Without even so much as setting foot in a ring, Bray Wyatt is the most entertaining thing going in WWE today.
Wyatt dipped out of the public limelight for nearly a year after droves of not-so-memorable feuds and losses, with his last twist of a gimmick an extension of the past that followed the same old trends.
But Wyatt reappeared within the Firefly Fun House segment as a creepy, twisted take on a Blue's Clues-type offering. Sweater-vested and talking proper, ripples of past demons and attempts at brainwashing the children on his show—flanked by demonic puppets of all kinds—hinted at great things for Wyatt's return to the ring.
This is pretty standard for WWE. Wyatt's Firefly Fun House is a fun new development clearly of his own creation. But WWE always does a good job of building up debuts or returns. Even Lars Sullivan seemed interesting in video packages before arriving and simply beating up a trio of undersized opponents like so many supposed monsters have in the past.
What happens when Wyatt gets in the ring?
As much as the character and alter egos like The Fiend should translate seamlessly to the ring and keep an audience's interest, there is a ton of potential for a big flop here too. How does this happen? Will he wrestle in a vest and slacks? Is he splitting personalities, remaining fun educational host in promos but becoming The Fiend in the ring? And who is he doing it against?
The answers aren't simple, though the "when" seems to have an obvious answer: as soon as humanly possible. Well, with a disclaimer: if it is handled well.
Wyatt is incredible in the ring as both a storyteller and in terms of move set against any opponent. He's demonstrably great at promos and a creative talent. But the task in front of him is gargantuan. If the machine overseeing him throws out silly feuds with no direction, there is trouble ahead again.
And what happens when his promos aren't pre-taped and thus subjected to last-second changes by a team of writers and overarching boss prone to scripting?
One thing's for sure: WWE needs Wyatt. It needs him to succeed and shock the typical routine of programming, and it needs him right now given the middling ratings, which are low despite the lack of NFL and NBA as competition.
Unless Wyatt is shooting right into the main event scene and eventually winning a title, this character refresh needs to be protected. That means no feuds where it heads into 50-50 land right away. That's part of why Wyatt's last personality died off with a whimper; he was just another Superstar trading wins and losses every week on broadcasts, getting thrown in random tag team matches and angles without direction.
This means, as fun as it might sound, no Aleister Black. It means save Finn Balor's Demon persona for a stage like WrestleMania.
Even with such a restriction, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Maybe Wyatt's Fiend character guns for Randy Orton and dispatches him quickly. The two have a history. Orton torched Wyatt's compound. The Fiend can show just how deadly it is right out of the gates by taking out a Superstar of Orton's caliber—and Orton doesn't get hurt from a loss in the process.
Maybe he goes after Braun Strowman, a monster he created. Strowman isn't exactly formidable from a character standpoint anymore, but Wyatt's alter ego dismantling him, if not indoctrinating him again, would make people take notice.
Maybe it is the main event scene for Wyatt. The company needs it now that heels like Drew McIntyre have been relegated to being bodyguards without direction and Shane McMahon is the top overall heel for some reason.
There, maybe The Fiend appears and dismantles Seth Rollins. Maybe he chooses the blue brand and takes out a member of New Day each week before claiming Kofi Kingston's title. If WWE wanted to get weird (it would never, but let's try), maybe he plays a role in the Brock Lesnar cash-in attempt.
No matter how it happens, WWE can't afford to botch this. The new Wyatt is arguably the most interesting, refreshing thing happening in the company. If it arrives under the live spotlight and flops its way into usual run-of-the-mill programming territory, it not only ruins something fans are stumbling over themselves to see, but it is also yet another messy public indictment of the product and process as a whole.
The Wyatt and/or Fiend debut figures to finally unfold as soon as possible, if not during Sunday's Stomping Grounds pay-per-view. If it can somehow match the unique flavor of the promos leading to the big return, Wyatt is instantly an ace WWE can lean on again to keep fans engaged.