Lutz's Blog: Bray Wyatt's natural talent shouldn't keep WWE from taking chances with his character
By Jeffrey Lutz
It has been nearly impossible not to be impressed by Bray Wyatt during the initial portion of his WWE career. The knowledge that he conceived and crafted a character as unique and innovative as the one he currently portrays makes the positive attention Wyatt is receiving even more deserved.
WWE has apparently been caught up in the hype, too, because instead of using the abilities Wyatt has on the microphone to write material for him that will allow his character to branch out and develop, the company is merely overseeing promos that sound impressive with big words and hidden clues that don't mean anything at this point. Wyatt's verbal skills are being relied upon to carry a character who should be multi-dimensioned but has only one dimension. Wyatt is fulfilling his end of the bargain; WWE, for the most part, is not. Although his promo Friday on Smackdown about Sister Abigail is a positive step, and WWE should continue to travel down that path.
The opportunity is there for WWE to provide further details of Wyatt's character that haven't been explained -- or even mentioned -- during months of vignettes and in-person performances. "Follow the buzzards" and "Eater of worlds" are catchphrases that go along with sinister characters such as Wyatt's, but without knowing exactly where those mottos originate, it's difficult for fans to afford them much significance. The longer I, as a viewer, go without knowing where the buzzards are, the more the law of diminishing returns kicks in.
Maybe we're not supposed to know where the buzzards are or why Kane, the Wyatt Family's first adversary, may be looking for them. That's fine. There are so many other aspects of Wyatt's character and mannerisms that could be delved into, aspects that would forward story lines, develop characters and allow interest in Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan to remain ignited. The choice WWE has made, thus far, to only give Wyatt and his crew one note has been a strange one.
We've seen this before, of course. In an attempt to establish a character or characters, WWE repeats the same story over and over so viewers can become accustomed to who they are and what they do. This works, to some extent, for the debuts of wrestlers such as Ryback or Brodus Clay, who earn victories in glorified squash matches for seemingly weeks on end until fans recognize the threat they pose to the top of the card of until they settle into a lesser role because the new characters simply didn't receive a strong reaction.
Those performers, and many others who debut in WWE, can only attempt to get over with their in-ring ability, because they're rarely afforded promo time to really make a connection with fans. The Shield, because of Dean Ambrose's skills with the microphone, provided a recent exception, and Wyatt falls into the same category. Wyatt is so good on the mic -- perhaps the best in the company -- that WWE should use that to take risks with his character and with his promos. Wyatt is strong enough verbally that he could turn even the most preposterous writing into something believable simply with his precise and believable delivery.
The first step WWE should take with Wyatt, Harper and Rowan is to give them a backstory. So far, all we really know about the trio is that they have a compound in the remote section of the woods somewhere, surrounded by Duck Dynasty-like personalities. Why Wyatt started a cult hasn't been explained, nor has the reason Harper and Rowan decided to follow him. In fact, other than the attack on Kane and other babyfaces, it's difficult to discern any reason why Wyatt and his disciples are even heels in the first place. What if the mission of their group is to end world hunger, even through nefarious circumstances. What if Wyatt rescued Harper and Rowan from a homeless shelter and is providing them warm clothes and food?
Basically, WWE needs to give fans a reason to root against Wyatt, something to cement him as a heel. His promos are so good and his character so inventive that it's difficult for observers not to appreciate that and cheer for him. Wyatt's first match, against Kane, wasn't at all noteworthy, but it served as a lesson that a character like his and a real-life person obviously devoted to making it work, can cover up the negative characteristics of his persona. Wyatt is doing that as WWE opts not to provide more components, but he has earned the chance to do more with more.
For an example, WWE should look no further than Wyatt's first opponent, Kane. Like Windham Rotunda (Wyatt), Glenn Jacobs (Kane) had failed stints with previous characters Isaac Yankem and the "fake" Diesel. Rotunda's run as Husky Harris was certainly uninspiring, but his talent earned him a second chance. Kane also had a backstory before he debuted, centered around his relationship with his storyline brother, Undertaker, so fans felt as if they knew Kane by the time he finally arrived.
Kane's character couldn't talk at first, though, leaving it one trait short of complete. Wyatt is distinctive and verbose, and a lot can be done creatively with those features. To its credit, WWE is giving the character subtlety and mystery, making viewers guess about what his promos mean or where the next one could be going. But I want to know more. Collaboration is the key. With great writing, a man dedicated to his craft, and a character the likes of which WWE fans have never seen, new ground could and should be broken. WWE's writers need to grab their jackhammers.
Jeff Lutz has written for the Wichita Eagle newspaper in Kansas for over a decade and debuted with Prowrestling.net on November 4, 2012. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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