Bray Wyatt returned at WWE Starrcade, leaving many wondering what you do with him. Rob Bonnette has an idea about that!
Bray Wyatt returned this past weekend at the special Starrcade show, and that got me to thinking about what exactly should happen with him going forward. When talking about Bray over the years I’ve mostly heard from others is either that he is a victim of bad booking or just not any good. My own take is that he isn’t bad in the ring, but isn’t great either and that’s what holds him back more than anything with booking.
Since he was introduced to us in 2013 he’s feuded with Kane, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Chris Jericho, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, the Undertaker, Randy Orton, Finn Balor, and Matt Hardy. He’s won matches on pay per view against Kane, Bryan, Cena, Ambrose, Reigns, and Seth Rollins. He won the WWE World Championship in 2017 and defended it at WrestleMania 33. When he’s healthy he’s always on TV doing something relevant. So where does the idea come from that he’s some victim of booking? From what I’ve seen it’s largely because he loses a lot of those big matches, too, and as a consequence his promo work is somehow rendered null and void. Now for me, when it’s time to look at somebody’s place on the card and their won-loss record, the first questions I ask are: (1) who should they be ahead of? and (2) who did they lose to that they shouldn’t have? How would I answer these questions for Bray? Well let’s see…..
From my estimation his most untimely losses were to Cena at WrestleMania 30 and to Finn Balor at No Mercy 2017. There was also the bad, weird match at WrestleMania 33 with Orton. The Cena match halted what had been some real momentum for him going up the card, and wasn’t made up for by the win he would get at Extreme Rules a month later. The Balor loss was a short match (11 minutes), a month after a 10 minute loss to Balor at SummerSlam a month prior. And the Orton match was just bad all around – the match wasn’t good, got cut for time, and had the weird visual of worms and maggots being flashed onto the mat while it was going on.
None of those helped, but to me some of his wins weren’t helpful either. The win over Cena came with a weird finish that you have to see for yourself, and the win he got over Ambrose at TLC 2014 was in a match that just wasn’t much good. So while I think the losses do hurt, the wins have been overbooked with shenanigans which don’t make him look very formidable either. So I guess I’ve answered the question and we can just go home now, right? Not quite. Because there is the issue of the other take I’ve heard a lot, that he just isn’t very good. How true is that, and where does that come into play? Because if there is any merit to that then you kinda have to think that he’s already been booked above where he should have.
When it comes to wrestling ability, there’s a lot of subjectivity involved. We all have style preferences, and then there’s the matter of liking certain things more when our favorites do them than when others do. To call someone really great or really bad often includes some degree of mental gymnastics that may or may not survive any serious cross examination. In this case I think the subject is somewhere in that mushy middle.
Bray isn’t bad from a standpoint of being sloppy or anything, but I find most of his ring work to be forgettable. When you look back at his best matches, they are largely because of his opponents and not him (Cena and Reigns come to mind here, along with the other participants in some of the better multi-man matches he’s been in.) There really isn’t much that he does to remember. Go ahead and think back to what would be considered his best singles matches – did he do any of the big spots or other memorable stuff? To be honest I don’t think so. His match at Hell in a Cell 2015 was pretty great but you could have swapped him out with a number of people and gotten the same result or better. Ditto for his Last Man Standing Match with Cena at Payback 2015.
If you agree with that then I have to ask – should somebody as easily interchangeable in the ring be getting booked to come out on top of your best guys? I say no. If you’re booked to beat a main eventer then you should be able to hold down a main event match yourself, which from my estimation he isn’t equipped to do. Roman Reigns had people engaged in matches against Jinder Mahal, Bobby Lashley, and the Revival – you think Bray can do that?
I sure don’t, which means that in my opinion there’s a real ceiling on how high you can push him and he’s already hit it. That he and the WWE creative folks turned Husky Harris into anything meaningful is a pretty big accomplishment in itself. But now in the fifth year of his second stint on the main roster, he is what he is and that’s a guy who works 10 minute midcard singles matches and is better suited in six man tags or Fatal Four Way type of encounters. Which leads me to my conclusion about what to do with Bray Wyatt going forward. And that is:
Reform the Wyatt Family
Yeah I know we’ve seen that before. Twice before to be exact, and the last time it ended with them at odds with one another. So why do it a third time? Well, because they’re all better together than apart. Harper and Rowan are both good workers (Harper has been great in spots as a tag guy and a single), but Rowan can’t get any crowd reaction himself and Harper isn’t better at that than any number of people already on the roster. And like I said Bray as a wrestler is better in spot duty than on his own.
Harper and Rowan had their run as the Bludgeon Brothers this year but while they were good in the ring they didn’t really captivate anyone and sucked the air out of the Smackdown tag team division while they were champions and were going over more popular teams. They didn’t do anything wrong per se but it just didn’t take. As a unit they went toe to toe with the Shield in some absolutely great matches in 2014. No reason they couldn’t do more with Sanity, New Day, or the Club (Gallows & Anderson with either AJ or Finn Balor). Harper and Rowan making another tag team title run with Bray as their mouthpiece could possibly get over better than their first reign did without him.
The alternatives? Split Harper and Rowan again, which would essentially turn Rowan into a job guy on his way to getting Future Endeavored. Harper could salvage something on his own and get back to challenging for secondary titles like he was doing in late 2014/early 2015. And Bray would probably been doing what he has been for the past year, meandering around in the midcard and on ad hoc tag teams. Or you could try Harper and Rowan again as the Bludgeon Bros, but this time they’d probably be in the role of putting other guys over and not winning much. But together again there’s a chance for all three to do something more.
Bray likely won’t be World Champion again but a US or Intercontinental Title would be within reach, especially with two henchmen by his side. I agree that Bray’s spooky man promos don’t mean much if he’s not winning more but there needs to be a real reason to book him to win more before you do it. And I don’t think there’s any route to getting there that doesn’t involve putting the band back together, because quite frankly none of these three guys has what it takes to truly succeed in a big way on their own. If you don’t believe me, then go back and watch for yourself. You may not totally come around to my view but I’m willing to bet you might move in my direction just a little.