Those of you who read The Best and Worst of Smackdown know I’m, let’s say, rather liberal with the Wyatt Worsts. As I’ve tried to emphasize, I think Bray Wyatt is a hugely talented guy — he’s a unique, gifted in ring performer, and could give a lot of legit movie stars a run for their money in the method acting department. The guy’s 300-odd pounds of pure potential, but I feel like Bray Wyatt the character is holding Bray Wyatt the performer back.
The Bray Wyatt character is 90% there, and it worked well in a place like NXT where everyone’s just trying things out, and the entire promotion can be bent to serve the needs of a single performer if need be. Unfortunately in WWE proper, Bray has consistently been a round peg in a square hole. Even Bray’s most ardent supporters would have to admit, most of his storylines since being called up have ranged from disappointing to horrifying Cenapocalypses. It’s particularly frustrating because Bray could work like gangbusters on the main roster with just a few minor tweaks, such as…
He Needs to be a Fraud
One of the core problems with Bray Wyatt as currently presented is that he has no believable motivation. Why does this guy who speaks in these cosmic, apocalyptic terms care about being a successful pro-grappler? Occasionally WWE half-heartedly tries to explain the situation by saying Bray wants the title because it will increase his power or help spread his message in some very vaguely defined way. I dunno, winning pro-wrestling championships seems like an awfully roundabout way of spreading a message. Has Bray Wyatt never heard of YouTube?
Also, if Bray Wyatt is supposed to legitimately believe this stuff, then he is a crazy person who doesn’t make sense within the publicly traded media company that is WWE. Are were to believe Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn and Stephanie McMahon sat down with this inbred hobo preacher and gave him a job? How is child entertainer John Cena supposed to believably interact with The Eater of Worlds?
Ah, but if Bray Wyatt is a fraud, suddenly it all makes sense. He makes sure to insert himself in title opportunities and tries to prove himself against top stars, because, ultimately, he’s driven by self-interest. It makes sense that he was hired, because behind closed doors, when he needs to be, he’s a perfectly lucid guy. It also makes him a more effective heel — he’s not mentally ill man who somehow stumbled into the WWE and stayed because they have good catering, he’s a manipulative con man.
The revelation that Bray’s full of it doesn’t have to dramatic or over the top. As is often the case, it’s instructive to take a look back at the Straight Edge Society, the best cult storyline WWE’s ever done. There was never a gotcha moment where CM Punk was caught backstage diving into a Tony Montana mountain of cocaine, but it was constantly, subtly implied that he was a two-faced dickhole. He preached Straight Edge because he was a superior windbag. He had his followers because he liked lording power over people, and drug addicts are the easiest people to lord power over. He shaved Serena’s head because doing demeaning things to women gave him a thrill. CM Punk was a cult leader, but one with very grounded, very ugly human motivations, who you believed could actually worm his way into WWE.
“A” for creativity buddy, but you don’t need a completely new philosophy every promo.
He Needs a Consistent Philosophy
I just got done saying Bray Wyatt needs to be a fraud, so why’s his philosophy even matter? Well, even a false prophet needs to be selling something. A set, defined ideology would help give Bray’s feuds form. Again, to go back to the Straight Edge Society, CM Punk’s feud with Jeff Hardy wouldn’t have been half as memorable if it hadn’t hinged on Hardy’s drug issues. There was something real there that Bray’s feuds lack despite his skill at crafting twisted turns of phrase.
Bray has sort of been dancing around it, but I think his philosophy needs to be “I’m against the corporate entertainers like John Cena, 2014 Chris Jericho and The Miz and the corrupt, commercialized society they represent”. Throw out all the other stuff about the End Times and how he’s doing this for 13-year-old girls who don’t believe they’re beautiful — there’s more than enough material in, “F*ck phonies like John Cena and his stupid Never Give Up face cloth”.