Before he took the WWE Universe by storm as Bray Wyatt, Windham Lawrence Rotunda was known by other aliases. As the son of former “WWF” Superstar Mike Rotunda (AKA Irwin R. Schyster) he started his career as “Alex Rotundo”, working his way up through the ranks of the WWE’s developmental league. He would later change to “Husky Harris” and arrive in the “big leagues”, wrestling in the WWE as a member of the faction known as “The Nexus.” That stint would end with Rotunda returning to the developmental league and ultimately creating a new character.
Enter Bray Wyatt, the persona Rotunda created to serve as the leader of the “Wyatt Family”, a trio of scary “swamp people” that would be embraced by WWE fans with a fervor that took many in the industry by surprise.
Prior to his visit to Chicago for the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con last month, the man WWE fans have come to know and fear – and in many cases love and admire – spoke with me via telephone about his current success; what the difference is between Bray Wyatt and Husky Harris; what it’s like coming from a wrestling family; and why he thinks WWE fans have embraced The Wyatt Family:
Geek To Me: How has it been for you for you in the WWE, with your current stint, as opposed to your last one through?
Bray Wyatt: Um, well of course this one has been more lucrative, you know? And the real reason behind that is because I am myself. It’s different when you’re asked to be something you’re not. As opposed to be able to create and be what you want to be. You know what I’m saying?
Geek To Me: What were some of the things that inspired your current incarnation?
Bray Wyatt: My current incarnation was inspired by so many different outlooks that I’ve looked at and I’ve studied. A lot of the things that I like to portray on television are otherwise my real views. My political (views), my views on society, all those things are all true to me. And I truly believe that me guiding the world, can help it and quite possibly change it.
Geek To Me: It seems to me that the Wyatt Family is this phenomenon that audiences are really keying in with. Why do you think that’s the case?
Bray Wyatt: I think the audience likes to be entertained. I think we blur the lines because we’re interesting. You take us at first glance you would think stereotypical things of us, some kind of swamp creatures that come out and just attack for no reason, but we’re not. We’re very thought out, every move is precision. It’s a very intelligent gimmick, the people get behind what we say and what we do. The entertainment value overall is something they can get behind or hate. And that’s what makes us so different. A phenomenon, just like you said.
Geek To Me: You grew up in wrestling, as part of a wrestling family. What was that like and did you feel any additional pressure from that?
Bray Wyatt: Never. I’ve always been my own person. Everything I’ve ever done in my life I did the hard way. I spent 5 ½ years in NXT and ECW kind of just stewing and waiting for my opportunity. And my family, I never wanted to be like them, I don’t think they ever wanted me to be like them. so I just spent so much time alternating what I wanted to be. I didn’t have time to think about if I’d live up to them. There’s that pressure that’s always there and always will be, but I feel that in time I have to do it, being me to surpass it. That’s it.
Geek To Me: Now that you mention NXT and working your way through NXT, I know that Triple H and the WWE are working to really establish that brand and that roster. What is that like? Is NXT different now as opposed to when you first worked your way through it?
Bray Wyatt: Not even the same. It’s completely different. NXT and what Triple H has done with NXT, he has made it the most wonderful thing that has ever happened in this business. It’s recreated this business. I was lucky enough to be there from the start. When the new NXT went down in Full Sail in Orlando, it was controversial, you know? We didn’t know what it was. We didn’t know what was happening. And once we saw what it contained, even from the beginning stages when I was there, it was just incredible. And being a part of that is something I can really put my hat on. I came from there, you know? It’s my home now. Working in front of that crowd is as good as working in front of a Madison Square Garden crowd, as far as I’m concerned.
Geek To Me: I remember watching Triple H documentary “Thy Kingdom Come” and seeing a snippet where he’s working with you on the NXT stage, and it looks like he’s directing you on how to make that cool entrance. Am I right to interpret that Triple H came up with that?
Bray Wyatt: Triple H has got his hands in a lot of things. You know he’s always been behind us because he knew that we were something different. And while a lot of people would be afraid to embrace something so different as what we were doing, he was always behind it. He knew. He has a special eye. It’s a genius as far as this business is concerned. And he knew. He was always helpful. And I don’t know whether he was taking about an entrance or what is was. I’ve seen the clip, (but) I couldn‘t tell you what we were talking about because it’s so busy on those days. You shoot for hours and it’s a scramble.
Geek To Me: You’re coming to Chicago for the Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con and I’m wondering if your interaction with fans at comic-cons is any different than at wrestling events? Are there any experiences that stand out?
Bray Wyatt: Everywhere I go, it’s another phenomenon if you will. People dress up like us. People dressed up like me, at the comic-con in San Antonio. It’s very rewarding. I’ve seen lots of Halloween people dressed up like me and they’ll send me pictures. And I found that very rewarding to know that I’ve reached anyone. You grow up dreaming things like this. And to see it materialize right in front of you is something else. [laughs] It really is.
Geek To Me: Finally what should WWE and Bray Wyatt expect from you in the future?
Bray Wyatt: Lots of memorable moments, that’s for sure. There’s so many layers and details and things that I haven’t even touched upon. Things I can do and things I will do here that are just going to shock people. [laughs] I think Bray Wyatt’s career will be made up of moments where he shocks you. Where I shock you. And that’s all an entertainer can ask for. I’m going to leave children and people of the next wave with lots of memories of me. As a character, as a human, as Bray Wyatt.