I have often called pro wrestling an art form. In fact, I’ve often called it the most unique art form in existence. It combines elements of physicality, athleticism, choreography, acting, public speaking and comedy all performed in front of a live audience as well as on TV. There are also numerous other technical elements that go into airing the live performance on live television. While it is an art form and an art form I thoroughly enjoy and respect, I also view it as something that serves as a distraction from some of the less fun parts of life. Unfortunately, due to a few unforeseen events over the past couple weeks, life has been a distraction from wrestling.
It could also be partially blamed on my continued adjustment to the overload of WWE product being heaped on us with two live shows on Monday and Tuesday nights along with a pay-per-view every other week, but this is the first time in 13 months I reached the evening before a column being due without having any idea what exactly I wanted to write about. There is no one story that has moved me to the point of needing to express myself. I am sure I am far from the only person that is feeling this way. I’ve attributed this feeling to “SummerSlam hangover” after attending the event in Brooklyn. A few friends and acquaintances have also admitted to suffering from the affliction as well, but is that really what it is?
Yes it was a long night in an incredibly negative environment, but I think the constant churn can begin to wear on you, especially when you throw in an hour of NXT and the hour of the Cruiserweight Classic over the course of two months. It has become a legitimate part time job without pay for many of us. And that is why I think I have grown so disgusted with Bray Wyatt. Let me be incredibly clear, I am still a fan of Bray Wyatt the character and the performer who plays him. I still believe that he has a lot to offer WWE as the “New Face Of Fear” but he isn’t being afforded the opportunity to do so. He is really bordering on the edge of whether he is really worth investing time in as a fan because no matter what they do with him, it never really pays off.
Going back a ways, I remember the first time The Undertaker appeared at the 1990 Survivor Series when I was 11 years old. I was just old enough that he wasn’t really scary to me, but I knew he was supposed to be. I was also young enough that I remembered what the fear felt like that he was supposed to bring me. In the 1994 Royal Rumble, ‘Taker had a casket match with Yokozuna. After being attacked by seemingly half the roster, The Undertaker was locked in the casket and he appeared on the big screen, saying he would return before rising above the big screen. Again, at 14 I was old enough to not be afraid, but I was fascinated by the creepiness of it. That aspect was fun, even if it didn’t achieve its intended emotional reaction from me.
Later on, at around age 19, The Undertaker began The Ministry Of Darkness. This was the darkest, most violent era of The Undertaker and I can remember actually buying into how scary this story was. I wasn’t actually scared, but the character was scary and intimidating. That brings me to when I first saw Bray Wyatt. It was in the build to his Ring Of Fire match with Kane at SummerSlam 2013. The idea of this backwoods cult, led by a man that looked and spoke like Bray captured my imagination. It hooked me because it is something that could plausibly happen in real life. All too often in this world a charismatic sociopath captures the hearts and minds of some sheepish people and sends them down a dark and dangerous path.
Over the course of the next few months, the first season of True Detective aired. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you make it a point to do so. But the aspects that made that show creepy and scary were similar to some of the key traits of Bray Wyatt. I saw nothing but big things in store for Bray and the Wyatt Family. I waited for it. And I waited for it some more. And unfortunately I am still waiting for it. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was concerned that Bray’s constant losing was rendering his entertaining qualities meaningless and I feel even more so now that it is the case.
The speeches that make us question our view of good and evil in our world just seem like something to fill time at this point instead of an enhancement of his character. The mind games and psychological warfare he conducts seem like a colossal waste of time. Now more than ever, as Randy Orton seems to have been winning that battle for most of the past month. While it has been a rough time to be a Bray Wyatt fan I haven’t completely lost all hope yet, although I probably should have.
I will give WWE credit for having the Bray-Orton story play out over the entire course of SmackDown. It keeps both characters in the minds of viewers and it allows them more than just one stand alone segment to tell their story. There has actually been a little production value put into the story as well, as most of it has taken place outside of the ring. Then there is also the fact that we aren’t entirely sure what the hell is going on in the story.
Usually not knowing what’s going on would be a bad thing, but not necessarily here, assuming that is intentional. I was incredibly annoyed last week when Randy snuck up on Bray, causing him to run from the conflict. I figured this is the part Bray is supposed to be in control of and he’s already being made to look foolish. Then Randy put on the sheep mask and began to sing “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands.” At that moment, everything started to rewind and you heard a distinctly slow motion sounding Bray Wyatt laugh. Of course commentary never made mention of that, but I couldn’t help think of something Bray said at the top of the show.
He told Randy he was going to, “take him through the confines of the prison of his own mind.” It could just be more throw away dialogue from Wyatt, but I couldn’t help but tie those words with whatever that weirdness was that we saw on the screen. The fast forward to last night when Bray was talking to Sister Abigail and then miraculously ended up outside of the storage room he was locked in.
Is it possible that with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan both out with injuries and Braun Strowman over on Raw that Sister Abigail will be introduced at No Mercy? Is it possible Bray Wyatt won’t be fed to Randy Orton on Sunday? I honestly have no idea. I still assume Bray will lose because he seems to always lose. But there is some hope that there is more of a story being told than we currently realize.
My hope has always been that SmackDown would utilize Bray in a way that Raw never did. Either allow him to recruit more members to his family because that is supposed to be what he does, or have him go darker than they’ve allowed him to go before. Perhaps even have him win some matches or be one of the top two heels on the show. Maybe, just maybe embrace the supernatural aspects of the character that they have tiptoed around for years. It might seem silly to us as adults, but WWE is entertainment. Vince is making movies, remember?
If Bray Wyatt isn’t in some way, shape or form supernatural then why does he appear out of thin air after the lights have gone out? Why can he also disappear into thin air when the lights go out? How did he get out of a storage room that he was locked inside of without actually unlocking it or opening the door? For anyone concerned about WWE telling a supernatural story with Wyatt, they already are so why not fully embrace it.
Mr. Miyagi once said, “Karate do yes, or karate do no. Karate do so-so, squish, just like grape.” It’s a quote about commitment. WWE is doing themselves and us a disservice by not committing to their stories. Straddling the fence isn’t going to win over any viewers. At a certain point they need to pull the trigger. They finally did it with AJ Styles at SummerSlam and look how well that has worked out. If Bray Wyatt is in fact the New Face Of Fear, it is time to finally set him loose and let him start scaring people.