4/2/14 Wrestler of the Week – Bray Wyatt

The Wrestler of the Week award is designed to highlight a wrestler who made the most of his or her opportunities in a given week. While great matches or memorable promos certainly help a wrestler win Wrestler of the Week, the ultimate decision will also include consistency through the week and bonus points for pulling off a task with a higher degree of difficulty. 

4/2/14 Wrestler of the Week – Bray Wyatt

In a week dedicated to resting the relevant wrestlers for Wrestlemania and creating sound bites to promote the PPV, there were very few individuals who stood out. Neither Raw nor Smackdown had many entertaining moments that worked outside of the larger promotional structure, so the bar for the week was exceptionally low. In an average week, the work Wyatt did would have been nice but unspectacular, a solid B+ week. In a lackluster overall week like this one, though, it was the best wee of anyone on WWE. So many top stars, from Daniel Bryan to Undertaker to Brock Lesnar to John Cena, appeared only briefly if at all. Wyatt was consistently present and expressed himself well, which was good enough on this occasion.

Wyatt’s job on Smackdown was to look as impressive as possible against Big Show. At this stage in his career, Big Show’s job is often to serve as a large prop so his opponents can do things that make them look tough or strong. He is not as severely limited as someone like the Great Khali, but a lot of his value is tied up in these sorts of stunts. Although Wyatt didn’t do anything as crazy as lifting Big Show over his head, he emphasized his own size with a cross body that floored Big Show and several splashes that had a high impact. A distraction by the Wyatt Family allowed for a cheap shot that set up Sister Abigail and a fairly clean win for Wyatt. Due to injuries and a desire to keep him unique, Wyatt has not wrestled terribly often in his brief career. Therefore, a win over someone like Big Show means something in the build to Wrestlemania, albeit not nearly what a win over Cena would mean.

My favorite portion of Wyatt’s performance this week was his mic work on Raw. The storyline that started with Wyatt accusing Cena of being a liar has gradually come into focus and has become one of the more clever wrestling storylines to involve Cena. Wyatt has pointed out that Cena’s heroic persona is merely a mask that he wears in public and that no one is as purely good as Cena pretends to be. He has acknowledged that his own embodiment of evil is merely a counterpoint to Cena’s benevolent archetype, but says that a win over Cena at Wrestlemania will expose cracks in Cena’s mask. In other words, if his portrayal of “good” fails to triumph over Wyatt’s portrayal of “evil,” it will expose Cena’s persona as a commercially expedient ruse as opposed to a parable about life.

In a more traditional wrestling presentation, Wyatt also wrestled R-Truth. Truth did not pose much of a threat to Wyatt and was dispatched with Sister Abigail fairly quickly. The match was a vehicle to get to Cena’s response to the Wyatts, which was very well executed. As they posed in the ring after the victory, Cena crept up behind them with a sheep mask on and joined their formation. When they noticed his presence, he jumped Luke Harper and Erick Rowan and chased the three out of the ring. The Wyatts successfully got in Cena’s head over the last couple of weeks and consistently had the upper-hand on him, so this turnabout kept the feud fresh.

There is only one way for Wyatt to go from here. He was booked into this feud with Cena as an opportunity to elevate his game and ascend into the main event picture. One could make the argument that if the build for the match had been poor, it would have made sense for Cena to beat Wyatt and give Wyatt more time to establish his credentials and become comfortable with his character. The reality has been quite different. Wyatt has been so good and has inhabited the character so fully that he has brought Cena out of his comfort zone and into an entirely different sort of program. We saw Cena slog through the boredom of poorly-executed existential doubt in his “embrace the hate” program with no less than Kane two years ago. Bray Wyatt has run laps around that feud and demonstrated irrefutably that he has the ability to perform on a main event stage. Given those qualifications, Wrestlemania represents an opportunity for his ring work to match the quality of the story he has told out of it. If it indeed matches and Wyatt comes out as the clear winner, he will be ready for any role WWE wants him to attempt.