Bray Wyatt, The Fiend, the Eater of Worlds, Husky Harris; no matter what you called Windham Rotunda during his decade and a half in the WWE, it's clear he made a name for himself in professional wrestling with his chameleon-like commitment to character, his willingness to innovate, and for better or worse, his willingness to embrace the more creative side of the industry, even if it drove fans his uncle's age crazy for the complete disregard for Kayfabe.
Whether working solo, joining forces as a member of a tag team, or leading a faction of (mostly) willing acolytes, Wyatt was as captivating as he was polarizing, and, after passing away suddenly on Thursday, leaves behind a legacy that will captivate fans old and new alike for decades to come thanks to the advent of social media and the WWE library being available on Peacock.
So, in honor of his life and legacy, here are three matches worth reliving that really capture the essence of a true showman gone too soon.
WWE is saddened to learn that Windham Rotunda, also known as Bray Wyatt, passed away on Thursday, Aug. 24, at age 36.
WWE extends its condolences to Rotunda’s family, friends and fans. pic.twitter.com/pabVuaKlnP
— WWE (@WWE) August 24, 2023
3. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena at WrestleMania 36
Before crowdless wrestling ushered in the era of the cinematic match, Wyatt became a luminary of the concept, wrestling the New Day at the Wyatt Compound in 2016 and Matt Hardy in the Ultimate Deletion in 2018, but for this writer's money, the match that did it best was his final foray into the medium, the Firefly Funhouse match at WrestleMania 36.
Now, at the time, this match was more about saying goodbye to John Cena as a full-time WWE Superstar and face of promotion than a farewell to Wyatt, as the leader of CeNation effectively got to live out his heel fantasies of joining the NWO before being banished off into… Hell in a Cell, but all of the trademarks of The Fiend were on display, from the Firefly Funhouse, to his catchphrases, and all of his little friends like Sister Abigail and Huskus the Pig.
Could you watch Randy Orton burn down the Wyatt Family compound? Sure. Could you revisit a classic – or infamous – Fiend match like his throwdown with Seth Rollins at Hell in a Cell, his eventual victory over Rollins for the Universal Championship at Crown Jewel, and his squash loss to Goldberg at Super Showdown a few months later, but if you want the full Fiendish experience in one tight package, this is the match to watch.
2. Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble 2014
Turning attention from the cinematic to the ultra-tangible, watching Wyatt and Bryan in the ring in 2014, well before they joined forces, was truly a sight to see.
In a time when the Wyatt Family was such a consistent unit, as the next match on this list will highlight, this match saw Bray explicitly call off his factionmates in order to fight Bryan on equal terms.
For a performer who often gets accused of not being the best in-ring worker, some of which is deserved, some of which firmly is not, this bout proved that the future “Eater of Worlds” could put on compelling in-ring matches against one of the best pure wrestlers to ever do it, and do so in a way that captivated fans in 2014 and still does now one decade later. Watch Wyatt's other matches with Bryan, too, if you'd like, as the duo had great in-ring chemistry, but this one really rises above the rest.
1. The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield at the Elimination Chamber 2014
If there's one match that will define Wyatt's career to most fans of the WWE Universe when they think back on the former Universal Champion's Hall of Fame-bound career, it has to be this one, because it quite literally had it all.
In 2014, The Shield were still not only together but prospering; Dean Ambrose had long hair instead of a gas mask, Seth Rollins hadn't pulled off the Heist of the Century, and Reigns, though far from the performer fans eventually knew as the “Tribal Chief,” had yet to be diagnosed with Leukemia, let alone have Baron Corbin rub dog food in his face.
And as for the Wyatt Family? Well, they were the hottest up-and-coming trio in WWE, well before all of the Orton/Strowman/Bryan additions that strayed the storyline away from its original purity, even if some of that stuff was very good.
Throw the six men into the ring, and what do you get? A match that will go down in history.
In the ring, the match checks about every box a fan could ask for. It had action, drama, and intrigue, but ultimately, none of that really mattered. No, while spots come and go, the match marks The Shield at its most pure and an occasion where Wyatt, Erick Rowan, and the late, great Luke Harper – aka Mr. Brodie Lee – got to raise their hands in victory facing head-first into a future of boundless possibilities. If you watch one match to remember Wyatt, this should be the one.