For the first time in a long time, I have been extremely excited to watch WWE television.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not what you think. To me, in a world of Ultimate Fighting Championships and mixed martial arts, the style implored on WWE TV right now has never looked more...choreographed. And maybe since I’m more outside the wrestling bubble than ever before, that style of wrestling just doesn’t do it for me anymore.
For me now, I need to be invested and truly enamored with storytelling. Long-term angles with multi-layered and well defined characters really speak to me. Maybe it’s because I was completely spoiled with the Attitude Era, but that’s just how I view successful wrestling on a mainstream, global level. It’s not just workrate for the hardcore fan; it’s characters and superheroes for the casual fan and kids. And WWE TV is missing that for the most part in 2019.
There is only one thing that has done it for me though: Bray Wyatt.
Ever since Bray Wyatt came onto the scene in 2013, he has always been an enigmatic character and a performer. Doing his interviews differently, moving around the ring uniquely, even hitting on special facial expressions have helped him simply STAND OUT. There are not many performers who could do that on the global level nowadays and get people talking. He is one of the few.
From his manipulations of Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton, debuting Braun Strowman as a part of the Wyatt Family, stealing the souls of the Undertaker and Kane, wars with John Cena and the Shield, and the Ultimate Deletion with “Woken” Matt Hardy, Wyatt has truly become a perennial television performer who could work and wrestle with literally anyone.
So when Bray Wyatt left WWE television in July of last year after losing the Raw Tag Team Titles, a lot of fans figured that it was only a matter of time until he went back into his normal state and became the “cult leader” we all loved to hate. However, on April 22, 2019, Bray Wyatt returned. And it was anything but normal.
Enter the Firefly Fun House.
In what can be only called a crazy hybrid between Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and the Twilight Zone, out walked Bray in a cardigan sweater, khakis, and his dreadlocks in a manbun. Along with him were his “friends” Mercy the Buzzard and Abby the Witch. A smile was on his face, but you could sense uneasiness in his eyes. After giving his rhetoric and his spiel about being a changed man, give and take a “Yowie Wowie”, he took a chainsaw to the 2013 stand-up of himself and promised to never be that person ever again. Finally, he just proposed one simple thing to the WWE Universe: to just “Let Him In”. And then the Fun House ends.
I instantly saw the utter brilliance behind what had just aired. It wasn’t just another segment. It was what I’ve been waiting for years on WWE television since the CM Punk “Summer of Punk” story in July 2011. True character development and a multi-layered character twist for an established performer.
The majority of hardcore wrestling fans...not so much. I went through Reddit, Facebook groups, Twitter, and even Instagram. Most of the comments were not favorable. Some even said that the Firefly Fun House was the death knell of Bray Wyatt’s career. ALL OFF ONE PROMO! It was wild to read and see.
However, once the instant emotional response transpired, fans slowly started to turn around on the Firefly Fun House. By the second week, fans fell in love with the newest friend to join the show, the Ramblin’ Rabbit!
Also in this episode, you start to see more of the uneasiness in Bray. He painted a new picture for the Fun House; a house in flames. For followers of the “New Face of Fear”, it was a throwback to an incredible moment of shock and awe. Weeks before WrestleMania 33, Randy Orton, once under the spell of the Wyatt Family, burned the Wyatt Compound to the ground. What was more telling in the painting was something more sinister, or in my opinion, sad.
If you closely at one of the windows in the painting, there is a person looking out while the fire burns down the Compound. If you get real cerebral with it, that was the spirit of Sister Abigail.
For me, this was absolutely stellar storytelling. Anytime you get to sense an emotion from a performer, especially from a wrestling show, there is no greater high you can get as a viewer. It forces you to pay attention to him and all of his arcs. This particular arc, played back in the Fun House, was fantastic to see unraveled. It plays into the psyche of what Bray Wyatt is going through.
By May 6, 2019, the Fun House went through a serious issue. Mercy had torn apart the Ramblin’ Rabbit. Mercy was frustrated that the Rabbit kept going on and on with his rhetoric and trying to manipulate the Buzzard into following his cause; hence, Mercy took matters into his own hands. I found that interesting, especially since the Rambling Rabbit, to me, is a homage 2013 Bray Wyatt, talking in riddles and using mind games to persuade people into joining his cause. However, Bray saw the positives in what the Buzzard did, surprisingly, and decided to throw a celebration to help encourage him.
Here’s where ish gets weird.
The Fireflies invited to this little celebration were ABSOLUTELY emotionless. EMOTIONLESS. Bray, in the middle of this void of expression, again implored everyone to just “Let Him In”, while petting a plush sheep in his hands.
I honestly felt like I was in the beginning scenes of a horror movie. It made me feel really bothered. But, in a weird way, I became more invested in what would happen next.
May 13, we got our answer.
Bray asked the Fireflies if they wanted to hear a secret. After a resounding yes, Bray turned and showcased what he was hiding and was “really working on”. The screen started to distort and get into a darker mode. Suddenly, there was Bray in an utterly eerie costume. The dreads were down, the gear becoming a complete 180 from the cardigan and khaki look, and the absolute damnedest mask I’ve ever seen. Then, two words closed out the segment and it completely sounded horrific:
The Firefly Fun House instantly went into another direction. The utter pain in Bray Wyatt’s soul came out. The coolest thing is that we, the audience, do not know if this is an alter-ego to the “new” Bray Wyatt or his final form. It’s invigorating to watch a different character develop right before our very eyes, especially since we have zero clue on what direction it’s going in.
I’m definitely not in the inner working of the creative meetings of WWE, nor will I ever will be. But kudos to them for allowing this idea to flourish and be absolutely DIFFERENT then everything else on the show. In this era of sponsors and, in many senses, political correctness, WWE deserves praise for allowing this type of eerie performance to air on their mainstream television program. People are talking, hyped up, and excited to watch their program every week, just to see the Firefly Fun House.
I’m one of them. Absolutely one of them. To sink your teeth into a story, you have to feel like it’s going in the right direction and end with a satisfying result. The Firefly Fun House is the only thing keeping me intrigued on the mainstream stage of WWE. And it’s thanks to Bray Wyatt himself. The performer has showcased a different side of himself and has showed me that people STILL care about characters, especially during this “work rate” era.
I’m watching on Monday nights solely for this. I hope they continue on this route. I also hope that the inevitable letdown does not take place, as stories sometimes do on WWE television. Regardless, I’m hooked. Bray Wyatt, I’m going to let you in with the Firefly Fun House. Ain’t no doubt about it.