Luke Harper Shows Off Top-Tier Potential in Bray Wyatt's Shadow

Ryan DilbertWWE Lead WriterMay 20, 2014


It's easy to be mystified by Bray Wyatthe is a cult leader after allbut Monday's Raw was also a showcase of Luke Harper's potential. 

Harper's surprising ability to infuse a smaller man's moves into his brawl-heavy arsenal and the power of his unsettling aura make him The Wyatt Family's marquee star in the making. He won't get many of the headlines coming out of WWE's latest trip to London, but he deserves our attention.

The show opened with Harper standing alongside "The Eater of Worlds" and Erick Rowan. Cellphones glittered in the darkness. The madman ranted.

Wyatt is as captivating on the mic as anybody in the business. As he put it on Monday's Raw, his tongue is a scorpion's tail.  

This is partly why the majority of eyes in a crowd zero in on him and not his bearded brethren. However, Harper reminded us in the show's final match that he's a top talent as well.

He brought his usual rugged, hard-hitting style to the ring for a clash with John Cena. 

Cena is often the benchmark for emerging stars. Success against him is often taken as an indication of one's readiness to climb onto WWE's highest rungs. It's no coincidence that the "Summer of Punk" centered around Cena, that Daniel Bryan's journey to his current lofty position began with a win over Cena or that Cesaro's push includes tangling with the leader of the Cenation.

Harper had faced Cena before, each time an engaging display of brutality, but this was their most prominent meeting, coming at the close of Raw.

Using his power and ferocity, Harper made the most of the opportunity. The bruiser whipped Cena into the ropes and pounded on him with forearms. Harper was vicious and compelling, as fans have seen him be several times before.

At times, it felt like we were watching a bear maul a shirtless man. 

In between his sledgehammer-like offense, he also impressed with more high-flying moves. A man that size shouldn't be able to hit a dropkick as well as he can. The same goes for flying out of the ring as skillfully as he does.

Luke Harper dives at John Cena.
Luke Harper dives at John Cena.Credit:

If he weren't for his immensity and that trademark dingy undershirt, one might think that was Seth Rollins taking flight toward his foe.

Big men with explosiveness and agility like that are rare. That's partly why folks like the people behind "The Fans' Podcast" are singing his praises:

Beyond just an impressive set of moves, he continues to draw the maximum amount of interest from his character. From his widened eyes to animal-like grunting, Harper has made an art of being a savage from the swamps. 

That element makes him more than just a quality in-ring performer. It allows him to step in the ring with Cena in the main event of WWE's premier show and fully look like he belongs. Darren Young's battle with Cena last year didn't feel like a huge match, and neither did Curtis Axel's clash with him.

Harper, though, looked like a titan opposite Cena.

Scott M. Fishman of The Miami Herald was among those who noticed:

Wyatt's magnetism and mic work put him on the fast track to megastardom. Those rare gifts also mean that Harper doesn't always get this kind of attention. The story coming out of Monday's Raw will be how Wyatt had the London fans singing along with him and that he left Cena out cold.

However, there is a subplot as well.

Harper is proving how well he performs in the heat of the spotlight. Against Cena, Harper provided a preview of what it would look like if he were the one in the marquee match at Payback. 

Eventually, it will be Harper's turn to play the lead role, to be his own man and not the muscle for someone else. Wyatt has earned all the acclaim that has come his way, but as Hall of Famer Jim Ross wisely wrote on his blog, "Don't sleep on Luke Harper."