For my inaugural article I struggled to pinpoint one topic I wanted to focus on. It’s Wednesday morning, so my first logical thought would be the debut of NXT on USA Network which at first I was skeptical on purely from a timing standpoint, but as time has progressed it’s making more and more sense to make that jump to national TV now. AEW maybe? Sure, but honestly at this moment we’re all in a holding place until their debut in October. Which brought me back to WWE. The first topic that popped into my mind probably isn’t surprising, it’s The Fiend. What did surprise me or maybe hooked me even more into this topic is WHY. Why do we all love The Fiend so much? Sure, he’s a badass looking character who aesthetically could be plucked from any of our favorite horror films…but what else? My opinion, it’s the emotion. Here’s why.
Emotion is the driving force in wrestling no matter the company because it fuels the core of the business-story telling. In order to illustrate an idea and hook the audience, no matter the subject, there has to be a story. Without a story you have no emotion. Cue The Fiend. The Fiend himself is a story without even saying any words which is why we fans are obsessed with him. WWE and Bray Wyatt have created something that seems to have been missing for quite some time and that’s magic. Seeing The Fiend in person is an overwhelming feeling because in the back of your mind you know that as a fan everything we love about WWE and wrestling in general is represented in a bodied form in Bray Wyatt. There’s a reason fans to this day (myself certainly included) flock to arenas when The Undertaker is promoted knowing he won’t be in a match and that’s because of the emotional bond we have built with him over the years. Even if you are a new fan or a young child just now learning about the wrestling world, when The Undertaker enters the arena, he commands everyone’s attention with simply walking to the ring. The Fiend has this same quality.
The Fiend character to me embodies three key things which is what helped our favorites thrive and become legends: patience, dedication, and belief.
Of course let me state I’m not in any way saying every other talent lacks those 3 things, I’m just focusing on Bray at this time and how obvious it is with him. This character demands patience from an audience which in today’s world expects things instantaneously whether we truly want it right this second or not. The Fiend keeps us hooked-take this past Monday’s Raw episode for example. There’s a reason he was strategically threaded throughout the entire broadcast and even closed the show in a different way. Because we are emotionally invested in him.
Dedication. The masterpiece that is the whole packaging of this character took months and months of hard work that we all may not know the true extent of for quite some time, however is beyond evident in his presentation. Dedication from himself and more importantly the company is the engine for this character to maintain popularity. Dedicating the time and being patient while the “Mr. Rogers” version of Bray explains the journey weekly yet still calls back to earlier moments and milestones in his career. Things like that make it fun for us fans who pay attention to every little detail so when Bray makes a reference to “Husky Harris” we dedicated fans know exactly what he’s referring to. But what may be the most important piece is belief.
Windham Rotunda the man believing in his talents and repackaging his entire character when in all honesty he didn’t have to do speaks volumes to the creativity this individual has. The belief in taking it upon himself to create the mask, changing his appearance physically, having a band outside the company create his new entrance theme and pushing for it to be used, the detail in the lantern, etc etc.
Mr. Rotunda believing in himself and WWE seeing his vision and running with it is huge and what our world needed. We needed something we could follow and be truly emotionally invested in. We needed a character where we tune in wondering if we’ll see him and if so what happens. We needed a character that is dark and mysterious however doesn’t take our intelligence for granted as viewers. We wanted something we could love that didn’t fight us back or make us question how we even fell in love to begin with. Sure we can be critical of 1,000 other things in wrestling or WWE specifically but for now and with The Fiend, we finally have a character who is ours yet embodies everything we loved from the attitude era and hopefully is the start to reverting back to that mindset of establishing that emotional bond with the fans.
Feel free to share your opinion on my take of The Fiend so far @ashmanns !