CM Punk's exit from WWE makes room for Bray Wyatt to ascend to the title of the company's master of the mic.
One could debate whether Wyatt was as compelling a talker as the sharp-tongued anti-hero, but the need for debate is gone now. No one leaves more of an imprint on fans when he speaks; no current character is more engrossing than Wyatt's.
Were Paul Heyman around on a more regular basis, he'd be Wyatt's primary competition as WWE's microphone champion. As it stands, his inconsistent schedule allows Wyatt to claim that honor.
While so many Superstars are reliant on catchphrases, Wyatt's speeches, rants and threats are dark poems.
Scratching at our fears, Wyatt haunts us with vivid, ominous imagery. More than challenging foes on camera, he performs a mini-work of theater each time that he speaks.
When WWE needed to fill time most efficiently, it could always turn to Punk. A natural with a microphone, Punk could rattle on about whatever storyline he was involved in and make it entertaining. Whether the company needed him to go for two or 12 minutes, he was the go-to Superstar.
That is Wyatt's role now.
His ability to compose his own speeches puts him in a unique class. F4WOnline (h/t WrestlingInc.com) reports that "Word from within WWE is that he writes all promos by himself and then submits them to WWE creative for approval or edits."
This makes him more valuable, much in the way Punk was. There are few other wrestlers WWE can trust this much, to depend on for consistency, excellency and the ability to mesmerize the audience.
Wyatt's abilities have been the subject of praise and awe for some time. Last October, Jake Roberts took notice and praised him.
Roberts remains one of WWE's best mic workers ever. The soon-to-be Hall of Famer grabbed hold of the audience from the first word on, producing classic promos powered by darkness, precision and stellar delivery. It feels as if Wyatt must have studied Roberts' work, now carrying on The Snake's tradition of creating disquiet in the crowd.
Matt Hardy had high praise for Wyatt as well.
Hardy's right. There are bigger stars and better wrestlers on the roster, but no one makes pulling away from the screen harder than Wyatt.
When Wyatt convinced Daniel Bryan to join his "family," he celebrated the moment with an outstanding promo. He spoke of Bryan being lost before becoming a member of his clan. He told fans that "your words mean nothing to him, now. He only hears my truth."
The lines that make up this tirade are tremendous, but beyond that, Wyatt exudes creepiness as he speaks them. When he says, "the human race is a bacteria that infects and destroys," it sounds more genuine than scripted because of how much Wyatt has embraced his character.
He has melded himself to the role to the point where it's easy to forget that a man named Windham Rotunda lies under the evil laugh and shadowy rhetoric.
On the Jan. 31 edition of SmackDown, Wyatt again showed fans the power of that character and provided more evidence that he is indeed the top talker in the company today.
As The Shield stood in the ring, Wyatt called out the group, welcoming the coming battle between them. He said that war is his favorite game and talked of being the devil sliding into the backyard. The crown jewel of the speech was the line, "My soul smiles at just the thought of your quivering hands waving those little, white flags."
It's promos like this one that have inspired WWE to push Wyatt forward.
While he can certainly deliver in the ring as fans saw at the Royal Rumble when he collided with Bryan, it's his ability to entertain with a mic in his hand that has made him stand out. With Punk gone, no one does that better than Wyatt.
John Cena is a powerful talker when he's focused, but too often drifts into ridiculousness. Last year, he gave a speech so awful that the talk backstage was about how much it stunk, per PWInsider.com.
Damien Sandow is excellent as a long-winded braggart, but WWE has largely taken the mic out of his hand. The current version of his character speaks far less, giving him less opportunities to be king of the microphone.
In time, Dean Ambrose will challenge for that role. For now, sharing airtime with The Shield hasn't allowed him to be the great mic worker that he was on the independent circuit.
It's Wyatt who had Roberts seeing a new version of himself, who delivers lines that don't leave the audience. With CM Punk gone, "The Eater of Worlds" has snatched the title of WWE's best talker as fans await the next set of sinister words to leave his mouth.