There’s something to be said for having patience as wrestling storylines unfold, but WWE might be pushing fans to their limits with Bray Wyatt.
Bray Wyatt has been one of the most discussed WWE wrestlers since the weeks leading up to Extreme Rules. His appearances have been steady on SmackDown since then, and in late November, Wyatt’s feud with LA Knight was one of the most intriguing in the business. There was plenty of mystery surrounding the program, with Bray insisting that he wasn’t the one who had been attacking Knight backstage. Fans seemed hooked as they were drip-fed Qr codes and cryptic clues surrounding Wyatt and Mister Howdy. So what’s happened over the last few weeks that’s turned this program cold? Nothing. And that’s one of the looming issues WWE faces with Bray Wyatt’s current feud.
It’s been over three months—a quarter of a year—since Bray Wyatt reentered the company, and this story’s development has been occurring at a glacial pace. The first on-air White Rabbit teaser happened on September 19, when a game of hangman asked, “who killed the world?” The answer was “you did,” and there was a tease that Wyatt would make his first appearance on September 23. That turned out to be a bit of a bait-and-switch, as the former Eater Of Worlds wouldn’t pop back up on WWE screens until Extreme Rules on October 8. The re-debut was met with much fanfare, but a white-hot entrance can only cover for a lack of story development for so long. That’s a real issue for the wrestler who’s supposed to be the top babyface on SmackDown. Especially with workhorses like Drew McIntyre pushing to get that spot back.
Too Many Appearances & Too Few Developments For Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt is one of the best promos in professional wrestling. He has a natural charisma and seems to connect with audiences no matter what he’s doing. The problem is that since Bray Wyatt returned at Extreme Rules, all he’s done is talk. This might be fine if fans witnessed a steady plot progression, but that has yet to be the case on SmackDown. Instead of each episode feeling like a chapter in this book, each broadcast feels like one paragraph on one page of that chapter. This watching-paint-dry pacing stretches the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief to the limit because of the “spooky” and supernatural bend of Wyatt’s gimmick.
When a standard wrestling promo or program falls flat, it’s easy to move on from it. Things like that happen. WWE produces dozens of hours of content for public consumption every week, and it can’t all be Mankind, and The Rock’s famous “This Is Your Life” segment. When the lights are flickering, a strange laugh echoes throughout the arena, and a man in a cartoonishly oversized hat stands at the top of the ramp doing nothing for two minutes that will stick in fans’ minds. And not in a good way.
WWE’s next premium live event is the Royal Rumble, which will air on January 28. If the plan is to have Wyatt’s first actual match happen on that show, hopefully, this storyline with LA Knight will pick up some steam in the coming weeks. The brutal pacing is only one of WWE’s issues with Bray at this point, however.
Alexa Bliss’ Development On Raw Has Become More Interesting
It didn’t take long for WWE to establish that Wyatt’s return would impact Alexa Bliss. Those two never got to put a bow on their angle when Bray was The Fiend, so it makes sense. There have been subtle signs and signals that Alexa Bliss would eventually turn to the dark side, which finally came to fruition on the December 19 episode of Raw. Following a backstage interview with Bianca Belair, Bliss picked up a glass flower vase and smashed the Women’s Champion over the head with it. Alexa Bliss committed more action to the gimmick in just a few seconds than Wyatt has in three months on SmackDown.
That’s infinitely more interesting, especially when comparing Bliss’ development with Bray’s. While Wyatt is on the blue brand expressing frustrations about not being understood and running from his dark impulses, Bliss engages with them on screen. Wyatt adamantly denies having anything to do with the attacks on LA Knight while Alexa strikes in broad daylight. Bray Wyatt’s claims of not being in league with Uncle Howdy will likely turn out to be untrue, but that means, for now, he’s a man in a sweater trying to come to terms with his demons on a live mic. That was intriguing for a few weeks, but after multiple months of this, Bliss’ outright heel turn was emotion-in-action.
Wyatt’s feud with LA Knight isn’t dead. Not by a long shot, but WWE is creeping into some territory where it could become stale and boring. Audiences have seen Wyatt threaten and attack backstage workers and camera operators, but he’s still taken no credit for anything having to do with the assaults on Knight. Perhaps the December 23 episode of SmackDown indicates that Wyatt will get more physical moving forward. Waiting more than four months between his re-debut and his first match at Royal Rumble feels like a lot of foot dragging and “we aren’t sure where this is going yet” from WWE. That might not be the case, but fans are running out of reasons to remain patient as Bray Wyatt weaves this tale. This much is clear: the payoff better be excellent or Wyatt’s comeback might already be in trouble.
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