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Remembering wrestling icon who’s off the hooks

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Bray Wyatt emerged as a truly unique and enigmatic figure in the wrestling world. From his early days as a promising wrestler to his transformation into wrestling’s embodiment of fear and horror, Wyatt’s journey had the blend of athleticism, character development and a touch of the horrific.

On August 24, 2023, the wrestling world lost a luminary as Bray Wyatt passed away at the age of 36 due to a heart attack. Wyatt’s untimely death sent shockwaves through the industry and among his legion of fans who had come to know and admire his larger-than-life presence both inside and outside the ring.

Bray Wyatt biography

Bray Wyatt in the ring

Windham Lawrence Rotunda (May 23, 1987-August 24, 2023) was an American pro wrestler. He became most well-known for his stints in WWE from 2010 to 2021 and then again from 2022 until he died in 2023. During these periods, he performed using the ring name, Bray Wyatt.

Wyatt’s birthplace was Brooksville, Florida. He had a younger sibling named Taylor, who also entered the world of wrestling and gained recognition using the name Bo Dallas in WWE.

Wyatt attended Hernando High School. He won a state wrestling championship in the heavyweight category in 2005, the same year he completed his secondary school education. Additionally, he participated in American football, playing both as a defensive tackle and a guard. Wyatt represented the College of the Sequoias for two seasons, receiving second-team All-American honours as a sophomore offensive guard at the junior college in California.

He earned a football scholarship to Troy University, where he played college football for two years. However, he left Troy without completing the 27 credit hours required for a bachelor’s degree as he decided to pursue a career as a professional wrestler.

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Bray Wyatt career

Bray Wyatt handling his title belt

Wyatt had his in-ring debut in a dark match during the episode of Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) on February 5, 2009. In this match, he emerged victorious over Brian Jossie. His television introduction occurred in April 2009, using the alias Alex Rotundo.

He later altered his moniker to Duke Rotundo. In June 2009, he formed a team with his sibling Bo. During the FCW television tapings on July 23, 2009, the Rotundo Brothers overcame The Dude Busters (Caylen Croft and Trent Barretta) to secure the position of #1 contender for the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship.

On the same night, they defeated Justin Angel and Kris Logan to clinch the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship. They successfully defended their title against Dylan Klein and Vance Archer, as well as the partnership of Curt Hawkins and Heath Slater. However, at the FCW television tapings on November 19, 2009, the Rotundo Brothers were dethroned from the championship by The Dude Busters.

Subsequently, on June 2, 2010, he entered NXT with the name Husky Harris, alongside Cody Rhodes as his WWE Pro. Harris marked his televised in-ring debut for the show on the June 8 episode of NXT. He participated in a tag team match with Rhodes against Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) and Percy Watson, which concluded with their loss.

On the June 22, 2010, episode of NXT, Harris turned heel by assaulting announcer Matt Striker, mirroring Rhodes’ actions from the preceding week. In a singles match the following week on NXT, Harris faced MVP and suffered a loss. He ranked seventh out of the eight rookies in the initial poll. In the subsequent poll, Harris ascended to sixth place, narrowly escaping elimination.

On August 9, the rookies engaged in a six-man tag team match on Raw, resulting in a victory for Harris’ team as he pinned Kaval. However, his team experienced defeat in a rematch on NXT the next night. In the poll held later that evening, Harris advanced to fourth place among the six rookies. Harris was among the two rookies eliminated from NXT on August 17. Post his elimination, he and Rhodes attacked Kaval, leading to a brawl that also involved MVP and Kofi Kingston. Harris resurfaced in the season finale of NXT, joining the other eliminated rookies in an assault on the NXT victor, Kaval.

While on NXT, Wyatt continued to wrestle in FCW, retaining the name Husky Harris. In September 2010, following his departure from NXT, Harris initiated a rivalry in FCW with Percy Watson. This began when he attacked Watson during a tag team match they were participating in, resulting in Watson being pinned. Subsequently, Harris and Watson’s confrontation led to a count-out as they battled outside the arena. This prompted a no-disqualification match, which Harris lost. The feud culminated in October, with Harris emerging victorious over Watson in a lumberjack match.

In April 2012, he transformed and emerged as Bray Wyatt. Initially, he aligned himself with Eli Cottonwood in FCW. Following WWE’s rebranding of FCW into NXT Wrestling, Wyatt made his debut on the July 11, 2012, episode of the revamped NXT held at Full Sail University.

During this event, he triumphed over Aiden English. However, in July 2012, Wyatt sustained a torn pectoral muscle and this necessitated surgery. Despite this setback, he continued his appearances on NXT and in November, he formed a faction known as The Wyatt Family. This group included Luke Harper as his first “son” and Erick Rowan as his second.

On February 12, 2017, at Elimination Chamber, Wyatt clinched the WWE Championship in an Elimination Chamber match by defeating John Cena, AJ Styles, The Miz, Dean Ambrose, and Baron Corbin. This victory marked his first singles title in his wrestling career, as well as his inaugural world title.

Subsequently, Wyatt went on to secure the position of world champion in WWE on three occasions, holding the WWE Championship once and the Universal Championship twice. He also attained the SmackDown Tag Team Championship (alongside Luke Harper and Randy Orton under the Freebird Rule) and the Raw Tag Team Championship (partnering with Matt Hardy), each once.

Following a hiatus from August 2018 to April 2019, Wyatt reappeared with a new persona. Portrayed as an individual grappling with a transformative multiple personality disorder, he alternated between two characters: his “good side” as Bray Wyatt, reminiscent of a children’s TV host akin to Mr. Rogers, and his “bad side” as The Fiend, a disturbing horror-themed monster clown.

In July 2021, he was released from WWE but made a comeback at Extreme Rules in October 2022. He introduced a fresh character that claimed to be his authentic self, yet progressively re-integrated his multiple personas alongside some new additions.

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Bray Wyatt stats

CBS Sports
Comeback Wrestler of the Year

Florida Championship Wrestling
FCW Florida Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Bo Rotundo

New York Post
Best Return – at Extreme Rules

Pro Wrestling Illustrated
Feud of the Year – The Nexus vs. WWE

Match of the Year – 2014, against John Cena in a Last Man Standing match at Payback

Most Hated Wrestler of the Year – 2010, as a part of The Nexus

Ranked No. 6 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2014

WrestleCrap
Gooker Award – 2019, against Seth Rollins at Hell in a Cell

Wrestling Observer Newsletter
Best Gimmick – 2013, as a part of The Wyatt Family

Best Gimmick – 2019, as “The Fiend”

Most Overrated – 2020

Worst Gimmick – 2017, as Sister Abigail

Worst Gimmick – 2020, as “The Fiend”

Worst Feud of the Year – 2017, against Randy Orton

Worst Feud of the Year – 2019, against Seth Rollins

Worst Feud of the Year – 2020, against Braun Strowman

Worst Feud of the Year – 2021, with Alexa Bliss against Randy Orton

Worst Worked Match of the Year – 2014, against John Cena at Extreme Rules

Worst Worked Match of the Year – 2017, against Randy Orton at WrestleMania 33

Worst Match of the Year – 2019, against Seth Rollins at Hell in a Cell

Worst Match of the Year – 2020, against Braun Strowman at The Horror Show at Extreme Rules

WWE Championship (1 time)

WWE Universal Championship (2 times)

WWE Raw Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Matt Hardy

WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Randy Orton and Luke Harper

Tag Team Eliminator (2018) – with Matt Hardy

WWE Year-End Award for Male Wrestler of the Year (2019)

Bray Wyatt’s net worth

According to reports, Wyatt is said to have a net worth of $2 million

Bray Wyatt family

Bray Wyatt with his wife

Wyatt was previously married to a lady identified simply as Samantha. The duo tied the knot in 2012. The couple had two daughters before their marriage ended, with Samantha filing for divorce in 2017.

Wyatt was subsequently romantically involved with WWE announcer, JoJo. Together, they welcomed a son in May 2019, with wrestler Braun Strowman serving as the child’s godfather. In addition, they had a daughter born in May 2020. In 2022, Wyatt and JoJo became engaged.

Bray Wyatt age

Wyatt was born on May 23, 1987. He was 36 years old when he died.

Bray Wyatt death

Bray Wyatt passed away due to a heart attack while asleep at his residence in Clermont, Florida, on August 24, 2023, at the age of 36. WWE’s Chief Content Officer, Triple H, announced his demise on Twitter. Before his demise, Wyatt had been grappling with an undisclosed illness since February, which was reportedly life-threatening.

In the days leading up to his death, he had been showing signs of improvement in his recovery. It was subsequently disclosed that the illness was COVID-19, which had aggravated a pre-existing heart condition. Wyatt had been advised to wear a defibrillator, and a week before his passing, he was hospitalised for a heart issue. On the day he passed away, he had been advised to continue using the defibrillator, although he was reportedly not wearing it at the time of his death.

Following Triple H’s announcement, numerous colleagues of Wyatt paid their respects on social media. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ric Flair, Kane, Alexa Bliss, Mick Foley, Booker T and others shared tributes. The August 25, 2023 episode of SmackDown dedicated a segment to honour both Wyatt and Terry Funk, who had also passed away. The show commenced with a 10-bell salute for both individuals, followed by additional tributes and behind-the-scenes footage. WWE announced that proceeds from Wyatt’s merchandise sales would be directed to his family.

Wrestlers Braun Strowman, Karrion Kross and Shotzi, and WWE’s head of long-term creative, Rob Fee, all got matching tattoos of Wyatt’s logo. On the August 28 episode of Raw, WWE continued to pay homage to Wyatt by replaying the tribute video from SmackDown and dimming the arena lights to evoke the “fireflies” effect. His rocking chair was placed at the entranceway. Many wrestlers wore armbands bearing his name to honour him. Seth Rollins displayed the World Heavyweight Championship belt with a side plate featuring “The Fiend” logo during his promo segment. Becky Lynch paid her respects after her main event match on Raw by raising Wyatt’s armband.

Other wrestling promotions, including All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and Impact Wrestling, also paid tribute during their live shows following his death on August 27. At AEW’s All-In event, the House of Black made their entrance as a tribute to Wyatt, surrounded by thousands of “fireflies”, while Buddy Matthews held Wyatt’s lantern. Impact’s Emergence commenced with a ten-bell salute to remember both Rotunda and Funk.

Wyatt’s unique contributions were celebrated by John Squires of Bloody Disgusting, who regarded him as a distinctive talent both inside and outside the wrestling ring. B.J. Colangelo of /Film praised Wyatt for becoming wrestling’s horror icon, integrating horror elements into wrestling in an unprecedented manner.

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