Raven was one of the best characters that the pro wrestling industry has ever known. His deep psychological approach to every storyline he was involved in set him apart from everyone else in the locker room and truly made him must-see television. He made an impact that is still being felt today.
I have to say that from the moment I saw the Raven character I was immediately intrigued. The long hair, the black comic book t-shirt, the denim shorts and of course the inner pain and mental anguish.
Lots and lots of mental anguish.
And it was that tortured personality, that warped perspective of life that leads me to look past the man who had once been known as Johnny Polo and caused me to become a believer. The fact is that it was very hard not to believe in Raven.
To be a success in the business means not only playing a character, it means becoming a character. You have to truly believe in what you’re doing and fully embrace it with everything you have. And if the opportunity is there and your timing is right, then you will hopefully strike a chord with fans and get over.
Raven did all of that and much more. No matter how interesting the characters may have been that were around him, whether it was ECW, WCW, WWE or TNA, Raven was the one constant. There was drama in everything he did and everything he said.
And what he said was perfect.
Raven’s promos were works of art. Despite how intense they could be or how bizarrely eccentric he was, the fact is that Raven knew exactly what he was saying. Every word had a purpose and when he spoke, you knew that he believed it. Raven may have begun as a character, but he became a real person, and the promos were all the proof that you could ever want.
But the Raven character perhaps would not have been as effective had it not been for the Flock, a group of wrestlers who blindly followed him without question. The Flock sacrificed themselves for Raven’s well-being and obeyed his every command. They did what they were told when they were told to do it, and nothing was more important than making Raven happy.
Does any of this sound familiar?
When CM Punk formed the Straight Edge Society back in 2009, many fans likely made the connection between the fanaticism that we were all seeing and the work that Raven had done in prior years. Indeed, the way that Luke Gallows, Joey Mercury and Serena not only protected Punk but also seemed to worship him looked eerily similar to the psychological hold that Raven had over his followers.
The SES was a big hit, and with Punk at the forefront, it became more of a success than anyone could have imagined.
Now we are about to see it all happen once again. But this time it's Bray Wyatt serving the Kool-Aid. And the family is drinking it by the gallon.
Bray has taken the Raven concept, given it the edge of CM Punk and then presented it in such a unique way that it’s almost as if we had never seen it before. Bray’s distrust of conventional society speaks to the men who follow him, and it’s his genuinely scary delivery that causes fans to become more than a little unsettled.
After all, how many Superstars have you ever seen who could pull off wearing a plastic goat mask to the ring and not have the crowd laugh him out of the arena?
The fact is that the cult family idea only works when the leader is charismatic enough to make it believable. Basically, the only way fans will believe it is if the man in charge is fully living the role every time he is on camera.
This is definitely the case for Wyatt, who has finally found his niche in WWE. Expectations among fans are very high right now; so high that Bray and company have not even debuted on WWE programming and yet they are still the talk of the wrestling world.
This is a testament to just how entertaining Bray is and how much we just assume that the gimmick will be very successful on both Raw and SmackDown. Honestly, is there anyone out there who really believes this is not going to work?
I feel that much of the credit has to be given to Raven, who brought real drama to the cult concept and whose character was such an enigma in every company he worked for. Without Raven having done it years ago, who knows if it would actually work now?
Raven is one of those guys that once you see him, you just cannot forget him. He was willing to take chances with his character and go to dark corners that some talents were perhaps not all that anxious to do.
Raven laid the groundwork for not only CM Punk and the Straight Edge Society, but also Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family. While we all anxiously wait for Bray and his followers to debut, I cannot help but think of Raven and the impact that he is still having on the business today.
Quoth the Raven, nevermore.