When Bray Wyatt and his Wyatt Family, consisting of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, debuted on the main roster on July 8th, 2013, having been teased in vignettes since May, Kane was the first to fall victim to these crazed giants. Kane, the ‘Big Red Machine,’ kayfabe brother of the Undertaker, was not the kind of person you would expect somebody to target and brutalize.
However, Kane was picked apart with ease, owing to the numbers game and the sheer size of his attackers. Just based on the fact that it was ‘The Devil’s Favorite Demon’ who was chosen, and how well all three men played their roles upon debuting added an aura and a depth to a character that hadn’t been seen in a long time. It also put everyone else on notice.
There was no denying that WWE had something special.
The group had already run through NXT, capturing the NXT Tag Team Championships and honing their crafts. Bray building his character (which was a far cry from his New Nexus Huskey Harris gimmick he had started out with) and Luke Harper and Erick Rowan becoming a formidable duo, establishing the three of them as people to keep an eye on over the next few years.
Once on the main roster, they would go on to attack many more superstars, including Daniel Bryan and CM Punk at one point, leading to a match against CM Punk that Bray lost and a period of trying to lure Daniel Bryan into the Family.
Eventually, after beating Bryan 3-on-1, he joined the group but was withdrawn, clearly not wanting to be there. Before long resisting Bray’s words and turning on them, gaining his independence once more. Wyatt would go on to beat Bryan in a one on one match at the 2014 Royal Rumble.
The trio then set their sights on the ‘Hounds of Justice’ The Shield. During a 6-man Tag between John Cena, Daniel Bryan and Sheamus vs. the Shield with the winners entering the upcoming Elimination Chamber match, the Wyatts attacked Cena’s team causing the Shield to lose their spots by disqualification, sparking a feud that fans had been clamoring for ever since the two factions debuted.
Lousy teamwork caused the Shield to lose their first two 6-man matches against the Wyatts, but the hounds of justice were able to pick up the win third time around, ending the feud.
During this feud, the Wyatt family targeted John Cena, causing him to lose championship matches against Randy Orton on more than one occasion, even appearing during the Elimination Chamber match to make sure Cena was kept from the title picture.
This was the start of a feud between Bray Wyatt and John Cena, built off of the fact that Wyatt saw Cena’s heroic style character as a symbol for what he called the ‘Era of Lies.’
Wyatt aimed to turn Cena into a ‘monster’ and reveal the true nature hidden behind the colorful t-shirts and catchphrases, accepting a match at WrestleMania after Cena challenged him.
Sadly for The ‘Eater of Worlds,’ the juggernaut that is Cena was able to defeat him on the grandest stage of them all, marking his first pinfall loss. Even though Wyatt had the added interference of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, he like many others came up against one of the toughest of WWE’s challenges, Big Match John.
Despite losing his big match, Bray would continue his attempt to take Cena’s fans from him. He defeated John in a steel cage match and was then beaten again a month later by John in a Last Man Standing match to wrap up the rivalry. My favorite part of this feud was Bray’s children’s choir all adorned with their own sheep masks, even helping to distract Cena and cost him the cage match. Excellent booking.
Following this Harper and Rowan would battle with the Usos for their WWE Tag Team Championships, losing on multiple occasions. While Bray would unsuccessfully challenge for a title opportunity in the Money in the Bank match. The Family then targeted Chris Jericho upon his return leading to them facing off three times, Jericho being triumphant on the first of their encounters and Bray winning the second two. By this point, I was noticing a pattern emerge.
Then out of the blue, Wyatt set Harper and Rowan ‘free’. The three would go on to have their own individual singles runs, signaling the first breakup of the Bray Wyatt’s Family.
The family would disband and go their separate ways, with Rowan coming to the aid of Team Cena, Harper on the side of Team Authority and Bray battling Dean Ambrose. Luke Harper would have the most success, capturing the Intercontinental Championship. Harper and Rowan would continue to cross paths long after their Survivor series match, with the two even facing off for a spot in the 2015 Royal Rumble, with Harper picking up the win. Despite this, the three men would end up meeting again in the Rumble when Rowan attacked number six entrant Curtis Axel after Harper and Wyatt had already met in the ring, although this was no reunion.
Their single runs would continue, until five months later when Rowan came down to the ring after Like Harper had won a match, seemingly to confront his former partner. This was not the case though as he turned on Harper’s downed opponent, thus reuniting the dangerous teammates once more, this time with no Bray Wyatt at the helm. Within a month, Rowan was injured, Harper had returned to his singles run and began to interfere in Bray’s matches allowing him to pick up the win over Roman Reigns. Bray seemed eerily confident again, warning the world to ‘lock their doors, say their prayers, the family has returned.’
Bray Wyatt wasn’t lying.
Although Rowan was still out with injury, there was a new member, one as bad as both Harper and Rowan combined. Braun Strowman.
This was the beginning of a new era for the Wyatt Family.
(Read Part Two tomorrow!)