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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: Bray Wyatt's Got the WWE...and "The Whole World" in His Hands
By The Doc
Apr 23, 2014 - 8:43:41 PM

To order “The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment,” click here

The Snowman is a genius

The WrestleMania Era: The Book of Sports Entertainment afforded me the recent opportunity to be interviewed by The Examiner’s David Voigt about “The Magic of WrestleMania.” To read that interview, click here.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What is Bray Wyatt’s ceiling in the WWE?

When Bray Wyatt first debuted alongside his Family, I had my doubts. It was not that I questioned Bray's ability. How could I? I had not yet seen him do anything. The theme of my concerns was, more so, about the character that he was portraying and how it would translate to a modern audience that is as "smart" as it has ever been. The ease with which fans can access a wealth of information about pro wrestling is incredible today, in relation to how difficult it was when I was growing up. An eight year old in 2014 can learn more about John Cena in the time it takes me to finish this paragraph than I could learn about Ultimate Warrior or Bret Hart in five years from 1991-1996. I hyperbolize a lot, but I do not believe that to be hyperbole. A more intelligent viewership has created an environment in which it has become increasingly difficult for fans, even at young ages, to suspend their disbelief. Thus, the thought that repeatedly ran through my mind in the first several months of Bray Wyatt’s career was, “What could he possibly do to capture the imaginations of the fanbase, at large, when much of the audience has become so reluctant to allow their imaginations to be captured?"

As of late October 2013 – some four months after Wyatt’s arrival – I was still having similar thoughts. The Family was, in my view, a sort of blend between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) and Patrick Swayze’s character, Bode, in Point Break (Bray). The fictional Bode – a philosophically unique, but brilliant mind who marched to the beat of his own, twisted drummer – was the inspiration for Scott Levy’s portrayal of Raven in ECW and WCW. Just as Levy had with Raven in the mid-to-late 1990s, Windham Rotunda took no time to showcase the cerebral ingenuity of Bray Wyatt. Despite my reservations, it certainly took no microscopic lens to pinpoint the genius that led to so many legendary figures in the wrestling business, Triple H and Dusty Rhodes among them, hyping up the gimmick. I, simply, did not see how the WWE could, on the one hand, embrace elements of live programming that recently got its official label as part of the “Reality Era,” and then turn around and expect even a talented individual like the man behind Wyatt to get a persona like Bray over to an extent that would match his Hall of Fame backing.

You look at the Undertaker, the greatest gimmick performer of all-time and a man to whom Wyatt is frequently compared. The reason that the connection between them has been made is simply because they are both strangers in a strange land. Taker became "The Deadman" again at an event in 2004 where the internet community's influence reached its peak (at that time). The audience had never seemed to have a better collective grasp on the inner workings of the wrestling industry. Despite that fact, for the last decade, Taker has destroyed the natural barrier that would prevent such an over-the-top persona from clicking with the modern WWE enthusiast. How? At least by my estimation, it was because so many well established members of the viewership had developed a strong attachment to The Phenom in his early years. In an era where marks can become smarks simply by doing a quick Google search, a man whose claim to fame is being a wrestling dead guy – impervious to such things as losing because he is, you know, not alive – has managed to maintain a level of reverence amongst the people reserved only for all-time greats. I have deduced that much of Taker’s modern success is due to the brand equity that he built during an era where gimmicks were still capable of establishing emotional bonds with the masses. Bray Wyatt had no such luxury in 2013. How could any logical observer or critic of WWE programming expect a young man to take such character and spin its psychological web into the minds of people armed with a figurative repellant to his spider-like intentions? He debuted in the wrong era for such a thing to be possible, right? Add that to the fact that he is a good fifty pounds overweight and lacking the body type requisite of a WWE superstar circa 2013/2014 and what you had, on the surface, was seemingly the sports entertainment personification of a dead end.

Well, that was 6 months ago…

It was right around the time that he started attacking Daniel Bryan that I started to become a believer. Ever since, that belief has grown leaps and bounds. My last remaining question about his ability to get over was answered at WrestleMania XXX, where he and his Family won over the year’s most important live attendees. Now, “He’s got the whole world…in his hands.” Can you believe that the crowd was so intrigued by the Wyatt Family that they took something written on the back of Harper’s attire that night in New Orleans and turned it into this year’s post-Mania phenomenon? The proof is in the pudding, as they say; or, in this case, the proof is in the people. Subsequently, I am, as of this day, one of the increasing number of followers of those buzzards that Bray is always talking about.

Of all the matches that I’m looking forward to at Extreme Rules, including the Daniel Bryan title defense that was perfectly set up by Kane’s assault on Monday and the battle between this generation’s top faction and the one from a decade ago, the match that most intrigues me is Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena II, set inside of a Steel Cage. It is a rare thing in pro wrestling that a loser can really be the winner after a match. I argued strongly in favor of a Wyatt victory at WrestleMania. Others said that was unnecessary and yet I urged on. Some suggested that Wyatt could win by losing, to which I replied that it takes many an intangible falling into place at the same time for that to be the case. As circumstance would have it, all the chips fell exactly as Wyatt needed to turn a WrestleMania loss to Cena into a non-issue. “The Show of Shows” was a “Showcase” at which Wyatt immortalized himself forever and always as utterly fascinating to watch to those of us that prefer the wrestling match equivalent of the psychological thriller over the standard action film. His counter of the Five Knuckle Shuffle offered the most obvious example that he is the most puzzling persona to debut in fifteen years. “That was creepy” was an apt description of him springing into his straight-out-of-a-horror-movie, upside-down-with-his-hair-hanging-to-the-floor pose. His stated goal is to “get inside of your mind” and he does so very well with his poignant promos, but to see him do it to another man’s character is what really gets the mental wheel turning. Personally, I love it when he holds his down opponent’s head in the palm of his hand. And I’d remiss if I did not mention his latest antic on Raw – waltzing with a battered and beaten Cena as if “The Golden Boy” were merely a giant-sized doll for him to toy with. It’s as if Bray sat at home in the post-Husky Harris days and was asked to be a beta-tester for the infant WWE Network, the utilization of which allowed him to watch countless hours of past programming with the result being a blend of the bizarre elements of Goldust with Levy’s Raven, sprinkled with a little Waylon Mercy and ECW Cactus Jack. For those of you that have read my creative writing pieces, you know how much I enjoy a dark story. In the PG era, the Wyatt-Cena saga may be as close as we’re going to get to “wrestling noir.”

Bray Wyatt, I now believe, is good health and the ever important consistency of push away from being one of those stars that people like me pen long chapters about in written epics highlighting historical periods in wrestling lore. A considerable presence – a constant in the WWE Universe – for much of the WrestleMania Era is likely retired, leaving a void to be filled. Wyatt can fill it. His ability to get over says something about our fanbase, ladies and gentlemen. It says that the wrestling audience has matured. Just as easily as a black and white story of the underdog against the WWE machine can make a connection with people, so too can a more psychologically intense feud that is less about the obvious plot twist and more about soundness of cerebral subtly. As Bray, himself, stated on this past Monday’s Raw, we had “become a nation of mindless sheep – led by wolves and owned by pigs.” It takes a thoughtful mass of humanity such as the one we saw at Mania XXX to embrace something like an attack on a man’s legacy designed to bring out his inner rage.

I feel as though I’m channeling my inner Eater of Worlds as I harmonize the beautiful soliloquy about the mental engagement that now ties me to the Bray Wyatt character. It’s as if I’m enunciating as only he can when I let Mark Crozer’s song, “Live in Fear,” roll off of my tongue as I sit idly by in my rocking chair and sing the sweet words that accompany a tune bordering on melancholy and joyful, walking that fine line of melodic shades of gray. My friends , if the Reaper so desires to do his reaping for the next decade of my fandom, I will rejoice sure as the stars shine bright behind the clouds above my head. “He’s got the whole world…in his hands. He’s got the whole wide world…in his hands. He’s got the whole world…in his hands. He’s got the whole…world…in his…. hands .


Listen to tonight's episode of "The Doc and Super Chrisss Show"

Also, join me and the guys from "The Right Side of the Pond" (Mazza, Maverick, and 'Plan) this Saturday at Noon, EST as we dive into a discussion of wrestling's greatest matches not meant to be epic. Think Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero from 1997's Halloween Havoc is the top match of under 14-minutes in the WrestleMania Era? Tune in and find out.

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