamed of Project Reigns failing as much as they should be for letting one of the most entertaining wrestlers of the past decade fade into obscurity. It’s odd that other members of The Wyatt Family have held championships and its leader never has.
Plus, doesn’t Eater of World Championships just have a great ring to it?