|IMAGE CREDIT: WWE, Inc.|
I needed to adjust to the idea that Punk wasn't part of this show any more, and look for a replacement. Someone who also provides me a completely different wrestler/fan dynamic than I've ever had before. The choice was obvious. It was a no-brainer. Staring me in the face the whole time, but it needed for me to get over Punk's absence for this character to begin to pour into the shoes Punk vacated. If you don't yet know who I'm talking about you must be new here: it's Bray Wyatt. (It's always been Bray Wyatt.)
As has been well etched into the walls of this place, I've loved Bray Wyatt since the first moment I laid eyes on him. It's almost as though he was specifically designed for me; he's my favourite kind of character set in the arena of my oldest and most enduring love. I do have a different wrestler/fan relationship with Bray Wyatt than I've ever had with anyone else, because Wyatt is different than anything I've witnessed in wrestling since I started watching. Bray Wyatt isn't my superhero like Punk was. But he is an addiction; I know I'm not supposed to like him but I can't help myself. He's a beautiful enigma. A riddle I can't solve but never get bored of trying. He's motivating and confusing, beautiful and creepy, ambiguous and crystal clear. He's that part of my personality I try to keep underneath the trap door, but he's secretly who I'd most like to be.
Bray Wyatt's greatest strength isn't in the moves he performs in the ring. He doesn't cast his spells with his wrestling ability like Daniel Bryan does. Bray casts his spells with his words, and imprints on your memory with unforgettable imagery. Over the last few weeks, as his story with John Cena has continued to evolve, we've seen this come into play more than ever. Most weeks now, what stands out about Raw is something which happened during a moment between Bray Wyatt and John Cena. Whether it's Wyatt cradling a fallen Cena's head or the sight of him rocking backwards and forwards, laughing maniacally with a child in a sheep mask on his lap as Cena looks somewhere between desperate and distressed inside the ring.
WWE clearly see what I – and plenty of others like me – see in Bray Wyatt. They know there's something there, and by standing him where they have, they're putting it to the ultimate test. Can Wyatt avoid being overshadowed when he stands opposite John Cena? In the last few weeks, as their story has unfolded, the answer has been yes. In fact, most weeks, it has been Cena who has been overshadowed by Wyatt. (For that, Cena deserves credit, too, by the way. Bray has been allowed to poke, prod, stab and wound the John Cena character in a way almost nobody else ever has.)
The best part about this scenario is that during this whole testing time, neither WWE nor Cena have tried to tear Wyatt down, as they have done with so many others in the past. There was only one occasion when Cena made jokes at the expense of The Wyatt Family – tame in comparison to the ridicule some past opponents have endured – and even then, Wyatt managed to sidestep Cena's mockery and regain his ground. Aside from that, Cena has done nothing but treat Wyatt as not only his equal, but a legitimate threat to the fortress of heroism Cena has had built around him over the last decade.
Over the last few weeks, even when I haven't been watching wrestling at that moment, I've found myself singing or humming the words to one song. “He's got the whole world in his hands.” Unsurprisingly, that's the song Bray Wyatt's been singing to John Cena for weeks. Because Bray Wyatt does that to you. Even though you know he's just fiction, he still gets into your head. He makes sure you're still thinking about him and that thing he did days, even weeks after he did it. He's a magician who casts spells every week. Which is why I've been singing “He's got the whole world in his hands.” It's why you have, too.
Besides being unforgettably creepy with the way Bray does it (and catchy in and of itself), that song is also a brilliant metaphor for where Bray Wyatt finds himself right now: with the whole world in his hands.