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  • Connor Ewens

Fantasy Booking: Bray Wyatt's return

Bray Wyatt has had a rough old time during his lengthy time for WWE hasn't he? There's no doubt in my mind that Mr Rotunda has one of the most unique and creative minds when it comes to storytelling, but unfortunately nothing has ever remained at a level of success we'd expect. For the longest time, we fans criticised WWE creative for limiting Bray, burying his character and mishandling his wealth of talent. However, recently some of us are questioning whether maybe it's not all WWE's fault. His anticlimactic recent run was the 'Uncle Howdy' story, which felt like it was dragging out too long and never really lived up to the expectations before being cut short due to Wyatt suffering illness. Does Bray make his stories too complex to tell? Is he creatively stubborn, in turn limiting WWE's ability to book him effectively?


I still love Bray Wyatt, and I stil believe that for over 5 years of his career he was mishandled by WWE. His cult leader gimmick was captivating but poorly booked. He had god-like powers at one point in an attempt to recreate the Undertaker which was short-lived. The Fiend was possibly one of the greatest characters in wrestling history that again WWE completely mishandled. Then with Uncle Howdy, I don't think we'll ever know how good or bad it would have been. It was a slow build, I'll agree too slow but it could have lead to something quite exciting post-Wrestlemania. With all that said, this is the first part in a series of fantasy bookings where I will turn back to clock throughout the Eater of World's career and have a go at booking his career myself. I have a few ideas that I think may be interesting. First, we're going to look to the future. With everything that has happened in his career thus far, being put on the shelf due to injury and seemingly cutting the Uncle Howdy story short, where does our resident Spookems McGee go now? Let's find out as I fantasy book the return of Bray Wyatt.


Who is Bray Wyatt?

So the biggest question is who/what form of Bray Wyatt are we getting. Do we try to revive and old gimmick like the cult leader or the Fiend? Do we try to carry on the Uncle Howdy story? Do we introduce a completely new creepy monster character? The answer is no, to all of them. Whilst there has been a lot of creativity in these horror monsters Wyatt has portrayed, the booking has always been hit and miss because there are many limitations. Like, look at the fiend. He wrestled too often and couldn't have many good matches because his whole shtick was no-selling offence and squashes his opponents (unless competing inside Hell in a Cell or facing Goldberg). The character we should get, is what I thought we were getting when Bray first came back. He should be a man who has personal demons that haunt him. See, when he returned last year he talked about all of his past incarnations and that he was sick, they were all representations of his darkest traits. That is what we should get. A man, fractured by his past and his own psyche, with an eternal inner battle to be good when a part of him craves destruction. We can still see some spooky stuff, but it's less about him having magical powers and more about showing us Wyatt's struggles with his own personality.


Now we have a character, we need to highlight his motivations. What does Bray Wyatt want now? Well simply put, if the Fiend was created to get revenge, then Bray Wyatt has returned to seek redemption. He wants to make amends, right some wrongs and seek forgiveness. Not only from other members of the roster, but himself. He wants to be able to put his demons to rest, and just be an ordinary man like everyone else. He can still have that dark side to him, something he can turn too when the situation calls for it (similar to Finn Balor's demons when he was in NXT) but we need Bray Wyatt the man, not Bray Wyatt to monster.


One tweak I will have to make is that during the draft it's mentioned anyone not specifically chosen by either brand will be moved onto a free agent contract. This means Bray Wyatt will roam as a free agent, gives us a lot more fluidity for his story. So, on the first Smackdown following Money in the Bank, the lights go out and there's a low buzzing around the arena that gets gradually louder. Incoherent whispers of "let me in" and "run" are heard throughout the arena, also getting increasingly louder and faster until it stops into dead silence. A spotlight beams into the center of the ring, there sits Bray Wyatt. His promo goes a little like this; "I've been gone for a little while. I had fallen physically ill, or at least that's I told you. The truth is, my sickness didn't attack my organs or grind down my bones, my sickness was poison in my brain. I find it very difficult to keep myself in one piece. I often find myself feeling hollow and fractured, when I feel this way the only thing that seemingly makes me feel better is pain. Destruction. Hurting others. But, I just don't want to be that guy anymore. You've seen my demons in front of your very eyes. I was lonely and rejected, so I started a family. I felt like I was living in another's shadow, so I became the new face of fear. I felt betrayed and misused, so I unleashed a Fiend. Most recently I came back and I thought I was better, but I was wrong. I was still haunted by my past. I tried to pretend that I'm fixed, but that will never happen. All I can do, is try my best to be my best. That is what I intend to do. Thank you fireflies, I love you." Then the arena goes black and he disappears.


Making Amends

In the build up to Summerslam we have Bray Wyatt interact with a variety of legends that he clawed during his time as the Fiend. Mick Foley, Jerry Lawler & Kurt Angle among the men he apologises to. He's met with some hostility but mostly his interactions end up with a positive outcome, especially with Foley who understands dealing with a fractured psyche. He gives him some pointers on how to just be one of the boys when he doesn't feel like he belongs. He also advises to never lose that darkness inside of him, just learn to control it. The comparison between Foley & Wyatt is very important, because Foley was once also a man of many characters including the creepy Mankind. I don't want Wyatt to be completely stripped of his personality but I want him to be portrayed like an actual person rather than a mystical being.


Wyatt approaches Finn Balor of the Judgment Day. He talks about their storied past and feels guilty about how things went down between them. He extends his apologies. Balor mocks him for it, calling Wyatt an empty husk of someone who used to be a cool, dominant force in the company. He slaps him and leaves. The following week, Wyatt tries once again to have a peaceful interaction with Balor. This draws out the full Judgment Day for mockery. Dom Mysterio goes for a slap but Bray grabs his arm and stares him down with a cold dead stare. Balor's expression changes and he urges a group beat down on Wyatt. This is amongst the ongoing power struggle between Priest & Balor that has been building recently. This feud carries on until Summerslam where we see Wyatt's first match back against historic rival Finn Balor. They have a competitive match, no spookiness just a good match which Wyatt wins thanks to botched interference from the Judgment Day. This will later lead to a Balor face turn and him being ousted out of the Judgment Day. Amends made.


Bray Wyatt next pays a visit over to Raw and speaks to The Miz. Wyatt says many forget their rivalry but he cannot forget the sickening actions he committed and he apologises for them. Miz refuses, ridicules him and attacks him. This leads to a match later that night which Wyatt wins. The Miz refuses to grant him forgiveness. We'll return to this in the future. Later that week we get footage on Smackdown of Bray Wyatt travelling on the road when he's driven off the road by another vehicle. Bobby Lashley steps out of the car and says they have unfinished business. Now I know we run the risk of giving Bobby the 'Big Show treatment' of jumping quickly back to heel from a face turn only a few months ago. However, Lashley is such a boring face and he's a much more imposing heel. Lashley says Wyatt took the easy road out of their match at Wrestlemania, which left him off the card and without that sweet Mania bonus money. He wants reimbursement or he'll take it from Wyatt physically. Wyatt shows a few signs of unravelling but he remains himself. He challenges Lashley to a last man standing match at Extreme Rules where he cannot promise he won't unleash his inner demons. At the PPV, we still just get human Bray Wyatt however his attire, his eyes and his hairstyle reflect his past personas. His attire similar to his cult leader days, and his hair and eyes similar to his time as the Fiend. A brutal match which ends in a Wyatt victory following a spot involving a car somehow. I dunno, maybe he just runs the prick over. Later for Bobby, I want him to be the one to win the 2024 Royal Rumble and win the Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania where he can have one final dominat run as World champion before he eventually takes a lighter schedule, because he's beginning to get on now. Amends made.


The Visionary

At this time, Seth Rollins is still the Heavyweight Champion on Raw. He cuts a promo about taking out all challengers before all the lights cut, out comes Bray Wyatt. Bray says this was the one he was most nervous about doing, but it must be done. He talks about their storied history during their times in a family and more recently that awful clash inside Hell in a Cell. Bray acknowledges Rollins is in the peak of his career currently, but that wouldn't have happened without him sending Seth to his lowest. Wyatt apologises, and Seth refuses. He says he'll never forgive Wyatt for what he did in the past and no one else should either. Wyatt is persistent in wanting an audience with Rollins after this but Seth keeps avoiding, so Bray decides the only way to guarantee an audience is to earn his way into a mandatory opportunity. Bray asks and is granted a match involving some other Raw guys for a shot at the Heavyweight title. He wins of course, and their match will take place at the next PPV, appropriately titled 'Unforgiven' (please Triple H bring back some awesome PPVs of old). A highly competitive match, both guys throw everything at each other but Rollins manages to walk away with a victory with his stomp. Wyatt, temporarily blinded by rage in defeat snaps and attacks Rollins. He hits Sister Abigail, but shows immediate remorse and takes his leave.


Wyatt tries to again apologise for his actions but Rollins doesn't buy it, he cheap shots him and they get into a brawl. The animosity continues as Seth takes personal shots at Bray's lacklustre career and says he's better than him in every way, even as a father. The intensity brings us to a rematch taking place at Crown Jewel, no disqualifications. A real hard-ass fight ensues, with the match ending in a familiar sight. Rollins puts Bray's head under steel steps, and cracks it with a hammer. This time not once, but three times. Wyatt is motionless. Rollins pins him and retains once again. It's important to note that I'm not turning Rollins heel here, but I consider him a tweener. He's playing a more heel role because Wyatt is the clear babyface in the story, just trying to make peace. Rollins boasts his victory the next night, but he is interrupted by a very familiar vignette. An empty rocking hair in a dilapidated shack rocks back and forth, the screen glitches and then Bray Wyatt is there. He's now sat in the rocking chair, looking like the Bray Wyatt from his family days. He cuts an ominous, metaphorical promo where he is done dealing with this situation diplomatically. He says it's time to practice what I've been learning. He ends the promo with his "run" shout and it fades away. We see these Wyatt Family promos continue on Raw & Smackdown, referencing past promos he had spoke before. Ultimately we don't see him in person again, but he makes the challenge to Rollins to assemble a team, and they will meet at Survivor Series in WarGames.


Rollins assembles a team consisting of Damian Priest, Drew McIntyre & Shinsuke Nakamura with an opportunity for a Heavyweight title match up for grabs if they help him win. We don't see Wyatt's team until the day of the show. Rollins & his team enter first and stand at the opposite side. Then, we have a classic Wyatt Familg entrance. The lighting, the music and everything. Wyatt comes with all the OG gear on and carrying a lantern. Following him are his team members, they are; Finn Balor (recently turned face), Braun Strowman and Erick Rowan. Bring Rowan in for a one time deal I'm sure he'd do this in a heartbeat. I want plenty of Luke Harper/Brodie Lee references in this one. From here, just have a fun, chaotic WarGames match. The amount of talent and story in this is stacked so it should be highly entertaining. The finish comes as Rollins is offered as tribute and eats a Sister Abigail. Wyatt puts in the mandible claw and Rollins quits. A win for Wyatt at last. On following Smackdown, Wyatt & Strowman publicallt bury the hatchet. Wyatt also delivers a speech dedicated to those he has no way of seeking forgiveness from. He publicly mentions Goldberg, John Cena, a certain American Dragon and of course the late great Brodie Lee/Luger Harper.


Going in to the final few weeks of 2023, Rollins is not satisfied and wants to rid the company of the cancer that is Bray Wyatt. Rollins demands a match but Wyatt says no, he doesn't want more pain and destruction. He is fine to accept the circumstances and move forward. Rollins refuses. He attacks him and basically tortures Wyatt into accepting one last match under whatever stipulation. Wyatt is pushed into acceptance. The stipulation? Hell in a Cell. The final battle shall right the wrong from 4 years ago. In later promos Wyatt warns Seth he has made a terrible decision. He has given him just cause to unleash his most feared, most disgusted creation. "I'll see you in hell." The match will take place at the year end PPV, Armageddon (please Daddy Trips give us these cool PPVs again!) It's main event time, Hell in a Cell at Armageddon. Rollins comes out first. Wyatt is second, but not just any Bray Wyatt. Out comes, The Fiend. The full get up and entrance and everything. This should hopefully fill the crowd with 50% anticipation and 50% fear at how this will play out. This time though it's different. We've established that Wyatt is no longer a spooky, supernatural guy. The Fiend is just a darker, more violent extension of himself. So this will be a brutal contest, Wyatt is busted open and just openly cackles at his own blood. Rollins hits him with everything and Wyatt refuses to be beaten. Rollins though perseveres through the ordeal. He finds a perch on the Cell wall and he hits a super super stomp to Wyatt on a chair and picks up the win. The closing shot of the show, Rollins goes up to Wyatt, shakes his hand and says "all is forgiven". Amends made.


Miscellaneous

After that intense feud with Rollins I'd just give Wyatt some time to cool off from that whole ordeal. He goes back to try get forgiveness from The Miz but he doesn't give him the time of day. So, in the 2024 Royal Rumble match. I want 1 thing. The 3 faces of Wyatt. Number 2 is The Miz and Wyatt enters at number 6. They fight but Miz eliminates him after being in for say under 10 minutes? Then at number 13 we get Cult leader Bray Wyatt come out. He cleans house and puts in a good showing but again is eliminated by the Miz in under 10 minutes. Then, out at number 19 we have the Fiend. He approaches Miz who is shitting it. Miz offers his hand out and screams "I forgive you!!". The Fiend accepts and shakes, before hitting a sister abigail and eliminating the Miz. I think that would be a fun Rumble spot.


A few more notable interactions. Wyatt approaches Bliss who instantly tries to escape. He eventually manages to approach her and confess his guilt. She is still very upset and hurt at the whole ordeal but she understands what he felt when she felt it too. She offers her forgiveness. Wyatt has a conversation with the New Day, especially Xavier Woods. This leads to a match on Raw with Woods actually wins, which Wyatt applauds and shakes the hand out of respect, making Amends. We get two vignettes of Wyatt taking his apology tour cross-country. He visits the Mayor of Knox County, Glenn Jacobs AKA Kane. They have a funny exchange talking about their past conflicts like the Inferno match and eventually a handshake to bury the hatchet. Bray asks if his brother is home and Kane says no. The second skit is Wyatt hunting for and finding the Undertaker. Upon arrival, Taker is dressed like Mark Callaway and immediately rejects a rematch at Wrestlemania. Wyatt says this isn't why I'm here, he's here to make amends. Undertaker offers words of wisdom, Wyatt did what he thought he had to do and that ultimately set him in the path he is on now. Now apologies are needed you just gotta take responsibility for your actions. Final thing, for a couple months by this point Wyatt has attempted to gain a sit-down with Roman Reigns but is never able to. At this point I'd have either Roman too busy with the Bloodline and/or Cody Rhodes, alternatively he is taking time off after resolving those stories. This would set up a future feud down the line, the final redemption, though I'm not going to book it here. I have one final chapter for Wyatt to close before he can move on in his career...


The Snake Charmer

Now this is a delicate situation, because Randy Orton has been out injured for a year at this point and the rumour is he may never be able to wrestle again. Whilst I personally think he still has a few matches left in him, I don't want to book this like he's 100% healthy. With that in mind, I have a great way to draw a definitive line under this storied rivalry. So in the lead up to Wrestlemania Bray Wyatt asks for an audience with Orton, but of course he's not around anymore. Eventually, Orton does make an appearance on Raw and is willing to hear out Wyatt. Bray talks about their long history. The hatred, the family unity, the betrayal, the fire. All of it. It got out of hand, and Bray offers a hand in respect and in apology. Orton takes it, shakes it, then hits an RKO. He charges and nails Bray with 2 big punt kicks and leaves.


Next week, Orton says he never got the opportunity to finish what he started, thanks to his little demonic friend betraying him (Alexa Bliss). Orton says Wyatt is nothing and has nothing, but Orton isn't satisfied with that. He wants rid of Wyatt, he is a poisonous cancer that corrupts this company and it will thrive without him. Wyatt asks if that's how he really feels, then maybe we both need to seek redemption. He calls Orton his greatest rival, at one point he could have been his closest friend. He invites Orton for a party, at a location he has kept locked away from the outside world for sometime now. He invites Randy into the Funhouse at Wrestlemania. "One more time, for old times sake." Orton reluctantly accepts. This match is promoted by Wyatt as not just being a test of Randy's resolve, but also his own.


Randy Orton arrives at the Funhouse. This match should basically be a dissection of Orton's career shortcomings as well as his controversies. Some things to include are; his alleged bullying backstage, his early immature attitude, the Mr Kennedy thing, the "touch-dick handshake" thing, his in-ring laziness in the past, being silver spooned in the business. Run through his past identities like the legend killer, the apex predator, "Randy news network" etc. Enough to mess with the mind of Randy and cause him to snap mentally and he just unloads on Wyatt. He calls out Wyatt for his failings and shortcomings too. The stupid spooky match they had at Wrestlemania, the house of Horrors match, his poor success as a cult leader, the nonsensical promos, who the fuck is Sister abigail, his super powers. Reference his gimmicks too including Husky Harris & being a Waylon Mercy clone. They're almost at a stalemate until Randy's back gives out. He is prone, alone on the mat in severe pain. Bray Wyatt strolls over "like a crippled doe, waiting for its hunter to put them out of their misery. Thank you Randy, I forgive you too." Wyatt hits sister abigail and wins the Funhouse match. Randy Orton retires and next year he is inducted into the Hall of Fame. The next night, Bray Wyatt is giddy and feels more alive than ever before. He feels cleansed of all his wrongdoings, but he hasn't forgotten the lessons he has learnt. Now that he has confronted his past mistakes, it's time to make new, positive memories. Before he continues, he is interrupted by a returning Roman Reigns. His final obstacle. But that's a story for a another time.


This booking went on longer than I expected but I had a fun time with it. I think I've reestablished Bray as an entertaining and captivating member of the roster. He's not weighed down by stupid, hokey spookiness but he still has a creepy edge to him thanks to his ability to channel his alternate personas. Similar to how Mick Foley could one time. That's how I'd do it, hope you liked it. Next time I'm going to analyse and fix the whole Uncle Howdy bullshit and see if I can turn a turd into gold. Until next time, see ya!

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