While we make a lot of smart-ass comments about pro wrestling here at Cageside Seats (it’s kind of the job), I really do try to give new acts and gimmicks a shot before deciding whether or not they work for me. My colleagues do as well. Really, we do.
That’s hard to do with Bray Wyatt, though. It’s not the performer’s fault. But either because main roster creative doesn’t “get” his shtick, or because a PG company is never going to really run with a backwoods cult leader character and the places that would take their shows, we’ve no reason to hope for more than hologram lanterns, bug projections and Bray cosplaying as his undead sister.
The vignettes we’ve seen on Raw and SmackDown since WrestleMania 35 don’t do much to convince us this time will be different. Though they’re not confirmed as heralding the return of Wyatt… come on… they’re totally heralding the return of Wyatt.
The jokes write themselves. You’ve probably seen most of the Gobbledy Gooker & buzzard-in-a-box ones, and heard the Dinosaurs & Saw references. It seems like a foregone conclusion we’re about to get another chapter from the Book of Cringe.
But wait! There’s hope. And an actual reason to have it, I think.
These videos didn’t make it through several layers of creative and production without a few people saying, “dafug?” It’s possible those warnings were just ignored. But it’s also possible they were either answered or headed off by someone explaining they’re supposed to elicit that reaction.
Another recent gimmick which had lots of people scratching their heads when it debuted (and plenty who still didn’t understand it even after someone talked them through it) but still got over big? It happened to be masterminded by someone Bray was working with before he exited the stage. That person, who Wyatt reportedly enjoyed working with, also spent some time working in creative and production before he came back recently.
What if these weird toy teasers are the brainchild of the Eater of Worlds and the Mower of Lawns, Matt Hardy? And Bray leans fully into the so-bad-it’s-good madness like Matt did with the Broken gimmick?
Sure, Vince McMahon didn’t let Hardy’s full genius/lunacy loose on WWE television, but what we got wasn’t bad. And the Deleter of Worlds version of Wyatt was popular. A campy version emerging for the Lake of Reincarnation could be a lot of fun. Play creepy puppeteer straight and let those around him serve as our “dafug?”-saying surrogates. Embrace your inner Tommy Wiseau, Bray!
It can’t be any worse than the time you unironically draped some gauze over your head and used a voice modulator to be Sister Abigail.