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    Monday, December 9, 2019

    31 Days of Wrestling (12/9/19): The Fall of Bray Wyatt, and the Rise of the Fiend

    Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies, and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2019 produced for us.

    The character of Bray Wyatt has had an interesting arc ever since his debut on NXT with the Wyatt Family. Appearing as a Manson-like cult leader, Bray Wyatt—alongside Luke Harper & Erick Rowan—reigned supreme in NXT clinching the NXT Tag Team Championships before soon being called up to raise hell on the main roster.

    The Wyatt Family would then enter significant feuds with the likes of Daniel Bryan, The New Day, and The Shield. But pretty soon, Creative would have their way and the Wyatt Family would split. Harper and Rowan would remain a tag team while Bray would move onto singles competition.

    This is not to say that Bray Wyatt was unsuccessful as a single’s competitor, being a former WWE Champion and Tag Team Champion alongside Matt Hardy.

    It’s worth noting that while Hardy and Wyatt made a somewhat impressive tag team, it was Woken Matt Hardy—then Broken Matt Hardy—who stole the Wyatt Family gimmick and made it his own. This, if anything, was a sign that the Wyatt Family-era Bray had run its course. Wyatt and his Fireflies would soon disappear from TV after a last match with The Demon Finn Bálor.

    Fast forward to April of this year: a new segment airs on Monday Night RAW. It opens with a whimsical, child-friendly theme and the bright, multi-colored font of the Firefly Fun House. The first episode features a new Bray, dressed in a red sweater and khaki slacks evoking Mr. Rogers.
    Even the set he was in was a far cry from the original incarnation of Bray Wyatt. The backwoods swamp was replaced by a cartoonish house that wouldn’t look out of place on Nickelodeon. Instead of two behemoths accompanying him, Bray was flanked by various puppets including Rambling Rabbit and Abby the Witch.

    While on paper, this all reads as nothing more than a Saturday morning children’s TV show, on-screen, it is much worse. In every episode that followed, the Firefly Fun House slowly peels away at this new incarnation. Little by little, Bray reveals the madness that drove him to the edge and—in classic horror fashion—uses misdirection to reveal the truth. From paintings of burning houses to The Muscle Man Dance, the Universe slowly realizes that this isn’t the same Bray Wyatt.

    The succeeding episodes of the Firefly Fun House show a broken Wyatt, far removed from his eerie roots. It plays off of innocence and uses subversion as a tool to reveal a darker side to Bray—a side he calls The Fiend.

    But taped TV segments can only go so far and in July of this year, the WWE Universe got its first glimpse of The Fiend. From his entrance alone, audiences saw that things have been escalated. Bray’s ominous song has been replaced by a metal version and instead of a lone spotlight, red light bathes the entire ring.

    Even his outfit was extremely different. The Fiend’s mask looks similar to The Violator of Spawn fame, but 100 times scarier. His tights are now pinstriped and what was once a Hawaiian shirt is now a long, ducktail coat. Even the lantern that was synonymous to Bray Wyatt was different—he now carries it in what looks like the old Bray Wyatt’s head. This stark image of a monster with a glowing head slowly—ominously—working his way down the ring is enough to send shivers down spines.

    This incarnation was so successful in fact that even his in-ring style became drastically different. The Fiend was more brutal and barbaric; Sister Abigail was replaced by the even more gruesome Mandible Claw. And on October 31st, during WWE Crown Jewel, Bray Wyatt annihilated Seth Rollins to become the new WWE Universal Champion.

    While it might not be a shocker for most people, Wyatt winning the title wasn't quite the best idea. Bray Wyatt was built up to be this devastating figure that defies physics (and some logic) that it was undeniable for him to be a champion. However, when you have somebody as otherworldly as The Fiend, how are people supposed to believe that this monster became a monster just so he could win a title?

    Other directions that Creative took for The Fiend—like the annoying red light that almost blinds the audiences and makes it impossible to watch the wrestling, or the fact that The Fiend takes no damage whatsoever during a match—make this incarnation of Wyatt the most absurd there is. And this is the exact reason why it's great.

    A horror character should defy all logic or none at all; this is why his in-ring performance is ridiculous. And while the championship victory was prolonged for all the wrong reasons, the decision of higher-ups made it so that this almost unstoppable entity—this nightmare fuel—was diminished for a title chase.

    Though the character isn’t perfect, it still proves effective. The Fiend not only strikes fear in the hearts of audiences now but also in audiences of the near future. With all his accomplishments, it’s no wonder why Bray Wyatt calls himself the New Face of Fear. 

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    Item Reviewed: 31 Days of Wrestling (12/9/19): The Fall of Bray Wyatt, and the Rise of the Fiend Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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