Examining Bray Wyatt's Direction, Upside and Long-Term Potential
To find out how large he can grow, WWE must feed Bray Wyatt.
He is the demonic creature waiting at the mouth of the cave, luring in passersby, to first mystify them with his words and then to devour them, bones and all. The issue is that not enough villagers have made their way across that cave.
Given opportunity, Wyatt can become one of the most enduring characters in company history; made to remain idle, he will wither from our memory.
The sinister, charming leader of the Wyatt Family leader has showcased his engrossing, poetic promo style and flashes of athletic excellence.
After dragging Kane off into the darkness, Wyatt has done little. He's been asked to prey on a random victim here and there, piling their bodies in the ring and laughing at the glory of his destruction, but not often enough.
His momentum has suffered from inactivity.
Since debuting on July 8, Wyatt has battled Kane at SummerSlam, R-Truth on Aug. 19, Justin Gabriel on Aug. 21, Dolph Ziggler on Sept. 9 and Zack Ryder on Sept. 27. That's hardly a workhorse-like schedule.
It feels as if WWE is unsure of how to proceed with him. It's understandable due to how unique his character is and how a lack of precedent offers no pattern to follow.
He's not a monster heel in the vein of Mark Henry, an angry behemoth who just tears through his opposition until a hero arrives. Henry and monsters before him were more intimidating physically.
Wyatt is a large man with creepy tattoos covering his arms, but his most threatening weapon is his dementia and the insanity that comes bubbling out of his mouth.
One can't just have him appear on Miz TV or proclaim that he's worthy of being champion; there's an art to booking a psychopath like Wyatt, and should WWE learn it, his potential is sizable.
Patience........ When I decide its time Believe me There'll be none of 'em left #Raw— Bray Wyatt (@WWEBrayWyatt) September 17, 2013
The industry reviews for Wyatt have been excellent so far.
Talent scout Bruce Prichard, who has worked for both WWE and TNA, pointed Wyatt out of today's many talented Superstars.
@Wasimperviz The best is relative. My favorite right now is Bray Wyatt— Bruce Prichard (@bruceprichard) August 23, 2013
Dustin Rhodes (Goldust) refused to choose between him and a man often flooded with praise.
Matt Hardy remarked on Wyatt's promo ability, something that helped carry him out of NXT and onto the main roster.
Skimmed over #Raw on DVR. Bray Wyatt has great delivery & believes in what he's doing & saying. His act comes off as incredibly authentic.— Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) July 30, 2013
Jim Ross wrote the following about Wyatt.
Bray Wyatt is blessed with the 'second gear' that is coveted on the gridiron, etc or inside a 20X20 ring. Big men that can move have an opportunity to find a long term home within the biz and always have.
Ross' assessment points out Wyatt's physical gifts, which often get lost in the hype over his mic work. As fabulous a speaker as Wyatt is, his ability to back it up has been vital to his success as well.
That's also where he must improve the most, though.
Ring Work: Work to be Done
It's hard to know what to make of what Wyatt can do in the ring. He’s only 26 and hasn't had a long list of matches to study.
In some bouts, he has looked terrifying and darted at his opponents like a hungry lion. In others, like his matches against R-Truth and Kane, he has looked a touch awkward, unsure of himself and not quite ready for the big leagues.
His best in-ring match to date while on the main roster came against Ziggler.
He looked his most comfortable, balancing aggression with smoothness. Wyatt looked as though he was having fun torturing "The Show Off."
This is the intense, playful and compelling version of Wyatt that will have him reach his full potential.
More showings like these will convince WWE to slide up him the ladder. The question will be: If at his best, will his ring work be worthy of the main event?
Increased strength and more ferocious striking will elevate his matches.
Wyatt doesn't appear to be as strong as his size would indicate. He performs this gutwrench suplex well but not with the impact and force that someone like Roman Reigns or Ryback would.
Note that much of this footage is from his NXT days or time with the Nexus. Wyatt has already improved since then, but the more he elevates his game, the higher his ceiling gets.
His clothesline has steadily improved, but it isn't as devastating as you'd like to see, either.
Because Wyatt's gimmick is predicated on brutality, his ring style needs to become more hard-hitting. He needs to have a clothesline that reminds folks of Nikita Koloff's Russian Sickle and to have the audience believe that every blow he dishes out is painful, not pantomime.
Wyatt's explosiveness is surprising given his size and can certainly help the excitement level of his matches. Bursts of speed from the big man will help balance out his strikes, torturing holds and pounding offense.
His ability to incorporate his character once he steps between the ropes will help him as well.
From the sadistic grins he wears on his face to the creepy kiss he gives his foe before hitting them with his finisher, Wyatt manages to extend his persona beyond the microphone. Even if Wyatt will never be known as a marvelous in-ring performer, this ability will keep his matches entertaining.
Magnificence on the Mic
Just a few months into his first WWE stint, not counting his run as Husky Harris, Wyatt is already one of the top actors and talkers in the company.
He has embraced his character to the point where it seems fused into his bones like the symbiotes from Marvel Comics.
Performances like these have been some of the most engrossing segments on WWE programming.
Mixing lyricism, dark laughter and maliciousness, Wyatt is a master storyteller at work. Being this skilled at one aspect of the equation will have WWE officials overlook his weaknesses.
The trouble is, how does WWE funnel this into a feud? Who would make an ideal rival?
Ric Flair played a materialistic playboy; Ricky Steamboat was an honest family man. They were perfect rivals, just as John Cena and CM Punk or Steve Austin and Vince McMahon have been. Who plays that role opposite Wyatt?
If WWE can find Wyatt's perfect foil, his upside is far greater than if the company struggles to figure out who to pit him against.
With a monster dismantled, the heroes are to be eradicated. Down with the Machine #EaterOfWorlds— Bray Wyatt (@WWEBrayWyatt) August 19, 2013
The natural comparison to make is Wyatt and Mick Foley.
Foley, like Wyatt, didn't possess the typical wrestler body and could capture an audience's attention with macabre, unnerving promos. Wyatt's struggle will be to have as deep a connection with the audience as Foley had.
It was when Foley grew from a monster into a deranged man that he won the crowd over. Wyatt has all the charm to do this, but it will be interesting to see if WWE can continue to have his persona evolve to maintain interest.
Misused and never given a chance to grow, Wyatt would be the next Papa Shango, an intriguing character who occupies a footnote in WWE history.
If Wyatt ups his ring work and becomes more intense and more consistent while finding ways to explore and shift his character, he will end up with a resume that looks a lot like Foley's. Foley was never all that dynamic in the ring; he was just amazingly tough, gave all of himself each time out and had a fantastic character.
Wyatt has the gifts to mirror Foley's career path.
Maximizing his athletic ability and finding himself in the ideal narrative will lead Wyatt to be a top heel, even if just for a brief time. Like Kevin Sullivan and Abdullah the Butcher before him, he doesn't need championships to define his career; but he can build a legacy on making a lasting impact on the audience.
"The Eater of Worlds" can become a monster fans tell their grandchildren about, apprehension glued to their voices.
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