While Waylon Mercy was an evolution of Max Cady, the original Bray Wyatt character was an evolution of Waylon Mercy. Though he kept the same attire and promo style, he somehow managed to make the character even more sinister. He would sing lullabies, carry around a lantern and lead four of the largest roster members in his cult-like “Wyatt Family” to decimate all who stood in their way.
After the disbanding of the Wyatt family, Bray’s career looked to be a little stagnant with cheesy supernatural storylines and laughable booking. That was until April 22, 2019 when fans were introduced to “The Firefly Funhouse,” a surreal and bizarre vignette that saw Bray Wyatt in a cozy red sweater playing with puppets and talking like a children’s television host. Interest was brought back on Wyatt instantly after that Monday night. Each episode of The Firefly Funhouse would get more eerie, more cryptic and more menacing. Still adorned in his signature red sweater, he would talk to “kids” about death, pain and suffering. This wasn’t typical WWE scary-cheesy.
Photo credit: Wrestling Inc.
This was genuinely chilling television. The editing got more surreal in each vignette, and the juxtaposition of truly creepy imagery alongside children’s imagery was legitimately unsettling… But very, very exciting. What could all of this have possibly meant? Wyatt was easily not only the creepiest, but most interesting part of WWE for a number of months. Bored and quiet crowds would erupt in cheers once the opening notes of The Firefly Funhouse’s intro song filled the arena.
Everything finally started to make sense at Summerslam 2019 in Toronto, Canada. Bray Wyatt would be making his in-ring return against Finn Balor, but this wasn’t the Bray Wyatt we knew. His folky entrance music was replaced with a metal version of the same song, and he donned a mask that looked like it was straight out of Hellraiser. He walked slowly towards the apron with a lantern in hand that was in the shape of his own decapitated head. I was in the arena that day and I’m not exaggerating when I say I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. Every child I saw was either hiding their heads in their parents’ arms or openly crying at what they were witnessing. We stood there with our jaws dropped until the lights came back on. There was silence for about five seconds after the music stopped until the whole room exploded in a “holy shit” chant. For about two minutes during that entrance, the Scotiabank Center was quiet. The air was colder. And Bray Wyatt had changed the world of professional wrestling.
Wyatt, or The Fiend as he was now called, would go on to have some absolutely classic matches with the likes of John Cena and Daniel Bryan, but was ultimately infected by the plague of WWE’s booking and an untimely, and undeserved release. Bray Wyatt is one of the most genius minds in professional wrestling today, and he’s proven that time and again over the last decade or so. There isn’t one professional wrestling fan that isn’t awaiting his return and see what scares he has in store for us.