After years of having his talent wasted by creative’s questionable booking Bray Wyatt was finally getting the push he deserved as one of the best, most feared and most complete characters in the industry.
After a lengthy lay off his rumoured return began with teasers on RAW before the debut of the Firefly Fun House back in April of last year which gained immediate attention from the WWE universe. His re-packaged character and gimmick was original, intriguing and immediately had the fans hooked giving them a reason to tune in every Monday night.
Weekly episodes of his show had fans clambering to see this new character in the flesh and they finally got their wish in July last year when he returned to RAW in the form of his alter ego The Fiend. The attack on Finn Balor was produced perfectly and wouldn't have looked out of place in a horror movie.
Now the worrying part for us fans, how do WWE creative handle this monster they have created and can they successfully book him as ‘The New Face of Fear’ rather than bury him like they did in the past?
Summerslam 2019 saw Wyatt make his in ring debut against a Finn Balor 'The Man' who resisted unleashing Finn Balor 'The Demon'. From his almost Undertaker like new entrance to the decimation of former NXT and Universal Champion the whole segment gave me Goosebumps and overall was well executed by WWE.
Would I have done anything different, probably not as fans would leave the arena satisfied but still wanting more?
The weeks that followed saw more must see episodes of the Fun House and he terrorised legends such as Kurt Angle, Mick Foley, Kane and Jerry 'The King' Lawler. These attacks did however become slightly predictable but still had the desired effect to help build this character further, especially destroying Foley with his own Mandible Claw.
I personally would have liked to have seen more teasers than actual attacks with some encounters taking place backstage and off set rather than in the ring to offer some surprise and variety.
A programme with the then Universal Champion Seth Rollins was the first significant booking mistake in the build of potentially the biggest draw the business has to offer. Similar attacks on a cowering Champion were slightly underwhelming with Rollins coming off looking weak which did very little to enhance this feud.
Their first match took place inside Hell in a Cell under the controversial red lights. The match ended in a no-contest after the champion attempted to virtually murder the challenger and that didn't go down well with the fans who once again felt short changed by WWE creative. In an attempt to rectify their mistake a rematch was booked for Crown Jewell in Saudi Arabia and it would be Falls Count Anywhere. A new Universal Champion was crowned and following the draft a few weeks previous Bray would now defend his title against the best that the blue brand have to offer and take Mercy, Abby, Rambling Rabbit and Huskus over to Smackdown with him.
Overexposure was always going to be the concern as when WWE get something good they tend to bleed it dry without considering the long term consequences, this is certainly the case here as putting the title on the transformed superstar so early during his rise was totally unnecessary and backed Vince in a corner he would struggle to get out of.
Rather than go after Seth and the universal title I would have loved to see the unmerciful Wyatt spend weeks systematically targeting his former foes, encouraging them to “Let him in” only to torture them both physically and psychologically before spitting them back out. John Cena, Roman Reigns, The Undertaker, Randy Orton, Braun Strowman, even The Rock are all possible targets for an unhinged monster seeking for revenge for past defeats and betrayals. Each storyline would have the history to be compelling without the need for gold which would generate much more intrigue than any title could.
Daniel Bryan & The Miz
Despite the questionable booking on Monday Night RAW the choice of Daniel Bryan for his first challenger on Friday Night Smackdown couldn’t have been more perfect. Bryan has a long history with Wyatt dating back as far as 2013 when he followed the buzzards to join forces with Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper. With a helping hand from the yes movement he would later see sense to overcome The Wyatt Family hence giving The Fiend a motive to destroy the Planets Champion.
Their latest feud did everything it needed to and the chemistry between both superstars was evident for all to see. Bryan again showed why he is one of the greatest of all time and played his part in making The Fiend look a million dollars, even if he had to sacrifice his hair and beard to do so.
Sandwiched in between matches with Daniel Bryan at Survivor Series and the Royal Rumble was a match at TLC versus The Miz. The build to this match had me gripped with Bray Wyatt hitting the Miz where it hurts the most by stalking his wife Marysse and Daughter Monroe Sky. The promos and segments at the home of Miz & Mrs were produced perfectly and it was great to see some variation on the usual attacks we were accustomed to on RAW.
Overall these feuds were booked well by WWE creative and despite the Bray Wyatt versus The Miz match at TLC not hitting the heights of the Daniel Bryan matches is was great to see an already overexposed Fiend given the night off.
Firstly I would just like to say that despite the short build the former Universal Champion delivered in Smackdown segments with Bray Wyatt and sold me on the fact that he doesn't fear The Fiend. So I was intrigued to see how the Champion would deal with a fearless challenger who had something to prove following his previous outing in Saudi Arabia against The Undertaker.
Their match at Super Showdown however was everything I feared it would be. Over before you could say "Yowie Wowie" a 53 year old Bill Goldberg managed to overcome the formidable monster in just under three minutes with his signature Spear and a move that kind of resembled a Jackhammer. This booking makes you wonder why they worked so hard to re-build Bray in the first place however the events on the last weeks Smackdown showed there was method in their madness.
The result I can handle but the nature of the defeat not so much as this lazy booking could have done irreversible damage and began the buriel of Bray Wyatt once again. But don't worry everyone, the Instagram picture of Goldberg holding up the Universal Championship got the record amount of likes so it was all worth it!?
I am a wrestling fan first and foremost and while Goldberg versus Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship will generate a huge amount of interest commercially or otherwise I would have much preferred to see The Fiend finally conquered by a worthy challenger on the grandest stage of them all rather than at a meaningless money spinner in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
Let Him In
My personal preference would have been for The Fiend to beat Goldberg at Super Showdown before going on to defend the universal title in a triple threat match at Mania versus Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan.
But following the results of Super Showdown plus Cena's Smackdown return to accept Bray's challenge I can't help but think this could have been a worthy main event, with the sixteen time champion striving to break Ric Flairs record against one of the most dominant forces in the WWE. With or without the title this match could be a classic, Cena will be competing in his first meaningful match in a long time plus a chance of redemption for Wyatt who lost to the former Doctor of Thuganomics at Wrestlemania 30.
As stated previously The Fiend became Universal Champion way too early so dropping the title may not have buried him at all, it might actually have set him free to seek revenge on his former foes who played their part in halting his push as The Eater of Worlds.
It's almost as if the WWE have hit the reset button and beginning with the leader of the Cenation at the show of all shows "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt can right the wrongs of past shortcomings while getting back on the path of destruction that began so promisingly. This tweet following last week's defeat was music to my ears and goes someway to explaining his lack of motive and desire to bring his absolute best against a part timer he had zero history with:-
Hopefully we'll see him target revenge rather than titles post Mania and I for one can't wait to see who he Hurts, Heals and Let's In!
Stay tuned Fireflies!