The Fiend has been one of WWE’s best characters over the past several months, but even Bray Wyatt can be improved going into WrestleMania 36, especially if the Universal Title is to main event the show.
Hello, wrestling fans. In this article, we’re going to be focusing on the improvement of one of WWE‘s stars, the enigmatic and fearsome, Bray Wyatt. Before we dive too deep into this article, let me state clearly, I’m a fan of Bray Wyatt. I mentioned in my last articles some misgivings I had about his latest character development as “The Fiend”, and while I still have those misgivings, what’s done is done and we can’t change the past.
Rather, it’s much more productive to look forward and focus on what could be done to take Wyatt’s character to the next level. Bray Wyatt has poured a lot of his available stat points into honing his levels of charisma channeled through the veneer of a children’s show coupled with the frighteningly masked “Fiend”, but there are still areas where the character could be improved.
Production Values & Performance
The first of these areas is the “Firefly Funhouse” segments themselves. Bray and the WWE have drawn heavily from shows like Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Blue’s Clues. With the new direction of Wyatt’s character following his absence, this decision was brilliant. It simultaneously manages to appeal to a young audience, while capitalizing on a sense of nostalgia with adults.
That’s right, get ready to feel the cartilage in your kneecaps evaporate, kids who grew up with Nick Jr. are in the coveted 18-34 demographic. I know many of us get a kick out of the “Firefly Funhouse”, but there are ways to improve the segment. I’d start with the overall look. The segments look like they’re trying too hard, they’re too overproduced and refined.
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A light touch is what’s needed to take the funhouse from hokey to highly unnerving. It’s not more complicated than using a different camera or filter to give the segment that vintage public access look.
If you’re going to produce a vignette that leans this hard on the easily identifiable characteristics of Mr. Rogers (Red cardigan, smile, speaking to the audience, a household set, and puppets), you might as well give it that look.
The second is the actual set itself. It looks like nothing more than a cheap cardboard wall. I’m almost certain WWE poured more money and effort into the abysmal Maria & Mike Kanellis “OBGYN Office” from their 24/7 championship segment.
WWE has more money than they know what to do with, and there’s no reason they couldn’t commit to an actual physical set that doesn’t look like an afterthought. I’d change the logo.
The current logo, which is still up on probably one of the WWE’s laziest shirts, looks like it was made in Flash by an unpaid intern. It doesn’t jive well with the aesthetic. There are good elements within the logo itself, like the use of the animated versions of the puppets, and the purple portion of the logo featuring the fireflies and the window.
Additionally, Bray’s energy in the segments is all over the place, we get it. You’re manic and unhinged. Doing this in every segment makes that manic energy less special. That should be your highspot, to draw a comparison to the wrestling term. What could better improve these segments is a more reserved, calm Wyatt. Build up through the segment to the end where we see the cracks in the facade. Let that manic smile out at the very end of a quiet, serious threat, not at every turn throughout the entire segment.
Now that we’ve tackled the “Firefly Funhouse” segments, let’s talk “The Fiend”. A mask from the legendary Tom Savini studios coupled with Wyatt’s new direction has played a part in Wyatt’s ascension to the main event of WWE. The Fiend has focused his rage on those who’ve previously wronged his alter-ego, Bray. Starting with what could possibly be billed as the other host of an otherworldly force currently in the WWE and now residing in NXT, Finn Bálor. The Fiend turned his attention to Seth Rollins, The Miz, and now, Daniel Bryan.
While these matches have been entertaining in their own rights as Wyatt’s domination as the WWE Universal Champion continues, The Fiend needs something else. I’m sure there are those among you that are thinking another feud with Matt Hardy (possibly as “Woken” Matt Hardy) would be the right direction to go, given their history, and that wouldn’t be awful, but it’s not going to elevate Wyatt in my opinion.
No, what Wyatt needs now more than ever, is an opposing force. Tommy Dreamer had Raven, The Undertaker had Kane, and Abyss had several ‘monsters’ to battle against. There are several reasons an equally monstrous, supernatural character to battle against could help The Fiend in the long run. This rival for Wyatt could lead to a memorable battle, the likes and lengths of which we haven’t seen since the 1990s.
A slow, escalating burn with a few twists could build on the mythology of Wyatt while providing him a built-in opponent to come back to time and again. Bray’s evolution needs framing. What happened to the magnanimous leader of The Wyatt Family that has put fractured his personality and put him in this stage of terrifying flux? A rival character tied to the “Firefly Funhouse” or even back to the swamps of the original Wyatt estate and the mysterious “Sister Abigail” could dredge up demons that Wyatt may have long thought buried.
Without an opposing force, I fear that many of Wyatt’s feuds will begin to run together. Unsuspecting, otherwise “normal” character becomes the focus of The Fiend or Wyatt’s ire, a few hokey guffaws to be found in “Firefly Funhouse” segments to be had, peppered with “random” attacks, WWE Network special happens; rinse and repeat. With such a lackadaisical approach to the story of “The Fiend”, Wyatt’s momentum will eventually swing the crowd against him as they grow tired of a lack of new developments.
A subtle touch and slow burn with this opposing force is key, too. Good horror and scares can often happen when the imagination is allowed to run wild, and less can be more. Additionally, while introducing this character to face off against Wyatt would be great, you wouldn’t want every mystery and secret to be revealed. Reveal enough to build the character, while keeping enough hidden that it continues to draw the audience’s attention.