"My name is Husky Harris, and I'm from Brooksville, Florida. I remember being a little kid. Teacher would ask everyone:
"What do you guys want to be when you grow up? When they called on me, I'd say: "I am going to be in the WWE." They chuckle
and laugh. Who's laughing now, you know what I'm saying?
(Who Is Bray Wyatt? »)
|BRAY WYATT FEATURES|
"I'm a third-generation Superstar. Blackjack Mulligan is my grandfather, and my father [is] Mike Rotunda, the IRS man ...
I've been waiting for this for a long time.
"As soon as I was old enough, I immediately put a helmet on my had and [played] any contact sport I could get my hands on.
I love to wrestle. I love to play football. I went to Troy University in Alabama ... Playing [NCAA] Division 1 football
ain't no joke, buddy. Anything to get me ready, because I knew one day I'd be here.
"My in-ring style is unorthodox. My football coach in high school used to tell me I was like an army tank with a Ferrari
engine. I fly like someone my size shouldn't ... When I look at the other NXT rookies, I feel like I have advantages over
every single one of them. I'm tougher, I'm stronger. I'm the wild card of this competition. This is my opportunity. I'm
ready to fun with it."
As Husky Harris, Windham Rotunda was one of eight WWE development wrestlers entered into season two of NXT,
WWE's answer to America's Next Top Model.
Receiving its United States premiere on June 8, 2010, NXT season two also introduced members of the WWE Universe
to Alex Riley, Eli Cottonwood, Lucky Cannon, Michael McGillicutty (now Curtis Axel), Percy Watson, Titus O'Neil and
eventual winner Kaval.
In his introductory video, transcribed above, Harris claimed that he had "advantages over every single one" of his
opponents in the competition. At the time of the broadcast, many wrestling pundits disagreed. It appeared he had just one
thing in his favor: family connections. And he wasn't the only person on NXT season two who had wrestling in his
blood. The future Curtis Axel, Michael McGillicutty was a third-generation grappler as well.
Despite the confidence he exuded in his video, Harris seemed the man least likely to make it in WWE. He was solid in the
ring - his speed bellied his size, as he stated - and he could talk, but his fleshy body was an enormous hindrance in the
image-conscious WWE as were his raff-looking tattoos and cartoonish facial features.
Based on what we saw from him on NXT, Harris was another case of nepotism. It is impossible to conceive that he
would have been signed by WWE, had he not related to road agent Mike Rotunda and WWE Hall of Famer Blackjack Mulligan.
Prior to his arrival on NXT, Harris had teamed with his brother Bo Rotundo (now Bo Dallas) in then-developmental
league Florida Championship Wrestling. Billed as Duke Rotundo, Harris held the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship from
July 23, 2009 to November 19, 2009.
Duke continued to team with brother Bo and competed in singles matches in Florida Championship Wrestling until May 2010.
Some appreciated his tandem with tandem with Bo, some didn't. It had no bearing on WWE's decision to include Duke, as
Husky Harris, on the second season of NXT. The combo could always be reformed in developmental or promoted to
WWE's main roster. In the event Harris was deemed main roster-ready at the end of his NXT exploits. Had Harris
made it as Harris in WWE, it's possible that Bo would have been promoted to the main roster as his partner in 2011 or 2012.
But Harris didn't cut it in WWE.
Turning heel on NXT, he was eliminated on the August 17, 2010 episode, following which he and his pro Cody Rhodes
Harris made an appearance on the NXT finale on August 31, 2010 in order to participate in another brawl, then
returned to Florida Championship Wrestling.
Just over a month later on October 3, 2010, Harris was given another chance by WWE when he was one of several who ran in
on Wade Barrett's match with John Cena. Harris was added to the ailing Nexus faction later that month.
Harris did nothing which mattered as a member of Nexus, which was repeatedly humiliated by John Cena.
CM Punk replaced Barrett as captain of the Nexus on the December 27, 2010 edition of Raw (Barrett would form a
useless group known as The Corre on SmackDown). Harris, Michael McGillicutty, David Otunga and later Mason Ryan were led by
Punk on Raw in the next chapter of the tiresome conflict with Cena.
For Harris, his Nexus journey ended on January 31, 2011 when he was struck by Randy Orton's dreaded Punt on Raw.
You could say he was booted off the main WWE roster.
While at the time it must have seemed like a setback for Windham Rotunda - and certainly resulted in a significant cut in
earnings - it was the best thing that could have happened. He was not going to soar like an eagle in WWE as Husky Harris.
Name, physical appearance, character, greasy hair style: everything about him screamed, "Filler!" His demotion was a
Permanently reassigned to Florida Championship Wrestling, Husky was missed by few members of the WWE Universe. Those who
did remember him four weeks after the axe had fallen probably assumed they would never see him on WWE television again.
Apparently recognizing that Husky Harris was synonymous with mediocrity, WWE changed Windham Rotunda's ring name to Axl
Mulligan in March 2011. However, this, upon further consideration, was thought to be even suitable, and Windham reverted to
the Husky Harris moniker before the end of the month to team again with brother Bo. Together, the siblings would raise the
FCW Florida Tag Team Championship for a second time in February 2012.
Despite his developmental tag team title win and good reviews for his matches and weight loss, Windham was no neared to
booking his return trip to the main roster than he had been one year earlier.
Something earth-shattering needed to happen. It did in April 2012 when Windham was reborn as sinister heel Bray Wyatt.
Dressed in a bright red shirt, emblazoned with palm trees, and a straw Fedora hat, the bearded Wyatt told Florida
Championship Wrestling viewers: "I was raised in Lafayette, Louisiana. My daddy, he's the captain of his own shrimp boat."
As the towering Eli Cottonwood lurked in the background. Wyatt said, acidly: "I hated my daddy. He took eight-year-old
Bray Wyatt, and he pulled him out of school. He didn't think I needed to learn with them other kids."
As he flicked a lighter, Wyatt admitted that he had set fire to his father's boat, which sank with his "daddy" on board,
and that he was incarcerated as a punishment. "I went away. I went away for a while."
Wyatt said that he learned how to read during his spell under lock and key, and that he had studied the "good book,
mostly." The religion angle. That always enhances a baleful character's mystique.
As he paid his debt to society, Wyatt claimed that he had learned how society functioned. He acknowledged that people
looked down on him. It was this scorn which had driven him to become the man he was.
"I ain't no white trash," Wyatt said. "I am better than you all." He sang out the promo with the words, "Time is on my
side," as he spread out his arms, as if to simulate the crucifixion.
Bray Wyatt was influenced by Robert De Niro's portrayal as Max Cady in the 1992 film Cape Fear, that was clear.
But Rotunda added his own stamp to it. No shillyshallying: Rotunda was that character. His haunting promos, which
would become his trademark, were completely believable. He was banking on Bray to lead him back to the promised land of WWE.
Wyatt beat old NXT rival Alex Riley in dark matches at Raw tapings in May and June 2012.
It is not known if WWE had planned to introduce Wyatt that summer or if it had simply booked him at these tapings to
monitor the progress of the new character. Had his main roster debut as Wyatt been imminent, it was scrapped in late June
when Bray suffered a torn pectoral muscle. He was sidelined for seven months.
In the meantime, Windham Rotunda had new tattoos which were consistent with his character (that's dedication for you) and
formed The Wyatt Family with the hulking duo of Erick Rowan and Luke Harper, who were akin to characters from a PG version
of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
On January 31, 2013, Bray returned to combat at a WWE NXT television taping in Winter Park, Florida, where he
defeated Yoshi Tatsu.
Whether it was inspired by the early success of The Shield or not, WWE had decided that this three-man unit would soon
debut on television, with a hefty push.
On May 27, 2012, the first Wyatt Family video aired on Raw. In footage broadcast, Bray laughed in a rocking chair in a barn and a swing chair in a forest. Images of rural locations melded into extreme close-ups of all three wide-eyed, and Rowan in a sheep mask. It was like a PG version of the True Blood intro.
On July 8, 2012, Bray and the boys arrived on Raw. "We're here," said Bray before he blew out a gas lamp and all
three walked to the ring in darkness.
Rowan and Harper attacked Kane as Wyatt sat in a rocking chair in the aisle. After the two behemoths had incapacitated
Kane with the ring steps, Wyatt sauntered around the ring and knelt before Kane, with his arms outstretched. In the
meantime, a loud chant of "Husky Harris!" broke out from the comedians in the crowd, which spoiled the moment.
The Wyatt Family had a rocky 2013 in WWE. Bray's Ring of Fire Match win over Kane at SummerSlam on August 18,
2013 was terrible. The awkward Rowan and Harper entered dodgy performances on television and pay-per-view. It wasn't until
Bray's match with Daniel Bryan at Royal Rumble on January 26, 2014 that the act truly sparked in a WWE ring.
Wyatt's clean win over Bryan at the Rumble was an inspirational result. A man considered a newcomer pinned one of the
sports-entertainment organization's top stars with his finishing maneuver on the number two event of the year. It was
irrefutable proof that Wyatt rated highly in WWE's plans.
The world learned what those plans were before the pay-per-view event ended when The Wyatt Family appeared at ringside
during John Cena's match with Randy Orton. The distraction caused by the Wyatts would be Cena's excused for his loss to the
WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
As the Cena feud simmered on television, The Wyatt Family collided with The Shield at Elimination Chamber on
February 23, 2014 in what was one of WWE's hottest matches of the year. So riveting and well-received was the match-up, won
by the Wyatts when Bray pinned Roman Reigns, that the two factions rumbled once more on Raw on March 3, 2014. They
have done many times since then on television and house shows. The content of their television matches has never been
anything less than gratifying.
The same cannot be said about his feud with Cena. Ongoing at time of writing, Wyatt lost to Cena at WrestleMania 30
on April 6, 2014. Not only did Cena cleanly pin Wyatt, he brushed off the presence of Erick Rowan and Luke Harper at
ringside and a lame storyline in which he had to tame the beast inside of him which Wyatt had encouraged Cena to release.
That was no match for Cena, either.
Cena had a Steel Cage Match which Wyatt won at Extreme Rules - overcoming interference from Rowan and Harper
again - before a small child whom Wyatt had purportedly brainwashed appeared at ringside, causing Cena to stop dead in his
tracks. Wyatt dropped Cena and walked out of the cage to victory.
Since then, as if to offset this on-paper loss, Cena has exerted his superiority over Wyatt and his brethren in various
One year on from the video introduction on Raw, The Wyatt Family had been another success story for WWE. Rowan
and Harper should be applauded for their improvement as performers in 2014: steam-ironing out the creases, they have grown
smoother in the ring, and play their part well. But they would be the first to admit, they are cast in background roles to
the star of the show - Bray Wyatt.
The spiritual leader and driving force behind the faction has become the star Husky Harris could never be. The man least
likely to make it on NXT has evolved into a much bigger name than any of his season two rivals.
As was true of Mark Calaway and Glen Jacobs before him, it was the gimmick of which separated him from the pack. WWE and
Rotunda have struck gold with this one.
Bray Wyatt's real name is Windham Lawrence Rotunda and he was born on May 23, 1987 in Brooksville, Florida. He is a
third-generation grappler; son of Mike Rotunda (professionally known as Captain Mike Rotunda, Michael Wallstreet, Mike Drond
Mike Rotundo, Mr. Wallstreet, V.K. Wallstreet and famously, Irwin R. Schyster). grandson of Blackjack Mulligan, and nephew to
Barry Windham and Kendall Windham. His younger brother is fellow WWE Superstar Bo Dallas, and he has a younger sister named Mika.
An athlete growing up, Rotunda attended Hernando High School in Brooksville, Florida, where he won a state wrestling
championship in 2005 and played football as a defensive tackle and guard. After graduating from high school in 2005, Rotunda
played football for two seasons at the College of the Sequoias, a community college located in California's San Joaquin
Valley, earning second-team All-American honors as a sophomore offensive guard. With his performance, he earned a football
scholarship to Troy University in Troy, Alabama, where he played collegiate football for two years. He left the university
twenty-seven hours short of his bachelor's degree to become a professional wrestler for WWE.
"Once (his brother) decided to go into (wrestling) I couldn't resist," remarked Rotunda to Hernando Today in 2009.
"I had another year (at Troy), but my heart was no longer in it. I wanted to do this. This is going to be my career. I
couldn't go to school any longer. I wanted to get into this."
Rotunda is a family man; he's married to a beautiful woman and they are the proud parents of two daughters. (Photos Of Bray Wyatt With His Wife And Two Daughters »)
Bray Wyatt got bloodied by the "Nature Boy"
WWE returned to Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which is often an event in itself. And for this particular show,
they definitely pulled out all the stops, having a lot of big names on the card. One of them that was in attendance was the
"Nature Boy" Ric Flair, who will be imminently returning to WWE television, and he got up close and personal with
The main event of the night was a showdown between Wyatt and John Cena, while Flair was in the corner of the
champion. During the match, Flair got into the ring and had it out with Wyatt. At one point, though, he inadvertently busted
Bray open when he tossed a punch, he caught Wyatt with the ring that was on his finger.
Promoting Sunday's WWE Battleground event at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, discussed the ordeal
during an in-studio interview with CBS Tampa Bay on Friday.
"I look at it as an honor. Madison Square Garden. Ric Flair. John Cena. At the end of a long, long, long war, a little
[bruise] is not so bad," Wyatt said. "I'm used to having stitches and things all over my body, so I didn't
even know I was bleeding. I thought I was blind!"
Elsewhere in the interview, Wyatt "tells his story" and weighs in on his match against Chris Jericho at
WWE Battleground. The audio interview is available here.
(See More Photos Of Bray Wyatt Bloodied)
Here is a shot of Bray Wyatt and Paige hauling their luggage at a Malaysian airport during WWE's tour of the country
late last week.