Spooky Wrestler Of The Day – Day 1 – “The Fiend”

The first of thirty days of the spookiest wrestlers, we start the journey to Halloween on a character that we may be seeing back on our screens in the next week.

There is much to make of the reports about The White Rabbit teases we have seen over the last few months. Even before the hints became more direct and clearer, fans suspected the gimmick was related to one of the most creative names in the business, Bray Wyatt. Prior to his 2021 release from WWE, Wyatt had been running a gimmick since 2019 where he had two personalities. On the one hand, he had the Mr Rogers-esque host of the Firefly Funhouse, Bray Wyatt. And on the other hand, you had… The Fiend.

Before The Fiend was revealed as a concept on WWE TV, Bray Wyatt had returned to WWE TV in 2019 a changed man. Long gone was the cult leader version of Wyatt, replaced by a happy, always smiling host of a children’s TV show titled “The Firefly Funhouse.” Inside the Funhouse, Wyatt would be joined by a cast of puppets all referencing the past gimmicks of Wyatt. That all changed on the May 23rd edition of Monday Night RAW. This would be the first time we got a real glimpse at The Fiend. Before this, we had seen flashes in the Funhouse, but never a clear image of this new supernatural character. And as fast as he had been shown, he was whisked off of our TV screens again.

While we now knew there was a monster lurking in the Funhouse, the show continued on, dropping more hints and steadily becoming a more and more uneasy look into the mind of Wyatt. The Fiend’s appearances were becoming more prominent and finally, he would strike. On the July 15th edition of Monday Night RAW in 2019, we got our first real look at The Fiend in a WWE ring. As Finn Balor was alone in the ring, the lights in the arena would slowly become to shut off, one section of the arena at a time. A hallmark that would become a common part of The Fiend’s appearances going forward. As the final light shut off, spotlights would begin shining on the ring, painting a blurry image of The Fiend setting Balor up for Sister Abigail as the lights swung nauseatingly fast. The lights would briefly turn on, showing The Fiend in all his glory. Immediately after hitting Sister Abigail, the spotlights would begin swinging again with a high pitched wailing noise in the background. Then the lights would completely shut off, with Bray Wyatt’s haunting laugh ringing out as the segment came to a close. This segment in particular was one of the most important parts of establishing The Fiend as a monstrous heel, and he was only just getting started.

In the lead up to a match with Finn Balor at SummerSlam, The Fiend would strike again the next week, taking out Mick Foley and taking the Mandible Claw as his second finisher along with Sister Abigail. This was another important step in showing how monstrous this version of Bray Wyatt was. His entire character felt ripped out of a Hollywood horror movie script, even before he stepped into the ring for The Fiend’s debut. Speaking of..

When The Fiend made his first entrance for a match in WWE, the first thing I said to a friend of mine was that this character should not be on a PG show. Because in reality, WWE let Bray Wyatt transform into a terrifying horror villain with this character. Backed by a twisted version of his prior theme by Code Orange, The Fiend would make his way to the ring shrouded in darkness, wearing a hood to cover his mask. He would slowly almost hobble to the ring as Finn Balor awaited him at SummerSlam 2019.

One thing about the character that I personally was shocked was ever allowed on WWE television at the time was The Fiend’s twisted take on Bray Wyatt’s old lantern. Instead of a simple oil lantern however, it was now the severed head of the cult leader version of Wyatt. With the light coming from the mouth hole of the head, the cameramen did not shy away from getting a closeup of the haunting prop. As The Fiend entered the ring, he quickly skulked back to the corner and awaited the beginning of the match while Finn Balor, and the entire arena, tried to wrap their heads around what they’d just seen.

There’s very few gimmicks in the history of the WWE that you could say were creepy in ways that caused a shiver down your spine. Kane, Undertaker and so on. The Fiend on his debut night was one of these gimmicks. All life had been sucked out of the crowd as they did not know how to react. As Balor got into the ring, he sold what he had just witnessed as commentary even struggled to find words. But the most unsettling part of The Fiend for me was not his entrance, it was how he conducted the match against Balor. There are moments in the match where you can see the inner struggle between Wyatt and The Fiend. This makes him all the scarier as fans were not sure what to make of The Fiend screaming with almost fear before sadistically laughing seconds later.

His moveset, while remaining very similar to how Wyatt wrestled prior to the gimmick, had some new additions also. As mentioned previously, The Fiend would use the mandible claw to finish off the match. But prior to this, he also brought a brutal new move to his arsenal as he would debut a neck snap that he would deliver after caressing Balor’s face. Kevin Dunn doesn’t get a lot of credit for his camera work but for a brief moment the camera pans up rather than down as Balor drops. Then, seconds later it shows Balor, moving and visibly well, alive. It made it feel like for a moment, The Fiend had just murdered Finn Balor live on the WWE Network.

After this match, The Fiend would quickly move onto Seth Rollins and the Universal Championship. While the story was that The Fiend wanted revenge on Rollins for clashes between Wyatt and Seth in the past, many feel to this day that The Fiend shouldn’t have been allowed near championships. I for one, would say that The Fiend is one of my favorite gimmicks. But, The Fiend wanting a championship does not fit the character. WWE also booked themselves into a corner very quickly with the title reign. Once The Fiend defeated Rollins at WWE Crown Jewel, he would dissapear for a little while as Wyatt feuded with The Miz. However, he would then move onto a more intense feud.

Enter: Daniel Bryan. Entering the final years of his time in WWE, Bryan was stalling for momentum in the company but would enter a program with The Fiend through the Royal Rumble in January of 2020. The storyline was chock full of moments where yet again, The Fiend would find sadistic pleasure in causing Bryan hurt. Pulling hair from Bryan’s head, signing a contract in his own blood and so on. He pretty much ticked all the boxes of the horror movie villain clichés. Of course, it would go all down hill after the feud with Bryan. The Fiend would then move on to face Goldberg, dropping the title and his undefeated streak to the part timer. Goldberg would quickly drop the championship to Braun Strowman. Meanwhile…

At WrestleMania 36, we saw the clearest look into the horrific power that Bray Wyatt and by proxy, The Fiend possessed. While the match was not a traditional one by any means, The Firefly Funhouse match between Wyatt and Cena was one of the highlights of Wyatt’s run as the two characters. Cena would be transported into the Firefly Funhouse where Wyatt awaited him. Bray would play a lot of tricks on Cena, making Cena do whatever he wanted, with Cena not even getting a shot in at Wyatt throughout the ‘match’. At the conclusion of the match, Cena snapped and tackled Wyatt and began punching him. However, Wyatt would disappear and be replaced by Huskus. Then, slowly, The Fiend would reveal himself behind Cena. He would lay Cena out, pinning him and officially defeating Cena on the grandest stage of them all.

After this, Wyatt would feud for the summer with Braun Strowman in a string of matches that weren’t exactly noteworthy. He would win and quickly drop the Universal Championship for a second time, this time not being pinned to lose the championship however. The Fiend would then begin a new phase of his career as he turned Alexa Bliss into a twister version of herself, becoming The Fiend’s bride for several segments. While many didn’t enjoy this pairing, I believe it had potential to be something great. Bliss has only recently returned to a gimmick that is more in line with her real life personality. While this was going on, The Fiend found himself facing one of his old rivals, Randy Orton. This program would culminate in two matches that were panned by many. At TLC 2020, Orton would burn The Fiend alive, writing him off TV till Fast Lane 2021, where he would return, burned and charred, to ensure Alexa Bliss would defeat Randy Orton. He wold then return at WrestleMania and get a glowup before his match with Orton. This would be The Fiend’s final match on WWE programming as Alexa Bliss would turn on The Fiend, leading to Orton hitting an RKO and winning the match. Shortly after this program, Bray Wyatt was released by the WWE.

It’s now October 2nd 2022 as of this writing and it appears that we may be seeing the return of Wyatt at Extreme Rules on October 8th. As mentioned at the beginning of this editorial, all reports and hints point to Wyatt returning, with several hints to The Fiend in particular suggesting that it will be that version of the character we will once again see on our TV screens.

Follow Corey at @CoreyBrennanBS on Twitter

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