Turning the Page on Wrestling’s Freak Show

Wyatt Family

Follow the buzzards.

This oddly disturbing message comes to us by way of professional wrestling’s newest stable known as the Wyatt Family; more specifically, Bray Wyatt, the maniacal – or perhaps cerebral – Wyatt leader.

I know what you’re thinking – this is the year 2013 and I’m not interested in pro wrestling. Believe me, I feel you. But just hang with me for a moment or two – this has nothing to do with saying one’s prayers and taking one’s vitamins (although, even all these years later, you’d still be hard-pressed to dispute the soundness of that advice).

To reiterate: follow the buzzards.

What does it mean? Well, we’re not really sure – not yet anyway. We think it may be akin to “Quoting the Raven” (you know, nevermore). Or perhaps even, dare we say, “Resting in Peace”.

Now, I’m not here to say that Windham Rotunda (Bray Wyatt) belongs in the same category as Mark Callaway (The Undertaker) – certainly there will only be one Undertaker of professional wrestling (actually, that’s not even true, ahem, SummerSlam ’94, ahem). The point to be made here is that, with the Wyatts, World Wrestling Entertainment (or WWE if you prefer) appears to be onto something. And that’s saying a lot given the seemingly never-ending parade of colourful characters the WWE juggernaut has been churning out over the course of the last decade – all too many of whom seem better suited for a nine-year-old’s birthday.

Sitting somewhere along the lines of a redneck hillbilly version of The Brood, the Wyatts appear as though they were taken straight out of a Rob Zombie movie. Disturbing yes, but as a ticket-buying fan, you’d seemingly be willing to look past that for the sake of being entertained.

At this point, we don’t know just what the Wyatts are up to; we know little more than what’s been offered through the strange vignettes the WWE has been broadcasting, and the few times they’ve actually been in the ring to wrestle (imagine that – a wrestling show with actual wrestling). And what the heck is the deal with that lamb mask? It’s just plain weird.

But the point to be taken from all this is that it’s not all that important what the Wyatts are up to. What is important is that, through some imaginative mind on the WWE’s writing staff, the Wyatt Family exists.

Not since Kane, the Undertaker’s half-burned, half-man, half-monster, half-brother appeared on the scene back in October of 1997 (who could forget Vince McMahon’s play-by-play: “That’s gotta be…! That’s gotta be Kane!”), have we seen something like this. Something which catches our imagination and make us go, “Hmmm”. The same can be said for Mick Foley’s reincarnation of everything unpleasant in his actual personality, the deranged Mankind. The guy would pull out his hair, screech like a rabid animal, and shove his fingers down his opponent’s jugular. Characters like this made us stop for a minute and say, “This guy kind of scares me or creeps me out – but at the end of the day, I’m entertained so it’s okay”.

It was this very aura that these characters possessed which drew us in and made us want to see and know more. How did Kane get burned? Is he really a monster? And what’s the deal with Mankind already?

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Kane represented the inaugural target of this new backwoods cult. Out with the old and in with the new, I suppose.

For the WWE – the industry’s undisputed king – Bray Wyatt appears to be just the psycho the doctor ordered. With his talk of followers and cryptic garble, coupled with the right props – antique lantern and rickety rocking chair – and Mark Crozer’s “Live in Fear”, the serotonin dream-inducing theme song eerily floating in the background, comes a package wrestling has been yearning for for quite some time. This is character development at its best.

Mind you, there have been rumblings about the Wyatts’, shall we say, less than stellar in-ring performance. But remember, this is 2013 and, like it or not, there has been a sizeable shift from the wrestling side of things to the entertainment side.

Something good has to come from this. Otherwise, the WWE brass will have allowed a wonderfully dark string of creativity to go to waste. And that would be a shame – especially for a creative team that seems to have allowed a multi-billion dollar product to become stale. While, over the years, the WWE seems to have failed time and time again, here, with the Wyatts, the company finally appears to have struck the right chord. And all it took was a backwoods cult, announcing “we’re here” upon arrival. It’s because we don’t understand it that we want to know more.

So follow if you will – just don’t be surprised if you’ve found that, despite your best efforts, you’ve become a wrestling fan once again. And you know what, this time it’s okay. It’s okay to let your guard down because for the first time since the so-called “Attitude Era” of the late 90s, wrestling appears to have created a band of freaks worthy of our attention. So go ahead and, ahem, follow that proverbial buzzard. You may just be surprised where it takes you.

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